ATLANTA - He's now 5, but Quinn Urban still feels like a new gift to his mom Amy. For years, she and her husband had struggled to have a baby. When she finally got pregnant, she wanted to know exactly what to expect.
"I hate surprises, so I read everything I could get my hands on,” says Urban. “And, the books, they do talk about complications in pregnancy."
But, Amy's pregnancy was easy. The hard part didn't come until after Quinn was born.
Within a few days after she came home from the hospital, she felted tired, and achy in her neck and shoulders.
" I just equated (it) to nursing, and trying to nurse, and looking at my baby,” Urban says.
Then, the headaches began. Serious headaches.
"I just remember I was taking a shower one night and I had to sit down,” Urban says. “It was, really, the worst headache of my life."
Amy's blood pressure was high, but not dangerously so. So she and her husband waited, check it again at the grocery store. Normal blood pressure 120/80 or lower.
"We couldn't get a reading that was lower than 200/100,” Urban says. “It was very high. And at that point, I knew something was really wrong."
She and her husband went to the emergency room.
"They took me immediately back and checked my blood pressure,” she says. “And the next thing I know I'm getting a CT scan to make sure I'm not going to have a seizure or a stroke."
Amy had postpartum preeclampsia, or dangerously high blood pressure.
Northside Hospital cardiologist Lee Padove says they typically see pre-eclampsia during a pregnancy. Yet, in rare cases, about 5% of the time, the condition occurs in the days after a woman delivers her baby.
"The biggest concern is whether preeclampsia will develop into eclampsia. Eclampsia is a seizure disorder. And that is very, very life-threatening to the mom."
"It was absolutely terrifying," says Urban. "The baby was fine, but I was worried I would not be fine. That's the problem with pre-eclampsia: there is no known cure. It really is, 'Let's see if this works.' "
Fortunately, medication did work. Amy's blood pressure dropped.
Then, 3 years later, she got pregnant again, with Daniel.
"I mean our whole motto through the pregnancy was, ‘Let your faith be bigger than your fear.’” Urban says. “And that's what we had to do every day, was just have faith that we were going to make it.”
Again, she had an easy pregnancy, and Daniel was safely delivered. But, a few days later, the same symptoms.
" I started to having the visual disruptions and the headaches,” she says. “And the second that my blood pressure his 140/90, the second it hit that threshold, I was admitted."
But this time, Amy and the doctors were ready.
"This time it felt like we can handle it,” she says. “And I felt so monitored and protected in a way that I didn't feel the first time. I knew nothing was going to go wrong."
Amy has made a full recovery and no longer needs medication to control her blood pressure.