Hi,I had never heard of HELLP syndrome before. In fact, I didn't know much about
Posted On Sunday, January 17, 2010 by April
I had never heard of HELLP syndrome before. In fact, I didn't know much about preeclampsia either, as I had a healthy first pregnancy and didn't worry myself with such complications. I read "What to Expect When You're Expecting" but always skipped over the part about complications in pregnancy. When I was pregnant with my second son, I remember doing this, saying to myself that this would be a perfect textbook pregnancy as well. Boy, was I so wrong.
About one to two months before I delivered, I was getting swelling in my face, hands, and feet. I also experienced tingling in my fingers. I mentioned this to my OB/GYN and he said that I had carpal tunnel - which was common in pregnancy and would probably resolve itself after the pregnancy. Looking back on pictures, my face was extremely swollen, to the point that it didn't look healthy. My blood pressure was also always normal and so was my urine at every visit. On December 24, I had a scheduled doc appt and forgot to bring my urine specimen with me. I remember feeling like I was starting to contract and I was feeling sick to my stomach. I also remember about a week or two before this appt, I was feeling very tired all the time and started getting some headaches. I just took all this as normal third trimester symtoms. I believed my body was getting ready to deliver.
I woke up on December 30 around 7am with extreme pain in the center of my body, right between my rib cages, that shot all the way to my back. I tried to lay back down and go back to sleep but the pain got worse. Finally, I called my doctor and he said it sounded like indigestion and to go take some Maalox. If it didn't get better, he wanted me to call back. Finally around 11am, I couldn't take it anymore. I called the doctor back and he wanted me to go into L & D. When we arrived, we went into triage where they found out my blood pressure was elevated and there was protein in my urine. They then took some blood that came back with elevated liver enzymes and a platelet count around 140,000. They told me I would deliver that day. I was 38 weeks pregnant.
They started me on pitocin and I labored for about 9 hours. I ended up having an epidural (I never thought this wouldn't be an option due to what my platelet count was). I pushed for about 25 minutes and he was out, weighing 5lbs, 8oz. He was small for 38 weeks (a pound less than my first born at that gestational age) but so healthy. It was me that was the problem.
They had me on Magnesium Sulfate so that I wouldn't seize, and they kept my catheter in to monitor my urine. I sat in my bed for 2 full days after he was delivered, all hooked up to the machines. Slowly, my blood pressure was coming down, but not to normal just yet. My urine was starting to look better also. It was losing that brown tea color and going back to normal. The nurse came in my room and told me she was going to unhook me and allow me to get up and rock my baby in the rocking chair. I was so excited! As soon as I got up and into the chair, the pain I felt between my rib cage came back, only this time twice as strong!! I started panicking at this point and didn't know what was happening to me. They got me all hooked back up but had a very difficult time putting an IV back into my arm, as I was was extremely swollen still. My nurse tried twice and failed, so she got another nurse to try and she got it. They shot me with Demurral and tried to get me to relax. Nothing was working because I was so scared and thought it was a possibility I was going to die. My instincts kicked in. My doctor came in and told me at this point that I had HELLP syndrome. I said to him that I didn't want to die. He just looked back at me with worry all over his face and said "I don't want you to die either". Then I really knew that I was in trouble. My platelets got down to 24,000 and they were getting ready to transport me to another hospital where they could do a platelet transfusion. If it dropped anymore, I would've been transported. They then rushed me to get a CAT scan of my liver to see if it had ruptured. I felt so alone in there. On the way out, they told me everything was normal. I felt a huge wave of relief. I was brought back to my room where I sat for another 2 days all hooked up to the machines. My doctor offered for me to go to ICU to be more comfortable but I said no. I just wanted this labor experience to be normal and I wanted to be on L & D.
After those 2 days were up, we were able to leave. Everything looked like it was on its way up, and I could get out of bed to hold my baby. I did end up leaving with anemia though and my blood pressure was still not perfectly normal, but my platelets were back up to 150,000 at least. Things were looking great.
After this, I went home and researched HELLP syndrome. I really had no idea that it was as deadly as it was and I never thought that it would happen to me. Everyone in my family had great pregnancies. I was scared but didn't realize how truly close to death I was. As scared as it was, I still ended up getting pregnant a third time and delivering a healthy baby girl. They induced me with her because I was starting to get protein in my urine again and my bp was going up. She was born at 37 weeks at 4lbs 12oz. I had IUGR with her. No HELLP that time but I think it was starting to go that way again.
I am so grateful to have turned around. This is one of the most scariest and deadliest diseases and too many women haven't even heard of it. I plan to start getting the word out there so that people know what to look for. I am so grateful that I was far enough along where my baby was healthy also. I thank God everyday for the blessings in my life.
After surviving a very traumatic first pregnancy with a nightmare delivery (30 hours of magnesium-induced hell, ending in an emergency c-section) and even more debilitating recovery, one would think I was DONE having children. Let's be ...