Angel's Story

June 06, 2024 By Angel Barrett

Angel's Story

The week of Christmas 2022 I left town at 31 weeks and missed my 32 week appt because it was over the holidays. During that time my ankles, legs, knees and thighs all began to swell - but that’s normal in pregnancy. Breathing became painful and every position was hard to sit comfortably. We got back into town on New Years Eve and I asked another friend expecting around the same time if she was experiencing pain and she described a tightness that made me think we were the same. The next day the swelling had increased but I was fine to go to church, sit and head home but it became more and more painful to breathe. My husband called his mom, a retired nurse, as I was crying in pain. She recommended calling my OB/GYN who recommended we go to the hospital to check my blood pressure. We were sure it was nothing but went just in case. My blood pressure was 240/180 and I was diagnosed with HELLP and severe preeclampsia. The doctor called for an ambulance as their hospital had no NICU and told me I had to lower my blood pressure and began listing all the things that could happen to mend I did not. I now reflect and see that performance being tied to a low blood pressure is not realistic, but at the time it felt like failure. They finally got me to a stable blood pressure enough to transfer me. They originally said the baby would be delivered within that week but by the time we got to the second hospital we were told it would be within a matter of hours. I was in the hospital for a week and my son, born at 33 weeks, was in the NICU for 3 weeks. I was on blood pressure medicine for 6 weeks taking a variety of medication and doses from 4 am - 11 pm. My liver was impacted and required me to get multiple follow up appts and blood work but has gotten back to a healthy place. I am currently pregnant with my second and since 20 weeks have been taking my blood pressure daily to monitor for potential pre eclampsia. My biggest word of advice is to talk with your doctor about key symptoms, which had never been described to me, and that every pregnant person should be monitoring their blood pressure in the third trimester.