I have been married to my love, Anthony, for 6.5 years. We have 4 beautiful children. Kyle is our oldest and he is 11. (He was born in 2002 to another man but Anthony adopted him in 2010.) Then we have Kosta and he is 6. Then Sophia and Yianni. Sophia is 4 and Yianni is 2. I became a stay-at-home-mom at the end of 2007 right before Kosta was born. I stayed home for almost 6 years and now just recently got a job as an assistant preschool teacher. I teach 4 year olds and I absolutely love it!!!
My husband is 100% Greek so we chose Greek names for our children. Actually, we named our kids after family members :). I love to crochet and learned this craft in 2011 after Yianni was born. Since then, I have gotten quite good at it and I now sell it. I sell mostly baby items but also scarves and hats for women. It's called Heavenly Hooked Hats and accessories.
My love is my children and they are my entire world. I would go through HELLP all over again to have my beautiful family. I just wish I knew ahead of time what I was up against when it happened to me!
I was 38 weeks to the day when HELLP showed up unexpectedly. This was in 2007. It was December 30th.
I had never heard of HELLP before and I had no idea what to look for in any pregnancy for the signs. Even when I got to the hospital, I had no idea what was going on. I figured they were inducing me because I was far enough along. I didn't know things were that serious.
I woke up around 7am on December 30th. It was a Sunday. I decided to take the guest bedroom because I snored a lot during pregnancy and my hubby needed to get some sleep! So I woke up that morning and sat up. All of the sudden I had a really sharp pain right in the center of my body below my breast bone. It wrapped all the way around and to the back. I tried to get comfortable and switch positions but nothing worked. I called the doctor after a while to let him know of the pain. He suggested that I go to the store and get some Maalox, thinking that is was indigestion or heart burn. So my husband went to the store and I took two doses. Nothing worked and the pain didn't go away. My doctor told me to come in to the hospital if things didn't improve. So about 4 hours later we were on our way to the hospital.
Emotionally I felt excited to go to the hospital and to get induced. I was so excited to meet our baby! All I thought about was seeing my baby's face for the first time. I had no clue what the nurses were talking about when they were talking platelet count and protein in my urine. Actually, I thought protein in my urine was a good thing since protein is good for you. So I just focused on my induction and meeting my baby boy.
They put me on magnesium sulfate so I was quite out of it for the most part. I was awake but things were pretty foggy. When he was born I was happy but drugged. I had no idea what was happening to my body.
When the doctor informed me I had HELLP syndrome, I got scared. My dad looked it up on the internet and found out just how serious it is. That's when I started to panic. I remember telling my doctor that I didn't want to die. His response was that he didn't want me to die either. That's what really put my nerves on edge and when I realized this HELLP syndrome (whatever it was) could kill me. I was so happy that my baby was safe and on the outside but I just wanted to take care of him and be normal. I struggled for 4 days. New Year's came and went, along with the dropping of the ball in NYC and I could've cared less. I was so sick and didn't even know the half of what was happening to me.
Prior to being diagnosed, my urine and blood pressure was always pretty good. I do remember the week of the delivery though. I forgot my urine sample at home so the doctor didn't check it. I always wonder if I had protein in my urine then. That was Christmas Eve.
Two weeks prior to my onset of HELLP, I started feeling pretty nauseaus and out of it. I was very tired and I thought that my body was just getting ready to deliver my baby. This was when my doctor wrote me a note to stop working and let me stay home until delivery.
While in the hospital, I remember getting my blood checked every 6 hours and having my nurse check my urine quite often. She had said my urine was the color of tea, which was not good. My blood pressure stayed high for days and the machine was constantly going off since it was checking me every half hour. Two days after the baby was born, they thought I looked good enough to come off of the mag sulfate. So they unhooked me from everything and let me get up and into the rocking chair to rock the baby. As soon as I got up, the pain came back twice as bad as it had the first time. Immediately the nurses put me back in bed and wheeled me down as quick as they could for a CAT scan of my liver. I remember laying there and feeling Jesus' presence. I knew it was all up to God at that point. Luckily, my liver hadn't ruptured. They wheeled me back up and hooked me back up to everything. My nurse tried 3 times to put my IV back in and then gave up. She called a more seasoned nurse who was able to get it in for me. They shot me up with pain meds and I went back on the magnesium. I was scared to death. Whatever this was, it wasn't letting go.
Since I had the CAT scan, I had to pump and dump my milk which just broke my heart. We supplemented for a few days. After two more days hooked up, things were looking up. My platelets were going back up and my urine was getting to be more normal colored. The doctor released me that night (Thursday) and I went home. My pulse was quite high - around 100bpm and I was anemic. Again, I didn't know much back then and didn't understand. I wasn't allowed to do laundry or make beds or anything. Slowly I was getting better but I didn't consider myself very sick since I didn't understand what happened. I was very, very lucky. My platelets went down to 24,000 so I was considered class 1 HELLP. I was almost life-flighted to a bigger hospital and almost put in the ICU.
All I thought about when I came home was if I was able to have another baby or not down the road. When I was leaving the hospital, a doctor who I didn't know, heard about my situation and my sickness and she told me I was crazy to ever have another baby. This was why I was so concerned with whether or not I should have any more children. I cried a lot.
Since then, I have had 2 successful pregnancies. I got pregnant 8 months later with my Sophia. They considered me high risk and watched me very carefully. They kept an eye on my platelets and had me come in all the time for ultrasounds and biophysical profiles on the baby. My doctor induced me with her at 37w 5d because I was feeling like I was getting the same pain back again. It was probably phantom pains but I was so scared since I was 2 days shy of when it happened with Kosta. The cord was wrapped around Sophia's neck and she was in distress during labor, so they performed a c-section on me 9 hours later. She was born healthy but was only 4lbs 12oz. She had growth restriction for sure. Kosta was 5lbs 8oz which wasn't bad, but my oldest was 6lbs 9oz at 38 weeks. I believe they both had growth restriction. After Sophia, I got pregnant with Yianni. Sophia and him were 22 months apart. They didn't consider me high risk with him because Sophia's pregnancy turned out well, so they didn't watch me as closely. At 37w 2d, my water broke and I was able to have a successful vbac. He was 5lb 7oz.
I have learned so much since experiencing HELLP syndrome and it has changed my life. I plan to go into the medical field once my kids are grown. I'd like to work with a maternal fetal medicine specialist and help with high risk pregnancies. Thinking about what I went through brings me to tears even to this day. I'm so thankful I survived and all I want to do is help other pregnant women. I want to educate them and inform them of the risks and symptoms.
Thank you for listening to my story :). I hope I can help other women by sharing.