March 14, 2016

HELLP Syndrome: Knowing About It Could Save Lives

 

On May 25, 2015, we welcomed baby #2, Cam, into our family. Much to our surprise, Cam arrived 7 weeks early. As a second time mommy, I thought I had a lot of things figured out, but I learned so much from my premature peanut. Our experience was unlike my other pregnancy and delivery. My situation was rare and I hope that another mother, or even father, can learn something from my story. While many woman have a great pregnancy and zero complications, there are times when things go wrong and you are unsure of what to do. In my situation, I had no clue what was going on but once I got to the hospital (for the second time) I found out I had HELLP Syndrome. Knowing about this could save your life.
www.thechoosymomy.com
The Thursday before Cam was born, I was in pain starting in the very early hours of the morning. My stomach just hurt. It was hard to describe the pain but it wasn’t contractions. I guess you could say the pain was a constant cramping feeling. That progressed to my back hurting to the point of feeling like I could not walk. I knew something was wrong so I promptly called my OB and went in for a checkup.

My blood pressure was a bit elevated but we figured it was just due to me stressing out. I had a bit of protein spilling into my urine, but it wasn’t enough to be concerned about at that time. The baby’s heart tones were fine according to the Doppler, but just to be sure, I was sent to the hospital for a non-stress test.

The non-stress test also showed that the baby was fine, and my blood pressure had declined by the time I got to the hospital and was hooked up to an IV. However, at that time the doctors were more concerned about my cervix changing than anything else. After an hour or so of monitoring, they thought I may have dilated a bit and since the hospital did not have the highest level of NICU that we would need at 32 weeks I had to be transported to another hospital.
I was hooked up and monitored at the new hospital for another hour. After nothing changed, they gave me some pain medicine and a steroid to help develop the baby’s lungs faster in case we did end up delivering early, and sent me home. I felt fine until Sunday evening.

My toddler and I spent most of Sunday in the pool. It was one of the first really nice weekends of the summer so we took full advantage of the weather. But by dinner time, I started to feel achy again. Not exactly the same pain that I had on Thursday, but similar. The stomach pain intensified (still not a contraction feeling) and I could not get comfortable. Plus my shoulder hurt, but I chalked that up to being in the pool all day and kind of ignored it. 

The only time I felt fine was when I was soaking in a hot bath. At one point I did end up throwing up but I also didn’t really think much of that either since I was getting upset. But after taking 4 baths, I finally said to my husband that something isn’t right and we have to go to the hospital again (and by this time it was midnight!)

We dropped our toddler off at grandma’s house and went back to the first hospital. They did a blood test to find out that I had something that I have never heard of before---HELLP syndrome. I was told that we would have to deliver my baby ASAP. Yet again, I was transported to the second hospital since we were still too early in my pregnancy for the first hospital’s NICU.

This syndrome is rare which is why I felt it was important to share my story. According to WebMD, HELLP syndrome is a life-threatening liver disorder thought to be a type of severe preeclampsia. It is characterized by Hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells), Elevated Liver enzymes (which indicate liver damage), and Low Platelet count.

HELLP syndrome often occurs without warning and can be difficult to recognize. A lot of women believe they just have flu-like symptoms and ignore the pain and signs. It can occur without the signs of preeclampsia (which are usually a large increase in blood pressure and protein in the urine – like I had). WebMD states that symptoms of HELLP syndrome include:
  • Headache.
  • Vision problems.
  • Pain in the upper right abdomen (liver).
  • Shoulder, neck, and other upper body pain (this pain also originates in the liver).
  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Seizure.
What you need to remember most from this is that HELLP syndrome can be life-threatening for both the mother and her unborn baby. A woman with symptoms of HELLP syndrome requires emergency medical treatment, hence why I was told we had to deliver ASAP, because it is the only known way to reverse the syndrome. 

At 11:38 a.m. on Memorial Day, my son was delivered by cesarean due to him being breach. Born at a whopping 4 pounds, 14 ounces, Cam was breathing on his own and crying! 
www.thechoosymommy.com
Cam spent 13 days in the NICU so he could grow and learn things outside of the womb that babies who remain inside the womb normally do (I’ll tell you about this in another blog). This was the most stressful 13 days my husband and I have had. In fact, my husband, a U.S. Marine, said that he would rather go back to Iraq than go through the 13 days in the NICU again!

Now weighing in over 20 pounds, Cam is a happy, healthy baby. My family and I are doing fine now and I haven’t had any further issues since delivery. 
www.thechoosymommy.com
My story is important to read because it teaches expectant mothers, and fathers for that matter, to not ignore the signs your body is trying to tell you. Your body is a well-oiled machine but when something is wrong, it starts giving you signs to do something about it. Don’t ignore your body and get the help needed ASAP!

Have you heard of HELLP syndrome prior to reading this post? Do you have a rare pregnancy/delivery story that you’d like to share? And remember to stay tuned to learn about Cam’s stay in the NICU!

54 comments:

  1. Wow, no, I had not heard of this syndrome before. Thanks so much for helping raise awareness about it.

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    1. Thank you for giving it a read! Now you know to ask those around you if you suspect they may be having signs of this since it is crazy uncommon!

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  2. I've never heard of this before! So glad you and your baby are OK!

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    1. Thank you! We are just fine, but had I not listened to my body, things could've been way different!

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  3. I've never heard of this before, but I did have something similar to this when I was pregnant.

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  4. I am sorry that this happened to you. I have never heard of this condition. Thank you so much for helping others!

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    1. No, thank you, Shelah, for taking the time to read this!

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  5. So scary, I can't even imagine how long those 13 days were! My son was born early as well since I had low fluid.. he was 4 pounds 10 oz when we took him home! Your sweet man is such a cutie!

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    1. So tiny! Did he have to stay in the NICU at all? And thanks! Glad he is chunking up these days ;)

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  6. I have to say I've never heard of HELLP before, but it sounds very scary. So glad things turned out well for you and your family.

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  7. This is the first time I've heard of HELLP Syndrome. Thank you for the information, it's good to learn about these things regardless if they're common or not. I am glad you're safe and that you went to the doctor as soon as you could, otherwise it could have been worse.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, and that lesson anyone can learn...don't ignore your body and it telling you something is wrong.

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  8. Wow, that is really scary but it's great that you're sharing this so other moms can be aware. Thank God they were able to help you and that Cam is doing fine today. What a cutie, I might add!

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    1. Thank you and yes, thank God the doctors knew what was up!

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  9. Oh wow, I wouldn't have know those were the symptoms of HELLP. I'm glad you and your family were able to get through all of that safely!

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    1. Yes, almost not safely, but yes, everyone survived :)

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  10. I'm sorry that you had Hellp. I noticed that your delivery date was close to my sons. I had him on the 26th in 2011. I hope that this post helps raise awareness about Hellp and that others can know the signs and symptoms. Early help is critical.

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    1. Cam was supposed to be my 4th of July baby, not my Memorial Day baby :) hehe! But at least he will usually get a long weekend for his birthday, right?

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  11. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, hopefully it will be shared and possibly save someone. So glad to hear it had a positive ending and that Cam is happy, healthy and thriving <3

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  12. I hadn't heard of this one before, so thank you for sharing. Glad you are both happy and healthy now.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, we are both very happy and healthy!

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  13. Never heard that syndrome before. Feel sorry for you. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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    1. Awe, don't feel sorry for me. We are OK!

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  14. People tend to think once youre past the first trimester the likely hood of problems disappear but as you found out with yours - and I found out with my second - the very end of pregnancy can also be a really risky and scary time too. I'm so glad both of our peanuts are okay.

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    1. I am interested in your story. Going to check out your blog now :)

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  15. I'm so happy you listened to your body, and everything worked out. That is just such a scary situation. I'm also so happy you are sharing your story. I know many people have not heard of HELLP, so it's great to educate others.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, it is vital for people to listen to their own bodies. It was obviously the best thing that I made that second trip to the hospital :)

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  16. First, SO glad all ended up OK! Second, I had never heard of this until you posted about it on your Fb page not too long ago. So scary. You are so blessed though! Thanks for sharing your story <3

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  17. I have never heard of this either. I am glad you are sharing your story. Pregnancy changes our bodies so much, it's hard to tell when to be alarmed.

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    1. You are very right, Louise. Had I not been in so much pain, I probably would've tried to tough it out.

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  18. I never heard of the HELLP syndrome but it is always good to educate yourself on anything. I am sorry that you had to go through that and I am happy you listened to what your body was telling you!

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  19. I haven't heard of this before. I have had 3 babies, but never had an issues with these problems. Sounds so scary! I'm glad everything is all right.

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  20. I think it's great that you're sharing your story. I had never heard of HELLP Syndrome before.

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    1. Thank you! Just trying to spread the word in case someone else ends up in a similar situation.

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  21. This is a little bit scary, this is actually the first time i heard about this.

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    1. It def. was scary but we are both healthy and happy :)

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  22. I haven't heard of this syndrome before. It sounds pretty scary. Thanks for telling us about this.

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  23. I have never heard of this before either. Thank you for sharing this information and your story.

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  24. I agree Pregnancy is such a sensitive thing, where you could face unexpected complications in all of a sudden. HELLP Syndrome is pretty new for me & it scares me to know that it is a is a life-threatening liver disorder. So sorry you had to go through with that.

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  25. I had HELLP syndrome with my thrid child,born in 2012. I'd never heard of it either,along with the nurses! Fortunately we were both OK. I'm so glad to read your post, that both you and your peanut are doing well! He's gorgeous!! Thank you for raising awareness for HELLP 😊

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    1. I was lucky in that the staff at the hospital the second time I went was familiar with it. Even my own father-in-law who has been an OBGYN for 25+ years never actually had a patient with HELLP. Of course he had very pre-eclampic patients but nothing that went into HELLP. It is rare that someone else dealt with it, so now we have something in common!

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  26. My second son, also born on May 25th was my second babe born with HELLP. With my first I had no warning signs until I was so sick I was laying on the tile bathroom floor because I was cold & I just could NOT get up I was so sick. Had my husband not woke up at 4am from my moans in between the pukes and toilet flushes they said I wouldn't have made it. We were uncertain to try for a second babe but the high-risk docs assured us that because I had such a great "pregnancy" until the very end my odds of having a reoccurance of HELLP were slim... I ended up in the hospital the first time at 9 weeks and admitted 6 more times through my pregnancy with complications and eventually had to have a c-section at 34 weeks. He was born not breathing, had to be re-secutated and C-papped along with kept in the NICU for 12 days. He came home on oxygen for 6 months but is now the most amazing soon-to-be 10-year old ever! Needless to say, there was no third pregancy :)

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    1. WOW! You are brave trying again. I ended up having to have a hysterectomy due to other issues during delivery so I can't even try for baby #3 (which is totally fine because unlike you, I'd be a nervous wreck the whole pregnancy). So glad that everyone is fine now in your situation.

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  27. I've heard of HELLP before, but didn't know the symptoms! Thank you for writing this post! It's so helpful!

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    1. :) You are very welcome! It is good to be aware.

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