I recently wrote my conception and birth stories for you. But my story unfortunately doesn’t end there. I had an interesting first week after giving birth and I’m going to share my ordeal with you. If hospitals or needles make you queasy, might I suggest you scroll through the archives for a different story to read.
On Wednesday night, only a week after being induced, I was watching Arrow with my husband while R laid on my chest. It felt like I had an elephant sitting on my chest, but I brushed it off. I tried readjusting R, assuming she was just sitting funny. The feeling didn’t go away so after Arrow I mentioned to my husband that my chest kind of hurt. He suggested I call the hospital to see what they had to said. The nurse told me I needed to get to the nearest ER to make sure that I hadn’t thrown a clot. So off we rushed to the nearest hospital (which wasn’t the hospital where I gave birth).
We dressed, threw some stuff in the diaper bag, took the dogs out quickly and headed to the ER of the closest hospital. Once there, I was immediately hooked up to an EKG machine so they could get a readout. I was then taken to an ER room to have all my vitals taken.
After a visit with the doctor, I had to get some bloodwork taken. This test would tell us if there is the possibility that I threw a clot. After waiting on the results, we learned that the test was inconclusive. This, of course, meant more testing had to be done.
I had to get a CT done of my chest. That meant they were going to inject dye into me that was not breastfeeding safe. They told me to pump and dump for the next eight hours. I quickly fed R one last time and then a nurse came in to put in an IV.
A man came and wheeled my hospital bed down the hall to get my scan done. The scan didn’t take very long. The man hooked up the dye to my IV and put me in the machine. I stared at the ceiling as the machine took pictures of my chest. Then he wheeled me back to my little ER room.
Once back in my room he hooked the blood pressure cuff up and set it to take my blood pressure and left. My blood pressure was 170 over something like it had been when I had given birth. The machine started beeping loudly and a nurse came in to turn it off. She didn’t really say much about it so my husband and I passed it off as a fluke and went about our business.
The doctor came in and told us the good news. There was no clot! But after the high reading he called my OBGYN and they wanted me to go back to the maternity ward. I had two options: check out of the hospital where I was and go to the ER of the other hospital and get transferred to the maternity ward through there or be transported by ambulance directly to the maternity ward. We chose to have me transported by ambulance.
It was a long wait for the ambulance. As the night wore on, I started getting a headache. Once we got word that the ambulance would be arriving soon, my husband packed up R and ran home to take the dogs out and pick up a few things. Then he and R would meet me at the maternity ward.
Well, they beat me by about an hour. By “be here soon” I guess they meant the ambulance was at least in the state of Ohio. My ride finally arrived around 2 am and I was strapped to a gurney and wheeled out to the ambulance. The ride was interesting to say the least. Once we got off the interstate, we started toward the hospital but the driver didn’t know where she was going. She endemic turning into a factory’s parking lot and started to turn around. I tried my best to explain how to get to the hospital (without being able to see where we were). The driver pulled out of the parking lot and out the back window I see the hospital shrinking in the distance. We were going the wrong way. We had to turn around again. After that, we made it to the hospital without any more detours.
I was taken to a C-section recovery room and was reunited with my husband and baby. I got to change into a hospital gown and received a brand new IV. The doctor came in to evaluate things and informed me I would actually need to pump and dump for 24 hours and not eight. I was terrified that would mean the end of my breastfeeding journey but I’d rather keep my baby safe and fed. If that meant formula then so be it.
The treatment for my high blood pressure was the same as when I was induced: blood pressure medicine and magnesium. We started with a magnesium push for the first hour. I had similar symptoms as before: hot and feeling sick. It’s not a normal hot but a feeling like your blood is boiling and heating you from the inside out. It’s strange and uncomfortable. As before, the nurses were very sweet and this time I could have water and food so there were perks to not being in labor during treatment!
After the push, I had to be on magnesium for 24 hours. They classified me as a fall risk so every time I had to go to the bathroom I had to call for a nurse. I barely got to hold my baby girl for that full 24 hours. That was more painful than any treatment!
My husband was amazing. He fed and changed our daughter, washed my pump parts, and in the morning when R had to go get her bilirubin tested for her jaundice, he carried her through the hospital to go get her blood drawn. I don’t think he slept much for that 24-hour period. Even after I was able to breastfeed again, I couldn’t get up to get R out of the bassinet so he still had to help me. He did get some sleep after I was able to take over the feedings again. I tried my best to keep R comfortable so she wouldn’t wake him.
After my 24-hour period of being on magnesium and with a blood pressure that was only slightly better with medication, I was officially diagnosed with postpartum preeclampsia. Once released from the hospital (again), I was to be on a blood pressure medicine and light duty (basically a modified bedrest) until my blood pressure came down. I had to go for weekly blood pressure checks with my OBGYN’s office.
With my marching orders in hand I was released from the hospital. R’s jaundice cleared up within another week but I was stuck with weekly doctors visits and blood pressure medication until I was 12 weeks postpartum. Then my blood pressure was finally back to normal.
Looking back, I shouldn’t have been so eager to leave the hospital after giving birth. It’s possible that if I had been monitored a little longer this would have all been prevented. In the end, I am so thankful for the team of doctors and nurses that took amazing care of us at both hospitals.
Preeclampsia is a serious problem that gets little attention from many women until it happens to them. I was aware and nervous about it because just a couple years before my friend had gone through it. I thought once I gave birth I was out of the woods, but while many people might lead you to believe that, it’s not true. For some people preeclampsia doesn’t show until they are recovering. Postpartum preeclampsia is widely unheard of but is a problem for those recovering after giving birth. To find out more about preeclampsia visit the Preeclampsia Foundation.
If you or someone you know has had preeclampsia, I would love to hear your story. Feel free to share in the comments or by contacting me.