I thought we'd be at the ER for a few hours at most. Those hours turned into four days, followed by a return to the hospital two days later as the partial abruption gave way to steadily rising blood pressure and it became clear that I wasn't going home before the baby arrived. I had come face to face with severe preeclampsia.
Time travel is tricky business. Life's a tangled mess of good days and bad, and sometimes those moments come back around when you least expect them. We've created a world where everything is documented and recorded, and sometimes we face a little fallout in the midst of all the cat photos and Instagram food.
When I was pregnant with my first child 17 years ago, I had the usual worries compounded by my knowledge as an obstetrician and high-risk pregnancy specialist. I knew first-hand the impact of prematurity and other complications. Like other moms-to-be, I hoped to deliver a healthy baby. As a research physician, I was eager for evidence-based knowledge to make this a reality.
Part of the problem in the US is that we simply don't know exactly why women are dying, or even how many are. It is hard to be aware when we don't have a system that tracks these deaths and near-misses in a uniform fashion in all 50 states. Let me state that plainly - many states do not even have "pregnancy-related" on the death certificate. If we don't ask the question, how will we ever know the answer?