Published on June 30, 2020

The new mommy diaries

It was a normal delivery, and then problems started

By Stephanie Johnson / The Bulletin

It was as if the Grim Reaper in fancy black scrubs had walked into my delivery room at 4 a.m. He asked me if I had a living will.

You must have the wrong room. Why would I need that at my age? This is where I am about to give birth to our son. After that, everything went blank on my part. Either I had developed a major problem, or this doctor dressed in black was being overly dramatic.

He was talking, but I couldn’t hear him. I became terrified. David, my husband, talked with him. There was a problem - 140 over 118.

This was not a basketball final score. It was my blood pressure. The nurse walked out without saying anything after taking it. They took it all night long. I failed all of it. It was staying high.

Luckily, David heard everything, and he basically said that my blood pressure levels were extremely high. The doctor in the Grim Reaper outfit was there because my blood pressure was so high that it triggered an alarm. My condition had to be assessed within a certain time frame, it was explained.

That made some sense now, but the Grim Reaper act was still weird. I guess doctors are doing stuff like this every day and sometimes forget how it affects other people who are not doctors. Maybe it will just scare the living daylights out of them.

I went from an emotional high of giving birth, to a low after being asked if I had a living will. Who in their 20s has a living will? I was thinking that he would only ask this if my life was in danger.

They said I had tested positive for pre-eclampsia. I had never heard of it. I thought everything was good. The baby and I were starting to adjust to each other. The high blood pressure had been around for a while, and nobody seemed too alarmed - until now. The doctors kept looking at my feet and legs while asking me the same questions.

I had just given birth to a perfectly healthy baby boy. I never thought about my own health, or that I could be in danger. I was only worried about our baby.

If you don’t know what postpartum preeclampsia is, here is the definition online: Postpartum preeclampsia is a condition that can happen after childbirth. This rare condition will cause the woman to have high blood pressure and high levels of protein in her urine. This is a serious condition that can lead to brain damage, stroke, and even death if not treated.

No wonder the nurses continued watching me like a hawk. I avoided looking at it or googling it because I was scared, but David called it up on his phone. He looked terrified, as if he saw a ghost. I have never seen him that pale in the face before.

With so much going on, David and I decided to keep this to ourselves and not tell family yet.
As they continued to watch my vitals, I was in high-alert mode. I was still trying to feed my newborn baby and was recovering from delivery while having to deal with a possible medical emergency on my hands.

I was prescribed some blood pressure medicine. Since I wasn’t having any other symptoms, such as swelling, headaches, or blurry vision, we were allowed to be discharged the next night.
They figured I would relax better at home, but they let me know if I had any symptoms, I should go straight to the E.R.

That was a relief. There was no Grim Reaper at home, just a baby room waiting for its new occupant.

The first night at home was a struggle, trying to feed and soothe a newborn while also checking my numbers. They were still high. I tried to relax as much as I could. The doctors said the blood pressure would go down; the question was, when?

I kept checking my blood pressure several times a day, but it stayed put. I thought that I might have to go to the ER if the reading didn’t change.

Then one day I wrapped the sleeve around my arm and proceeded to do what I had done so many times.

The sleeve inflated, and the machine beeped. Then it was over - the reading showed 112 over 72.

David and I were in tears - tears of joy.

(You can reach Stephanie at stephanie.bulletin@gmail.com. Or by writing to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)