Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gentle Calm

I wrote in my last blog entry that I wasn’t worried about the odd things that started happening near the end of my pregnancy. I was in good hands, being watched carefully. I was at the weekly check-up point. Everything was okay.

EERRRT, Hindsight yelled. Wrong answer.

Things change quickly in pregnancy. And it’s hard to see the bigger picture when you’re measuring day-to-day. Over and above that fact, my body doesn’t play by the rules.

So, at thirty-nine weeks pregnant, I drove myself thirty minutes down the highway for my prenatal appointment. I waddled into the office, a little out of breath and a lot exhausted. We discovered another five pounds in water weight when the nurse weighed me. My feet were white Shrek feet. My blood pressure was high.

My doctor was very calm. She didn’t tell me what the blood pressure numbers were, and I didn’t think to ask. She simply told me that I needed to go to the hospital straight away. Her voice was even and soothing when she explained that the nurses would check the baby with a non-stress test, and the on-duty OBGYN would check my cervix and decide whether or not to admit me and induce.

With a smile, she said I would more than likely be a mom in the next few days.

The receptionist offered to walk me to the hospital, but I didn’t want to leave my car in the wrong parking lot, so I drove. She told me later that she was really worried about me and the baby.

But when you’re that sick, people do everything possible to keep you from freaking out. Soft and gentle tones and facial expressions are a must for everyone with high blood pressure.

They were expecting me in the maternity ward. After they got me settled into a comfy green gown and onto an exam bed for the non-stress test, I called Tim. I was eerily calm myself, though only as a reflection of what I’d seen so far.

The baby was still doing great – no worries there. I was admitted into the only single room on the ward. In case you’re wondering, that is not a good sign, but I didn’t know it at the time. The single room happened to be right next to the nurse station.

They were monitoring my blood pressure every thirty minutes. Again, the nurses didn’t tell me how high it was, and I was too stunned to ask. The OBGYN decided to induce. He told me that it would be a long process, so it was okay for Tim to finish his day at work, pack our overnight bag (yes, I was unprepared), and then drive to the hospital.

When he got there, he saw the numbers on the blood pressure machine. 199 / 119 (with medication).

No wonder people were worried! Normal blood pressure is below 120 / 80, and hypertension is defined as blood pressure consistently higher than 140 / 90.

Preeclampsia is a serious complication that can result in the death of the mother and child. It can only be cured by giving birth. The good news: the baby was developed enough to make this a very attractive option. If I was diagnosed with preeclampsia before the baby was ready to survive outside of my uterus, we might have had to wait.

Also under the category of good news: I have no doubt that I would have died, maybe my baby too, if we weren’t in a hospital. As little as eight-five years ago, we also probably would have died.

What happened in the next few days is a blur, but I’ve pieced it together with some help.


  1. It's a good thing they kept you calm and unaware of the danger for as long as they did. Otherwise, if it'd been me, my blood pressure would have gone through the roof (even more so) if I'd been fully aware of the danger.

    Straight From Hel

  2. They did a good job keeping me calm in the hospital.