By Jessica Eslinger
August 26, 2020
“Something doesn’t feel right.” That’s what Jessica Eslinger kept saying to herself, her husband and her mother who had come to town to welcome the Eslingers’ new baby girl.
Seven days after delivering a healthy baby girl and having a normal pregnancy, Jessica was at home, experiencing the ups and downs of her new family, yet she still did not feel like herself. As a new mom, she did not know what she was supposed to feel like; however, she knew that this was probably not it. At the time she said, “I feel like I have to take a deep breath.” Although she was not experiencing shortness of breath.
Jessica’s symptoms progressed further, including a massive headache and a low heart rate. She was told by the nurse helpline to get some rest.
After two restless nights, she finally asked her physician for some headache medicine that would also allow her to continue breastfeeding. Her physician called her into the office, and Jessica’s blood pressure spiked. She was immediately sent to the emergency room and admitted into the hospital with a magnesium drip.
Jessica was diagnosed with postpartum preeclampsia, and while at the hospital, lost her vision in her right eye. She counts herself lucky that she did not have a seizure and she did not lose her baby.
According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, “Postpartum preeclampsia is a serious condition related to high blood pressure. It can happen to any woman who just had a baby. It has most of the same features of preeclampsia or other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, without affecting the baby.”
Postpartum preeclampsia occurs most commonly within the first seven days after delivery although women are still at risk for postpartum preeclampsia up to six weeks after delivery. Seventy-five percent of maternal deaths associated with preeclampsia occur after delivery
For Jessica, the hardest part was the mental battle. She says, “I kept feeling like something was wrong. Afterwards, I would freak out with the smallest thing. I never had thoughts of hurting my baby, but I thoughts of my own death every day for a year. I pushed everyone away.” She credits her physician with saving her life.
Three-and-a-half years after experiencing postpartum preeclampsia, today, Jessica serves as the chair of the Preeclampsia Foundation’s Promise Walk Houston. Her main goal is to raise awareness and provide education about preeclampsia, as well as bring a community of women together so they can talk.
When asked why improving maternal health and telling her story is important, she says, “By telling my story with postpartum preeclampsia, I can save a life. Whether you’ve been through it or not. You are someone’s partner, mother, or friend. My story can save someone else’s life.”