Deguen's Homebirth and Atypical HELLP Syndrome

Post On Monday, May 16, 2016 By Monica

Deguen's Homebirth and Atypical HELLP Syndrome

Between Deguen turning 4 just a couple days ago and it being Preeclampsia Awareness Month, the fact that I'm a HELLP Syndrome survivor is on the forefront of my mind.  Perhaps if I share my story, a mom-to-be may recognize some of the same symptoms and save her and her baby's life.  My pregnancy with Deguen was straight forward and easy for the most part.  There were a few common pregnancy complaints which now looking back were actually HELLP Syndrome symptoms.  At 37 weeks my feet swelled considerably.  The day before, I attended my friend's bridal shower and I had worn heels, walked all over the city and sat on a bar stool with my feet dangling for a couple hours.  I quickly excused the swelling  to the previous day's activities and contacted my midwife about the swelling and how to relieve it.  It did go down a day or so later. At 39 weeks, I came down with the "flu".  My symptoms started out with a soar throat and progressed to body aches and I vomited once on the third day of feeling sick.  I was fatigued and also developed a terrible cough.  It seemed a bit odd to have the flu in May but some of my husband's coworkers had also been sick so it wasn't totally out of the question.  My biggest concern at that point was my approaching due date and having the energy to get through the delivery and not giving my germs to my newborn baby.  My cough persisted and about 2 nights before my due date I started to get a pain right at the opening of my rib cage.  I talked to my midwife about it and we decided between the coughing and being full term, it was probably my diaphragm being strained and over stretched.  The night before I had Deguen, the cramping/contractions started. I didn't sleep too well but when I got up in the morning, the pain at the opening of my rib cage was gone.  My labor and contractions progressed throughout the day and after my water broke, things moved pretty fast.  Deguen was born at home (planned) on her due date around 10pm.  Everything was great, she was healthy weighing at 7lb 11 oz and 21 inches.  It wasn't until about 24 hours after when things took a turn for the worst.  My midwife came back for my first postpartum visit just 24 hours after Deguen was born.  When she took my blood pressure, it was elevated at 140/90.  My  BP throughout pregnancy was a bit up and down but never over 120/80.  Also to mention, I never had protein in my urine during my prenatal appointments.  My chest pain had come back and I did feel headachey.  I was also sweating, sweating  a lot.  All these red flags put my midwife on high alert.  She immediately took my blood and had her assistant go pick up a blood pressure monitor for me to keep.  This was around 10 at night.  We would wait for my blood test results to know if going to the ER was necessary.  My chest pain was getting more uncomfortable.  It felt like someone was digging there elbow into the base of my sternum. Sure enough my blood work showed platelets in the 80's.  We packed up our 1 day old baby and headed off to the ER around 1am.  They ran a gamut of tests and I was finally admitted into labor and delivery around 7am for having Atypical HELLP Syndrome.    At that point my BP was sky high and liver enzymes were rising.  My platelets got as low as 28 at about 48 hours postpartum.  I stayed in the hospital for 5 days and was on BP meds for 2 weeks postpartum.  I never know whether to consider myself lucky or unlucky.  Unlucky to have had HELLP but incredibly lucky that I was full term and that Deguen and I ended up ok.  Also, lucky to have gone on to have a HELLP free second pregnancy in 2014!

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