Becoming the Domesticated Diva

Finding my inner homemaker… one flub at a time!

Part Three, HELLP Syndrome.

on April 7, 2013

Final part of my little mini series..

I entered into week 29 feeling pretty good.  I was out of work due to my blood pressure, and was checking my blood sugar four times a day, but overall I was just feeling thankful for every little kick my little man was giving me.  It was a blessing to feel him, and although my singing voice was sort of gone due to allergies, I knew he appreciated it anyway.  🙂

The first day of week 29, my grandfather was admitted into the hospital with chest pains.  They weren’t exactly sure what was wrong with him, so they ran a bunch of tests, which didn’t amount to much.  They let him go home, with the promise to go back the following Monday to his regular doctor.  My family decided we weren’t going to do Thanksgiving that Thursday because we wanted my grandfather to be feeling his best.  So, my husband, brother and I had our own Thanksgiving that Thursday.. and a nice, relaxing Friday afterwards.  Until about 11pm.. when I started having chest pains.  I initially thought that maybe my little man had just moved into my rib cage, and since I’d never felt that before, I figured that must be it.  An hour later.. I took some Tums, thinking maybe I had indigestion.  Two more hours later, the pain had started to become unbearable and I woke my husband to take me to the hospital.  I spent the weekend there, working to lower my blood pressure, trying to get the pain under control and hoping to stop the sudden vomiting I experienced.  Saturday morning, the on call doctor came in to tell me she thought I had developed HELLP syndrome.  She had ordered x-rays to double check the pain wasn’t coming from my gallbladder and I was told the NICU doctor would be in to see my husband and I because she was pretty sure they were going to have to take my son later that day.  Luckily, my liver enzymes started climbing back to normal, as did my white blood count.  I was told to go home and stay on complete bed rest – the doctor was hoping I could go at least 4 more weeks.  I lasted two more days.

By the time I got to the hospital a couple days later, I had severe pain in my chest again and my blood pressure was through the roof.  I was thankful for the steroid shots I had gotten that weekend to help my son’s lungs open once he was born, because two hours after I got there, the doctor told me he had to go ahead and take my baby – or else. (I found out later that it would mean I may be in ICU myself).  I was able to stay awake long enough to see him after he was born, and then I was hooked up to magnesium for the next 36 hours to help return my liver enzymes, blood pressure, and white blood count back to normal.  Once I was able to get off the magnesium and the worst was over, I was able to see my son.  And a few days after that, I was finally able to go home.

So what exactly is HELLP syndrome?  According to http://www.webmd.com, 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.”  Here’s what you need to know:

How does HELLP syndrome effect me?

  • Symptoms include:  headache, vision problems, upper chest pain, nausea, vomiting and seizures.
  • Delivering the baby is the only way to reverse these symptoms.
  • The exact cause is unknown, but it is closely related to preeclampsia.

How does HELLP syndrome effect my baby?

  • It effects the baby because it effects the mother so drastically.  It can not only cause renal failure, permanent liver failure, retinal detachment (where the retina removes itself from the supporting tissue), but also placental abruption (where the placenta lining detaches from the uterus of the mother).  That is why, depending on how sudden and severe the symptoms, delivering the baby is vital.

Is this common?

  • Not so much.  It is only present in about 0.2-0.6% of all pregnancies.  The actual cause is unclear, and it is often misdiagnosed, so many blood tests will be performed.  In my case, I had 3-5 blood vials drawn every 4 hours to check my liver enzymes and blood platelets.
  • Some factors seem to increase risk:  previous pregnancy with HELLP syndrome (19-27% recurrence), preeclampsia, women over 25, Caucasian,  and if you’ve given birth 2 or more times.

For more information on HELLP syndrome:

As for me, I had a perfectly healthy baby boy and I hope to have another baby in the next year or two.  I know that it may be an uphill battle, but I also know it could be easy peasy.  So I’m preparing myself now for a healthy, happy, problem free pregnancy by getting my blood pressure under control and making sure I am as healthy as possible before I start.  For any of you that have had issues, or happy stories to share – please comment!  I’d love to talk to you about them.  🙂

Just born!

Just born – 3lbs, 1oz!

Easter!

Easter – Over 14lbs!

I promise my next entry will be happier!  🙂  I’m actually pretty excited to share a couple recipes I found over the last two weeks – so I hope you’re in the mood for something sweet!

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3 responses to “Part Three, HELLP Syndrome.

  1. Crystal says:

    I’ve never heard if this! So glad you and that precious baby boy are both healthy and happy and can’t wait to hear the news that another little one is in the way! Be Blessed friend! ❤

  2. Sara says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading about your adventure! Much easier to read, knowing that there is a happy ending!!!!

  3. Carolyn R Smith says:

    April, its great that you are sharing your experience with people. This is something I had never heard of until the day I took you to the hospital. Thank you God and all the great staff at LRMC, for taking care of my baby and her baby. 🙂

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