"My name is Hannah and my husband, Steve and I live in Christchurch, New Zealand with our little HELLP baby Noah who is now 8 months old (6 months corrected). I am 36 years old and work as an Ambulance Officer/Paramedic."
"When we got pregnant, it was sooo exciting. We had been married for 4 years and ready to start our family together.
I was really looking forward to my first pregnancy experience, you know the glowing skin etc. but unfortunately it was not like that at all – far from it in fact! I had severe hyperemesis (nausea and vomiting) which started at 6 weeks and had 2 x admissions to hospital for fluids. I was on anti-nausea tabs throughout and to be honest it totally sucked – if anything it was a good weight loss program?? Looking back it was kinda funny - I would be in the back of the ambulance treating a patient and then have to run to the front, vomit in a carton and then continue treating my patient where they were none the wiser. How I did that for so long bets me. Certain things would set me off – like washing my hair in the shower – that was the worse. It actually got to the point where I would avoid doing it. And the smell of meat – sometimes it still brings on the saliva sensation.
At the 18 weeks scan I was pretty nervous but after finding out that everything was looking good, progressing well and seeing what I thought was a “middle leg” we were told we are having a BOY! Wow it was beginning to feel real and totally worth the vomiting. Time to start thinking of names!!"
When we arrived in Melbourne the swelling was getting worse – I thought it was from the flight so took it easy, but it wasn’t until we flew to Brisbane that I knew something was wrong. I felt like my blood pressure was high, experiences headaches, was excessively tired and just couldn’t do anything but lay around and sleep. My feet and hands were getting worse, they were extremely painful and the swelling was now widespread. My eyes were like little lines on my swollen face. We decided to cut the trip short, head home and straight to the midwife.
My blood pressure was high and I was referred to a hospital specialist. The appointment was two days later and they took one look at me and admitted me straight away. I was in hospital for two weeks having daily urine and blood tests, my blood pressure taken every 2 hours – ah the lack of sleep and was given those horrid nasty steroid shots (for babies lung development). I was then diagnosed with what they initially thought was preeclampsia – I knew all about preeclampsia because of my job and wasn’t too worried about it because I was in good hands but knew the risks.
At 28 weeks I was released (YAY) on Blood Pressure meds and told to take it easy, bed rest, feet up etc. I was able to get a transfer to another department for my job which meant I could sit in bed at home and write training manuals all day instead of being out on the road – that was a lifesaver. My blood pressure was taken daily, which I trained my husband to do so we didn’t have to see the midwife all the time and had regular scans and tests. Two weeks later baby’s growth had decreased in fact he had stopped growing all together. My blood pressure was also increasing and the swelling was now hideous – I looked like a different person - I had so many encouraging comments from my friends and family – “Hannah you look terrible” – thanks guys!! And to top it all off I had to renew my driver’s licence so there is now photo evidence on an official legal document of my swollen face. I think I will have to accidently on purpose “Loose” that one!!
I was re-admitted to hospital and was informed that there is a very strong possibility this baby would be premature in fact they were 90% and that I would remain in hospital until he was born – it was all a matter of time but they believed it was soon. The most important thing was to just get to 32 weeks – I was told that a baby born at 32 weeks was like that of one born at 40 weeks – they just need to grow. It was pretty nerve racking and to be honest the way I was feeling I was secretly hoping it would be soon. I knew that baby was better off inside but I was just having such an awful time and just wanted him to come.
Daily blood tests and urine tests were all coming back normal. They were expecting at least some protein in the urine but nope it was all sweet as. On the day of being 32 weeks I woke up with right sided abdominal pain and no energy. I could hardly move in fact I couldn’t even get up to go to the toilet and just felt so awful. Baby’s movements had also decreased – He was usually very active and LOVED using my bladder as a trampoline but today there was very little. They took bloods and I remember the Doctor walking into the room and asking where my husband had gone. I told her that he had to go to work and she calmly told me that I should call him and get him to come back because they needed to deliver baby now. My platelets were so low and my liver function was very high it all needed to happen today and fast. It was all go from there. As soon as Steve (hubby) walked in the door he was thrown scrubs and we were taken into theatre for an emergency C-section. It all happened so quickly. It was then that I really started to freaking out. I couldn’t stop shaking and was extremely terrified of what was coming – medical professionals make terrible patients – I think it’s the fact that we know too much. I was given a spinal which they had difficultly putting in because I kept passing out every time I had to sit up. After finally getting it in they were all ready. It was then that I remember thinking why are there so many people in the room? There were 14 people here. Does it take that many people to deliver a prem baby?
5 minutes later I heard a little cry and was told that Noah Alexander had arrived. I remember thinking wow that’s awesome but felt terrible at the same time. He was quickly taken away by the SCBU team. I only got to see him being wheeled away in the incubator. He weighed 1585 grams (approximately 3.5 lbs) and was so little. Steve got to go with him and the staff were just so good at explaining what was happening and why they needed to do what they were doing. He was in good hands."
Finally I got to hold Noah. He was sooo tiny and weighed next to nothing but he was perfect. It was awful seeing him with all those tubes and lines but I knew he was doing ok. We were told that his lungs were fine they were just assisting with his breathing so he didn’t get too tired. They were happy with his progress and we didn’t need to worry – phew."
So it’s been 8 months since Noah was born and we have had our ups and downs. I still get incredibly sore feet and hands which I have been told I it because of the nerve damage from all the swelling and sometimes get chest pains and headaches but all in all I think I came off incredibly lucky and blessed – there were a lot of people praying that day. Noah is such a lovely little boy and I can’t wait to see him grow up and experience new things!"