Postpartum Eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome

Post On Thursday, June 02, 2016 By natalie

Postpartum Eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome

 Hi: my name is Natalie and I am a 36-year-old wife and mother of 2 children. My Daughter is 6 and my son will be 5 this summer. Preeclampsia is not something that only occurs during pregnancy. Pregnant mothers just like myself can have wonderful pregnancies with no complications, deliver perfectly healthy babies and then suddenly symptoms of preeclampsia occur. I got a taste of postpartum preeclampsia shortly after my daughter was born. I was being released from the hospital and my nurse made mention that my pressure was on the rise and indicated that she was going to contact my OB. Later that day I was discharged with instructions to monitor my pressures… I went home and Googled high blood pressure after giving birth and found several articles on preeclampsia. I called my ob the only response they gave me was to just continue monitoring my pressures and to call if there were any significant changes… By the end of the week my pressures returned to normal.

Fast forward to my second pregnancy. I delivered a healthy baby boy at 39weeks and was very excited to get home to my family. I specifically remember leaving the hospital thinking, great, my BP was normal, I don't have to worry about that this time around. The next morning I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and thought “my god, I look huge”… As the day progressed the swelling was not going away. I eventually called the dr and was told swelling postpartum is a common symptom after delivery and there was no reason to be alarmed. Not feeling satisfied, I insisted to be seen because something just didn't feel right. I arrived at the OB, had my PB taken and was told I needed to return to the hospital immediately. I didn't understand what was happening and was very scared. I remember thinking, why didn't they do this when I had Alina? When I arrived at the hospital I received a urine analysis and was also told that my liver enzymes were extremely elevated. My husband and I began researching what this all meant and came across postpartum preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome. My Dr insisted that we get off the computer. His exact words… “Natalie, only 5% of the women experiences postpartum preeclampsia and or HELLP, this is not what we are dealing with”. I was discharged the next day on blood pressure medication and told to follow up in a week. During those next 24 hours I remember feeling as though I was slipping away, My head literally felt like it was exploding, I was seeing flashers on a regular basis and I just remember feeling sick to my stomach. My mom and husband couldn't understand what was happening, but thought maybe I was just having some anxiety over all that had happened and what I read online. I remember I kept saying “something isn't right… I need help” but deep down I was wondering is it me, am I psyching myself up? Eventually I slipped into a catatonic state and in a desperate attempt my mother called my OB office and  insisted I be seen. After meeting with my mother and I in his office, the OB Dr on call was convinced I was suffering from PPD. My mom requested that he take my pressure to make sure the BP medication was working before dismissing us.

At that time my pressure was 200/120. Again I was returned to the hospital, however instead of being placed on the OB floor, I was admitted to the psychiatric unit and given a evaluation for PPD and placed on a 24 hour hold. Never once during that appointment at my OB office did I say that I wanted to harm myself or anyone. During that 24 hour observation my pressures were hardly checked, and nether was my urine as I wasn't admitted for postpartum preeclampsia or HELLP. Once again I was sent home the next day as it was determined that I was not showing any signs of PPD.

Before I was discharged is when we believe I had my first seizure. I do remember getting out of bed to get dressed and feeling like a ping pong ball bouncing into walls, my mom walked into the room to find me on the floor with a nurse beside me… my mom asked the nurse to send in a dr, however the nurse told my mom that she believed I had fell, that I was discharged and that it was time for me to go home. My mom asked me why I was laying on the floor and I couldn't tell her, I did not know. Not even an hour had passed before I had my second seizure. I was taken by ambulance back to the same hospital, with the same dr’s that ignored my many cries for help. After all was said and done I had a total of 4 seizures, a stroke, and failing organs. I was in the ICU for 6 days and spent the next 18 in the main hospital recovering. I spent a total of 24 days away from my my 19 month old daughter and newborn son as they were not allowed to visit me in the hospital. It is believed that when preeclampsia occurs Postpartum it can be more dangerous to a mother. 80% of Postpartum cases as many new moms will mistake their symptoms as typical postpartum issues and unfortunately end up getting help to late.

The message I hope to express is to always trust your intuition and advocate for yourself. I was apart of the 5% of women who have experienced Postpartum Preeclampsia and HELLP and none of my health care providers would listen or took my symptoms seriously until it was to late. I often still wonder if they would have, if it would have gotten as bad as it did… I spent a long time angry about that, however now I am so grateful that I recovered, I am healthy, and that there was no permeant damage done to my body. My children have their mother and I thank god to be here with my family everyday. Next month will be 5 years that this all occurred, and I look forward to the time when I can just think of July as my sons birthday and nothing else… but it is definitely getting easier.

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