In the beginning of November 2003 we received the wonderful news that we were
In the beginning of November 2003 we received the wonderful news that we were expecting our first child. My due date was July 17, 2004. The pregnancy was progressing well and we were on top of the world. I had my level II ultrasound on February 19, 2004 and everything appeared fine. We were getting excited as we neared the summer and the arrival of our baby.
On Sunday May 2nd I dropped Ed off at the airport for his flight to Charlotte and what was to be his last business trip before the baby arrived. Around 9pm I noticed some back pain. I was at 29 wks and back pain was becoming a normal part of my life. However this was a pain in my upper back and only on the right side. At 3am the pain was getting worse not better so I decided to call the doctor. At 5am I received a call back and was told to come to the hospital to be checked out. I drove to the hospital where I was admitted by 6am. I had begun to contract. Ed flew home from Charlotte that morning. They checked my urine and blood pressure both of which came back normal. So initially I was told that this couldn't be related to Preeclampsia.
And although I was initially diagnosed with Pneumonia, DVTs, and a whole lot of other things, the final diagnosis was HELLP syndrome. I was told that the diagnosis was delayed because I did not present with the "typical" warning signs.
Prior to my pregnancy I had been in excellent health and during all my checkups my blood pressure had been on the low end of normal for a non-pregnant person let alone a pregnant woman. I never at any point, even during my sickest in the hospital, had any significant amount of protein in my urine or dangerously high blood pressure.
Initially they thought I had pnemonia as fluid was noted in my lungs and the pain was thought to be pleuracy (a swelling of the membranes that line the lungs due to friction). My respiration was decreasing and I was put on oxygen. My urinary output was also decreasing, and I began to swell and eventually was so swollen I couldn't walk. My respiratory status continued to decline. I was treated with high doses of antibiotics but did not show any improvement. I was checked for blood clots in my legs and several chest X-rays came back negative for embolisms in my lungs. The "phantom" pain in my back as they called it continued to worsen despite pain medications around the clock. 5 days later I was still contracting despite medications to stop the contractions and was dialated 2 centimeters. Over the next 2 days things really took a downward turn. My respiratory status continued to decline and then began to talk to my husband about needing to intubate me. My liver enzymes were through the roof and the back pain continued to worsen. At this point my husband was told the situation was critical. They now realized that the back pain I was experiencing was actually from liver distention and the risk for my liver rupturing was very high. The stress on my body had caused me to go into respiratory, kidney and liver failure and to save both my life and the life of our baby we needed to deliver right away. I needed an emergency C-section. I was at 30wks.
On Sunday May 9th, 2004 (Mother's Day) our daughter Colleen Marie entered this world at 10:37am. She was beautiful. She weighed 2lbs, 12oz and was the spitting image of my husband. Very sadly, she left this world 2 hours and 8 minutes later in the loving arms of her father and surrounded by her grandparents, aunts and uncle. My husband was told I remained in critical condition. I was monitored very closely for the next 48hrs as my liver enzymes remained dangerously high. Interestingly, the "phantom" back pain disappeared after my daughter was born. I spent about two weeks in the hospital, but it took over two months for me to fully recover. I was told I was lucky to be alive.
Nothing will ever make up for the loss of our beloved first daughter, but we do feel so very blessed to have made it through the second pregnancy with fewer complications. So for those of you out there who have experienced a loss and are discouraged by the reoccurence risk numbers, please do not lose hope. It can happen.