by clairerobi (6 Posts), Thu Sep 08, 2011 03:50 pm
I've not been an active participant on the forums but instead have scoured the various forums for more information to better understand preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. I gained so much knowledge and reassurance from the forums that I thought I'd finally write a message. I am currently almost 38 weeks pregnant with my 2nd son and this pregnancy has been completely different than my first very traumatic one!
I delieverd my first son at 35 weeks due to severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome in April 2008. Fortunately, I went to the hospital on a Sunday evening when I did (the pain in my right rib cage is what clued me in that things were really not right and not just "normal pregnancy symptoms") and fortunately, the on-call doctor in my practice did not waste any time in diagnosing my condition and I had an emergency c-section. I had HELLP Class I, my liver was spilling out enzymes and my blood pressure was sky high. I spent 2 days on magnesium post-delivery, had a platelet transfusion, and didn't get to see my son in the NICU for 48 hours. Needless to say, it was not the birthing experience I had been planning. I know many of you can relate! I probably had the symptoms for a few days - I was swelling, had a headache (chalked it up to the terrible pollen/allergy season that always affects me in spring) and just in general, felt terrible (but thought I was just tired and rundown). If I would have called my doctor earlier, I probably would have had time for the 24 hour steriod shot to beef up my baby's lungs. I will never forgive myself for 'ignoring signs' and this experience taught me to become very proactive in my health (this is the first medical issue I've ever had). My son spent 16 days in the NICU -- 1 day for oxygen assistance but mainly learning how to suck, swallow, breathe while eating- he was a stubborn one -- and we have been very fortunate that he has not any preemie developmental delays. He was a good size at birth (5 lb, 12 oz) and gained weight quickly once at home.
Although we always wanted at least 2 children, I was very scared to get pregnant again because my biggest fear was that I would develop preeclampsia or HELLP even earlier the next time --even though my OB told me over and over that it is typically a first time pregnancy disease. Before getting pregnant, I had several consults with my regular OB, saw a MFM, and a rheumatologist to run a full blood panel to rule out any underlying disorders. I did have a positive ANA reading and also tested positive for SSA/anti-Ro (which can be a marker for lupus but the rheumatologist ruled out a lupus diagnosis due to the fact I had zero symptoms for it). I do have a strong family history of autoimmune diseases so perhaps down the line, one of those are in my future.
After months (and really years) of debating whether I was ready to get pregnant, I became pregnant in Jan 2011 and I am almost 38 weeks pregnant. I have a c-section scheduled for next Fri the 16th. I have had ZERO preeclampsia symptoms and I just wanted to share my story in hopes that it may bring comfort to other HELLP survivors. This pregnancy, I took a daily baby aspirin, extra folic acid (4x normal dose), calcium supplement and I was very conscious of a low-sodium, healthy diet and water intake. I was working fulltime in my first pregnancy and this time, I only worked contract from home for my old employer and would make a point to rest every afternoon. I know everyone has a different situation but I think it really helped that I slowed WAY down this pregnancy (or as much as you can with a 3 yr old!) and I was watched very closely by my regular OB and a MFM. I think having very supportive doctors was key! I've read so many stories on the forums about doctors who don't think HELLP and preeclampsia are a 'big deal' and I completely disagree. If you don't have good doctors that take you seriously then I would search for a new doctor.
Good luck to any HELLP survivors who are considering another pregnancy! I wish I could say I was more of a "glass half-full" kind of girl but when it came to this pregnancy, I was quite sure that I would deliver early and made my husband help get everything ready for the new baby well before my dreaded 34/35 mark. But the great news is that I made it to fullterm without any symptoms and maybe you will too!!