"I am a produce manager for a supermarket chain based in upstate New York. I am from New York originally and currently reside here with my son and boyfriend, John. I am no longer married. I enjoy spending time with my son and my family. I count my blessings everyday that I am still here to raise my son and watch him grow up."
"I found out I was pregnant in July 2006. My husband and I were so excited. It was our first baby. My pregnancy went extremely well. I had no morning sickness. I took care to eat right and even gave up soda while I was pregnant so that my son would be as healthy as possible. Every prenatal visit I had went well and there were never any indications that anything would go wrong in my pregnancy. Every test came back normal. I had my baby shower about a week and a half before I delivered never having a thought that what was to come was even possible. My family and I were so happy awaiting the arrival of our baby boy.
I had HELLP syndrome in my 36th week of pregnancy. I had never heard of HELLP syndrome before and didn't even know that it was a possibility.
I was in my 36th week when I developed HELLP syndrome. I didn't even know that such a condition existed. I had gone to my first weekly visit on Monday of that week and everything checked out fine. My blood pressure and urine were all within normal limits. On Thursday I noticed that I was having a hard time getting my feet into my boots when I went to put them on to plow snow with my husband during the big Valentine's day snowstorm in Upstate New York that year. I didn't really think anything of it and I went about my normal daily activities. The next day I began vomiting and felt as though I had a stomach bug. My stomach became excruciatingly painful on my right side under my ribs and I couldn't keep anything down. I tried eating jello and sipping water. I called my doctor's office and they said to try to keep fluids down and to rest as I most likely had the flu. Later that night I went to the bathroom and my mucus plug fell out. I called the doctor's office again and they informed me that I would be having my son within 72 hours but that I was fine to wait until my water broke and/or contractions started. For some reason they weren't alarmed by me passing the mucus plug that early. Looking back now I should've gone directly to the hospital but being my first and only pregnancy and only 23 years old at the time I didn't know what was happening or that in those moments my body was quickly progressing into a severely life-threatening state.
Saturday morning, February 17, 2007, began with me still not feeling well. I went to the bathroom in the early afternoon and suddenly water came gushing out of me. I called my husband at the time and he quickly came home and rushed me to the hospital a half hour away. I had contractions the entire way to the hospital. When we arrived a nurse took me into a room and had me give her a urine sample. Her face turned white when I handed her a cup of brown liquid. My son had passed his meconium in the womb. I laid on the bed and they hooked a fetal monitor up to my stomach. They couldn't find his heartbeat...they had me roll onto my left side and thankfully they were able to detect a faint heartbeat in my baby boy. I was beginning to feel lightheaded and not like myself at all. I hadn't been able to keep anything down in more than 24 hours and was severely dehydrated.
The delivery room quickly filled with nurses and techs who worked feverishly to get IV's into my arms and to catheterize me for delivery. I remember how they were all so nervous and I had no idea what was going on or why everyone was so scared. They had a hard time getting the IV's into my arms because of my dehydration. I was told that I was going into emergency C-section. My family hadn't even arrived at the hospital when I was wheeled into the cold operating room. The nurses quickly prepped my stomach and placed a mask over my face to put me fully under. At this point I feel that they didn't think I was going to make it. I tried to fight off the mask because the medication in it burnt my throat when I breathed it in but that is the last thing I remember before waking up the next night for the first time after delivery."
I was in a lot of pain from my C-section and I remember they had me on a morphine drip. My throat was sore from the breathing tube that had been inserted in my throat during and after surgery. The blinds in the room were closed and I wasn't allowed any visitors except immediate family and only a couple at a time because I was at risk for seizures. My body had doubled in size due to water retention. I was extremely uncomfortable because of it and my feet looked like shiny balloons...they were stretched to the limit. The doctor's came in and explained to me that I had developed the most severe case of HELLP syndrome. My platelets had been so low that I shouldn't have been able to survive the delivery of my son.
There was no reason for why I had developed this illness and I was told that no one knows why it happens. They told me that if we had arrived a half hour later to the hospital my son and I both would've died. Miraculously my son was born healthy and was able to breathe on his own. He was 5 lbs 6 ounces and 19 inches long. He was kept in the NICU for 4 days due to the circumstances of delivery. He had trouble eating at first but they soon found that he could keep soy formula down the best. After four days he and I were allowed to make the trip home. I was afraid to leave the hospital for fear that my blood pressure would continue to be high and that I would have a seizure while at home. I was sent home with a blood pressure monitor. I normally run about 100/80 and my blood pressure was about 150/110 even a week after delivery...it was very scary. I had a long road to recovery but within a couple of weeks I was able to get around a little better and take care of my son myself. He turns seven next month and I thank God everyday for the chance to be here to raise him and watch him grow into a young man. He is a happy little boy and brings joy to my heart! <3
Because of this experience I've made the decision not to have anymore children. I was told that it may not happen again but it isn't worth it to me to try to have more children when it could result in the death of myself or the baby. I feel thankful that I was able to make it through my experience and bring my baby boy home and count myself very lucky. I just recently learned about the Promise Walk for Preeclampsia that will be held in a city close to me for the second time this year. I will be walking along with others who have been affected by this illness and in honor of Christie Polverelli, a local young woman who lost her life to HELLP while delivering her beautiful baby girl Elle in February 2013. My heart is with those who have experienced the fear and profound loss of HELLP syndrome. May we be able to educate more women on the symptoms of HELLP so that more women can deliver safely with minimal complications in the future."
Jessica has joined the Promise Walk in Albany, New York and is walking in honor of Christie Polverelli. You can join the walk here or donate here.
"My son and I are HELLP syndrome survivors. My heart still breaks for Christie's family and friends. My situation could have ended up the same. Please donate to my page and help reduce the occurrence of this illness and help find ways to prevent it. I had been on my one week visits when it happened to me so it can happen very quickly to anyone without warning. My heart is with Christie's family and anyone else who has lost their loved ones to this illness. I will walk for them and to raise awareness to fight against this illness! Thank you for visiting my "Promise Walk for Preeclampsia" webpage! I'm excited to support the Preeclampsia Foundation's mission to reduce infant and maternal illness and death due to hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Together we are Making Strides, Delivering Hope! Please register to walk, or make a pledge to help me meet my goal!"