"Hi everyone, my name is Becky and I am a married 31year old lady. My husband and I live in NJ with our beautiful son and two loving St Bernard dogs. I am challenged daily with balancing the marathon of working full time, being a full time mommy, wife, sister, daughter and friend. I am not perfect but strive each day to do my best."
"My husband and I have been together for 11 years. We always knew one day we wanted to have children when the time was right. On the morning of our 10 year anniversary I took a pregnancy test and wouldn't you know, it was positive!! It seemed like a fairy tale, that we were finally going to have it all…a great marriage, beautiful home, adorable pets and now a baby! We were over the moon happy and grateful to even be able to get pregnant (I have PCOS which can cause fertility problems). This was going to be the start of a beautiful chapter in our lives.
During my first trimester I “morning sickness” every day, during the entire day. It was ok though because I knew that eventually it would subside and I would have my baby at the end of this all. During the next two trimesters I had some scares with bleeding (weeks 6-7), low papp-a levels in my blood work, fetal echo-cardiogram and getting an invasive CVS procedure. Through it all we were beating the odds, every test came back ok and concerns were washed away with assurances from the doctors.
A milestone for me was 30 weeks and I remember being so excited to get to that point in my pregnancy. I knew that if god forbid if anything were to ever happen that if I got to 30 weeks the chances of our little boy surviving were much higher. On the day I was 31 weeks pregnant I went in for my normal OBGYN checkup which had been fine. The appointment was the day after Christmas, I was relaxed, on vacation and very excited to hear my baby’s heartbeat during my routine checkup. During that visit the doctor noticed that my blood pressure was very high and sent me directly to the hospital. I've never had a problem with blood pressure during my pregnancy prior to this or in life in general so this was alarming. I called my husband telling him not to worry and that I’m just going to the hospital for monitoring and should be discharged within a few hours. While at the hospital my blood pressure went up to 212/113 and the staff thought I was going to have a stroke. It took them 2hrs but I was finally stabilized and admitted to the hospital. I spent the next 7 days including New Years Eve in the hospital with what I was told was the beginning phases of pre-eclampsia and gestational hypertension. I was in the hospital for a week because it took them that long to find the right combination of medication to stabilize my blood pressure levels. I was finally released on the 1st of January with strict Dr's orders to be on bed rest until I gave birth.
During my 7 days in the hospital I was at peace knowing that with every day that passed it was a day longer that I kept my baby safe inside. When my blood pressure would sky rocket and nurses and doctors were scrambling around me I would close my eyes and visualize holding my happy healthy baby in my arms. This technique of focusing on the positive and visualizing myself and my baby happy and healthy is one of the tools that I believed helped me get through some of the toughest times.
The first night home I was SO happy to just be back in my own bed and house with my family. Unfortunately I was woken up in the middle of the night with a stabbing pain in my upper left abdomen that didn't allow me to sleep that night. When I called the emergency services for my OBGYN I was told to take a Tylenol and hot shower and see if the pain goes away. I was told it was normal and a part of pregnancy. Luckily the pain went away that night after the shower/Tylenol combo. As the week went on this upper left abdomen pain would come back and would become more frequent and more intense. I tried following the shower/Tylenol routine that I was given and stayed on bed rest. I was taking a hot shower almost every hour to two hours and would just stand swaying back and forth praying for the pain to subside. I would also visualize my baby and picture him happy and healthy during the most painful times. I began to have large 4-5 inch blood clots come out of my nose around day 9 of being on bed rest. I told one of the Doctors in my normal OBGYN’s practice of this and was reassure that “nosebleeds are normal” and I would be ok. This was my first pregnancy and I did not know what was and was not normal. I told them of my upper left pain and was told “if it was upper right abdominal pain it would be an issue but since it was upper left it was just the baby pushing up into my ribs”. I lived with the intense pain for 12 days. During those 12 days I barely slept, ate, drank, my face and limbs swelled to an unrecognizable level, I experienced severe carpel tunnel, lost feeling in all of my fingers and would pass out from weakness.
As I was packing up my belongings to get ready to go home my OBGYN rushed in with tears in her eyes and told me "You have H.E.L.L.P. Syndrome and aren't going anywhere, you are having this baby within the hour!" Luckily I am familiar with HELLP Syndrome because I have a cousin who has experienced it. Unluckily I was familiar enough with the condition to know that myself or the baby may not make it. HELLP stands for hemolysis, (which is the breaking down of red blood cells), elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count. I knew my body was shutting down and failing me. I asked my OBGYN which test was the worst and she said “it’s your platelets, they are at 14,000”. A normal platelet blood count should be between 150,000-400,00 and mine were down to 14,000! I had the most severe case called Class 1 HELLP Syndrome. Due to my extremely low platelet count they didn't know if I would make it through the emergency C section or if I would bleed out on the table. The only cure to even having a chance at saving mine and/or my baby’s life was an emergency c-section. After hearing this news flashes of blue of nurses and doctors swarmed around me running in and out of the room. Every phone call I could hear in the hallways were about me. My husband was standing by my side in shock and I did not want him to be alone during this ordeal which was about to happen. I had him call my family and tell them I have HELLP Syndrome (they too are familiar with it so would need no further explanation and rush to the hospital). When he returned to the room amongst the sea of blue hospital personnel rushing about I knew I had to say goodbye to him and the son I may never meet. It was a conversation I NEVER thought I would have to have, especially under these circumstances and I'll never forget it.
I told my husband what qualities I wanted him to instill in our son and made him take a photo of the two of us together. I told him to make sure he’s smiling because I wanted to give my son that one last photo of me and his parents together in case I died. I wanted him to see his Mom smiling to know that she was so happy to have him and that she was brave. All my life I wanted to be a Mom and now here I am moments from my son being born and I may never get the chance to meet him. I didn't have much time to take in the entire enormity of the situation because it was all very reactionary and there was no time to process it all (which was probably a good thing). All I knew was that I would not be awake for his birth and my husband wasn't allowed in the operating room to observe his birth either (they did not want to risk him seeing his wife pass away on the operating table). I kissed my husband, told him I loved him and said “do not leave the baby’s side, let them do what they need to do to my body but you stay with the baby”. I made him promise me that he would stay by our son’s side."
Three hours later I was in the recovery section of the hospital when HELLP Syndrome attacked me again. During my C-Section I had received 2 blood transfusions and a platelet transfusion. My brain was being attacked by HELLP and I started to not remember simple information like my name, where I was, who my husband was and started to drift in and out of consciousness. My blood sugar level from HELLP and the blood transfusions had dropped to a 32 and then the machine errored out because it could not read any lower. Normally one should be in the 100's, if you get down to the 12s the permanent brain damage can occur. I was starting to slip into a coma and they had to react immediately. My limbs were still very swollen from HELLP and they couldn't find a vein to push a thick sugary substance into me to try and get my blood sugar back up to revive me. They had to go directly into my artery and push this substance in and then wait 15 minutes to see if it had worked. I woke up 10 minutes later and started talking as though I just had woke up from a nap with no knowledge about what had happened. My husband, nurses and doctors started pouring into the room in shock that I was awake and functioning. My life was saved for the second time within a couple of hours from HELLP Syndrome. Thank god.
Due to the medications I was on to treat HELLP I wasn't allowed to meet my own son until a day and a half after he was born. This was SO tough to know he was two floors above me in the NICU and I wasn't able to see him, touch him, comfort him and be the Mom to this little man I had just fought so hard to have. I received one more blood transfusion the next day and was then allowed to meet my son which was the best most indescribable feeling in the world! After a week I was finally allowed to hold him for the first time. We named our new son Jack and his middle name was after the Neonatologist who had saved HIS life. He would suffer two collapsed lungs, illness, intubation, jaundice and feeding issues while spending 40 days in the NICU.
After we were both home from the hospital I began to research HELLP Syndrome to find out exactly what happened to me. There is so little known about HELLP Syndrome that it made it difficult to put all of the pieces to my story together. Here is what I do know; I had Class 1 HELLP Syndrome (the most severe level), my low platelet count gave me a 1 in 4 chance of survival during the emergency c-section, I lost my memory from the months of December January and most of February, I have PTSD from the trauma of those days, my fingers did not regain normal feeling until months after giving birth and I am SO much stronger than I thought I ever could be. It’s a little over a year since having HELLP and my son is thriving. He is that happy healthy boy that I had pictured during my ordeal. I have worked hard to overcome my PTSD and regain bits and pieces of my memory from that time. I know I’ll never be the same physically and mentally after surviving Class 1 HELLP Syndrome but it has taught me to not take one single day for granted. I now have the privilege to be Jack’s Mom and my husband has his wife, nothing makes me happier than knowing that. I hope one day there will be more knowledge about HELLP Syndrome so that others do not have to go through what my baby and I experienced. Until then I will continue waking up each day with a smile and gratitude knowing it is an absolute miracle that my son and I walk this Earth today."