My daughter was born on a Tuesday and I was discharged 3 days later on a Friday morning. After being in the hospital for 5 days I was more than ready to go home and start my life as a mom.
Before my doctor discharged me I noticed that I was extremely swollen and both my mom and I asked her if this was normal. We were told that it was normal postpartum swelling and it would go down on its own in 1-2 weeks. The next night was when we knew something was seriously wrong.
That Saturday night, I started having breathing issues when trying to lay down and sleep. I would wake up almost every 30 minutes and tell my husband that I couldn’t breathe. Between taking care of our 4 day old baby and me not being able to breath, neither my husband or I got much sleep that night. When he wasn’t helping me with the baby he was watching me out of concern because we didn’t know what was going on with me.
The rest of the night I slept sitting up because laying down and sleeping was impossible due to my shortness of breathe.
I told my husband that I was going to go to urgent care as soon as they opened in the morning and get myself checked out. For some reason, I thought I had bronchitis and was going to go to urgent care, get diagnosed, get a prescription and get back home.
Never would I have thought what happened next would happen to me.
The next morning I drove to the urgent care clinic near our house and explained to the doctor that I just had my daughter by cesarean 5 days ago and I’m having extreme shortness of breathe. He checked my vitals and after listening to my lungs he told me that it sounds like I have fluid in my lungs. They did an X-ray of my chest and while waiting on the results I was given a 15 minute breathing treatment.
So I’m sitting in the room doing the breathing treatment and the doctor comes in and has a worried look on his face. He tells me that I need to go to the emergency room immediately because it looks like I may have pneumonia and if I didn’t go to the hospital and get treated I would not make it through the night.
The X-ray showed that my heart was enlarged and my lungs were full of fluid.
Honestly that was the moment that I “checked out” mentally. I left the clinic and got into my car and called my husband. I told him about the X-ray and what the what the doctor said and the worry and concern in his voice made me break down. No one ever wants to think about not being here to raise your children but that’s where my mind went immediately.
I drove myself to the hospital and was immediately taken to the back when I told them about the urgent care diagnosis. When I was brought to a room, 1 doctor and 3 nurses came in, checking vitals, asking lots questions and after about 15 minutes the doctor told me to call my husband and have him bring the baby because I wasn’t going home anytime soon. At that time they diagnosed me with postpartum preeclampsia.
Immediately everything became so surreal, realizing that it was really life threatening, I just started crying and then hyperventilating. You always hear about preeclampsia being a complication during pregnancy, never about postpartum preeclampsia.
How could this be happening to me? I’m supposed to be at home enjoying my newborn daughter, not laying here in a hospital gown and being told that if I didn’t come in when I did I more than likely would not have woken up the next morning. That was hard and just plain brutal to hear.
While my husband was on his way to the hospital with our daughter, the nurses started the dreaded hand IV and put a catheter in. Let me tell you, those hand iv’s are no joke and they are anything but comfortable. I honestly don’t know which one was worse the hand IV or the catheter.
By the time my husband got to the hospital they were starting me on medicine to help lower my blood pressure because it was dangerously high. They also started giving me injections of Lasix through the IV to start pulling some of the fluid off my body.
The Lasix started to work almost immediately. Every time the collection bag from the catheter got about 2 liters of fluid in it, it had to be emptied. The bag was emptied 4 times while I was downstairs in the room they had me in. After being in ER for almost 3 hours I was bought up to ICU.
They bought us up to ICU and took me to have another chest x-ray done to look at my heart and lungs again. While waiting on the results, I was given doses of magnesium through my IV because my blood pressure was still dangerously high and they were concerned that I was going to have a stroke.
A specialist from another hospital had to be called in to do a vascular scan of both of my legs to make sure there were no blood clots. They also had an echocardiogram done to check for any possible damage to my heart.
While all of this is going on, I’m laying in the hospital bed watching my husband whose holding our daughter while my mom and dad look on in utter fear and concern for me. I kept thinking to myself over and over, ” I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die, I haven’t had any time with my babygirl.”
The first 24 hours in ICU were intense. My body was severely swollen from all of the excess fluid, my blood pressure kept spiking and I still had trouble breathing. My legs were so swollen they put mechanical air compression calf wraps on them to help pump the fluid off of my legs. My heart was not strong enough to help remove any of the excess fluid.
All of the ICU nurses were amazing and so encouraging from the first day to the last day I was in the hospital. I was extremely grateful that they allowed my daughter to stay in the hospital with me.
The only stipulation was because I was in ICU I couldn’t be left alone in the room with her. My mom stayed with me during the daytime to help me take care of her because I was confined to the bed and my husband came in and stayed every night.
Not being able to hold my daughter much, change her or feed her was tough. I was pumped full of so much medicine I didn’t trust myself to not drop her from my hospital bed. I was so thankful and grateful that my mom was there to help me the entire time.
I was in the ICU for 5 days and by the time I was released from the hospital a total of 28 pounds of fluid had been pulled from my body. The official diagnosis was Acute Postpartum Pulmonary Edema. I was never given an exact reason how or why this happened.
We believe it was caused by fluid overload from when I was induced the previous week. Whatever the cause was is no longer important because 9 months later I’m here raising my daughter. I’m so grateful to the urgent care doctor and all of the doctors and nurses that took care of me while I was in the hospital.
I’m sharing my story because too many times women are forgotten about after giving birth. All of the focus is on the baby but our postpartum health is just as important as our new baby’s health.
If you think something is wrong, don’t shrug it off, please go and get checked out. It could be the difference of whether or not you are going to be here to watch your baby grow up. No one wants to think about that, I for sure never thought anything like this would ever happen to me but it did.
If I had ignored the urgent care doctors concerns and gone home like I really wanted to, I wouldn’t be here 9 months later telling my story and watching my daughter grow up.