My HELLP story

Post On Monday, February 17, 2014 By Erin

My HELLP story

My pregnancy was a surprise, Brad and I had never planned to have children. I knew very little about the realities of pregnancy. I had never really looked into what can and does happen to a womans body while it incubates a precious little life. If you also have not, its a crazy bunch of stuff and purely amazing and disgusting at the same time, a bit like motherhood but that is another story all together. I had gestational diabetes and was being monitored weekly due to the medication that I had to take.

I went to work Tuesday August 28th, like one does when they are employed. I wasn't having any significant symptoms. Moderate swelling, a little edema but it seemed to mostly go away at night when I propped my feet up. I had an appointment that day and since I was only 36 weeks (out of 40 for a full term pregnancy) I left pretty confident that I would return after. I was wrong. The appointment started out normal, I peed in a cup and waited for the nurse to weigh me and take my blood pressure. I got weighed and sat down to have my blood pressure taken. The nurse took the reading made a face and asked if I had been really active prior to coming back. Nope, so she checked again and said she would get the doctor but that I would have to be admitted to Labor and Delivery and did I know where to go.

I felt a little confused because I felt fine but said yes I knew where to go and should I just go straight there or wait for the Dr. She said to go straight down and she would also call ahead to let them know I was coming. I felt more and more panicked as I headed down stairs to the check-in desk. Why were they sending me, what was wrong with me? I was pre-registered at the hospital and checked-in within a few minutes. Everyone was very nice, I peed in another cup. I got my own little room and I was told to lie down. My doctor came in and told me my blood pressure was very high and I had protein spill so they wanted to monitor me for a couple of hours. The hope was that if I lay down for a bit and my BP would normalize. Umm, nope that doesnt happen.

I was admitted to Ante-Partum and I would have to stay for observation. I had pee in a huge jug and get more lab sticks and blood pressure readings than I ever could have imagined, I seriously have blood drawn out of my arm every couple of hours and my blood pressure is taken once an hour. I was still confused. I didnt understand what we were monitoring for other than the raised BP, if it was explained I missed it. There was a lot running through my mind and I may have missed some of what was going on around me. I contacted my family; Brad came and offered to spend the night at the hospital with me. I told everyone that everything was fine, I was fine. I told Brad to go home and sleep so he could go to work in the morning. I was very wrong. I was not fine; I was quickly leaving the realm of FINE. I was on bed rest in the hospital. I was bored out of my mind.

It was Wednesday August 29. All night long, all morning long I was monitored the same as the day before. I kept thinking I was going to be released. I told my family that I would be released. My mother came to the hospital and said she would take me home. Brad was at work, like I told him to be. At some point my stomach started to hurt, I told my nurse. I was told to relay any pain that I had. I thought it was indigestion. I told the nurse that. She looked at me sympathetically and said let me call your doctor. The nurse came in and out; she told us several times that she didnt think that I will be going home and that instead would be having a baby. I ignored her, I wanted to go home. I was not ready to have a baby yet. I was really good at being wrong. My doctor came down and said "Were having a baby" in a very excited voice. I looked at her like she was crazy. My mother was there, I have no idea how she took things. She got very pale, I could see that.

My doctor explained that my BP had not improved, that my protein spill was bad, that my blood platelet level was dropping, that I has elevated liver enzymes and the pain I felt in my stomach was not indigestion but was my liver having little mini-strokes because in the beginning stages of failure. The only way to reverse this was to have a baby; she was trying to sound as positive as possible. She did a good job of that. I went numb. I was hearing what was going on but I did not really comprehend. I know my mother was talking to the doctor. I know there was more going on. The doctor was explaining that I would be induced and how that worked. I said I needed to call my husband at work and tell him. The doctor agrees, she asked how far away he was. It was mid-afternoon. I called my husband to say that I was not coming home, that my mother was at the hospital with me, that he should show up because I was going to have the baby. I cannot remember who he reacted. I was still numb. I moved to labor and delivery.

My blood pressure cuff automatically took a reading every few minutes. It stayed dangerously high; my blood platelets were still dropping. I was asked if I want an epidural. I had not even gotten the medicine to begin my labor but the anesthesiologist explained that my last lab indicated that my blood platelets were hovering around 90,000 and that I was pretty much at the cut off if I wanted to have one. I had a few minutes to decide. I had wanted a natural labor; I was terrified that I would be in labor for two days. I called the anesthesiologist back in and explained my fears, he said he could place it but not turn it on. I went with that option and got the epidural. I was started on a Pitocin drip. It was around 5pm. I was still monitored heavily. I was still confused and numb. I talked to my nurses and my doctor came in and out. There was a machine that read the contractions. They asked if I could feel them. Yes, I could but they were easily tolerable. It didnt seem that bad. I felt like I had said something silly, my nurse looked at me a little sideways. I told them when I felt like I needed to push. It was around 10pm. My doctor came in and checked me. I was ready. I asked my mother to leave. I wanted this to just be me and Brad and of course a plethora of hospital staff. It started to hurt; I asked if we could turn on the epi. My doctor was standing in front of me pulling on her gear. She told me no, it was too late for that. She told Brad that he could push the bolster button on my line. I think it was just to make me feel better.

I started pushing. A nurse leaned down to my doctor. I heard her say We are losing her heartbeat I did not know who she was talking about, I have a lot of blurry moments but that is not one of them. I wish it was. My doctor encouraged me. She told me she would help me. She used a suction cup and I had a second degree episiotomy. There was an audible pop. Brad said Oh shit. My daughter was born at 11:04pm. She was perfect. I was given time with her. There was a lot still going on in the room; after care things were in full swing. I was frozen in the moment of my daughter being handed to me. I was in awe of her tiny little features, I had never seen anything so beautiful and perfect in my life. I was instantly in love. I would do anything for her.

I was started on a magnesium sulfate drip. It was to control the risk of seizure. I was still sick. The mag drip made me feel even more ill, I was on it for 24 hours. On the drip I was unable to move. My arms and legs were tethered to the bed by the monitoring equipment and the leg cuffs that helped with circulation, those I kind of liked, they were like little massagers. My first meal since lunch on the 29th was lunch on the 30th. I was on a clear liquids diet. I got orange gelatin with the meal. I dont like gelatin but this tasted delicious! I didnt have utensils for some reason. I used my fingers. It stained and later when looking at my daughters newborn photos I noticed my orange fingers. I moved to post-partum in the middle of the night. The nurses gave Brad vouchers and he went to the cafeteria. He came back with a random assortment of food. It was real food. He brought back roast and green beans, rice and desserts. It was the most amazing food ever. I was still constantly monitored. I had labs drawn and my blood pressure taken at all hours. I was settling into being a new mom. There were visitors. Brad stayed at the hospital with us. On Friday my blood platelets had raised enough to have my epidural needle removed. Yup, it was in my back from Wednesday night until Friday afternoon. I could feel it as they pulled it out.

I was told that since my liver enzymes were looking better and my platelets were up I would likely be able to go home the next day. I was ecstatic. I was finally released from the hospital on Saturday afternoon and only after I had finagled my way into an OB appointment for the next Monday. When I arrived at my OB Monday Brad and Cecilia are with me. The nurse took my blood pressure, it was 18(something) over 100. Not so great. I was diagnosed with post-partum preeclampsia. I started medication. After several weeks I was able to wean off the medication. I am a survivor and my daughter is too.

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