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.