HELLP Syndrome Story
Posted On Friday, November 19, 2010 by Victoria
My pregnancy was moving along absolutely perfectly. We had only had one hiccup, a threatened miscarriage during week 7 of my pregnancy. But munchkin was fine and my pregnancy progressed and progressed. We moved to Georgia two weeks before my husband left for Basic Training, and while i was 32 weeks pregnant. I was measuring big, but my doctor's didn't seem to be worried about it, so i didn't either. After my husband left for Basic, it was my job to figure out the insurance and start making the doctor's appointments to make sure everything was still going alright. Two weeks after my husband left, i finally was able to get everything straightened out so that i could see a doctor. I was 36 and 1/2 weeks pregnant and eagerly looking forward to the end. I had been very tired lately, losing my breath very easily and finding it hard to catch it again (which i attributed to the weight gain and overall pregnant body) and i had started seeing black stars on the outskirts of my vision, all during the weeks leading up to this doctor visit.
The appointment i had scheduled was supposed to just be a paperwork assessment to get me in the system. They took my blood pressure before we started. It was 140/83. I didn't really understand that that was bad. They took me in the back and i worked through the paperwork. The nurse said they were going to recheck my blood pressure just to be on the safe side. It had dropped to 134/80. She took me back to her office. She told me she was going to make me an appointment with one of the doctor's for that same day. There weren't openings, so she went and talked to one who had agreed to see me during her break. She took me into an exam room and checked my cervix, then explained to me what they were worried about: Pre-Eclampsia. I told her that i had been seeing the stars in my vision for a week or two and she said they were going to send me to L&D to be monitored over night. After an ultrasound to check on the munchkin (who was doing wonderfully!), i headed over to the hospital for what was going to be a long night. They took blood and hooked me up to the different monitors then told me to rest (not so easy when you have ten pounds sitting on your bladder). I wasn't worried. This kind of thing never happens to me, so i didn't really understand why everyone was making a big fuss. The next morning, they came and collected the urine i had been collecting in a hat in the toilet, ran it for tests, and found the proteins that confirmed their diagnosis. A little later, my blood platelet levels started falling rapidly. My doctor came in and told me that i had gone from pre-eclampsia to severe pre-eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome. They had to induce immediately. They started me on the cytotec and magnesium to keep the seizures away. 16 hours later i was holding my beautiful baby boy. Because of the low platelet counts, oxygen wasn't getting to him in the doses he needed. He spent the rest of the night and morning underneath an oxygen tent. By mid-afternoon, he was a perfectly healthy baby boy. I was not as lucky. Three days after giving birth, i was still on the magnesium. My blood pressure refused to come down (after spiking to 180/120 while i was in labor) and my platelets didn't seem to want to come up. It took a week in the hospital (and multiple needle pokes) for my body to even start to return to normal. When i left the hospital, my blood pressure was still high (120/75) but the doctor's were confident that it would come down with rest and meds. Five months later, i couldn't be feeling any better!
I didn't realize then the danger that i had been in. Had the one doctor refused to see me during her break, the results would have been catastrophic (there had not been any more appointments for two weeks). My body deteriorated literally overnight. It's not something i ever want to go through again. And i don't want anyone else to have to go through it either.
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 ...