"My name is Jacque and I’m from Burnsville, Minnesota. I work as a trainer for the call center at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota and have been with the company for almost 8 years. My husband John and I have been together about 9 years and have been married 4. He is absolutely my best friend in the world. He is an amazing husband. We have so much fun together - traveling, home-brewing beer, going to MN Wild hockey games (we’re season ticket holders). We also like cooking, going to movies, and fixing up our house. We bought a home that had been foreclosed on in 2009, so there is always a new project to work on."
My pregnancy was really easy. I even bought one of those fetal heart monitors because I felt like it was so odd that I didn’t “feel” pregnant. I wanted to hear my baby’s heart for reassurance. I never felt my baby move, never got sick, and didn’t have any cravings. After my second prenatal visit with the doctor I had been seeing prior to my pregnancy, I decided to make a change. I just didn’t feel comfortable with him and had been thinking of switching anyway. My new doctor was better, but very young. The more pregnant I got, the less I felt that she “cared”. I had chronic high blood pressure and was taking 100 mg of Labetalol a day. My blood pressure actually got pretty low, I felt, even for someone with normal bp. She never seemed concerned and never talked to me about pre-eclampsia. During ultrasounds, the techs always asked me why my due date of October 31 never changed according to the ultrasound measurements. I didn’t have an answer for that. They measured my baby to be a week younger than that – giving me a due date of November 6. My first doctor said to stick with October 31 and my second doctor asked ME what I wanted my due date to be. During the 20 week ultrasound, we found out that we were going to have a baby girl! That ultrasound tech said that the due date could be even later. Still, my doctor stuck with October 31.
In early August, I had my glucose screening and failed. I asked if I could re-do the 1 hour test because I was in the middle of training a class at work and could not find 3 hours to spare. My doctor said fine and I failed again. It took nearly 3 weeks for the clinic to call me about the results! The only reason that I knew I failed was because I looked online. In the meantime, I decided to switch doctors yet again. This time, I switched care systems completely. My first visit with my 3rd doctor was at 30 weeks – according to the October 31 due date. Immediately, she took charge. Which is what I needed. My blood pressure was really high. She set me up for biophysical profiles (BPP) once per week and non-stress tests (NST) twice a week. She also told me that I needed to do a 24 hour urine protein test the very next day (which happened to be my 29th birthday). She had me come in the following Monday to do the first BPP and NST, submit my urine protein profile, and do my 3 hour glucose test (which I ended up passing). Over the weekend, she had instructed me to increase my Labetalol dosage to 200 mg 3 times a day. When I came in on Monday, it was still out of control. This was the point that she put me on bed rest. Luckily, I was able to do some work from home so I didn’t have to use up all of my PTO before my baby arrived.
Each BPP that I had made it more and more clear that something was wrong. At one point, the tech noted that she would suggest a due date of November 21! My baby wasn’t growing nearly as fast as she should have been. My doctor increased my Labetalol again to 300 mg 3 times a day and ordered another urine protein test, which came back with more protein than before. During the next NST, my blood pressure was high again. Very high. My doctor came into the room and told me that I’d be having my baby very soon. She said, “It might be tonight, it might be in three weeks but you need to be hospitalized until that time comes.” She also told me that she would not be delivering my baby because I’d have to deliver at United Hospital in St. Paul where there is a NICU. That was the point that I burst into tears. My mom, who had been sitting with me during the NST, called John and told him that she’d come pick him up so that they could meet me at United. I took an ambulance ride up there and was immediately put on magnesium sulfate and given steroids to help my tiny baby’s lungs mature more quickly. That was September 17.
I started having a sharp pain in my upper back, right below my shoulder blade late Friday night. It felt better when John rubbed it but the second he took pressure off of it, I felt the stabbing again. Nurses came into my room throughout the night to check my blood pressure, take blood, and give me medications. I told the nurse about the pain around 5:00 Saturday morning. They got my most recent lab work back soon after and found that my platelet count was dropping quickly. They took more blood and called the MFM doctor. The second round of lab work showed even lower platelet count. The doctor came in to tell me that I’d be delivering today, as soon as possible. She said that my blood pressure wasn’t stable enough to try vaginal delivery and that I’d need emergency c-section. John called his mother and my mother to let them know what was going on. While I was being prepped for surgery, the anesthesiologist came in to explain to me that they’d need to put me under because general anesthesia would put me at risk for seizure and maybe even paralysis. He had me sign to consent. The MFM doctor also had some things for me to sign. It was at that point that she told me that not only was I pre-eclamptic, I was showing clear signs of HELLP Syndrome. She told me then that the only cure for HELLP was to get the baby out.
They gave my husband scrubs so that he could be with me as they put me under. However, as they started wheeling me into the OR, John stopped them and kissed me and told me that the doctor wouldn’t let him in. He told me he loved me and I started crying. While I was drifting off, tears were still rolling down my face. I wanted John’s hand to hold. I was so scared that I wouldn’t wake up…
Several hours later, I did wake up. I was told that they had rolled me down to NICU to see my baby and that she had grabbed my finger. John showed me pictures. I have no memory of this or of September 21 (my baby’s birthday) at all. He told me that the baby was having trouble remembering to breathe so they had her on a CPAP."
It felt like forever at the time, but just 17 days later, on October 8, 2013, Brooklyn came home with us. She’s been doing wonderful ever since! She is 5 months old now and at last weigh in, she was 10 pounds 11 ounces (her 4 month checkup). She’s a happy, healthy, amazing baby and gets more beautiful every single day.
Brooklyn is our first baby and first pregnancy. Though I’m really terrified to get HELLP Syndrome again, because I know now that it doesn’t always turn out OK, I do want to give her a sibling someday. My doctor (the third one – haha!) tells me that next time around, I’ll be monitored much more closely and even if it does happen, we’ll be ready for it. I’d never heard of HELLP before I was pregnant and neither had anyone in my family. In fact, my family and John’s family have a long history of really healthy, uneventful pregnancies. I was diagnosed with HELLP at 33 weeks, which was actually a good thing, in terms of baby development. Though she was as small as a 28 week baby, she was as strong as a 33 week baby; maybe even stronger. She’s been fighting and thriving and amazing us ever since she was born."