Hello, my name is Christine Hargett and I am a
HELLP syndrome survivor.
My story begins back in the fall of 1999 when
I learned I was pregnant. I enjoyed almost every moment of my pregnancy
and looked forward with eager anticipation to the birth of my first child
in late June 2000.
I really had very few problems throughout my pregnancy,
except for the first four months of morning sickness. Or should I
say 24/7 sickness. My doctor did put me on half days at work just
about the beginning of my 8th month because I had started to dialate and
the baby was down in position to be born.
But other than that, there were no real problems.
Until early May, when my entire family's life started to turn upside down.
I woke up the morning of May 11th with these horrible
chest and back pains. I didn't have a clue what was going on.
All I knew was that I felt horrible.
I had a regular office visit scheduled for
that afternoon, so I thought no big deal! I went into work and told
my husband to pick me up at lunchtime to take me to my doctor's appointment.
I had four interviews scheduled that morning with prospective employees.
As the morning progressed so did my pain!
I made it to the beginning of the fourth interview before I couldn't stand
it anymore. I had to end the interview rather abruptly and call my
husband to come pick me up, NOW! I was
in tears. I didn't know what was going on. Everyone kept asking
me; are you in labor? I didn't have a clue.
What does labor feel like? All I knew was
that something felt wrong!
When we arrived at my doctor's office, they really
kind of blew me off. My doctor told me to that I needed to go home
and put my feet up and rest. I convinced him to hook me up to the
monitors to see if I was in labor. And sure enough I was having contractions
about every two/three minutes. But, I kept telling the doctor that
what I was feeling really didn't feel like contractions. The pain
was too high up. But, what did I know?
He sent me immediately over to the hospital.
There they confirmed I was in labor 6 1/2 weeks early. It took about
two days of being on magnesium sulfate for the labor to stop. Through an
amniocentesis they determined that my baby's lungs were not developed enough
to be born. They wanted to try and hold off the labor for at least
another ten days.
The second morning I was there I woke up with
bleeding gums. They called in a specialist who determined that I
probably had Lupus or ITP. My platelets had fallen to around 60,000.
The only concern I had at that point was that I probably wasn't going to
be able to have an epidural once I did go into labor
due to my low platelet count.
On May 14, Mother's Day, four days after arriving,
I was released from the hospital and told to take it easy.
did we know that we would be returning to the
hospital a very short time later. My body had been trying to warn
me all along!
On Monday, May 15th, less than 12 hours after
being released from the hospital, I woke up about 4 am with a severe
headache and chest pains. I thought I was going crazy. To top everything
off, we didn't have any local telephone service. A storm had knocked
out the power over the weekend and the Telephone Company had not been out
yet to fix it. So at 4am, half
dressed and pitch black outside, I am walking
around my front yard trying to get a wireless tower signal. The service
really stinks out where I live. (I can say that, I work that telephone
Once I was able to get a signal and talk to the
doctor on call, I was told to return to the hospital immediately.
I woke my husband up and told him we needed to
go back to the hospital. He was very upset with me that I had not
woken him sooner. We left immediately for my "approved" hospital,
30 minutes away. We didn't get but about 5 miles down the road when
I told my husband that I though I was going to die.
The headache and chest pains were getting worse
by the minute. We decided to stop at closer hospital and go to the
emergency room. All I kept thinking was that we were at the wrong
hospital. My insurance wasn't going to pay these bills. We
didn't know at the time, but the doctors told my husband later that this
was a life saving decision we made. I would probably not
have made it another 30 minutes.
Once there, the nurses looked at me and
probably thought that I was a woman in labor who couldn't handle the pain.
One nurse even told me to calm down and breathe; that it wasn't that bad.
I was just in labor. That seemed to be the attitude until they took my
blood pressure. It was 240/180. That sent everyone spinning
My husband kept trying to tell them to call my
doctor at the other hospital. That I had just been released from
the hospital the day before and had a low platelet count. I
really don't remember a lot about the rest of that day. I learned later
that after performing some test they determined that my liver enzymes were
extremely elevated, my platelets had fallen to
around 20,000, I was bleeding internally, my brain was swelling, and fluid
was building up around my heart and lungs, and my kidneys had shut down,
and they thought I had had a heart attack.
The Doctors told my husband that I developed a
severe case of HELLP syndrome and that I was in critical condition. The
hospital Chaplin and the doctor spoke to my husband and family about making
a decision about who to save, the mother or the baby.
They didn't give them much hope that both of us
could be saved. The baby needed to come out immediately because he
complete distress, but I needed a platelet transfusion
before they could operate on me. If they operated before the transfusion,
I would most likely bleed to death, if they waited the baby probably wouldn't
They waited two hours for the platelets to arrive.
I was completely out of it at this point. But I do remember one thing
though. Lying on the operating table, I remember the doctors saying
that they couldn't start until the transfusion was complete and my blood
pressure was stabilized in both arms.
At this point they thought I had already had a
stroke and was going to have another one. By the grace of God, they
My son, Michael Price Hargett was born 6 weeks
early by emergency c-section at 9:56am on May 15, 2000. Weighing in at
5lbs 3ozs, 18 1/2" long!
Immediately after the surgery a Critical Care
Ambulance transferred me to the ICU unit of a Trauma I Hospital.
My son was transferred later that day, once he was stable, to the same
hospital's Hemby Children's NIC unit.
I remember waking up that night not knowing what
had happened. Being unable to move and hooked up to so many machines.
Going in and out of consciousness, I cried out to know what had happened
to me and my baby. My husband was by
my side in minutes. He told me that our
son was doing ok. But why couldn't I see him? I thought they
were lying to me. Thank goodness one of the nurses in the NIC unit
had a Polaroid camera and took a picture of my son for me. He was
After two days in ICU I was transferred to a regular
room on the high-risk maternity unit. There I was allowed to visit
my son for the first time in the NIC unit. I was on so many drugs
that I don't remember a lot about that visit. But I do remember the
tears of joy and fear take over my body and soul! He was so small
and fragile looking to me. I couldn't hold him because he was on
a respirator and hooked up to a lot of machines. And to tell you
the truth, I was too scared to.
Price really did rather well. He was on
the respirator for about two days had a really bad bout with jaundice.
He spent 10 day in the NIC unit and three additional days in the regular
nursery before he was ready to go home.
My recovery didn't go that smoothly. I started
running a fever about three days after the surgery. I developed pneumonia.
Fluid was building up around my lungs and was causing my right lung to
collapse. Three different times I had a needle inserted into my back,
around my ribs to draw the fluid from around my lungs.
My C-section incision had gotten infected and
back up so it could drain. The incision
had to heal from the inside out, which meant it had to be left open and
packed twice a day with wet compresses. I couldn't eat because my
intestines had collapsed. I had a NG tube inserted down my nose.
After numerous CT scans, X-Rays and two blood transfusion the doctors still
could not determine what was causing the
fevers. After two weeks of horrible fevers
the doctors had about decided that I was probably having an allergic reaction
to all of the medicines I was on. So at that point they stooped all
I was told I needed to go 48 hours fever free
before they would consider sending me home. The first day after being
taken off of the medication, I was fever free. I was so happy.
But on day 19, two day after being taken off of the medications, my fevers
returned. I was spiking fevers as high as 104. There went that
theory. I cried so hard as the temperature
on the digital thermometer kept rising. I just couldn't stop crying!!!!
Because I knew this meant I wasn't going home.
On Sunday June 4th the doctors came in to tell
me they needed to do another surgery. I had contracted a staff infection
around my ovaries and tubes. And they needed to repair the damage
to my intestines. It was very serious. They thought they might have
to do a complete hysterectomy in order to remove all of the infection.
I was completely devastated and unprepared for what
they had just told me.
The doctors performed the surgery that afternoon.
And by the grace of God, they were able to repair my intestines and remove
all of the infection with having to perform a hysterectomy.
Thirty-six days after first being admitted to
the hospital, two weeks after my second surgery, and two day after my sons
1 month birthday, I was released form the hospital to go home with my son!
I was so happy and scared at the same time!
While I still have a few lingering effects from
everything that happened, my son is doing remarket ably well. He
is a healthy and beautiful six-month-old boy. It has been very difficult
for me to heal physically, but more so mentally. There is not a day,
which goes by that I don't relive at least part of what happened.
Things were not suppose to happen the way they
Having a baby is supposed to be a very joyous
occasion, not a
life-threatening event. I think we all
take childbirth for granted.
You enter the hospital one-day pregnant and leave
the next day with a beautiful bundle of joy! But things don't always go
the way we plan.
One thing I have learned is not to take things
for granted, cherish each and every day. Make the very best of today
because tomorrow might not ever come.
My heart goes out to every other family, which
have been touched by this horrible syndrome! And my love and appreciation
goes out to all of the doctors and nurses who took such excellent care
of me and my son! You will always hold a very special places in my
family and heart!
I would love to hear from others! I can
be reached at