Amy has 4 children, 3 daughters ages 20,17, and 15 and a son 13, from her first marriage. She remarried in October 2014 to a man who didn’t have children so they agreed to try for one together. Thankfully, they conceived quickly! Their beautiful son Beau was born August 24, 2015 and weighed 8lbs 1oz and was 21 inches when Amy was 38 years old! Beau was her 5th C-section and although her pregnancy went smoothly, she began experiencing complications after his birth.
Amy has decided to share her experience with preeclampsia and postpartum preeclampsia with Babies After 35…
“When my first child was born 20 years ago I developed “toxemia”, now called preeclampsia, at 26 weeks. My only symptom was high blood pressure and headaches. I was monitored very closely, had multiple labs drawn, numerous ultrasounds to check the baby’s growth, and weekly office visits. At 36 weeks I started to develop swelling, increased headache, and had more protein in my urine. My daughter was born 29 hours later completely healthy.
Fast-forward 20 years and 4 children later…
I became pregnant again and things were going well until about 32 weeks. I had a new OBGYN this pregnancy as my previous doctor was no longer in practice. At my appointments I began telling her that I wasn’t feeling right. I was vomiting often, swelling, had numbness in my face and hands and my blood pressure began slowly creeping up. Each week I felt worse. My entire body hurt. I couldn’t sleep and spent the majority of most nights crying, sitting on a yoga ball. I tried explaining to my doctor that this was my 5th child, and I had always enjoyed being pregnant and had never experienced anything like this. All my symptoms were dismissed and blamed on my age (I was 38). I was told I was just older and tired.
By the time I reached 39 weeks I had lost 11 pounds from constant vomiting. I was swollen, sick, and in labor when I checked in for my scheduled C-section. My body knew it was time. I started having strange heart arrhythmias which I had never had in my life. I was kept in recovery for five hours after delivery and had an EKG. I was finally moved to my room and all seemed to be well.
48 hours after my son was born I was taking a shower and as I was putting my hair up I noticed my left arm felt strange and heavy. I got back in my bed and almost didn’t mention it to my nurse, but for some reason I decided to. By that time my reflexes were overactive, and I had visual disturbances, numbness and weaknesses in my left side, a horrible headache and elevated blood pressure. My heart was also becoming weak. Within minutes the nurse called a code blue and my room filled with medical professionals.I don’t remember clearly all that occurred, but I was moved to a critical care labor and delivery room with a nurse that sat by my bedside monitoring me. I was started on magnesium and another medication for my excruciating headache. Whatever that medication was basically knocked me out. I remember hearing the neurologist say to give me enough to put me out as they couldn’t keep me conscious and control the headache. I was taken for an MRI during this time.
Thankfully I had not had a stroke yet. For several days I was pretty incoherent. I could hear people in my room, but I couldn’t communicate. I slowly improved and was released from the hospital 5 days postpartum with high blood pressure and no blood pressure medicine with the diagnosis of severe postpartum preeclampsia. Upon my release I was so swollen I was nearly unrecognizable. I was released without being educated on things to watch for and no idea the preeclampsia could return. After several days at home I started swelling more with severe pitting edema and seriously high blood pressure. I called my doctors office and was told that all those things were normal; it just takes time. I was told to just lay down as much as possible. After a few hours I knew something was wrong and decided to have my husband take me to the ER.
Upon arrival my blood pressure was 188/161, my heart and kidneys were failing and I had critically low potassium. I was readmitted and given the magnesium again along with potassium. During the 2 days of my second hospitalization, I lost 14 pounds of water weight. I’m currently 6 months postpartum and still on blood pressure medicine. I’m just now starting to feel more like myself.
I truly hope physicians will educate women on postpartum warning signs of preeclampsia, or at least let them know it can occur postpartum.”
Amy hopes to educate women about postpartum preeclampsia. She had given birth to five children and had never heard of it, until it happened to her. She always believed that delivery of the baby was the “cure” for preeclampsia. Amy feels women should be educated about things to watch for in the postpartum period as well as during the pregnancy itself.
Amy is so thankful that she’s still here to watch her children grow up. Beau is a wonderful addition to the family and has brought them so much joy!
Congrats, Amy, and thank you for sharing your story!!