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Musings of a First Time NOLA Mom: Thanks to the baby for my high blood pressure

Written by  LaTesha Gonzales
Yes, you read it correctly…the reason why I now high blood pressure is all because of Gabriel Pierre Gonzales. I’ll explain how.
 
In my 20s, I assumed that my body was in great condition (I use the word assume because I rarely went to doctor unless something was majorly wrong with me). In my 30s, I became pregnant with Gabriel and from the beginning (six weeks to be exact), the doctors were concerned with my blood pressure.
At first, we all assumed (see that word again) that it would go down at some point since blood pressure tends to peak in the first trimester and then lower as the months go on. This high blood pressure was just supposed to be one of the many "gifts" you get from being pregnant, but it would eventually get better.
 
Only mine did not get better. It got worse…way worse. So much so that during the last trimester, after one of my doctor’s appointments, the doctor wouldn’t let me leave. I had to be checked in to Touro Hospital immediately for monitoring. Over two days, I was hooked up the monitor continuously to record my blood pressure, with my doctor knowing that I wanted to try for a natural birth, but also knowing the consequences of extremely high pressure this late in the game.
 
Luckily, I delivered a healthy baby boy (not naturally, but without the need for a C-section). So when I went back for my six-week appointment, imagine my surprise when the doctor informed me that blood pressure was still high (over 140/90). Then she hit me over the head with, “You probably had borderline hypertension before you even got pregnant and it may never go down.”
 
Wait, wait, what?! Let's rewind! This high blood pressure was supposed to be solely the BABY’S fault, not something that I could have foreseen! So of course, like any smart woman, I ignored it. I ignored it because surely I didn’t feel anything wrong. I didn’t have any headaches (except for the occasional ones after a long day of work), no blurred vision, or swelling. I was fine!
 
Except I wasn’t.
 
Sixteen months after Gabriel’s birth, my job held free physicals courtesy of one of the insurance companies. If you took part in the one of these physicals, you would get a discount on your upcoming insurance premiums. Never one to turn down a deal, I signed up. And lo and behold who showed up and showed out at my physical…that damn blood pressure, something like 155/90!
 
The nurse looked me in my eyes and said, “You have to go to the doctor now. High blood pressure is a silent killer because people tend not to have any symptoms, but it can wreak havoc on your body; for example, stroke, kidney failure, and heart attacks. Get this checked NOW.”
 
Now, I was scared! But not only was I scared, but I was finally ready to do something about it. I immediately made an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Garrett and when she took my pressure, it was 160/95! 
 
Because of it being so high, she put me on 10mg of Lisinopril to start out with and explained that diet and exercise are just as important as the medication. While I’m a pretty good eater (I drink about 100 ounces of water a day, rarely eat processed foods, use minimal salt with cooking, and eat tons of fresh fruits and vegetables), the exercise part of my life is nonexistent, but that has to change. Twenty minutes a day is all you need (and I’m still working on how to fit just 20 minutes of exercise into my day…don’t judge me).
 
Dr. Garrett explained that it’s possible for my pressure to go down with the medication, diet, and exercise, but that it’s also possible that I will need to take blood pressure medicine for the rest of my life. In fact, both my mother and father have been on the same medication for probably the last 25 years.
 
When I went back two weeks later, I was ecstatic to see that it had finally gone down, 142/82! There’s still a long way to go (normal blood pressures are usually less than 120/80), but I’m on the way there.
 
So obviously, it wasn’t the baby that caused the high blood pressure; it was him who finally made me aware of it.
 
In New Orleans, we like to eat “good” and pass a good time. We talk about what’s for lunch at the breakfast table and who’s got the best po’boy and king cake. We can stand up and wait around for HOURS waiting for a parade to start and we can stand up for hours around a table full of crawfish.
 
If we can do all that, we can certainly take the time to take care of ourselves. To make and keep an appointment with the doctor. To make better food choices. To take a walk in City Park or St. Anthony Ave. On top of all that, as an African American woman, I know that diseases, such as high blood pressure, run UNCHECKED in our communities, even though we know we are more susceptible to them.
 
All of this to say, do something now. If you feel bad, do something. If you feel good, do something.
 
I look forward to the day when I can tell Gabriel that it’s all his fault that mommy had (fingers crossed that I’ll be able to use past tense) high blood pressure when she was in her 30s.
 
Until then, I’m doing what needs to be done for me to control it, most definitely not the other way around…at least not anymore.

See LaTesha's previous post:
I kept Gabriel alive for a whole year! 
The reality of post-partum depression
Babies and boobies
An epidural saved my life. 
See LaTesha's previous posts:
There’s no turning back now!
Why couldn’t we just lay an egg?
I'm doing it ALL natural...
After 8 months, I finally bought maternity clothes.
Gabriel is here!
An epidural saved my life. - See more at: http://www.inthenola.com/news/nola-living/item/3979-musings-of-a-first-time-nola-mom-babies-and-boobies#sthash.hsjYRrKr.dpuf

Gabriel is here!
After 8 months, I finally bought maternity clothes.
I'm doing it ALL natural...
Why couldn’t we just lay an egg?
There’s no turning back now!
Last modified on Monday, 06 July 2015
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