Postpartum preeclampsia was not a term Katie Rehberg had heard in a long time.
Most moms have heard of the dangerous pregnancy complication called preeclampsia which causes elevated blood pressure, protein in your urine, headaches, and potentially seizures, organ failure, and death. It is commonly said that the cure is to have your baby! Then everything is supposed to regulate back to normal. But postpartum preeclampsia can come out of the blue. I’d heard of it because of my occupation as a Physician Assistant but didn’t really know that much about it, ie. the cause, what puts you at risk, and what you can do to prevent it. However, neither does anyone else really. Which is the super scary part!
I had been home for about 2 days after my son Davis had been delivered late on a Thursday night. I was still in a fog on Monday but everything was going well. My husband, Blake, and I were hanging out on the couch watching a movie. I decided to check my blood pressure because I hadn’t checked it since I’d been home. Side note, I had prenatal hypertension during my pregnancy with my first son, Jack, and again with Davis. Overall I had felt fine since I had been home, slightly anxious (but what mom isn’t when coming home with a newborn) and something just didn’t feel right. However, no headaches, no blurry vision, no right upper abdomen pain…just hanging out on the couch after a long day of pumping and taking care of a newborn and a 5-year-old.
So I’m a Physician Assistant (Dermatology) and, of course, realize that I’ve got a problem. But because of my profession, I know the long list of things that can potentially happen, too. My parents raced over to watch the boys while my husband and I headed to the emergency room at St. Joseph’s Hospital North. I had already contacted my OB and let her know what was going on. She said she would notify the women’s unit that I was on the way.
That night was a bit of a whirlwind, with an IV started and magnesium drip for 24 hours to prevent seizures and constant monitoring of my blood pressure. It didn’t go down and stay down like it should so I continued to have IV blood pressure medication. Thankfully the elevated pressure did not cause my liver enzymes to elevate, HELLP syndrome or any other complications.
I was so fortunate and had amazing support while I was in the hospital. With my blood pressure being taken every couple hours, I would become anxious just knowing it was almost time to take it. Between my amazing husband, parents, mother-in-law, and best friends they stayed positive and tried to distract me so I would relax. Finally, 6 days later my blood pressure was under control with two oral blood pressure medications taken multiple times a day, along with hydroxyzine which can be used for anxiety and sertraline for the actual anxiety.