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Nandar Godoy's Story

I want my story to help other women. We don't know that these things happen. We think like, 'Oh, I delivered the baby, it's fine, and we're okay.' But it's important to hear about what could happen.

Nandar Godoy holding her childMay 18, 2020, was a day of excitement for Nandar Godoy. Following two miscarriages in 2018, the 40-year-old architect and co-founder of the Ecuadorian Film Festival welcomed her son, Nigel, with her husband, Noel. But just days after the excitement, Nandar's emotions turned to fear as her blood pressure shot up.

Nandar says she experienced terrible nausea and vomiting throughout her pregnancy but otherwise had a healthy pregnancy. Because of her age and previous miscarriages, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, monitored the pregnancy.

In the last trimester, Nandar's blood pressure, which is usually low, went up to about 120/67 mmHg. But the increased blood pressure put Nandar in the normal blood pressure range (less than 120/80 mmHg), so her doctors felt it wasn't a cause for concern.

"Everything was being done virtually, so I had a blood pressure machine with me. They asked me, 'How's your blood pressure?' It always seemed to be okay for her, even though my blood pressure my whole life, it's always been super low, so I'm always 90/60, 88/58," she says.

The night before Nigel was born, Nandar was admitted to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. After a few hours in labor, the doctors noticed that Nigel had not descended enough in the birth canal, making having a vaginal birth difficult. Nandar was insistent that she didn't want to have a Cesarean delivery. So the doctors brought in an obstetrician with expertise in forceps. Less than 12 hours after being admitted, Nigel was born.

Due to concerns about the spread of COVID, Nandar and Nigel only stayed in the hospital for one additional night. At home, Nandar, Nigel, and Noel adjusted to their new family. Nigel was healthy. Nandar was experiencing some bleeding from the tearing that occurred from using the forceps, and she was experiencing pain.

"I called the doctor, and she said, 'Well, if you don't have a fever, it's fine, maybe it's normal. Just take these pills, and let's keep waiting,'" Nandar says. "After I think five days, I had a fever. So I called the doctors, and the doctors said, 'Well, you have to come to the hospital.'"

Noel took Nandar to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, where she was admitted. Due to hospital restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID, Nandar had to stay in the hospital alone.

Doctors found she had an infection near her stitches; they started her on a course of antibiotics and kept her in the hospital to monitor her. After two days in the hospital, her blood pressure began to rise and she was diagnosed with preeclampsia. Her team prescribed magnesium to prevent seizures. But soon after, Nandar developed a headache and blurred vision. Dr. Eliza Miller, a women's health neurologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia and an expert in cerebrovascular complications of pregnancy and the postpartum period, was called in. Dr. Miller requested an MRI, which showed there was blood in her brain. Nandar had had a stroke.

"I was so anxious; I was freaking out. I didn't tell my husband right away because I didn't want to freak him out; he was alone with a five-day-old baby," she says.

Studies have shown pregnant women are at an increased risk of stroke; during the postpartum period, women are at the highest risk. Women who have preeclampsia and postpartum infections are at an even greater risk.

Nandar was taken to the intensive care unit, where they ran various tests. Doctors confirmed Nandar had postpartum preeclampsia, a dangerous condition in which a person has high blood pressure and other organ dysfunction soon after childbirth. In some cases, women with postpartum preeclampsia can develop brain damage.

Nandar was given IV medication to treat her postpartum preeclampsia. After a week in the hospital, she was discharged. Dr. Miller continued Nandar on blood pressure medication until her pressure normalized. She continues to see Dr. Miller for follow-up care. She's using her experience to advocate for women.

"I want my story to help other women. We don't know that these things happen. We think like, 'Oh, I delivered the baby, it's fine, and we're okay.' But it's important to hear about what could happen," she says.