My doctor told me later that
I "went to the edge and back" which is a pretty scary thing to hear (I
was asleep during the surgery). But our son was born on April 25th, weighing
only 1 pound 11.3 ounces, at 27 weeks and 5 days old.
My name is Wendy and I recently went through
a bout with HELLP syndrome. I had no idea what HELLP syndrome was until
I went into the hospital. I knew all about pre-eclampsia and the risks
and signs for it, but no one had ever mentioned HELLP.. it barely even
gets a foot note in the "What to Expect" book that just about all pregnant
women read. (By the way, I plan to contact the authors somehow
and encourage them to put more information in the book about HELLP.. it
should get as much coverage as pre-eclampsia.)
This was my first pregnancy. My husband and
I were high school sweethearts, went to college near each other, got married
after college and finally decided 2001 was the time to have our first child.
I found out I was pregnant in November of 2000
and I had a great pregnancy. Everything was perfect.. I had no morning
sickness, no huge mood swings, my triple screen was perfect, our ultrasounds
were perfect...I couldn't have asked for an easier time. In late April, I went in for my routine 7
month checkup. About 5 days earlier, we'd gone out to dinner and after
we got home, I started to feel really sick to my stomach. It progressed
into a raging, throbbing headache at the base of my skull and a sever backache.
I thought at the time that it was the worst case of food poisoning I'd
ever had. My only relief was to make myself throw up and then it only lasted
about 15 minutes before I felt horrible again. It was so painful, I considered
waking up my husband and having him take me to the hospital to get my stomach
pumped but I figured I'd thrown up so much there wouldn't be anything left
to pump, so why bother? I was up all night walking the house, trying to
lay on the couch, pacing the floors, praying for some small relief.
Finally around 6 a.m. I started to feel a little
bettter but I still stayed home from work. For the next 4 days,
I suffered with a sever pain in the base of my skull, and I thought I'd
strained the two muscles thatgo up from your neck into your head with all
the throwing up I did. The pain in my neck was so horrible, I couldn't
even lay down on one side or the other.. I would try to sleep sitting up
a little and resting my head on the pillows behind me. But stupidly I figured
it was just a muscle pull.. it would get better. And by the time my appointment
with my OB/GYN came around, it was a little better, but still stiff and
painful, so I mentioned it to them. At the office, they also took my blood pressure
and a urine sample. Almost immediately, my doctor made me lie on
my left side and told me they were sending for an ambulance to take me
to the hospital because they thought I had pre-eclamsia. My blood pressure
was 186/130, and my urine was +4. At the time, I wasn't worried because
I knew they could control pre-eclamsia sometimes, and only being 27 and
a half weeks, I knew they would try to control it, not deliver the baby.
Plus, I felt great (besides my sore neck) - I couldn't
be THAT sick, I thought.
Atthe hospital they drew some blood,
and as soon as those labs came back, everything went crazy. They told me
that I didn't just have pre-eclamsia.. I had HELLP syndrome, which the
doctor described to me, and then they immediately hooked me up to mag sulfate,
steroids (to help our son's lungs grow fast), and an IV.
They did an amnio and an ultrasound to
see how our son was handling everything. Apparently he was doing fine...my
stressed body was giving him a boost of growth somehow.
We waited overnight to see if my liver enzymes
would go up and if my blood platelets would recover a
little (I was admitted with platelets of 30,000 - a healthy pregnant woman
has over 200,000).
We were able to wait until the next morning
(about 24 hours) and then they decided they couldn'twait anymore.. my body was taking a turn for the worse after being stable
during the night. They gave me two bags of platelets before
the c-section and then had a terrible time controlling my blood pressure
while in surgery. My doctor told me later that I "went to the edge and
back" which is a pretty scary thing to hear (I was asleep during the surgery).
But our son was born on April 25th, weighing only 1 pound 11.3 ounces,
at 27 weeks and 5 days old.
I spent 2 days in the ICU and didn't even get
to see him for the first time until 4 days after he was born. I have recovered
for the most part now, though I still tire easily 7 weeks later.
Nicholas Josef has been in the NICU since his
birth and has done remarkably well. He was only on a ventilator for 2 days
before he started breathing on his own and now, at 34 weeks gestation,
he is only on a small nasal cannula and a feeding tube until he is able to bottle feed.
He is doing the best that he possibly can at
his small age, and we hope and pray that he continues on this healthy path. After reading so many other women's stories,
I now know that we were truly blessed with the way things worked out. I
or my son could have died, or he could have had more serious health problems
than he currently does. We were also very lucky to have had a doctor who
was able to recognize and immediately diagnose the disease, and send us
to a hospital where we both had excellent care. This website has been wonderful for me, because
after reading so many other stories, I am amazed at how similar so many
of our stories are, and it's nice to know we're not alone in our experience.
The big difference seems to be in the medical care we received..some of
us had doctors who knew what they were doing, some had doctors who were
clueless. I hope this website helps to get the word out to everyone that
HELLP syndrome is a serious problem in pregnancy, and it deserves more research and attention than it seems
to be getting in this country.
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