"Only Heartburn"

Post On Monday, April 01, 2019 By Sune Pieterse

At first, I thought that I was experiencing some extreme heartburn, imagine my surprise. This is where my life-changing story starts. “Only heartburn" only to find out later that the burning sensation I felt was my liver failing.

To take you back to the beginning, this was our first shot at becoming parents, so excited that words can’t explain. I had an extremely easy pregnancy, no morning sickness, constipation, cravings, etc. Having said that, my hormones were all over the show. But once again a normal pregnancy symptom.

On week 23 I went for my monthly check-up. I had concern regarding high blood pressure, keeping in mind that I was hypertensive prior to my pregnancy. However my gynecologist was happy, and my pregnancy was deemed very healthy. We even confirmed what the gender was and celebrated our little girl Mia who's on her way.

At 27 weeks, our lives changed forever. I was complaining about heartburn for about a week. I went to my GP and all he told me was that the heartburn I’m experiencing was normal during pregnancy. Yes, I know I should not have waited so long to see my gynecologist, but he was on holiday so eventually my husband dragged me to the emergency room. The staff took my blood pressure and immediately realized that I was in extreme danger with a reading of 201 over 183. My blood was drawn and urine sample taken; I had protein in my urine, my liver was failing, and I needed blood platelets.

After all this the doctor did a scan to see if Mia is healthy. With the first scan we realized that there is no amniotic fluid and by the second scan there was no heartbeat.

This was my breaking point. My “perfectly healthy” baby does not have a heartbeat anymore. During the scan I can still remember turning to my husband and telling him that I do not hear anything, and I just broke down crying. This is the first time ever I’ve seen my husband crying. Eventually one on the doctors on call had to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy to save my life. I received an induction to induce labor and ironically, I had a very easy birth, approximately four hours and fully dilated when I eventually asked for something for the pain.

At 4 am on January 14, 2019, I gave birth to our little Mia. I can remember my husband telling me that she is so perfect, all 10 fingers and toes were accounted for and a debate that had been going on for months was settled; she had beautiful thick black hair.

Thus, I started the road to recovery. At first, I wanted to keep everything that had happened low-key but I now feel the need to talk about it openly and no one knows how to face me, understandably so because what do you say? It has been a super emotional roller-coaster ride not knowing when the next down is coming and when it comes it hits you hard and unexpectedly. I’ve always said that I do not want kids; when I was younger this might have been true but as I grew older this changed. My husband and I kept the lie going hoping it will stop the question of “when are you guys planning on getting your own little one?” For a long time, this was an inside joke between us to see the expression on people's faces when you tell them no.

Let it be known that yes, we desperately want kids even taking on the big unknown of pregnancy number two, and to be honest, yes, this time we do have a gender preference. Having said that, if it is not a little girl we will love that little boy just the same. If there is a baby number two, he/she will know the story of their beautiful older sister Mia. Preeclampsia/HELLP ayndrome is a very difficult topic to open. All I keep thinking is if somebody just told me what to look out for, things could have been different. On the other hand, I’m thinking if I knew all this upfront I would have been more stressed out and could not enjoy my pregnancy.

I’ve read the following quote and it sums up my emotions: You were born silent. Perfect and beautiful. Still loved. Still missed. Still remember. Every day. Stillborn. But still born.

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