When I became pregnant with my first child, my husband and I were ecstatic! We had had a miscarriage about a year and a half before this pregnancy, and had been trying for a while to get pregnant again.
When I found out I was pregnant, I made a promise to myself that this would be a successful pregnancy, and even if I threw up every day for 9 months, I would smile through it and not let anyone know I was uncomfortable. At first, this task was very simple. I had relatively no symptoms in the way of morning sickness. I was just a little tired. I am a nurse in the hospital that I would deliver, and our hospital is small enough that everyone knows everyone else. I had a smile on my face everyday, determined that I wouldn't be one of those "whiny pregnant women."
I found out in my eighth week of pregnancy that my progesterone level was low, and that was probably what had contributed to my first miscarriage according to my doctor. I took a progesterone supplement through the 14th week of pregnancy to prevent miscarriage. Then around the end of the fifth month, I could tell that I was retaining a little bit of fluid because my rings got tight. My blood pressure was okay, though, so I didn't think much of it, as some swelling in pregnancy is normal.
As the seventh month approached, though, my shoes also became tight. I also felt like my face was swollen, but no one else seemed to notice it. In the eighth month, my legs began swelling along with my face and my hands and feet. It was a humid summer, though, and my doctor felt like maybe I was retaining a little fluid, but that it wasn't too much to be concerned about because my blood pressure hadn't risen.
In the 36th week, though, I went to my regular appointment on a Monday. My blood pressure was approximately 140/100 at that appointment, and my doctor sent me to the hospital to have a fetal stress test done. It looked okay, so I was allowed to go home on bedrest.
I took my blood pressure at home several times a day, and on Tuesday, after lying all day, my blood pressure had not improved at all. I waited until the next morning and took my blood pressure, which was then about 136/104.
I called my doctor and was told to go to the hospital for another fetal stress test. It was okay again, thankfully, but my doctor kept me in the hospital at that time for observation with the diagnosis "rule out pregnancy induced hypertension." The nurses took my blood pressure about every 4 hours, which was reading approximately 130s/80s most of the time. I was so embarrased! I was lying in the bed thinking that they would think I was paranoid because I said my blood pressure was 136/104 that morning, but their machine was reading 130/80. I got to thinking "well, maybe my blood pressure cuff doesn't work." I didn't have any more high readings until 6 am on Thursday morning. My blood pressure was then 145/106. I was scared by the reading, but at the same time a little relieved that the nurses could no longer think I was crazy or paranoid or that I was a nurse and didn't even know how to take a blood pressure! Ha Ha!
Anyway, my doctor came in later that morning and told me that since I was almost 37 weeks, that he wanted to induce labor because my blood pressure would continue to rise and pose a risk for me and my baby. I agreed and the nurses inserted cervidil that night.
The next morning, I began having cramps, but no really good contractions. The nurses started pitocin and we were told that the labor could progress quite slowly, as I wasn't even dilated yet. My blood pressure continued to be around 130s-140s over 90s-100s, so I had to lay on my left side, through the beginning contractions.
After being on the pitocin for a few hours, the nurses noticed that the baby's heart rate was dropping. The doctor came over and looked at the fetal activity, and let me know that we couldn't use the pitocin to get labor to progress, but that we did need it to progress quickly. The pitocin was causing the heart rate to decrease, and my blood pressure continued to stay elevated. My doctor recommended a c-section, which my husband and I agreed with.
At around 5 pm on that Friday night, they took me in to surgery and delivered my baby. Maddox Michael was born at 5:54 pm, weighing 5 lbs and 15 ounces. He had a low oxygen level about ten minutes after he was born and needed to spend the night under the oxygen hood, but recovered quickly and was able to go home with me three days later. I thought to myself that I was so lucky, despite the "minor" complications that I had developed.
Over the course of the next week, my body was recovering from surgery and we were out and about, getting Maddox's pictures taken for his birth announcement on the Monday after we were dismissed from the hospital. That evening, the headache that I had had for the past couple of days had gotten worse. It was 10 days after I had delivered my son, and my blood pressure had been good after I had delivered when they checked it in the hospital over the next couple of days after delivery (but in hindsight I realize that it was only checked four or five times total after I had Maddox).
On that 10th day after I had delivered, my headache really became unbearable, so I had my sister check my blood pressure. It was 190/120! I couldn't even believe it--I had never even had a patient with a blood pressure that high! I thought for a while, and decided to go ahead and call my doctor, even though I was scared he would think that there was no way that my blood pressure was really that high, when I had really been feeling great otherwise.
He told me that maybe my blood pressure cuff really wasn't right, but that just to be safe, I should come to the hospital and have the nurses check it.
My husband drove to the hospital and left my new little baby at home with my in-laws. I was scared to death. When I got to my room, the nurses talked to me for a while and had me lay on my left side for about an hour before they ever checked my blood pressure. I had wanted them to take it immediately because I thought that they would think I was crazy if it really wasn't that high.
After what felt like forever, they finally took my blood pressure. To my worst fears, my blood pressure read 202/123. I was afraid that I would die, and I think the nurse was too, because her eyes got wide, and she went to get another nurse, and they decided to take it several times, with different positions each time. It read just as high each time.
They called the doctor, who started me on blood pressure medications to bring my blood pressure down quickly. I only had to stay in the hospital for about one day total, because my blood pressure came down quickly. I was sent home on blood pressure medication and was told to take my blood pressure at least three times a day. (I guess at that point I had proven to them that I was in fact capable of taking my own blood pressure pretty accurately). Over the next week, my blood pressure was good for the first two days, but then began rising to about 140/104 on average. My blood pressure medication was then increased to double the dosage. After a couple of more weeks, they added yet another medication to bring it down because my blood pressure was still the 140s/ 90s.
Finally, after about another week, my blood pressure came down to a decent number and has stayed there pretty much ever since. I am now at 12 weeks exactly after delivery and still taking my blood pressure medicine. Hopefully at some point I will be able to start weaning off of the medication, but at this point my doctor doesn't want to try it yet.
I find my success story a little different in that my really high blood pressures didn't really develop until after I delivered. I still haven't seen many other stories where this has happened, and my doctor told me that he had only seen it one other time in his practice. I will be interested to see if there are many other that this has happened to, and how long they have had to battle the blood pressure after they delivered.