Darn You, Dr. Whatever His Name Was! {Preeclampsia Awareness}



Before I had preeclampsia, my knowledge of the condition was based solely on what I saw on Downton Abbey (spoiler alert for those of you who have not watched the show – you should, it’s great!). One of the Crawley sisters, Sybil, was having symptoms of preeclampsia. Good Dr. Clarkson suggested that Sybil be moved to a hospital where she could be more closely monitored, but evil Dr. Whatever His Name Was disagreed and convinced Robert, Sybil’s father, that she would be fine.

Well, she was not fine, Dr. Whatever His Name Was! She developed full eclampsia and died and I was devastated!

So you can image what I might have felt when I was told, after a prenatal checkup, to head over to hospital because I had preeclampsia…

While I recognized that this was not 1920s, rural England, I was still very concerned about what this condition meant for my health and, most importantly, what it meant for the health of the twin boys I was carrying. Once I was admitted to the hospital, they immediately put me on bedrest and began closely monitoring me for more or worsening symptoms. I was 33 weeks and heartbroken. I had wanted to carry my boys to 36 weeks, at least.

Each time I talked with the doctors, that chance flew further and further away. I was going to have to have my boys early and they would have to go to the NICU. I was scared that they would be too small. I was scared that they would have too many complications. I was scared. I laid in that hospital bed and asked my body to calm down and give the boys more time.

I got them to 34 ½ weeks (very proud of that extra half!) and then the results came back that my protein numbers were finally too high and it was time. It was time to meet my boys. After a smoother than expected c-section and an excruciating 24-hours on magnesium sulfate to help keep me from seizing or having a stroke, I finally got to meet the absolute loves of my life, who I am so happy to say are strong and healthy! No long term effects for my boys or myself.

Throughout the whole ordeal, I did a little research on my condition and was astonished and saddened to find out that tens of thousands of mothers and hundreds of thousands of babies die every year from preeclampsia. These numbers come mostly from impoverished areas that have poor prenatal care and a lack of education, leading to an inability to detect the disorder in time.

Preeclampsia has several symptoms to watch out for, including “headaches, abdominal pain, shortness of breath or burning behind the sternum, nausea and vomiting, confusion, heightened state of anxiety and/or visual disturbances such as oversensitivity to light, blurred vision, seeing flashing spots or auras (source).”

Any of those symptoms sound like general pregnancy symptoms? That’s one of the biggest issues!

When women have headaches, they think it’s just a symptom of pregnancy. When they have “pain or burning” behind their sternum, they break out the tums. Confusion? Oh, that’s just “pregnancy brain!” If you’re visiting your doctor regularly, they can detect the most common factors of high blood pressure and proteins in the urine, but never hesitate to call the doctor if any “general pregnancy” symptom seems to get worse or comes on strongly or suddenly. You can never be too cautious when your health or the health of your baby is at stake.

Want more information? Visit the Preeclampsia Foundation at http://www.preeclampsia.org/

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Sara is a Denver native – a proud graduate of East High and UC Denver. She used to be in the IT biz, but retired from the office job to stay home when her twin boys were born. In addition to her boys, she just had a baby girl and is surprised about how much easier and harder it is the second (third?) time around, but is doing her best to keep it all together. She is married to Mark – they’ve shared 7 years of wedded bliss but compliment each other so well, you’d think it was many more! Sara has an affinity for the color green, loves music, loves food, loves her fur baby Dash, is great at styling hair with BBQ sauce, and would be a very formidable trivia opponent!


  1. It is so scary, and not something talked about until you are usually quite sick. I gained 15 pounds in one day, yes 15 POUNDS of pure water weight, and was spilling proteins like a broken fire hydrant. Trying to learn in that moment what was happening was too scary. It needs to be discussed in birth plans, as currently it is basically a base, out in left field, that needs to be covered.

  2. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia at 23 weeks. I had made multiple visits to my ob only to be sent home with a lecture on overeating during pregnancy. I was told that I was too early for preeclampsia. I finally went to a different doctor and was promptly admitted to the hospital. I delivered my daughter less than 24 hours later. She weighed only 10.4 ounces and did not survive labor. Now here I am, almost 2 years later, and I’m 22 weeks along. I’m working with a wonderful specialist who sees me every 2 weeks to ensure that I’m not put in the same situation again. I still mourn the loss of my beautiful baby girl, but I’m optimistic that my angel baby will soon have a sibling that I can hold in my arms and lay in the empty bassinet next to my bed. Team Izzy walked in the Denver Promise Walk this year, and I will continue to do what I can to raise awareness so that no other mother-to-be has to suffer such heartbreak.

  3. Thank you SO much for posting this important information and helping spread awareness about Preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome! I am so glad to hear you and your twins are doing great!

    I also wanted to mention that the Preeclampsia Foundation has a local Promise Walk for Preeclampsia held here in Denver every May! We had this years’ walk on May 3rd, and it was an amazing event for survivors and their families. 🙂

    Please feel free to follow further information about the Denver Promise Walk at http://www.promisewalk.org/denver

  4. This post is so important — I had NO idea how common preeclampsia is, or what it was going to do to my birth plan when I got to the hospital (in labor) and had suddenly developed preeclampsia in the 4 days since my previous Dr. appt! I had actually seen Downton Abbey the week before and thought to myself, “Thank goodness that’s not me – thanks goodness I’ve had such an easy pregnancy!” I am so thankful that within three days I was well enough to be “back to normal,” but I will NEVER forget how scary that experience was, or how horrible the magnesium made me feel during labor and delivery!


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