My HELLP Story. At age 31 after several years of trying and some mild fertility
My HELLP Story.
At age 31 after several years of trying and some mild fertility drugs, I was due for my first appointment to start the "serious" fertility treatments when I discovered I was pregnant with my first child. My husband, 42, and I were ecstatic to say the least! I attributed my good fortune to having lost 30 lbs. in an effort to trick my body into ovulating.
I had an uneventful pregnancy for the first 32 weeks. No morning sickness, I bragged that nobody could even tell I was pregnant. I had only gained about 20 lbs. However, my blood pressure did begin to creep up and hover around 140/90, but since it was always normal when I checked it at home and the drug store and only elevated at the Dr. office, I didn't take if very seriously. My OB decided to put me on meds after my 3rd appointment with elevated b/p. After my ordeal several friends and family members told me they had noticed I looked swollen in my face, but at the time I did not notice anything unusal other than an exacerbated case of carpal tunnel (a problem I had even before pregnancy).
At around 32 weeks, on a Friday at work, I started to feel nausea and stomach pain. I went home early and went to bed, thinking I was getting the flu. I felt much better that evening after sleeping all day. The sick feeling came and went all weekend, but since I kept feeling better I didn't worry about it. I did not take my b/p meds because I was afraid they would make me feel even more nauseous. I told my husband I would call my OB on Monday if I still felt sick. At work on Monday I felt fine, and several coworkers said they had the flu that weekend, so I was convinced I had it too. I didn't call my OB, since I felt fine and didn't want to overreact.
At about 6pm Monday night the pain returned in my stomach and began to worsen. By 11pm I couldn't take it anymore and reluctantly told my husband to drive me to the emergency room. I spoke with my OB's answering service and told them I was going to the nearest ER and to please notify her. At the ER, the internist on duty was convinced that the problem was with my gall bladder. My b/p was 110/214. I couldn't even tell them what meds I had been on, couldn't remember the prescription at all. 2 hours later my OB showed up and went into action. Her answering service had failed to notify her. She knew exactly what was wrong and told me that she was going to deliver my baby immediately. I was dumbfounded.
After an ultrasound the doctors discovered that my liver had cracked and was bleeding, but that the bleeding was contained in a large hematoma. As she did the emergency C-section to deliver my son I recall her saying that it looked clean inside, no internal bleeding. I now know the significance of that statement! I was kept in Surgical Intensive Care for 3 days under observation, on Magnesium Sulfate for the platelets that had dropped to 70,000, and underwent 2 blood transfusions. I was extremely fortunate that my liver did not rupture. The surgeon in charge told me about HELLP and seemed to know a lot about it. I credit him with saving my life. I spent 9 days in the hospital and took 6 months to completely recover. I continue to have hypertension and take daily medication for the condition.
My son Gavin was delivered weighing just under 4 lbs. He was on respirator for about 5 days, experienced a little jaundice, and had to learn to eat before he could go home. I held him for the first time on his 8th day of life from my hospital bed. He spent 3 weeks in NICU and my attempts to teach him to nurse were unsuccessful, but he had no lasting health problems, thank God. He is now a very active and healthy 3 year old who shows no signs of developmental or health problems. In fact, he has mastered his alphabet, numbers, colors and complete sentences in two languages with ease!
I was told I have about a 60% chance of a recurrence of HELLP in future pregnancies and was strongly discouraged against it by the first perinatologist I consulted.
The jury is still out on whether I will tempt fate a second time.
Ethan will be turning 3 at the end of this month (October). The month of October always brings up some scary memories and emotions for me... I never thought I would have a difficult pregnancy or labor. After all...