Sunday, November 23, 2014

Have you ever heard of HELLP syndrome?!

I wasn't sure if I wanted to write a post about this, but I'm filled with so many mixed emotions right now that I thought maybe it was a good time to share these details.  This all started pretty much 2 years ago...

I was almost 35 weeks pregnant and was feeling great!  I really had no trouble throughout the whole pregnancy (barely any morning sickness) and I really wasn't uncomfortable or experiencing anything that was a bit out-of-the-ordinary for being pregnant.  We didn't find out what we were having but everyone swore I was having a boy so I guess I just started believing that, too!  When I woke up on that Friday before Marissa wound up being born, I was really uncomfortable and had this weird feeling underneath my ribs on the right side.  I tried doing things to lessen the feeling but it wouldn't go away.  Even my husband commented to me that morning, "Are you feeling OK?  You look really tired." I said, "Yeah, I'm just really uncomfortable today.  Not sure why."  I went to work and was telling everyone how I was feeling and they all chalked it up to me being towards the end of my pregnancy.  All throughout the day I just couldn't get comfortable and the feeling on my right side was beginning to get worse.  When I had a chance to, I had googled my symptoms just to see what would come up.  Nothing was coming up that matched how I was feeling.  I think I remember seeing something about it possibly being where the baby was positioned so maybe it was his/her foot sitting under there.  I just figured it was that.  I had no idea since I had nothing to compare it to!  So, I went about the school day still being pretty uncomfortable and by then, I had lost my appetite and really didn't want to eat or drink anything.  I wound up leaving school a little early so that I could go home and just lay down.  Little did I know that that would be my last day at school for 5 months...

I went home, changed into some more comfy clothes and tried to just sleep as much as I could.  The feeling would go away here or there but never completely.  The weekend came and went and still the same thing...just this nagging feeling under my ribs.  I was also completely exhausted and had ZERO appetite but I tried to eat since I knew the baby needed that.  Then, Monday came and I was so thankful that I had off from work since it was Veteran's Day and I work on a military base.  I didn't think I would have been able to make it through the day if we had school.  Again, I had the same feeling that I had since Friday but I kept telling myself that I had my next doctor's appointment on Tuesday and that I could just wait until then to get checked out...

Now, throughout my pregnancy, I guess the one nagging thing that I did have was nose bleeds.  I brought it up each time at my appointments and was told they were common and to just use saline spray to try and help.  Well, on Monday, I had gotten a nose bleed but it was NOTHING at all like they were in the past.  This time, blood was almost pouring out of my nose and I had these huge clots that were just coming out one after another.  This went on for about 20 minutes and all the while kept thinking, "Hmmm this isn't normal" but I somehow didn't panic.  The feeling under my ribs was now quite painful and I was getting more and more uncomfortable.  Actually, the feeling under my ribs was starting to burn and I knew that something wasn't right and nothing I did could make the pain go away.  As soon as my husband walked in the door, I immediately started crying (something I don't do often) and told him something wasn't right.  We called his mom (who is a nurse) and told her what was going on. She said to call the office (it was now 8:30PM) and speak to whomever was on call that night.  A brand new midwife wound up being on call and I didn't even know her since she had just started.  I told her my symptoms but she kind of brushed them off because I didn't have more of the symptoms that she was looking for.  We wound up telling her we were going to the hospital anyway just to make sure the baby was OK.  She told us to go to the ER and not the maternity ward because they would need to triage me and check me out there first.  Well, as soon as we got to the ER and they saw I was pregnant, they sent us right to maternity.

Once we got settled in there, they hooked me up on monitors to make sure the baby was OK.  I was having contractions but I didn't even know, but thankfully the baby was OK.  They took blood work and found that I was really dehydrated so they hooked me to an IV for fluids.  They tried giving me heartburn medicine to see if that would help the feeling that I kept describing as being really uncomfortable.  That didn't help at all.  So after waiting for what seemed like awhile, my blood work came back so they knew what they were dealing with.  Since we had gotten to the hospital, I had started to feel better but I think it was just because I knew I was in the best place that I needed to be in. The OB on call (that I didn't know) came in, sat down and said to me, "So Michelle you aren't feeling so hot huh?" I replied, "No, not really.  I just have this nagging feeling under my ribs here." He said, "Well, you are one really sick girl." I said, "OK..."  He said, "Yeah, that nagging feeling that you have under your ribs is your liver shutting down."  I said, "Hmmm..." and he said, "yeah and when you breathe in now do you catch your breath because it hurts?" I said, "yeah actually I do."  He said, "Yeah that's because it's spreading to all of your other organs and your body is basically shutting down." I'm still not really nervous because I was in the hospital and I knew they would help me.  What he said next was something that didn't even cross my mind - "The only way that I can help you is to deliver your baby."  At this time, I flipped out, started crying and kept saying, "But he/she isn't done cooking!  It's too early!!" My husband jumps to my side and is trying to calm me down.  Apparently the doctor had told me that I needed to remain calm because I was at a high risk of also having seizures and they didn't want that to happen.  I don't remember him telling me that at all.  After I calmed down a bit, he told that he was going to have to do a c-section because I would be in great pain if he induced me instead.  I flipped out about that, too, because I didn't want a c-section.  Once I calmed down again, he was explaining more to me about just how bad of shape my body was in at that point.  My platelet count, which in a normal, healthy person is usually at 200 or so, was at 50 or less. This was dangerously low and I couldn't have the c-section until I had a platelet transfusion in order to up my count.  The doctor told me I needed to have the transfusion before he would be able to do the surgery.  I don't remember much after that before I was moved into the OR waiting room...

While waiting for the platelets to get to the hospital (they had to request it from another hospital due to my blood type), I had to just lay in bed and not really do much.  It felt like FOREVER and by now I was feeling the contractions and was pretty uncomfortable.  They wouldn't let me drink anything and I was so thirsty.  Finally, the blood transfusion came and got started.  I'm not sure how long the transfusion was going on for, but the next thing I know, I felt like I was leaking.  I told the nurse just that and she says, "Um...don't tell me your water broke."  She lifts up the sheet and sees that my water broke and I'm hemorrhaging every where.  My husband was standing there and saw every thing and I remember hearing him say to the nurse, "Um, that's not normal, is it?" She says, "Nope!" The next thing I know, all the doctors that were going to be involved in my c-section were walking in and I was signing papers left and right.  The OB that was on call checked to see what my platelet count was since he wanted it to be at 100 before doing the surgery. I don't think it even made it to 70 but at this point, he knew that he couldn't wait anymore...

I barely remember the surgery as this whole situation was so, so surreal (and still feels that way while I'm typing this...) but I do remember them telling us, "It's a girl!" and I said, "What?! It is?!" because I expected it to be a boy.  We had a first name picked out for a girl but not a middle name and that's all I could focus on!  My hubby said to me, "You can pick out any middle name you want.  It can be Christmas Tree for all I care.  Just thankfully you are both OK!"  I really had no idea for a middle name, so while the nurses were cleaning me up, I went through the alphabet trying to come up with a name.  We wound up naming her Marissa Lynn =)

After all of that, Marissa needed to be in the NICU for the week, while I was in the hospital with her to get my body back to where it needed to be.  With all things considering, she was perfectly fine in the NICU, was eating on her own and doing all the things newborns needed to do.  I, on the otherhand, still wasn't quite right but eventually, my body calmed down and I was able to be released with her almost a week after she was born.  I was so happy we were released together because I do know of so many people who have to visit their babies at the hospital every day, and I just couldn't imagine doing that.  

I had many follow up appointments after she was born with the OB that delivered her due to everything that had gone on.  At one appointment, he asked me, "So, how is that beautiful little girl of yours?"  I said, "Oh, she's great!"  He replied, "She better be considering she almost killed you!"  Wow, talk about putting things bluntly!!

So, there you have it.  A crazy story that still brings tears to my eyes whenever I tell people.  Everyone seems to have their own story to tell and I'm forever grateful that my story had a happy ending!  Marissa came into the world in a crazy way, but calmed down soon after and is now the love of my life.  I couldn't imagine my life without her!

Until next time!


  1. Omg Michelle! I had no idea! I am sobbing reading this..... What a scary experience! So thankful it was a happy ending for both you and that little cutie. ! Have a great Thanksgiving too. Extra hugs for you both

  2. Oh Michelle, although I already knew most of the story.. Reading the details brings tears to my eyes! You are very blessed!!