I suspected that I might have preeclampsia but nothing ever showed up on my check-ups.

My husband and I met in 2015 when he started an internship at the hospital in my hometown. I was working in the billing department there and had some friends in the lab, where he worked, who thought we would be perfect for each other. It took months of these friends trying to get us to just say "hi" to each other - we’re both a little bit shy - before we even spoke! Then one day while he was pranking a coworker and he handed me a bag of candy that he was hiding from them, and we finally started a conversation. Later that night he messaged me and after a few days of talking, we planned for our first date...which I actually cancelled (because of nerves). After we finally went on that first date, we were inseparable. Six months later, he proposed on his Grandparents’ farm during the first snow fall of the year.

A year after we first started dating, we were married. About six months later we found out that I was pregnant! I was so excited, and terrified. I absolutely love kids but preparing myself to be a Mom for the first time was a little scary. The whole pregnancy I felt nauseous and kept getting headaches/migraines. I told my doctor multiple times about those issues but she reassured me that it was normal and I shouldn’t worry. I had a friend who went through preeclampsia with her first pregnancy and I felt like I was going through the same things that she went through but nothing worrisome ever showed up in any of my check ups. I barely even had a baby bump until I was about 7 1/2 months along. 

When I was 35 weeks I ended up having to be admitted to the hospital due to my blood pressure being insanely high (so high it was no longer healthy for me to carry my son). After a few days in the hospital with many attempts to lower my blood pressure, my doctor decided that a c-section would be the best option. I was then given magnesium sulphate to lower my risk of having a seizure or stroke. My doctor wanted to wait until Friday morning to do the c-section as the baby would officially be 36 weeks along. On Friday, July 21st at 7:48 am, 6 lbs 5 oz, our son was born. I got to hold him for a whopping 2 minutes before he was taken to the nursery and after that, it was another two days before I would get to hold him. 

Our son stayed in the NICU for 3 days, which honestly doesn’t seem like a long time now, but at that moment, it felt like an eternity. About 10 minutes after he was taken to the nursery, we were told that he needed to be taken to the NICU because of low O2 levels. I kept saying I didn’t think he needed to be there and apparently the NICU nurse thought the same thing and confirmed that his stats were back to normal but he was kept for monitoring. The biggest issue I had with him being in the NICU was that I couldn’t see him at all. Since I was given magnesium sulphate right before giving birth, my blood pressure needed to be constantly monitored which meant that I couldn't leave my room. It also made me feel horrible (physically). The first time I was told I could eat after he was born, I ended up throwing up and had to stick to just liquids...which I was still throwing up. My husband was great though. Every time visiting hours would start he would go sit with our son and take pictures and videos for me to see. 

We spent a little over a week total in the hospital, which honestly doesn’t seem like a lot looking back, however when we got home, I still needed someone with me while my husband was at work because of my blood pressure issues. I’m so grateful for all of the help that we had but at some point, it felt a bit overwhelming having so many people around all the time. Those first few weeks as a new mother, I actually really wanted to bond with my baby (just the two of us) and I felt like I never had any time for that because we had so much help. I also ended up back in my doctors office because of high blood pressure those first weeks. When things finally started calming down and I convinced my husband that I was ready to be home alone during the day with just the baby and our pup, I felt slightly more at ease. Things didn’t automatically fall into place though. One day I was literally on the phone with my husband for 2 hours while he was at work. I was crying, the baby was crying, the was dog misbehaving and ran away out of our yard, it was too much. But after that day things did get better. 

My advice for new Mamas would be: Almost nothing may go as planned but try not to let that stress you out. Since becoming a Mom, I’ve dealt with postpartum depression, which is way worse than I ever thought. It’s a beast. The best thing to do is to get help as soon as possible. I hate asking for help because I feel like I look weak when I do, but I’m glad I got help when I did. I didn’t want to be on medication so I found some natural products and solutions which worked for me. They have made a world of difference in my everyday life. Also, if your child has to be in the NICU, just remember, the nurses and doctors are amazing. The nurses will be there for your child when you can’t be and take great care of your baby. For me personally, prayer and focusing on my faith has also really helped me. I couldn’t have made it through our baby’s NICU stay without prayer going up for our entire family unit. Finally, if you’re a working Mama, I know that maternity leave never seems quite long enough before you have to go back to work, but don’t feel guilty. You’re helping to provide a great life for your family and we are all doing the best we can, it gets easier eventually!

Ashley - Mom of McCajah - West Virginia, USA

You can follow Ashely on Instagram @ashmon88

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