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At the start of the 35th week of my pregnancy, I went in for my weekly checkup with the midwives. And my blood pressure was 210 over 165.

Which is, how do you say: not. good. at. all.

It was the first clue that I had preeclampsia (or pregnancy induced hypertension).

The cure is to not be pregnant anymore. In other words, delivery.

But the immediate band-aid—to lower the blood pressure so that the mother doesn’t seize and so that she and her nugget inside don’t kick the bucket—is to be put on the Mag Drip. Otherwise known as an intravenously steady push of Magnesium Sulfate. Otherwise known as epsom salts. Otherwise known as a mineral that relaxes your muscles lovingly in the bathtub, but renders you unable to lift even a finger when it comes in via needle.

The weirdest thing, though, was that it made me hot. I was as red as a lobster and I felt like I had hot tomato soup running through my veins.

After Sophie came out and my blood pressure dropped and the IV was removed, it all (the muscle incapacitation and the tomato soup) went away.


For days and then weeks and then months and then years, I’ve experienced a random hot flush of tomato soup up my right shin. Not my left leg, not even my whole leg. Just my right shin. Like a phantom.

It still visits from time to time. Like today. Sitting at my desk. Working. Stressed. Heart pounding. Chest so tight, I think maybe the two sides of my rib cage might be trying to fuse together.

And there’s the phantom flush. Fairly steady all day. Like a whisper over that sharp bone—the one that you’ve rammed into the same damn coffee table at least 15 times, the one that hurts so bad tears hit your eyes every time. And it says, slow down—breathe—learn and move on—keep going—trust…or this soup won’t just be in your leg.

Image credit: Daniel Slaughter

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Love your blog…don’t have a chance to read it as often as I’d like, but I absolutely love your writing style. Regarding this post, I have three little boys….never had the BP issue, but of course had different little weird issues with each pregnancy….and of course now pee my pants from time to time. Gotta love it! Yeah. All worth it, but will the little darlings ever know what we do for them!
    Slow down is a fabulous take away…..

  • Amy Oscar says:

    What a fascinating story. These phantoms in our bodies that speak to us, that remind us of things that we know but don’t know. I have one myself – also a leg thing: Every now and then, when I let myself get too run down, an old muscle injury – a place where I must have torn something, 25 years ago, will just flare up out of nowhere. There will be a sharp stab of pain ( could be walking, sitting, standing – what matters is how tired I am – and a bright blue bruise will bloom at that one spot, linger a day or two and dissolve. Like yours, mine reminds me to rest, slow down, not ‘run’ myself so hard, so fast. Thanks for posting this. Loved it.

  • Leon Noone says:

    G’Day Julie,
    Years ago, I used to run management training courses. When I was working with people new to management and supervision, I would encourage them to develop what I called “enlightened self-interest.”

    Permit me to abandon my normally flippant self and remind you to look bloody after yourself! Tomato soup’s for bowls, not legs.

    Apart from that, your blog’s a little light in the fog of emails that swirls around my Mac every day. What on earth would we do without all your dreadful puns?

    I mean it. Make sure you have fun.



  • Andi says:

    I like that you might actually be taking the time to listen to your knows best.

  • Van says:

    Horrifying! But it’s true, you have to tune in. You have to listen to every single subtle cute from your body…or else! I’ve been hypersensitive to that lately, too.

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