Preeclampsia & HELLP

Post On Saturday, April 26, 2014 By Alma

Preeclampsia & HELLP

We were very excited as we prepared for our first in April of 1990. My pregnancy had gone well throughout and we were ready. I was 34 wks pregnant and one afternoon I began to feel pains. I wasn't sure if this was premature labor since this was our first. I called the doctor and tried to describe my pains. They felt it was gastric and not a big problem, but I should come in anyway to be sure. The pains were growing more intense and I had a feeling something wasn't right. Being the science nerd I am, I told my husband as best as I could that the pains were by my liver. Little did I know...

We arrived to hospital and lo and behold the moment the nurses saw me bloated, severe edema, they all began calling out for a wheelchair and said some code stuff to let everyone know I was ready and was possibly suffering hypertension. I really wasn't paying attention so I didn't realize what was going on.

We were admitted into ER and a doctor came in after some tests and let me know that I was suffering from preeclampsia and was a walking time bomb. There were all sorts of things going on and they could see I was also severely anemic and were going to call in a hemotologist to see what was going on. I was not in good shape, and they were going to also find out what the pains were, so they did a scan. Soon after the tests the hemotologist reported that I was not only suffering from preeclampsia which explained my edema, high blood pressure, and protein in my urine, but also from a rare condition known as HELLP syndrome.

I was not going anywhere. They proceeded to explain that my liver was bleeding and could rupture, and accounted for the pain I was getting. I was severely anemic. The nurse drew blood and I noticed it was coming out like water. I was white as ghost. My plateletts were getting close to nil and they were afraid I might not make it.

This was all so surreal. I was calm - don't think it all really sunk in. It was happening all so fast, but I could see my husband was scared. The Dr. assured me he was going to do everything he could to assure this baby came home with a mom, and push for a a vag delivery as far as he could, since a c-section (while I was prepped for one) was far too life threatening.

My husband called in family and friends for blood because I was going to apparently need it. My parents and in-laws arrived from out of town and then it all sunk in. I was in bad shape. Thankfully my baby girl was hanging in there and was in a good place (5lbs - girls apparently do well in situations like these Dr.'s told me), but the only way to save me, was going to be to induce labor and have her prematurely. So I signed all the papers...

We managed to have a regular delivery of our precious baby girl, although I got seriously ill at the end, and she was rushed to ICU. We didn't see each other for 3 days. I cried every day and night. I had a polariod on the side of my bed so I could see her. I felt angry, guilty, sad and helpless. She needed me! I kept telling them that everytime they let me know her bp was up. If they would just allow us to be together... This wasn't supposed to happen this way, but I was far too sick to go anywhere and she was having difficulty breathing from what I'd heard.

Finally after 3 awful days, the nurses and doctors felt they could wheel me over to her. They advised me her bp was not well still (neither was mine). The machines, sounds etc... it was overwhelming and then I saw her and broke down. 3 days without her and finally we were together. It was more than I could bear. Soon after the nurses noticed her bp had normalized, as did mine, to which I was not surprised. I had my baby in my arms finally, talking to her, holding her, as it should be. She knew it, needed it and loved it.

The road from there on was a tough one without her, endless trips to ICU, tests, medicines etc...but she eventually came home on a monitor after 2 long mnths.

We were told to no longer have anymore children due to the high risk, but we couldn't bear it. Not too long after we had a boy abroad while on a job assignment. My preeclampsia symptoms kicked in again, but this time thanks to a dilligent/educated doctor and team, I was monitored and made it to 2wks before his birth, which was good. 7 long years later we decided on 1 more and in '01 we had another boy. This was the most normal of all my pregnancies and deliveries too! Everything I failed to experience with the first two. He of course turned last minute in the hospital so I had to have a c-section, but that's a different story! :)

Since then I've shared my story with HELLP Syndrome Society in it's early years, the Preeclampsia Foundation and UT Medical doctors here in Houston as well. I have many questions still as to why this happened to me and don't wish this on any mother. I found out my mom had something very similar with one of my sisters births too!

My children are now 22, 19, and 12, with my beautiful daughter and firstborn about to graduate college. I can't help but wonder if this is hereditary and I pray she never has to go through this. I  look foward to supporting this how I can, learning more, and just being there for other moms going through this.

Here's the story /research I was part of here in Houston:

http://www.utphysicians.com/11174/research-explores-early-intervention-strategy-preeclampsia/

(Interestingly they left out the HELLP portion, which was what almost killed me. I always wondered how these 2 were connected and then saw Preeclampsia and HELLP merged. I look forward to learning more).

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