The Reason They Share a Birthday

Post On Thursday, May 18, 2017 By Tracy

The Reason They Share a Birthday

I feel a little emotional these days, not only because it was just my first Mother's Day, but also because there was a chance that I wouldn't have been here to celebrate it if it wasn't for an amazing team of doctors! In honor of this past Mother's Day and Cameron's first birthday quickly approaching, I've decided to share my story.


Overall, I'm a rather healthy individual so when I became pregnant with Cam, I had an easy, uncomplicated pregnancy. I felt great except for about 10 days of what I guess I could call morning sickness, but really just some moderate nausea and fatigue in the first and third trimesters. I felt pretty good the entire time. I honestly feel that the hardest symptom was the anxiety I fought with during my second trimester. I was worried after this because I always expected the third trimester to be dreadful from hearing stories from others but to my surprise, I felt amazing for most of it, probably the best I felt the entire pregnancy! All my tests checked out normal the entire time I was pregnant and I even remember telling my doctor at my 28 week appointment, that I expected pregnancy to be harder and it just seemed too easy, ha, if I only knew what was ahead! Towards the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy, I felt great even with incredibly swollen ankles and horrible acid reflux, it was nothing I couldn't handle! I was starting to feel insanely tired, but I was also still working and I planned to continue working until 39 weeks (and 1 Day to be exact!). My entire pregnancy, my blood pressure was normal, I've always run around 100/60, so there was never concern for preeclampsia and my swelling was gradual, not "sudden" and in just my ankles and legs. There was NEVER any concern for complications. On my 38 week visit, my iron was borderline low, still nothing too concerning at the time. At my 39 week visit, I was anxious, my joints were beginning to ache and I just felt ready so I opted to have an induction started the night of my due date. I went to the hospital at 7pm June 21st ready to hopefully meet my baby by the next day! I was nervous but so excited, my only fear was having a csection just for the reason that my mom had a horror story from hers! So I went in, was prepped to start my induction and got settled in! So.. fast forward 50 hours of labor and horrible pain later... by day 3 I was still only 2 cm and and 50% effaced so I had a choice, a 4th attempt at induction or go home, rest and be induced again in a week. I was exhausted and had absolutely no pain tolerance at this point so we opted to go home. My mom and Cory were amazing and stayed with me the entire time I was in labor. Discharge took forever and I was in incredible pain from all the contractions and labor. They told me to take some Tylenol pm when I got home so I could sleep. Considering it was already 1030pm when they told me this, my amazing in laws ran out to grab some at the grocery store so we only had to make a quick stop by their house on the way home! When I left my blood pressure was slightly elevated, still in normal range but for me it was high. After a third reading, it went down slightly, and enough for the doctors to assume it was from my pain so they let me go home. When I was getting out of the elevator, I felt something trickle down my arm, to my surprise my arm was pretty much gushing blood all over the hospital floor so I ran to the bathroom to clean it up. I had a bad feeling about it since I NEVER bleed like that, but at 11:30pm, I just wanted to sleep and forget about the pain I was in. So I put pressure on it and went home, anxious, depressed and disappointed. I should have listened to my gut at this point. I tried to stay positive throughout the weekend, which I pretty much slept the entire time. My morning/night schedule was completely wacky now! I was anxious and just hoped to make I until Monday so that my doctor would be back on the schedule. So Saturday night, we were watching tv and I felt a pain in my upper right side around 12:30am (now Sunday) but assumed it was just a nice little baby foot up in my ribs, because well, that was normal, so I took some Tylenol pm and went to bed. An hour later, I was wide awake and in excruciating pain, pain that I've NEVER felt in my life, pain worse than any of the past contractions. Cory had just fallen asleep so I tried to get a nice warm shower thinking it may help the pain, but nothing! I decided to wake him up, something just didn't feel right. If it were a contraction, it would have gone away at some point and I just couldn't get relief. I remembered the doctor asking me every prenatal visit if I had any pain in my upper right side which at this point made me worry. Cory called the on call doctor and explained our situation. I had no other symptoms of preeclampsia, no headache or blurry vision so the doctor was positive it was just a contraction and told Cory he could bring me in but it will probably eventually end. Cory knew I was scared but I tried to wait it out as long as possible. I knew something was wrong and I wasn't going to possibly risk my baby's health so I we headed to the hospital as fast as possible without anything but my purse. No overnight bag because I was positive that I wasn't in labor and I would be home by the afternoon. I remember calling my mom in tears to let her know we were going. The entire ride was agonizing and it was impossible to get comfortable. My husband is amazing, let's just say my husband got me there in 15 minutes which probably should have taken 25! We arrived at the ER around 3am and I was crippled over in pain so they wheeled me right to the maternity wing triage room. I changed, gave them urine to check for proteins, which were negative so once again, no concerns from the doctor yet. My blood pressure was around 140/88 which can be normal, but for me, incredibly high. So once again, only 2 cm and 50% effaced. While I was waiting for the doctor to come back after my labs were drawn, I started vomiting for the first time all pregnancy and couldn't stand without feeling incredibly dizzy. I knew something just wasn't right. When the doctor returned, he assessed me again, this time checking my reflexes, which were hypersensitive. I think this was the last thing the doctor needed to finalize his diagnosis. He looked at me calmly and told me that I had gotten there just in time. He then told me that I had a severe form of preeclampsia and then diagnosed with HELLP syndrome. He continued to explain the diagnosis but it felt like he wasn't speaking English anymore, and all I could do was look at my husband and think about how I loved him and just felt so scared. They monitored the baby and waited for another round of labs. My second urine finally showed proteins. And then they told me that my labs showed that my liver was incredibly inflamed and shutting down, my platelets and hemoglobin were dropping, and my reflexes showed that I could soon have a seizure if not started on iv magnesium. He looked at me and explained that the only cure was to get the baby out and by 7 am, I was back to being induced... again. Magnesium was started and I couldn't stop vomiting until a wonderful dose of iv zofran was given. My head was pounding and I was seeing double, I couldn't keep my eyes open for more than 5 minutes at a time. They gave me an amazing pain medication that knocked me out for a few hours so that I could get some relief from the liver pain and contractions. The upper right pain from the liver inflammation was surprisingly gone from the pain meds and I felt like I could finally get semi comfortable. They cranked up the pitocin and I was so excited to have hit 3 cm. My blood was drawn often showing that my platelets and hemoglobin were continuing to drop to critical levels so they broke my water in hopes I would progress faster. I was 4 centimeters by the time my blood counts were critically low, and my platelets had hit 49,000 (they should be anywhere from 150,000-450,000) and they gave me my options. Push at 4cm with no epidural because it would be too risky with a chance of bleeding in my spinal column, which realistically was NOT actually an option, or an emergency c-section before my counts dropped any lower and at this point they were already prepping me for blood transfusions. So that was the moment I met the man who would soon be saving my life, but I didn't know it yet. I tried to text my mom to keep my parents informed, and to make sure they knew I loved them but I couldn't see the screen without wanting to vomit. At this point I didn't know what was happening, but took comfort in knowing my baby wasn't in any distress. I tried to keep my eyes open long enough for the anesthesiologist to get my consent for both anesthesia and blood. And, before I knew it, I was being taken into the OR without my husband. Before they knocked me out, I was terrified and in tears. Dr Rubin promised me that he wouldn't let anything happen to me and my baby. I'm so thankful that he kept his promise that day. So at 1:58pm, they brought my sweet 8lb 3oz baby boy into the world. Cory went straight to the nursery to see him for the first time. It took over 30 minutes for them to stop my bleeding, my labs were so critical that I wasn't clotting and the doctor, as I was told, "manually stopped the bleeding with his hands clenched onto my uterus". When I woke up, I heard them yelling for me to open my eyes, but I couldn't. I tried so hard but I couldn't, I tried to talk but my throat was so dry and sore from the breathing tube that all I could do was moan in agonizing pain. I had no pain meds in me waking up from surgery and anyone who has had a baby knows how much it hurts for them to press on your uterus afterwards especially after it's been cut. Well for me, the pressing was continuous to make sure I wouldn't hemorrhage. I heard the nursery page them to tell them they were sending the baby down. I still couldn't open my eyes, but when I heard a baby cry I felt relief. The nurses told me that my first words after surgery were, does he look like a Cameron? Their answer was yes and they found that pretty amusing after everything I'd been through. My husband, who I'm pretty sure has never held a baby, did what he had to do and took care of our sweet newborn. He fed him, held him and learned how to change a diaper all in a short time, full blown daddy mode. Once they got me hooked up to pain medication, which was amazing by the way, they brought me back to my room to "see" my baby and wait for my new lab results. They rolled him in and I could barely open my eyes and there was no chance of holding him. And within what felt like 10 minutes I was told that I had to be transferred to the intensive care unit for transfusions and to be monitored closely. They transferred me, hooked me up and gave me blood and told me that they had to have platelets brought in because on top of all that I have one of the rare (and negative) blood types. That was the longest night of my life. My transfusions lasted about 4 hours or so and when they found that my stomach bloated in the middle of the night they rushed Cory out of the room and rushed in doctors and radiologists to assess and X-ray me to make sure I wasn't bleeding internally.. luckily it was just gas! They repeated my blood work every 4 hours from then. My labs started to increase but then they dropped, and dropped again. Every blood draw, I couldn't wait for them to say your improving and going back to the maternity wing, but no, each time was I'm sorry, your labs are still too critical. Every blood draw results, I thought to myself, is this it? Will I ever get better? They made me stay on iv magnesium for 24 hours after delivery to make sure that I wouldn't have a seizure, but this meant, pounding headache, being awake for no longer than 10 minutes at a time, nausea and seeing double. I counted down every long second until 2pm, which my nurse wasn't even available at that time! They eventually took me off the magnesium, my blood pressure was great and I instantly felt better minus the intense pain in my abdomen. For some odd reason they took me off my in pain medication less than 12 hours after surgery and no one knew how to manage my c-section pain. When I asked the nurse if I was just being a wuss, she responded with "I have no idea, we don't get c-section patients down here". When my maternity wing nurse came down to check on me, she instantly got a doctor on the phone and was outraged that I was in so much pain. I was still tachycardic due to the low blood counts but I felt okay. My parents came to visit me and seconds later a sweet nurse from the nursery brought my baby in and I held my sweet baby for the first time! Babies are only allowed off the maternity floor for an hour so it was the shortest hour I've ever felt. My husband went back with our little man and arrived back to the icu with my best friend who luckily works at the hospital and was able to visit, it was pretty nice to see someone who wasn't poking me with needles. Around 6pm my labs were finally improving and they were allowing me to return to maternity where I could finish recovery with my husband and baby, it was amazing news! The nurses in the icu made me, and it was a struggle, but like I said MADE me get up and sit in a chair, which was insanely painful and it felt impossible just to shift positions but I did it, I knew I just had to. By the time I got to the maternity wing I was determined to move around. I was hunched over and moved insanely slow but I was able to get from the couch to the chair and I forced myself to move more each day. Taking a shower was amazing, holding my baby was amazing, everything felt great to do again but was incredibly painful. The next day, I saw my nurse from surgery and she rushed into my room amazed that I could even get up after the trauma to my uterus and blood loss. She had told me she was relieved because they all thought they were losing me on the table and she wasn't sure if I'd make it after losing so much blood... she also compared my to chopped meat, which was weird, but I appreciated her honesty. She told me that she was okay with telling me this because I was doing so well.At that moment, I really realized how critical things were and how thankful I was to my medical team. All of my nurses were so supportive and I was improving each day, once my labs improved enough, I got to go home but labs were still needed every few days. Labcorp visit after labcorp visit! When I got home I couldn't lift anything more than the baby and couldn't drive, but luckily I have a supportive family who helped me recover. At first I felt angry that the doctors didn't realize something was wrong but they couldn't have because everything seemed normal. Most symptoms of HELLP syndrome are typical pregnancy symptoms but to the extreme. I didn't realize that the extreme fatigue at the end of my pregnancy wasn't normal, I slept for 3 days up until my due date but figured, hey I'm 40 weeks pregnant, who wouldn't be tired? My edema was pretty bad, but once again, I assumed these were normal signs. I've now learned to never assume any symptom is "normal". I don't know if anything could have been different but now we know I will always have a 25% chance of it occurring in my next pregnancies. My doctor remained positive while talking about future pregnancies which made me feel better! HELLP syndrome is pretty rare but anyone can be at risk for it. If sharing my story means just 1 person learns about HELLP and preeclampsia symptoms, I'll be okay with that. Please Mommas, please trust your gut during your pregnancy! Trusting my gut saved our lives! I wouldn't wish my experience on anyone, and I'm thankful to Dr Rubin for giving me another go at life with my supportive husband and sweet little boy. It's a day I will never forget and the best part of all is that my son now shares his birthday with my poppy who's up in heaven. Guess I'm lucky someone was looking out for me that day.

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