Sorry this is so long and rambly, that’s what you get when I’m bored in hospital with a laptop!
The short version is that I was admitted to hospital on Monday night with high blood pressure and discharged on Thursday with high blood pressure and some medication.
It all started Monday afternoon. A and I had left Willow with Keren because we needed to take Dexter to hospital to have his talipes checked. He was seen in the birthing centre by a paediatrician who was paged by our midwife, Belinda. The paediatrician wrote a referral to the physiotherapist who would make an appointment with us later on in the week.
I commented to Belinda that I’d been trying to avoid coming into hospital! Little did I know…
I wasn’t feeling well at that stage, but put it down to post-baby blues. I nearly asked Belinda to check my blood pressure then because I had that same headache but though it was just lack of sleep. We picked up Willow and went home to have dinner. It was wonderful for the four of us to be at home as a family. My headache was still around so I got the blood pressure machine out. It was 144/103. Not good. Rosie had checked it after birth and it had gone down to 125/85.
A said that I should call Belinda and I did reluctantly. She suggested taking two panadol and lying down for an hour. Then I should take my blood pressure again and call her back with the results. It was about 6:30 pm. A got dinner ready and served it up in this time, while I laid on the couch. I had a nice steak for my iron levels. Dexter was in the electric swing which made me sad – I liked holding him in my arms and he looked so small in here. He was sound asleep though. During this time I chatted with Jenn, which was reassuring. At 7:30 I took my blood pressure again and it was 136/108.
I called Belinda back and she said she would be right around to check it herself. I tidied up the house and got W into pyjamas, trying to keep busy. She came and checked. It was 130/100 using her stethoscope and cuff. She explained that what causes pre-eclampsia – high blood presure in pregnancy – is the placenta. Since the placenta was in the fridge, she wasn’t sure why my blood pressure was so high. We had a bit of a chat and she tested again. Still high. She wanted to take me into hospital and have some blood tests done.
After some discussion of the logistics, she agreed to drive Dexter and I in my car. I didn’t want to leave him behind in case I had to stay longer. I did have some EBM in the freezer, but it wasn’t enough to last long. While she rang ahead, I threw some clothes and nappies for him in my bag. We went through to Women’s Assessment Service, which is like the Emergency Department. She took some blood and sent it off. We then moved up to the Birthing Centre which was more comfortable and Belinda could do her paperwork while we waited for the registrar. She got the results of the bood tests back and there was nothing out of the ordinary – my iron levels were on the good side. All this time Dexter had stayed asleep. She had my hospital notes and I had a read through them which was quite interesting, particularly Willow’s birth. Dexter woke for a feed then went back to sleep.
The registrar eventually came to assess me. He tested my reflexes and asked about my history. I only had two symptoms of pre-eclampsia, the headache and the high blood pressure. My head feels heavy, like the opposite of light-headed. No swelling, no visual disturbances and I wasn’t pregnant anymore! He prescribed some nilfedrine which is a vaso-dilator, so is supposed to bring down blood pressure, but can also cause headaches. I took 20 mg while Belinda organised the paperwork for me to be admitted to the Post-Natal ward for observation. Dexter would be a boarder baby.
I spoke to A who said that Willow was upset that I had left with Dexter. He put Willow to bed in her bed but when he spoke to me and confirmed that I was staying the night he woke her up and put her in our bed. I’m not sure who needed comforting more. Belinda drove my car home at about 3am, picked up her own car and went home.
On Tuesday, everyone came to see us. Everyone except the physician, who needed to review me before I could go. A children’s physiotherapist came to see Dexter’s foot. She said it was very mild and would correct itself if left alone, but if we did exercises it would correct quicker. After she saw him, he actually had to be admitted as a patient as well, so he got a URN number and a file made up. A women’s physiotherapist and a student physiotherapist came to see me. The baby photographer and chaplain also came, but were less welcome.
A had to pack some things for me, but I didn’t know how long I was going to be in for. I wrote a list but forgot things like toothpaste, toothbrush and deodorant. More importantly he copied Series 3 of The Office and the movie ‘Next’ to my laptop and brought it in. They were sanity savers. He also bought a laptop lock and some new headphones. I think he needed to do something to keep busy, or he wouldn’t know what to do with himself. He came in at about 2pm and left at about 4:30pm.
My blood pressure went from 90 at the lowest to 115 at the highest. That is the diastolic reading, which is more important than the systolic reading. The medication made little difference that I could see. At one stage I was given the slow release version, but afterwards they put me back on the quick acting ones.
The midwife and Belinda broke the news to me that I was going to have to stay another night. It’s interesting watching people tell you something they know you don’t want to hear. They wanted to keep observing me and seeing what the nilfedrine did.
I don’t think the midwives quite knew what to do with me – I was post-natal, but I hadn’t given birth there. I made it quite clear that I was not thrilled about being there and wanted to go home as soon as possible, politely of course. They must have written that in my notes because each midwife acknowledged that I’d rather be at home. I had no other issues apart from the blood pressure and headaches. They even made me keep a chart of Dexter’s feeds – a bit pointless for a demand fed baby. Overall they were a lovely bunch and probably glad that I didn’t need much.
On Wednesday I woke up and noticed that the head ache was gone. I paged the nurse excitedly, thinking this meant my blood pressure was down. Nope, it was 150/110. Perhaps it was the nilfedrine causing the headache?
It’s Wednesday night now. My blood pressure isn’t going down, but it looks like the nilfedrine might be stopping it from going higher. Tomorrow I plan to leave as soon as I possibly can. I feel like the hospital bracelet is a handcuff.
A has coped extremely well, all things considered. He hadn’t even had time to actually process Dexter’s birth before I went to hospital. We spoke about him having time to see a movie or go and have a coffee, but he never got the chance to do either. Both Tuesday and Wednesday he had to walk Willow to FDC/CC which was a 40 minute round trip and pick her up at night again. She has been a handful, unsurprisingly. So many changes happening at once. First she has a baby brother, then he and Mummy go away!
He also has a sinus infection, for which he can’t take anything. He brought Willow in on Tuesday night via taxi, but they didn’t get home until 10 pm. Keren brought him and Willow into visit tonight, but he sounds like he is at the end of his rope now.
Being in hospital now has only reinforced how wonderful my home birth was. As I type this I can hear a baby screaming, sounds like a cat fight. I encountered a woman who’d just given birth this morning, in the ward kitchen looking very confused. I was glad that I was at home after birth with my own stuff in my own kitchen.
In trying to look on the bright side, I’ve had Dexter in my arms for about 18-20 hours of the day. Not something that would have happened if I was at home with a toddler and housework. I can’t believe he is a week old already. He has been such a placid baby, only complaining when I can’t get the nipple in his mouth quickly enough. We have also had a lot of chest to chest time when he is quietly alert then falls asleep.
If I had gone through the standard model of care, I probably would have given birth and discharged a couple of days later. Then when I got a head ache and high blood pressure reading, I would have gone to WAS, with or without Dexter. I don’t know what would have happened without Belinda to guide me through the system and advocate for me. I wasn’t in any state to advocate for myself. She saw us Tuesday and today and liaised with the physician who is making the recommendations about medication for me. I still haven’t seen him in person.
Belinda thinks it is likely that I will get discharged with medication and a letter for my GP so that she can manage it. I will probably have to go off the medication for a little while to see what my blood pressure does without it. If it is still consistently high in 6 weeks time then I will probably be officially diagnosed with essential hypertension. Seems a bit unfair when I’m not obese, I don’t smoke and have a reasonably healthy diet.
Thursday morning. I’ve eaten breakfast so I’m just waiting for Dexter to fall asleep again so that I can have a shower. Then I’ll page the midwife and ask how I go about getting out of here. I just rang the taxi company, but it seems they don’t have cars with baby capsules in them. Apparently it is legal to hold a baby under 12 months on your lap in a taxi. Not something I want to do, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
The doctor who saw me yesterday has just come in and said that they will kick me out today with some nilfedrine and panadeine forte. He recommended getting in to see my GP early next week so that they can manage it from there. If it goes above 110, to go and see my GP or come in to WAS. If I came into WAS, they’d probably admit me, so he said with a grin, go to your GP first.
Spoke to A who is going to come in our car with Willow and Keren will drive them. 99 percent of the time I don’t care that he doesn’t drive. It doesn’t affect me – he’s the one who has to take public transport. This is the 1 percent of the time when it’s really frustrating that he doesn’t drive. I don’t know if this experience will make him anymore likely to get his licence though.
I ended up leaving hospital at 3pm – I’d waited since 10am to get my medication and A, Keren and Willow had been at the hospital since 1pm.