Saturday, September 20, 2014
HELLP Syndrome-My Story (Part Two)
Even though my doctor did not put me on bed rest, I put myself on a modified version, because I just didn't feel like my blood pressure was at a safe level. I still took my son to school, and we did a few activities on spring break, but I truly wasn't feeling well enough to do much of anything anyways. I felt so guilty for being in bed during my son's last days as an only child. On April 23, I woke up feeling very sick to my stomach. My blood pressure was very high all day, but at this point, it was nothing new. I chose to stay in bed all day. I had very bad stomach cramps, that I didn't think were contractions, but my son was delivered so quickly (less than three hours) that I wasn't even sure I knew or remembered what real contractions were like. I told my husband that I thought we needed to go to the hospital. He was in the middle of digging baby stuff out of the basement and really didn't want to go in unless I absolutely felt it was necessary. I couldn't get ahold of my mom to come get T, so I just decided to wait it out. A little while later, I got up to use the restroom and I was completely overcome with what I can only describe as the worst headache of my entire life. A headache I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. It started at the base of my neck and worked its way up all the way around my head. It was truly unlike anything I've ever experienced before. I knew we needed to go in immediately. We finally got ahold of my mom who was walking at our nearby recreation center and she came over right away. She convinced me that we needed to call 911. When the EMTs arrived at my house, they took my blood pressure and it was 167/105. I literally could not open my eyes due to the headache, but I could hear everything going on around me. My son kept coming over and rubbing my back. I knew I was in a bad situation and I was so scared that I was going to leave him without a mother. I was trying so hard to keep it together for him.
My husband followed us to the hospital. They took me in through the ER, but I was sent immediately up to Labor & Delivery. I was hooked up to monitors and IVs were attempted. I say attempted because I can't even count how many times I was poked and in so many different places before they finally got a good one in my right hand. Blood work was done, and I can remember hearing the doctor on call say, "Yes, it's HELLP, we need to deliver her immediately." I knew they were talking about me. I didn't even know what HELLP was, but I knew there was no way that my baby was staying inside me. She came in to talk to me and told me they were going to take me to a room and start me on a pitocin drip and break my water. I asked if the baby was ok, and they said yes, she's perfect.
At 8:00 pm, I was started on pitocin. I was never asked if I wanted an epidural, but I didn't want one either. I had a natural birth with my son and was looking forward to another. Though, this obviously, was going to be a much different experience. I was given nubain for my headache, which also took the edge off of the contractions. I was also put on a magnesium drip to prevent seizures. When I was dilated enough, they broke my water, and at 3:56 am on April 24, I delivered my small, but healthy baby girl. I was 37 weeks at delivery and she weighed 5lbs 7oz and was 18.5" long. I was able to do skin-to-skin with her and immediately breastfed her, which was very important to me. She latched on like a pro! After a couple of hours, they took her to the nursery and I got some rest. Shortly after they moved me to the high-risk floor for postpartum recovery. I had to stay on a magnesium drip for 24 hours following delivery. I can't imagine too many things worse than being on magnesium. I had to have a catheter because I wasn't allowed to walk, I couldn't eat, and I could only drink clear fluids. The nursery brought the baby to me every three hours to breastfeed, but my husband had to help me hold her because I was so weak. Other than my parents bringing my son, we requested no visitors. This was probably the best decision we made. It was very quiet and peaceful.
My blood pressure did not immediately drop after delivery, nor did my blood work go back to normal. From what I understand, this is something unusual of HELLP syndrome. Typically the cure for pre-eclampsia and HELLP is delivery. Evidently, I was somewhat of an anomaly. I will write about my postpartum experiences tomorrow. Again, the reason I am writing this blog is to raise awareness. Please share with anyone who might benefit from hearing my story!