Life After HELLP
I should still be pregnant.
The weight of that statement falls on me like an anvil.
This was not the plan.
I love being pregnant, from the sickness to the flutters to the kicks, it is the most magical thing I have ever experienced. I was thrilled when we got pregnant with our second son. Knowing it was most likely my last pregnancy I relished in every moment, even the difficult ones. On spring break we took a mini babymoon with our older son and some family in Fredericksburg. I was entering the last stretch of pregnancy and wanted to remember it all. With my son I had been induced at 41 weeks so I knew I had a ways to go. The next week I went in for a routine appointment and had been not feeling like myself. Because of some high blood pressure and odd weight gain they admitted me and my doctor told me I would be released on bed rest and they would induce in a few weeks. I knew I had had some busy times at work so I figured it was more fatigue than anything. I was heartbroken at the idea of him coming early, but was determined to make bed rest work.
Less than 24 hours after I was released I woke up with horrible pain and throwing up. We called the doctor on call and headed in, for what we didn’t know. When I arrived I was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome and immediately put on a number of medications to manage my blood pressure, kidney functions, liver enzymes, blood, and to induce my labor. HELLP stands for Hemolysis (breakdown of red blood cells), elevated liver enzymes, and Low Platelet counts. The day I delivered my liver enzyme count (these show your liver function and regular is 7-56) was in the 1600s. I had to deliver vaginally because my blood platelet count (what makes your blood clot, regular 150-450) was in the teens. What followed were weeks in the hospital for myself and our son in the NICU, cared for amazingly by the doctors and nurses at Seton Southwest. After reading about my condition I have realized how lucky we are that we are both home and healthy.
I had no risk factors for HELLP or the other conditions which are associated with it such as preeclampsia. I was at the healthiest of my life before I got pregnant and exercised multiple times a week during my pregnancy. Nothing like this had happened with my first pregnancy. I never anticipated the emotional and physical toll I experienced in the weeks after. Had I not had amazing prenatal care and gone to the hospital when we did neither I or my son would be here today. It is not new news that our country has an alarming maternal mortality rate for a first world county. Prenatal care is essential, regardless of your situation. Risks are there no matter how healthy you are. Take care of yourself and your baby.