When I got sick with preeclampsia, it was the doctors who saved my life. It was the nurses who cared for me. But, I’m here because of my midwives.
While I was pregnant with my daughter, Dorothy, I was under the care of a midwifery team. At my 28 week appointment, one of the midwives noted that my blood pressure was elevated. She wasn’t worried, but it caused her concern. Knowing that I was an anxious person, they sent me home but told me to come back the next day if it was still elevated.
I returned the next day and after a few hours of tests, they sent me home again. My blood pressure was still a little high but baby and I seemed otherwise healthy. I knew almost nothing about typical blood pressure in pregnancy, so I listened as they told me to look out for any swelling in my hands or face, headaches, blurry vision, or pain in the upper right quadrant of my abdomen. When I asked them what they were worried about, they told me preeclampsia.
Upon returning home, I looked up preeclampsia in my baby books. There was a short paragraph mentioning that preeclampsia could be serious, but it was light on the details. Since there wasn’t much there, I didn’t think there was much to be worried about. I figured I would rest and things would settle down.
Two days later, after sitting to eat lunch, I noticed my hands feeling tight and puffy. One of my co-workers who had just returned to the room remarked on the swelling in my face. I figured it was typical pregnancy swelling, but my midwives had advises me to call if this happened. So, I called and they asked me to come back in.
This time, I was not sent home.
The midwife who had cared for me two days before seemed immediately concerned upon seeing me. My hands and face were starting to swell beyond recognition. Seeing the worry in her eyes scared me.
In a matter of hours, my blood pressure had skyrocketed and I was becoming very ill. I had preeclampsia and at only 28 weeks it a very concerning diagnosis for me and my baby. My midwife sat down next to me and took my hand. She told me that it was okay to be scared, but that me and my baby would be taken care of but she wouldn’t be the one taking care of me any longer. My condition was so critical that I needed to be transferred to a larger hospital that had the resources to care for me and a NICU in case my baby arrived prematurely.
In the next hour, I was admitted to another hospital and found myself under the care of an incredible team of doctors and nurses. These professionals, despite their skills and their attention, were not able to save my daughter. A week after being admitted, she was stillborn after a placental abruption. I developed HELLP syndrome and required serious medical attention to save my life.
Because of their knowledge, their level of care, and their patient-centered approach, I was able to get the treatment I needed. I will always wish that my daughter could have survived our ordeal. Her death is a tragedy. But, I am grateful to be here telling her story and raising awareness about preeclampsia and stillbirth.
And I’m here to do that because of my midwives.
For more information about midwives and their work visit https://www.internationalmidwives.org/