I‘ll start off this piece of writing by saying I don’t like to lie. I sometimes conflate stories that I tell and mix up details. These are things that a lot of people do, but it bugs the heck out of me when I get something wrong because I feel like I lied. In my relationships, I have a policy for myself where I always have to tell the truth in my relationships. It saves me a lot of headaches, and overall I stick to it to a fault. I actually only remember a single lie I’ve told my wife. It was a scary one.
My wife did not have a fun pregnancy. She had almost every bad symptom you could get that didn’t hurt the baby. She was miserable physically and emotionally. We had an appointment with a doctor at around 32 weeks on a Friday, and all her numbers and checks were right where they should have been. She was uncomfortable, but healthy. Not even 1 week later things changed… our lives changed.
My wife had gotten up at 2 AM due to a headache. This wasn’t uncommon at this point as my wife was so uncomfortable she could barely sleep. She walked around the house and watched YouTube until I got up for work. When I asked if she was ok with me going to work, she said she was ok and if she needed anything she’d let me know.
I saw a few texts from my wife come in all at once that said she wasn’t feeling good. As I went to call her, she called me. She said she wasn’t feeling good, and she was delirious and scared. She said she couldn’t see the phone, was lucky she was even able to call me, and needed to go to the hospital. I told her I was on my way and told her she needed to call the doctor to let them know what’s going on.
As I drove home, I called my mother who was ten minutes closer to my house, and told her what was going on. I asked her if she could head to my house, but she was already grabbing her keys and running out the door. I called my wife back, figuring even if she couldn’t find numbers to call me, she could pick up a phone. She did not answer. I called my mom back and told her to go right inside when she got to my house. I told her I didn’t care if she had to drive through the garage door, break down the front door, or throw a rock through a window – something was wrong.
My mom got to the house a few minutes before me and found my wife delirious and wandering the house. My wife did not know my mother was there until my mother went right up to her and started talking to her. My wife said “Am I dead? I think I died.” to my mother as she was bringing her to the car.
My wife later told me that her life flashed before her eyes and that she had a “life review”. This wasn’t a joke, but at the time, we had no clue what was going on or the severity of the problem. When I showed up at the house, my wife was in my mother’s car. I went up to her, and she asked who I was. I was… scared. I went to pick her up and throw her in my car so I could get to the hospital as fast as possible. My mother, thankfully, knew how I would be driving to the hospital and made sure that she would be driving us. My wife did not feel well and started throwing up out the window on the way to the hospital. All I could do was sit there and tell her we were on the way to the hospital and they would help her. I felt helpless and angry. It’s a feeling so visceral I couldn’t imagine I’d ever feel like that.
When we got into the emergency room at UNC, they saw my wife’s condition and did not waste any time. Her blood pressure when arriving at the hospital was over 170. (I think it was 176 or 186, but I can’t remember.) High blood pressure is never good, but when you’re 7-8 months pregnant high blood pressure is a big concern. When we saw her doctor a few days before, her blood pressure was perfect. It didn’t make sense that it would shoot up so high so fast. The high blood pressure was an especially terrifying thing for us. My wife got into a room for observation. The nurses were amazing, kind, considerate, and quick. We saw a few nurses. They said my wife most likely had severe preeclampsia or eclampsia. The brain fogginess was most likely due to a seizure she had.
We would later find out that many pregnant women don’t survive those seizures, and/or her elevated blood pressure. The nurse said they couldn’t know for sure since my wife wasn’t being observed but she would talk to the doctors and move forward assuming the worst but hoping for the best. A few moments after the nurse went to talk to the doctors things got worse. My wife started twitching. I thought she was messing with me and I asked her what she was doing and she said she didn’t know and couldn’t control it. I hit the nurse button by the door and ran back to the bed as my wife went into a full-on seizure. I had to pin her to the bed because she was shaking so violently that she almost fell off. She ripped out her IV, there was a lot of blood on her and the floor. Shortly before her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she started foaming at the mouth she looked at me and asked what was going on.
That’s when I lied to my wife for the first time. I told her everything would be ok, and the doctors were on their way.
I thought I was going to lose the only thing I care about in the world. I had no clue if she’d ever see me again after her eyes rolled into the back of her head. I did not think she was going to be ok in her condition and having a second seizure so close to the first one. I lied to her so she wouldn’t worry if it was her last moments alive… It’s still tough to think about, and even writing this brings tears to my eyes. I’ve never been more scared in my life.
A little background about my wife. She’s the one for me. There’s no one else out there better for me. We’ve been together for about 18 years now and she’s still my best friend. We still take 6-hour car rides and don’t turn on the radio because we talk and goof off so much. There is NO ONE I’d rather be with than her. She is my life. I can’t function without her because all I do is think about how much I’d rather be doing stuff with her.
And lied to her. I still don’t like that I lied to her, but I think it was the right thing to do. Things got worse before they got better, but they got better. I’ll fast forward a little, mainly because I don’t want to relive the day again. After my wife was stabilized by some of the most amazing humans I’ve ever seen, she was rushed into the OR and we ended the day with the most beautiful and appreciated son in the world.
Both mother and baby are happy and have recovered. This experience is now just a memory. At the urging of about 10 doctors and surgeons, my wife and I saw a therapist about the incident. We’re better than ever.
Having a near-life-ending experience in a relationship can really make you appreciate each other in a way you never could before. We were happy before, but we’re more than happy now.
It’s been 18 years and we’ve been through a ton together, but this was the most intense thing we’ve ever dealt with.
I’m lucky in so many ways. I’m most lucky that I have a son and a wife right now. I’m also lucky to have great friends. As soon as some of my military friends heard about the situation, they reached out immediately. They knew I had PTSD, I did too, and they were not happy to help, they were insistent about helping. I didn’t have a choice. I had a lunch scheduled with a local friend to talk about PTSD and another in a different state who checked up on me regularly. I had no say in the matter, which was actually a relief. Logan and Flores, whatever you need from me you will get. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I know I’m resistant to help, and I would have never scheduled anything with you. Thank you for not giving me an option.
When this whole thing first happened, I talked to people and wrote my emotions in a journal – I did everything I could. I’m mostly at peace with it now. I had a great emotional support system. At first, the PTSD did have a negative effect. I could tell. After I retold the story and talked to my friends and doctors and therapists, I became ok with it. The physiological effects went away. It still sucks, though. I do NOT like reliving the story. I usually write because it’s therapeutic. I figured if I wrote down the story maybe it would help, but it didn’t help this time and I think I’ve processed this as much as I can. I can relive the event, but I don’t want to. I’m appreciative of the lessons I’ve learned and my life will never be the same again.
I have no plans of publishing this. I don’t want to relive this story again. I have better things to do, like hang out with my family. If you are reading this, I decided maybe my story could help someone and it was worth putting out to the world. I won’t be checking comments, I won’t be replying to anything. If this is published anywhere I won’t seek it out. If I stumble on it, I’ll close out the tab. For now, this will stay in my draft folder with all my other partially finished projects until my wife convinces me this story might help another family save a life…
If you know someone who is pregnant please get them a $40 blood pressure monitor from amazon. Have them check their blood pressure regularly (we didn’t know we should have). Check out the Preeclampsia foundation for more information on this disorder.