From the moment I became pregnant my mind was on the day I would give birth. Countless pins to my, “Giving Birth,” Pinterest board and hours of reading birth-horror stories filled my day. I even re-watched that dreaded video of a woman giving birth we all remember from grade school. As my pregnancy progressed, so did the number of pins. I had boards about labor, natural birth, and how to have an easy birth. I even thought about and planned for post partum healing. But never, in my hours of thinking and planning, did I even think about post-partum complications. You have the baby and live happily ever after right? Not really.
The actual delivery went so much better than I had ever expected. I did not follow through on my intentions of having a natural birth, but let me tell you- I do not regret it. Ariel entered the world in 4 pushes. For this being my first birth, I’d say that is pretty lucky. I was also blessed with no complications, physically, after delivery. I was able to move around about 3 hours after and felt relatively normal. I felt grateful and fortunate to have recovered so well. I sat in this gratefulness for about four days, and then things changed.
I am thankful that we were still in the hospital with Ariel when that fourth day came. My husband and I were sharing my hospital bed, watching Friends and eating some dinner while Ariel was out for her evening IV treatment. I started to feel funny, something was not right. I was looking at my phone, scrolling through Facebook, when all of a sudden I couldn’t see my thumb. I had an annoying headache and my vision began cutting out. Bright spots were clouding my vision. I had to focus extremely hard to truly see what I was looking at. I could no longer read what was on my phone screen. What was happening?
Panic filled my body. I told my husband that something was not right. He was asking me questions about my symptoms and I was answering him. But, as minutes passed it became more difficult to talk. It was as if my mouth could not keep up with my mind. I would hear myself stop talking mid-sentence because I had no idea what was supposed to come next. Moments later my hands began to feel numb. I was in full panic mode. My husband went to get the nurses and I was wheeled down the hall to the Emergency Room. I was terrified, but not for my own health. I knew that Ariel was finishing up her treatment and she was going to be wheeled back in to an empty room. I was not able to be there for my baby girl. I felt like I was already failing as a mother and I was less than a week in.
The Doctor came in to see me, take some blood and run some tests. They knew how important breastfeeding was to me, so they had a pump wheeled down to me so that I could pump while waiting for the results of my labs. The Labor and Delivery nurses, came to get what I had pumped and promised to wait as long as they could before giving her a bottle. While waiting I also receive at CAT scan to be certain nothing was going on with my brain. What felt like ages, was actually minutes, the Doctor came back into my room and informed me that I had Postpartum Preeclampsia. Women with Preeclampsia run the risk of seizures, which is then referred to as Eclampsia. My symptoms; vision loss, partial loss of motor function, as well as the upper abdominal pain I was experiencing were leading to what could have been a series of seizures. We needed to act quickly to prevent that from happening.
I was sent back my room and was reunited with my baby girl. The nurses prepared my room for the 24-hour magnesium treatment I was going to undergo. My bed was covered in padding, to protect me if I were to have a seizure. I went to the bathroom, washed my face, and got into bed. I was hooked up to my IV and given big compression wraps around my legs. The 24-hour treatment began at 9pm. I was not allowed to get up at all, not even to use the bathroom. My amazing husband took care of diapers and soothing for those 24 hours. Thankfully, I was able to continue nursing despite the magnesium drip.
The next day was long and uncomfortable, but I was able to get some rest and continue cuddling and bonding with my new bundle of joy. You never truly appreciate the ability to use the restroom on your own until it is taken away from you. I will never be able to say enough how wonderful the Labor and Delivery nurses were. Not only did they treat Ariel perfectly, they were so kind and caring to me when I needed it as well. They came in at 9:00 the next evening to remove my IV and free me from my bedridden prison. And that was the only treatment that was needed to prevent any seizures.
Though I was protected against the progression of the eclampsia, I was not completely cured of the symptoms. I was still unable to focus on words and text. Reading was extremely difficult. Head aches became my normal for the next couple of weeks. I was informed that these symptoms could last up to 6 weeks postpartum. Luckily, mine were gone within two weeks.
I did not think about how much a woman’s body goes through in both pregnancy and giving birth. We were designed for this. But sometimes things do not go as they should. 4 months later, I am healthy and strong. However, every time I get a headache I am instantly reminded of my postpartum adventure.
“Birth is BEAUTIFUL because it is UNPREDICTABLE in the most WONDERFUL of ways,” -unknown
Eclampsia: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/eclampsia