“This is my fourth baby. I’ve been here before. Nothing has ever gone terribly wrong. I’m pretty sure I’ve got this.”
These were the words I told myself throughout my entire pregnancy, even throughout my labor and delivery. Well, things were about to change.
I have always been blessed to have fairly easy pregnancies and deliveries. I am healthy and have never had any major health conditions. I went to all my prenatal appointments and had no red flags … ever. My blood pressure was always, always perfect. As for my labor and delivery, it was the same, nothing too crazy. Everything went well. Our baby girl was born, and she was just perfect.
For the first two days after delivery, when we were still in the hospital, I felt fine. My vitals were taken regularly, and everything was normal. When we were ready to be discharged, I was given all the discharge orders that I had received 3 times in the past, so I was listening, but had the attitude of, yes, yes, I know all of this. I will say however, that for some reason I did listen attentively when the nurse was going through the section on postpartum preeclampsia. I do not think I ever “listened” to this section in the past. And boy, am I glad I did.
Six days after my delivery, I was home alone with our new little one. My husband was working, and my other three kids were with family. I realized that morning that I was still so swollen, and I felt like the swelling was starting to get worse, not better. I knew I was never this swollen throughout my pregnancy, but I didn’t pay too much attention to it, and just chalked it up to retaining fluid a little longer than usual, and I went about my day. This was sign number 1. A few hours later, I started to get nauseated, really nauseated. Once again, I thought, “This is nothing. It’s just my hormones acting up.” Well, this was sign number 2. And then, “sign number 3” came like a ton of bricks, and I got hit with a wave of feeling light-headed and dizzy. I felt AWFUL. This is when I knew something was not right.
Immediately, I knew I needed to do something before I passed out with a 6 day old at home by myself. I called my husband, my parents, my sister, everyone I talk to and am with on a daily basis, and my sister was the closest to come to me. When she got here, the first thing she said to do was for me to take my blood pressure. I agreed with her because I remembered the nurse telling me about the warning signs of postpartum preeclampsia. Thankfully, I had a blood pressure machine through my OB’s office, that wasn’t even taken out the box (which goes to show how blasé I was about my blood pressure throughout my pregnancy)! Well needless to say, it was 195 over 99. I knew this was extremely high and the reason for the way I felt. I went through all the paperwork I received when I was discharged and found the one about postpartum preeclampsia, starting to realize this is probably what was happening. I called my doctor, and she advised me to go back to the hospital. I was a wreck. I was so scared about what this meant for my newborn, for myself, and for my family. I cried the whole way there and the entire time I was in the little triage area of labor and delivery. The doctors and nurses there were able to get my blood pressure down with medicine, but they did decide to admit me for the next two nights to ensure it would not spike again.
Thankfully, my husband and our newborn were both able to stay with me in the hospital, and our other kids were taken care of with the help of family and friends. I was also put on a Magnesium IV drip, which made me feel awful! This was necessary, though, to prevent strokes. I was later discharged and put on a low dose blood pressure medicine. I take my pressure daily, and I have not had a spike since.
I am recovered and could not be more grateful that I did not ignore the warning signs. Never did I think this could happen to me, especially for my fourth baby! But it did. Each pregnancy is different for each mother reading this. Always pay attention to your own body. I am hoping that by sharing my story, I can spread awareness of this happening, especially because of it happening after delivery.
Michele Fay is a New Orleans native, growing up in Metairie. She graduated from Cabrini High School and went on to graduate from LSU with a degree in Elementary Education. She received her first teaching job in Baton Rouge, and later went on to meet her husband. Being from New Orleans himself they both had the strong desire to raise a family here, and have their own kids be New Orleans natives themselves. Michele has 4 kids all under the age of 7. She is a member of the Lakeview community, and is very happy to call New Orleans home.