Postpartum unpleasant surprise

Post On Friday, February 15, 2019 By Mandi Gross

Postpartum unpleasant surprise

Parents expect the first weeks home with their new baby to be the best of times and the worst of times; bonding and cuddling, changing poops, and lacking sleep. We worry about the “little thing on the belly button” falling off, and whether that sneeze was normal, usually putting mom’s feelings and health second to the baby’s.

Unbeknownst to me, my baby was fine; I was not.

I am a rule follower and heeded every direction of pregnancy and post-partum care. I spent nine months without caffeine, soft cheese, parabens, and phthalates; I attended every OB appointment (and even requested extras to see if the random ache was normal). I always had low blood pressure, and my pre-pregnancy BMI was normal. Normal, boring, basic.

My water broke at 37 weeks, and 16 hours into the labor, my doctor recommended a C-Section. No problem. Four uneventful days in the hospital, and we were on our way home.

We loaded the car seat for the first time, drove home under the speed limit, and returned to our home as a new little family. About a week later, I woke up with the worst headache I could ever imagine; I just had a 16 hour labor, and this pain was worse. I took one pain pill that the doctor prescribed for the Cesarean. It did nothing. We called the OB, and she said to go the ER. My mom arrived to watch the new baby, and we rushed to the closest ER; a stand-alone ER affiliated with a local hospital system.

They ran every test and seemed to use every imaging machine in the building. Finally, the ER doctor, out of ideas, called the affiliate hospital and spoke to the OB on-call. She suggested it was post-partum pre-eclampsia, and that I needed to be transferred to the main hospital. My blood pressure was around the 150/90 threshold, I was hyper-reflexive, and my feet were so swollen that I could not get flip flops on. But having preeclampsia post-partum is rare, so the first doctor did not even consider it.

After an ambulance ride to the hospital, I was treated for a couple days with IV magnesium. The magnesium stung going in the IV, and I was so bruised from the amount of IVs I had over the past week that the staff at the hospital thought I was being abused. I spent those days away from my baby and scared about a condition that I was unfamiliar with, but later learned is very dangerous, and sometimes deadly.I was sent home after the treatment plan.

image2croppedA couple days later, the headache returned, and using the blood pressure monitor that I bought after the first incident, realized I was headed for a recurrence. We headed back to the ER for a second time for the same problem. I was readmitted, and the whole magnesium treatment was re-administered. They said it was very rare for a recurrence, but it happened.

After that time, I was discharged with a prescription for blood pressure medication and a crippling fear that this was going to keep happening. I was afraid to get pregnant again, but always wanted two kids.

Knowing that preeclampsia is more likely to present in people who previously had it, I took a “baby aspirin” throughout most of my second pregnancy. Happily, 2-1/2 years after the birth of my daughter, we welcomed a son. I took my blood pressure every day of the pregnancy and every day after. There was one day with an elevated number, and I went to the ER just to make sure, and luckily, after being admitted for observance, the issue resolved on its own overnight.

My advice to pregnant ladies is speak up if something is wrong; do not dismiss your symptoms as “normal side-effects of pregnancy,” and invest in a blood pressure machine. After my harrowing ordeal, Emma, now 5, and Merit, 3, are my little buddies, and we are making up for time lost at the beginning with lots of bonding and cuddles.

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