Preeclampsia/ hypertension is a leading cause of death in women postpartum (2nd to hemorrhaging). Please advocate for yourself if something feels off, and watch for the symptoms. I want to share my story just in case it can save someone else.
Before being discharged from the hospital after having my son, the nurse read over a painfully long packet of scary symptoms to watch for. Then, she assured me that they were very uncommon and that odds are in my favor since I’m young, healthy, and had an uncomplicated delivery.
On February 27th, 2021, the second day of being home, my sister came over to practice taking blood pressure for her medical class. She took it multiple times, but because it seemed too high, she assumed she did it wrong. Later that day, I woke up from a nap and instantly knew something was wrong. I felt as if I couldn’t lift my head from my pillow and was overwhelmingly light headed. Slowly, I crawled off the bed and asked my step dad for his electric blood pressure cuff.
It read “Error” the first time I took it. I had to change the settings because it wouldn’t read any higher than 130 on the setting it was. The old, dusty machine read my blood pressure as 148/107. I called the nurses hotline for advice, but before I finished explaining how I felt, she told me to go to the ER right away. There they took my blood pressure- 159/115. As soon as I told the receptionist that I had given birth four days prior, I was rushed back.
We got to the room around 8:30pm. They did a neurological exam, urine samples, blood samples, and an EKG within the first 10 minutes. Then they pushed medication to lower my blood pressure. The nurse told me I would be discharged once my blood pressure lowered. I was so relieved. Then, the doctor came in and told me that I have Preeclampsia and that instead of going home, I was about to be transported via ambulance to the hospital downtown. I knew that this condition is serious, and that women die from this. I couldn't stop worrying about if I would ever see my son again.
They put me on a magnesium drip while we waited for transport. It made my whole body feel like I was standing in an extra hot sauna. It almost burned. At 2:00am, I was finally loaded into the ambulance and on my way downtown. Alone.
The EMT’s joked around with me about getting some fast food on our way. I almost had them convinced to stop at Los Beto's, but they drove right past it instead. When we arrived at the hospital downtown, the EMT’s got lost in the halls looking for the antepartum wing. Once they found my room, I was greeted with, “Baylee? What are you doing here?”
It was Sara, my childhood best friend’s mom and one of the sweetest ladies I have ever met. She rolled me to my room and gave me a huge hug. I couldn’t help but sob.
She got me settled in and brought me a sandwich, cookies, and juice. Then she explained what was going on. I learned that I would have to be on a constant magnesium drip for the next 24 hours at the very least. She told me that the magnesium would make me feel very weak as if I had the flu, but it was necessary to prevent seizures.
She answered all my questions besides, “why is this happening?” I’ve heard of pregnant women getting preeclampsia- I had friends be induced because of it. I had already given birth, but there I was, battling the same condition. Doctors couldn’t explain why it happens to pregnant women, and seemed to have no answers for me as to why it happens postpartum. All we knew was that it is very rare, and very serious.
Not only was I at risk of seizures, but there was a chance of having a stroke, liver damage, kidney damage, brain damage, and blood clots. My liver seemed to be the most at risk with my platelet count being extremely high and already affecting my liver function.
At 8am, my boyfriend and son arrived. I went near 12 hours without my newborn. 12 hours sounds like a short period of time, but this was the longest I had gone without my baby so I was miserable. By 9am, I was struggling to walk on my own. The magnesium was making me wobble. I felt nauseous and had a migraine coming on. I couldn't catch my breath.
I tried my hardest to sleep the rest of the day, hoping to be discharged by the next morning. It was really hard to do when The nurses came every hour to take my blood pressure, oxygen level, and preform neuro checks.
By 4pm, I was having to have nurses walk me to the bathroom to hold me up straight. I was a fall risk, and couldn’t keep my eyes open. Every light blinded me and made my migraine worse. I had to hold a barf bag with me the whole time just in case.
Instead of my boyfriend and son going home, the delivery floor brought us a bassinet so they could stay the night with me. I was so thankful because I didn’t think I would be able to go two nights in a row without my babies.
The second night was rough. Sleep deprivation was creeping up, making falling asleep even harder. I was shaking and anxious. I couldn’t concentrate and was paranoid. I had gone almost 50 hours without sleep. The doctor took me off of the drip at 4:30am, but it wasn’t until Isaiah had left around 7am that I was able to sleep.
On March 1st, my dad had come to the hospital to wait for me to be discharged. By the time I woke up, I was feeling the magnesium begin to wear off. I was able to balance and walk on my own and the headache had gone away. My blood pressure was finally normal again. They had me walk the hallways for what felt like hours to check my blood pressure after movement.
Once my body was able to handle the exercise, they discharged me. I got home with the doctor's order of bedrest and light activity until I felt normal again.
The whole hospital visit felt like one big, blurry nightmare. It still blows my mind to think that I was one of the rare moms to have pregnancy complications, after my baby was earth side. I am so thankful for the amazing staff at St. Luke's for catching this and keeping me safe and informed.
**PLEASE WATCH FOR SIGNS OF PREECLAMPSIA WHILE PREGNANT AND CONTINUE TO WATCH FOR UP TO SIX WEEKS AFTER GIVING BIRTH. IT IS VERY SERIOUS.
Four Cheese Tortellini Bake
1 Bag of Fresh Tortellini
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
¾ Cup of Alfredo Sauce
¾ Cup of Marinara
Bag of Fresh Tortellini $2.79
Cup Shredded Mozzarella $2.69
Alfredo Sauce $1.69
Cheesy Chicken Cavatappi
1lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 Cans of Cream of Chicken
2 Cups Shredded Cheese
1 Box of Cavatappi Pasta
2 tbsp Minced Garlic
2tbsp Vegetable Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste
⅓ Cup Crumbled Bacon (Optional)
1lb Boneless skinless chicken, chopped into bite sized pieces $2.99/lb
2 Cans of cream of chicken $1.25/each
2 Cups shredded cheese $2.69
1 Box of cavatappi pasta $1.69
Chicken Tikka Masala and Rice
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 Jar of Tikka Masala Sauce
2 Bags 90 Second Jasmine Rice
2Tbsp Vegetable Oil
4ct Mini Naan Flatbread
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts $2.99/lb
1 Jar of Tikka Masala Sauce $2.99
2 Bags 90 Second Jasmine Rice $1.25/each
4ct Mini Naan Flatbread $2.50
Korean Beef and Broccoli
1lb Ground Beef
½ Yellow Onion, chopped
½ Tbsp Fresh Ginger
½ Cup Soy Sauce
1 Stalk of Broccoli, chop crowns
2 Cups White Rice
¼ Cup Brown Sugar, packed
½ tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
2tbsp Minced Garlic
1lb Ground Beef $5.49
½ Yellow Onion, chopped $0.45
½ Tbsp Fresh Ginger $1.40
½ Cup Soy Sauce $1.29
1 Bag Broccoli $1.72
2 Cups White Rice $1.49
Hawaiin BBQ Chicken
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts $2.99/lb
Barbeque Sauce $1.99
Bacon Strips $3.99
Pineapple chunks $1.25
Shredded Cheddar $2.69
Being a first time mom, there are a lot of unknowns. While pregnant, one of my greatest worries was not knowing if I had everything I need before my baby's arrival. I spent hours browsing stranger's registries to get some ideas of what I should include on my own. There were registries with over 200 items, and some with only 15. Here are my top five favorites from my own that I love and use religiously! I have linked my registry at the bottom for those who would like to see all that I added.
**All items were bought on Target.com!
The other day a friend asked me, “How are you taking care of your mental health while still being a mother?” Truth is, I have been utilizing every resource I can to try and fight it but it doesn’t always work.
I am a huge advocate of self care and alone time to rethink and relax, so I make a point to spend at least an hour per day in the bath watching tik toks or enjoying a meal by myself. I try to put on makeup a few times a week and get out of the house even if that means just a walk through the park or grocery shopping.
But unfortunately, there is no avoiding the overwhelming emotions powered by those pesky postpartum hormones.
I have been trying my best to allow myself to feel all the emotions and work towards understanding them. At times, the intense frustration and anxieties can be suffocating and I can’t help but wonder why I can’t just feel like how the other moms look.
I believe this is part of the problem, too. Moms are portrayed as happy and upbeat after welcoming their children into the world. They all look put together and so in love. It took an abundance of reading and talking to other moms to see that my feelings were more common than not- the shock, the disconnection, the fear.
Postpartum depression and anxiety can be different for each mother. I really misjudged the feelings that come with motherhood. I underestimated the constant anxieties of leaving my baby with his father or grandparents or the sleep deprivation from watching my baby’s breaths as he sleeps. I didn’t realize the severity of my PPA until I was crying louder than my baby after feeling like I wasn’t doing enough for my family.
I have to constantly remind myself that everything is going to be okay until I know I am okay. For now, I am practicing self care and routine as well as checking in with my doctor when things feel wrong.
“It looks like he will be making an appearance this week” -My OB, 2/9/21
I was so excited that I had finally dilated to a 2. I had tried everything imaginable- raspberry leaf tea, the birth ball, sex, walking, curb walking, exercise, spicy food, pineapple, etc. with no luck! The last month of my pregnancy was miserable. I got heartburn from drinking water, I couldn’t sit comfortably, walking made my hips ache, nausea identical to the first trimester, and you could forget taking a full breath.
February 14th, my due date, came and went, so we scheduled an induction. My doctor decided the best method would be by using the foley bulb. For those who may not be familiar, it’s basically a balloon catheter used to dilate the cervix to a 4 or more. The plan was to have it placed on the 22nd, go home and labor, then go to L&D the next morning at 7am.
Bright and early on the 22nd, my mother drove me to my doctors appointment to have the bulb inserted. The doctor showed me all the equipment and talked me through the process. I get situated with my legs in the stirrups, butt scooted all the way to the edge, then they checked for dilation. Somehow I was back to only 1cm. Then he inserted the speculum. The nurse starts to preps the bulb, then the doctor says, “Baylee... your water just broke.”
I’m pretty sure the first thing out of my mouth was “there’s no f*cking way”. Sure enough, as soon as he removed the speculum, a huge splash hit the floor. I’m not sure why I imagined the water to be cold and not warm/ body temperature. They monitored me for 15 minutes before sending me to the other hospital to deliver. I stopped at home to grab the hospital bags and meet Isaiah. They told me to expect contractions to come on in the next hour, but they never did.
They admitted us briskly and the nurse began going over my birth plan with me. The plan was an unmedicated birth if all goes well. All did not go well. After six hours of walking around with my water broken and no progress or contractions , they decided to start me on cerdivil to help with dilation. It took another two hours for little contractions to begin. They felt like the less-brutal Braxton hicks I was having for the weeks leading up. Around 6:00pm was when it started to hurt rather than feel crampy. This is also around the time I noticed that I only felt them in my back- it never rounded to the front.
It didn’t take long for it to feel never ending. At about 9:00pm, contractions were lasting 75 seconds every 3-5 minutes. I was ready to try other pain management, like using the tub, but the nurse kept telling me to “wait until you really need it”. I ended up telling her “I am not waiting, I am going to do this now.” I’m so glad I did, too. The bath really helped me stop tensing my body so hard. Between contractions my back remained sore, but my abdomen still had not felt cramps or pain. As soon as I stood up to dry off, the contractions wouldn’t stop. Back to back lasting 90 seconds, no break. I couldn’t stay standing, I was shaking, and I could barely move. The back pain was paralyzing. I could see the panic in Isaiah’s eyes as he hit the nurse's button. Once again, the nurse tried to fight me on my wishes. I decided I wanted an epidural because I couldn’t take the back labor any longer. She said, “Wait until you really need it”. That was my breaking point. I demanded someone check me since last time I was checked I was barely a 1. I was now at a 4, and the nurse had the audacity to say “See, now is a good time to get the epidural if you’re still considering it.” BITCHHHHHH, THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN SAYING.
It only took 15 minutes to get a new IV and the epidural. The IV poke hurt worse that the epidural poke, but I was busy fighting horrible back contractions to do anything. I couldn’t even look at Isaiah for comfort because I could see him hurting for me. His face reflected my thoughts perfectly.
After a poke, a pop, and a leg twitch, the contractions faded until I felt nothing. Just as fast, labor shakes began. I couldn’t control anything and my whole body was trembling. Isaiah fell asleep as soon as things calmed down. I still feel a bit of envy for him for being able to do so.
At 3:00am, they started pitocin. Shortly after administering it, they turned it off because my baby was not responding to it well. His heart rate would drop too low after each contraction. They checked the amitotic fluid levels and realized there is almost nothing left for baby, which can put him into distress. They had to perform an amnioinfusion which was just as uncomfortable as the catheter.
They checked me again at 9:00am and I was at a "stretchy 4", so basically no progress in the last 8 hours. They decided to try pitocin one more time while I slept with a peanut ball between my legs. I am not kidding when I say peanut balls are a miracle worker. 3 1/2 hours later, my OB came in to check me. I could tell he was smiling behind his mask. He said, “it’s time to push.”
Nobody told me that the doctor doesn’t stay for all the pushing. I was very confused when he left the room and the nurses came in. They told me pushing takes an average of 2-3 hours for first time moms. As soon as I felt the urge to push, we started. My first push was at 1:06pm. I got one good push in before I could feel acid sneaking up my throat. Isaiah had to hold the bag while I choked on my own puke. Each time I threw up, my body naturally pushed. I was pushing without trying and they hollered at me to slow down and try not to push because the doctor wasn’t there yet. There were nurses standing in the hall waiting for my doctor to get here to actually deliver. As soon as he walked in the room, I stopped "holding my pushes".
I had a total of eight pushes on my own, and had my baby in my arms exactly thirty minutes from my first push. I was in shock and felt so disconnected from my baby when they placed him on my chest. I was in disbelief. If he was not still connected to the umbilical cord that was still partially inside me, I would not believe he was mine. On top of everything, my mind was blown when they told me I only needed one stitch.
Grayson was born absolutely perfect at 1:36pm on February 23rd, weighing in at 7lbs 15oz and 20 1/4 inches long.
Week 41 (February 21-23)
Overall Mood: DONE.
Physical Symptoms: Short of breath, heartburn, water broke, contractions
Baby Movement: Hiccups
Bump Changes: Can't sit down comfortably
Any Other Event: Water broke 2/22, finally gave birth 2/23
Week 40 (February 14-20)
Overall Mood: WHERE IS MY BABY?!
Physical Symptoms: So many contractions
Baby Movement: He is trying to claw his way out
Bump Changes: Baby dropped!
Any Other Event: Went into L&D after contractions became 3 min apart. Then they completely stopped. Scheduled induction for 2/22
Week 39 (February 7-13)
Overall Mood: Frustrated
Physical Symptoms: Exhaustion, sore ribs, lightening crotch
Baby Movement: Tons of hiccups
Bump Changes: How is it still growing???
Any Other Event: Couldn't get off the couch on my own.. stayed there all day
Week 38 (January 31- February 6)
Overall Mood: Excited
Physical Symptoms: Sore, Migraines, Short of breath
Baby Movement: Contractions all night long
Bump Changes: Covered in stretch marks... great
Any Other Event: Growth scan was great! Baby is about 6lbs 2oz already
Week 37 (January 24-30)
Overall Mood: Excited
Physical Symptoms: Nesting to the max, acid reflux while sleeping
Baby Movement: Flopping from side to side
Bump Changes: Baby is head down!
Any Other Event: Scheduled an growth scan!