My pregnancy with Everett was not easy. I had horrible heartburn, carpel tunnel from about six weeks that progressively got worse, unexplained itching that started in late December, and pain in my pelvis that made me consider crutches at one point because walking was *that* painful. The one positive health outcome of my pregnancy was a marked difference in my dizziness, so significant, in fact, that I almost forgot what it was like to be dizzy all the time. And then came week 36.
The weekend before my 36 week appointment I started getting headaches, which alone wouldn’t have been so concerning. What was? The spots that appeared in my vision one night as I started up the stairs. If there is one thing I’m ridiculously too knowledgeable about it’s health complications. I knew the headaches and spots could be blood pressure related. My normal b/p is about 118/70. At my 36 week appointment, it had crept to 130/80. I’ve been reminded numerous times that this reading is considered good, or at least normal, to many people. For me, this was a change and something we needed to monitor, especially with the headaches.
That appointment was on Tuesday, February 21. The next day I went to the grocery store after work and decided to check my blood pressure quickly before I left. 140/85. My midwife told me anything over 80 needed to be checked. But with Kellen being at home, I decided the best course of action was to go home, lie down, and relax. I’d check it again in the morning. When I rechecked, it was 165/91. And off to labor and delivery I went.
Our hospital has a stand alone maternity center, which is really nice. The entire unit was full when I arrived, save for one room in the very back. The first blood pressure reading? 150/109. The nurse said, “Well, if you keep having pressures like that, I wouldn’t plan on going anywhere.” I only had trace protein with the dip test, and my labs were ok. My blood pressure came down from the initial reading but still was hovering from 130-145/80-95. The unit was so busy that I never saw the hospitalist. Instead, my midwife came over, put me on bedrest, gave me a jug to collect my urine for the next day, and sent me home.
I stayed home Friday and worked while Dan took care of Kellen. By that afternoon my headache was worsening. I had also been feeling Everett less, though I was still feeling him. I didn’t want to go to L&D if it was nothing, but I finally decided that I needed to go in and could deal with being told I was being silly. Kellen came with us, which was entertaining! Everything was fine, but with my blood pressure still elevated and with the worsening headaches, they decided to keep me overnight until I was finished with my 24 hour urine collection to check for protein.
The diagnosis for pre-eclampsia is elevated blood pressure and 24 hour protein over 300. My protein level came back at 391. I was officially pre-eclamptic, and because of my headaches and the spots in my vision, I was placed into the severe category even though my b/p and protein were only somewhat elevated. While it is possible the headaches were unrelated, the conservative approach was to assume they were related. The best course of action for both me and Everett was induction. I was 36 weeks, 5 days pregnant.