When Wehage told her OB-GYN that she was still taking the drug and suffering from incapacitating migraines, the doctor became concerned.
Mallory Wehage, 35, of Avon Lake, Ohio, struggled to get out of bed for almost a month while she was pregnant with her third child in 2020 due to severe migraines. “They were really like a searing painful headache that was always in the same spot of my head. It was behind my ear, to the back of my neck,” Wehage told TODAY. “It was constantly in that same spot.”
Wehage had headaches the summer before she became pregnant after working out. “I just chalked it up to, 'I have two kids, I’m not sleeping well. I’m not drinking enough water,'” she recalled. “I wrote it off and went on with life not feeling great.” She phoned the on-call nurse, who gave her a prescription for a migraine drug to aid with the symptoms. When Wehage told her OB-GYN that she was still taking the drug and suffering from incapacitating migraines, the doctor became concerned. “The headaches were still there,” Wehage said. “My doctor said, ‘This doesn’t sound like a normal pregnancy headache that some women get in their second trimester.'”
On January 6, 2021, Wehage had an MRI and then went home to rest. Her headache was made worse by the machine's noise. The call telling her she had a "giant" aneurysm the size of a golf ball resting on the top of her brainstem arrived at that time. She required surgery since the ballooning blood artery needed to be treated immediately. “It was pushing on my brainstem, so it was really messing with how I was feeling all over,” she said. “Being pregnant, your body is changing. The symptoms were so heightened.”
Although she was scared, she had to remain calm for the sake of her children. “I had to keep it together because I had a 4- and a 2-year-old at the time, and I didn’t want to scare them,” she said. “I was packing a bag, (and) my son was like, ‘Mom, it looks like you’re going to Mexico,’ and I was like, 'Yeah, I’ll be gone for a couple of days.’ At that time, we had no idea how long I would be gone or what was going to happen to the baby I was pregnant with.”
Wehage was monitored in the intensive care unit while she awaited surgery. Wehage had brain surgery 48 hours after learning of the aneurysm. “This part always makes me a little emotional: The very last thing they did before they put me under was have a labor and delivery nurse check the baby’s heartbeat,” she said. “The very first thing they did when they woke me up was check the baby’s heartbeat. So, the same nurse that did that came to visit me later when I was more with it, and the first thing I said to her when they woke me up was, ‘Am I still pregnant?’”
When Mallory Wehage was pregnant with her third child, Scotty, she experienced such terrible headaches that she couldn't get out of bed.— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 26, 2022
She thought it was stress, but it was a giant aneurism. https://t.co/CYitrqrENz
Wehage was relieved to learn that her child was okay when she finally recovered from her operation. The aneurysm first became larger following surgery before fading. “My headaches were actually pretty intense. So, I was on a really high dose of steroids when I got home, which then was impacting my blood sugar, which for pregnancy is not ideal,” she said. “I had to take my blood sugar four times a day, and I had to use insulin before all my meals because of the steroids. So that made the rest of the pregnancy … high risk.”
Doctors advised her to have a C-section because going into labor and pushing could be harmful to her baby's ability to recover from injury. It was difficult to deal with her gestational diabetes, the constant migraines, and the thought of having her first C-section. Then, a 36-week ultrasound revealed that she was amniotic fluid-free. “From that appointment, I had to go straight to the hospital and have the baby earlier than we had planned so that was a little shocking,” she said.
Thankfully, everything went well, and young Scotty joined the family on April 12, 2021. “He’s almost a year and a half, and you would never know that he was only 5 pounds when he was born,” she said. “He’s healthy, growing, busy. He’s great.”
Wehage gained confidence in her strength as a result of her experience. “It wasn’t just the baby I was pregnant with that I had to think about. It was also getting home for my kids and to be there as their mother,” she said. Nevertheless, she now regrets playing down her headaches. “I do wish I would have listened to my body more because that summer before I was even pregnant, there were signs that something wasn’t right. But I kept pushing through it when I should have made the time for myself to go to a doctor and get those headaches checked out,” she said. “The lesson to me is listen to myself, make time for myself.”
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Justin Paget