A high-risk pregnancy adds more worries as the due date approaches
When you’re pregnant, you worry. At least I do. Mostly, I worry about the development of the baby and whether he is healthy. I worry about whether I’m doing all the right things like eating right and exercising. I thought I was doing pretty good overall. Except for the exercising thing, because, let’s face it-even baby can’t motivate me enough to go to the gym.
I got the news in November that I have high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. Talk about worry! I am now considered to have a high-risk pregnancy. The folks at my OB/GYN office don’t like high blood pressure. They take it very seriously. In fact, when my bottom number (which should be around 70) was at 104, right before Thanksgiving, they whisked me off to the hospital. Now picture me, would you, in for a routine check-up at the clinic and then told I can’t go home because my blood pressure is too high on Thanksgiving week. Of course, the first question I had was whether the baby was okay. Well, I didn’t really get a straight answer to that question.
Then I asked how long it will take because I need to go to work. Well again, the answer was a little cryptic. “The hospital will be able to monitor you better than we can,” was all I got. Okay. I was freaked out. Then another horrible thought came in my head. What about Thanksgiving? My turkey dinner! The red velvet cake I made! I mean, it’s not the Bahamas or anything, but I was supposed to go to Iowa. So, I got a room in the maternity unit, put on a hospital gown and got in bed. As soon as I lay down, my blood pressure returned to normal. The important thing was that the baby’s heartbeat was normal, so that was a relief. Nothing seemed to be wrong, except that my blood pressure was really high until I got in bed. They sent me home later that day. I was relieved especially since nothing stood in the way of me and that turkey dinner anymore.
I was admitted into the hospital two additional times after that day for high blood pressure. On top of that, I failed my glucose test and was told about having gestational diabetes. The high blood pressure seems to be connected to my disability. Looking back, I had symptoms for quite a while. I was extremely swollen. And I don’t mean the normal swelling from water weight gain, that’s normal during pregnancy, either. I looked like that puffy, white, Michelin Tire guy. Swelling is a tell-tale sign of high blood pressure; I just didn’t know it. High blood pressure can be very harmful to a pregnant woman’s baby by depriving it of enough blood and oxygen. My OB/GYN sent me to a specialist at a perinatal clinic to talk more about this. There I had an ultrasound which looked really good. The baby is doing well and doesn’t seem to have been affected by my high blood pressure or diabetes. The doctor explained that often, when impairment to the senses has occurred, such as with my lower extremity from polio, the body compensates by increasing blood pressure during pregnancy. A diastolic number, bottom number between 80-100 is high; however, it should not be an immediate concern. It was one of those “ooooooh” moments. He then went on to discuss my delivery. Given that I have metal fused to my spine, it is difficult to know how I would react to an epidural. More importantly, my blood pressure would probably skyrocket during a vaginal delivery. So, the short of it was that he was recommending an elective caesarean section where my blood pressure could be controlled and anesthesia could be used. Remember when I mentioned in a past article that my OB/GYN wanted me to deliver vaginally? She was so wrong.
It’s a bit more unclear as to why gestational diabetes develops in some expectant mothers. Diabetes occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin to prevent high levels of sugar in blood. However, during pregnancy, the hormones produced by the placenta prevent the production of insulin which leads to diabetes. It has been reported that within hours after delivery, a mother’s blood sugar levels can return to normal and all traces of diabetes will disappear. I know, odd. For me, having gestational diabetes means learning how to check my blood sugar every day in the morning and after meals and watching what I eat very closely. The key is carbohydrate intake. Aside from having to be poked all the time with a needle, it really isn’t as bad as I thought. I’m learning more and more about food, which is a good thing overall.
With all this, I hope I haven’t scared any of you women with disabilities off from having children. It really does change your life and your body. We are the experts here. And in the end-all of the above will be worth it!