Lose Some Weight, and It Will Go Away (Part 1)
Comedian Jen Curran tells the story of how her seemingly normal pregnancy turned into a “really scary situation” overnight. After doctors detected abnormally high levels of protein in her urine and her baby started measuring small, Jen was diagnosed with preeclampsia, a not-too-uncommon condition that’s supposed to “magically” go away after birth. But after her daughter Rose was born, and the high levels of protein were still there, it soon became clear that there was something much more serious going on.
You can follow Jen Curran on Twitter @jencurran and Instagram @msjencurran.
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Interested in learning more about Jen? Check out the links below:
- Check out Jen’s viral Twitter about her mystery diagnosis: https://twitter.com/jencurran/status/1160961368142405632
- Read Jen’s Glamour article on weight stigma in medicine: https://www.glamour.com/story/my-doctor-prescribed-me-weight-loss-i-actually-had-cancer
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Jen Curran 00:04
Hi, I’m Jen Curran, and you’re listening to GOOD KIDS. I am a comedian and a writer and a mom. And I’m going to talk about what happened the first year of my daughter’s life.
I guess I was probably about, I don’t know, maybe 18 weeks pregnant or so. And the very first thing that I remember happening that was out of the ordinary is that I was at the OB office, and you know, you have to go all the time when you’re pregnant. And every time you go, they have you pee in a cup. Because if there’s protein in your pee when you’re pregnant, that’s like, really bad, for whatever reason. So and I think it’s because they’re making sure you don’t have preeclampsia. And maybe there’s other stuff, but you’re just peeing in so many cups.
So I remember the doctor came into the room and said, that wasn’t, something about like, it wasn’t a clean pee, and that she thought I needed to wipe again, and go back and pee again, which was kind of wild to hear this adult woman saying to another adult woman, like, I don’t think you wiped your vagina. But that was what she was saying. And I had wiped my vagina well enough, thank you. But she had me, you know, sort of double and triple checking this urine that she kept finding protein and basically. And ultimately, throughout the whole pregnancy, she wasn’t really that concerned about it, but she would constantly mention it.
So that was the first thing that was out of the ordinary, but I didn’t really worry too much about it. And it wasn’t until it was probably 26 weeks into the pregnancy that I was at, you know, they have you go to these appointments, where they’re measuring the baby by this point, all these really high-tech ultrasounds, and they can do all this crazy stuff with it. So it was a different OB than the one who thought I had dirty pee. It was an OB who noticed this protein and was very concerned about it. And they had also started measuring the baby. And suddenly out of nowhere, she was measuring small. So my heart just absolutely dropped. The day that they were telling me she was measuring small her belly was two weeks behind.
Everything else seemed okay, but she wasn’t getting enough food in there. And it just a regular pregnancy turned overnight into this like, really scary situation. So she said, we don’t know exactly what’s going on, we’re gonna diagnose this as preeclampsia, which basically means that you have protein in your urine, and that your blood pressure is higher than they want it to be. The idea with preeclampsia is that it can turn at a moment’s notice your blood pressure can shoot through the roof, it can cause seizures and all this other stuff and ultimately, could cause death for you or the baby. So they’re really watchful about it and come to the hospital if anything changes and it could really turn on a dime.
Jen Curran 02:56
So I was on bed rest for the last three months of the pregnancy, asked to come in twice a week so that they could put a heart rate monitor on the baby and keep an eye on everything. And the high-risk OB said, “I’m really concerned about this. And I want you to follow up after the baby is born.” And that was really confusing to me. Because after the baby is born, the preeclampsia is supposed to go away magically. But she said I think maybe three months after the baby’s born eight weeks after the baby’s born you need to go see a kidney doctor. And these were all like big ideas. I’m like what even are the kidneys I’m you know; I have no idea what she’s wanting to have happen.
Jen Curran 04:09
I’m writing like kidney follow up on my palm as I’m leaving that, you know, leaving the hospital but she was concerned about it and mentioned it every time and watched me like a hawk and they induced my baby at 37 weeks because of this quote unquote preeclampsia. Everything about the labor and delivery was fine, wonderful. It was such an amazing life experience. I’d love to do it a million times over. And I’m sure other people who have delivered babies are probably like, What? What are you talking about? But I really did feel God I don’t know. I loved it. I loved giving birth to her. I loved the experience. It was horrible and awful and wonderful.
So there wasn’t any negativity around the baby or my body during this labor and delivery process, there was no concern about the protein, everything was fine. She did take some urine, and they tested that. And those levels were all the same. So this was kind of information I’m getting, as I’m, you know, feeding the new baby and all that kind of stuff, but it’s just in the back of my mind, like, okay, hopefully fingers crossed. My body went wild, and it’s all just gonna return to normal after this kid is born.
So after my daughter was born, I come home from the hospital. And you know, I’m an older mom, it had taken us a while to get pregnant. She was measuring small, the preeclampsia the bed rest. I’m just so thrilled that she is here. She’s so healthy. She’s beautiful. Her name is Rose Karlin Gottlieb. She’s amazing. Stunning. The dog. Isn’t that annoyed at her. You know, it’s perfect. It is in the back of my mind that I have to go get this follow up appointment. But also I’m just like, Oh, I don’t really want to, well, the high-risk OB called me. I know, you just delivered the baby, you know. And she doesn’t these they don’t have any. You know, she’s supposed to never think about me again. She’s supposed to put a checkmark right my kids initials and shred the paperwork.
Jen Curran 06:39
You know, I was so shocked to hear from her. She’s a busy talented doctor, and I couldn’t believe she’s calling me personally, I know your baby was born, I just want to remind you to again, to get a follow up. Okay, I will, awful, I wish that you weren’t thinking about me. Then I decided to make an appointment with a doctor in my network who was just in our neighborhood. You know, I figured well, she just needs to read the test results and tell me what’s going on with my kidneys. And we’ll go from there. So I made an appointment with her, brought my baby along, brought the test results. And so then I said to her, have these protein levels gone down. And, you know, one of the things I dislike the most about doctors is that they’re not also actors.
All doctors should be trained actors, they should have to go to acting conservatory from day one of medical school, I want you down on the ground pretending to be a tiger. Because it’s ridiculous to me how I can read it all over your face, I can tell the energy in the room, it feels like I’m about to get fired. Like you’re just not holding it together that well. There is no poker face here. And frankly, if I was a doctor, you wouldn’t know that I was about to deliver bad news until boom, there it comes. So anyway, I say are the protein levels still the same. And she’s kind of looking at the computer. He’s got her hand over her mouth, like kind of like, you know, trying to play it cool.
Jen Curran 08:22
And she’s like they are and I just lost my breath. Because this protein that your body produces, as preeclampsia is supposed to just disappear in the weeks following the birth of the baby. And if it doesn’t disappear. You end up in the hospital with serious conditions, you know? And I’m not in the hospital, I’m not having crazy heart issues, high blood pressure issues. I’m not having major swelling or headaches or seizures. This is not preeclampsia. This protein is here and I am alive and well and walking around. The protein is actually higher than it was when the baby was born. So she says all this to me and I could tell she doesn’t know what the hell to make of it.
And she’s kind of looking me up and down. And I’m just sitting there my mind is absolutely racing. And she finally says like she makes a decision for herself. And I’ll never forget this I can hear and smell that they’re getting Papa John’s pizza delivered in the reception room while this is going on. So she says “You know what I think? I think you need to lose some weight.” She says they think you need to start dieting and exercising and try and lose some of this baby weight. And I’m like, is that pepperoni though? Or like what do you guys have out there?
And you know, I’m somebody who has spent my life trying and succeeding trying and failing to lose weight. I did Weight Watchers in my 20s and lost 100 pounds. I’m that person. So you don’t need to tell me about diet and exercise. She said “Maybe you can start taking walks with the baby.” And I was just like, okay, is that what I should do? Do you want to come over and we’ll do it together or it just seems so condescending. And then she told me “Nothing from a box.” she said. You know, I’m a new mom. Nothing from a box? Does food not come from a box. Like I couldn’t come up with things from the earth lower sodium.
Jen Curran 10:42
And then she said, you know, a diet, go on a diet, diet and exercise and try and lose weight. And I’m answering her I’m like, Okay, yeah, sure. Great. Like, I’ve never heard this idea before. But as she’s saying this, my brain is just like, nope, no, this is not. This is not what it is. It’s not weight. This is not the problem. I just knew in my gut, and I probably gained maybe 30 pounds with the baby. But I just knew there’s no possible way like some insane amount of protein being poured out of your kidneys into your pee is not because you’re fat.
I’d never even heard of such a thing. She said to me, “I’m going to give you the summer” she said which was just like oh my god. Are you my gym teacher? Gonna give you this summer. And then come back in four months. And we’ll check again. And I said and you think it will go away and she said it will go away. Well, it didn’t go away. Tune in to GOOD KIDS next week to hear part two of my story.
Jen Curran 12:03
You can follow me at @JenCurran on Twitter. Thank you for listening to GOOD KIDS.
GOOD KIDS is a Lemonada Media Original. Supervising producer is Kryssy Pease. Associate producer is Alex McOwen and Kegan Zema is our engineer. The show is executive produced by Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. The music is by Dan Molad with additional music courtesy of APM music. Check us out on social at @LemonadaMedia, recommend us to a friend and rate and review us wherever you listen to podcast. If you want to submit a show idea, email us at email@example.com. Until next week, stay good.