Today I bring you a very special post from Sarah at Finnegan and The Hughes about her experience with preeclampsia. As I’ve talked about in the past, preeclampsia is a nightmare of a condition that effects WAY too many women – myself included. Here is Sarah’s story…
I woke up one morning and knew something was wrong. It was only 5 days after my second child was born so I wasn’t surprised to be feeling exhausted, but this seemed different. I was having a hard time catching my breath and just couldn’t seem to focus clearly on anything I would look at. I told my husband that I felt off and he insisted I call the doctor. His insistence worried me so I called. Then my doctor told me that I needed to get to the emergency room right away which really worried me.
After many hours in the hospital, with blood pressure readings like 220/120 a nurse told me “Sarah, you are suffering from Postpartum Preeclampsia” What? There I was, an educated mother of two being diagnosed with a disorder of pregnancy that effects 1 in 12 pregnancies YET it was something I had only briefly heard about and had no idea it could happened postpartum. I was hooked up to a Magnesium Sulfate IV to prevent seizures or a stroke. Petrified I might die, confused about what was really happening to me; the magnesium made me feel so sickly, I was on oxygen, I couldn’t get out of bed and cried for three days straight wanting to see my babies again.
When I was discharged I decided to research what happened to me. That is when I found the Preeclampsia Foundation. Reading the boards on their site I realized what happened to me was actually somewhat common. What I still didn’t understand was HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT PREECLAMPSIA??? HOW??? If 1 in 12 women suffered from preeclampsia how did I not know more about it. This is why I decided to bring the Promise walk for Preeclampsia to the Philadelphia Area. I wanted to raise awareness. I wanted to give back to other mothers since my preeclampsia story didn’t harm my beautiful baby girl.
Have you heard of preeclampsia?
According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, thousands of women and babies die or get very sick each year from this dangerous condition called preeclampsia. It is a life-threatening disorder that occurs in up to 1 in 12 women during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Preeclampsia and related disorders such as HELLP syndrome and eclampsia are most often characterized by the presence of protein in the urine and a rapid rise in blood pressure that can lead to seizure, stroke, multiple organ failure and death of the mother and/or baby. Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision are important symptoms; however, some women with rapidly advancing disease report few symptoms.
Typically, preeclampsia occurs after 20 weeks gestation (in the late 2nd or 3rd trimesters or middle to late pregnancy), though it can occur earlier and up to 6 weeks postpartum. Proper prenatal care is essential to diagnose and manage preeclampsia. Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) and toxemia are outdated terms for preeclampsia. HELLP syndrome and eclampsia (seizures) are other variants of preeclampsia.
On Saturday, May 3rd 2014 we will host our 3rd Annual Philadelphia Area Promise Walk for Preeclampsia at Challenge Grove Park in Cherry Hill, NJ. It is always a morning of hope and promise. As the walk coordinator I have met so many amazing women and their families. We come together one morning a year to bring hope, to raise awareness and to feel less isolated in what we went through. We mourn those that left us too soon due to preeclampsia. It is my hope that one day we will find a cause and a cure, I pray that my children never have to worry about preeclampsia. Please help us raise awareness by sharing the signs and symptoms with someone you know.