I was officially diagnosed with HELLP syndrome at 32 weeks in my pregnancy, but likely had it for a bit prior considering I felt very ill for at least two weeks before I went to the emergency room. While I had heard of pre-eclampsia, I had never heard of HELLP syndrome prior to my experience.
On a Sunday afternoon, two weeks before I delivered, I was outside picking weeds with my husband (something I really enjoyed doing while pregnant!) when I suddenly felt like I had the flu. It was late September, and still very warm out, so I was hoping it was something else. Later that day, I noticed I had some very painful lumps in my armpit that I decided were ingrown hairs. I felt better after laying down.
That following Friday the lumps were still present and not feeling any better, and I had noticed the baby was not as active as she normally was. I went to get checked out and saw the nurse practitioner. She said the baby's movement was fine, but I was having more than five contractions in an hour. Since they seemed to calm down, she did not think it was a big deal and I figured they were normal Braxton-Hicks. She was concerned about the lumps, since I did not feel ill, and wanted me to get an ultrasound done on them. I went in the next Tuesday.
During the ultrasound, I could barely stay laying down long enough for the technician to finish because of pain I was experiencing in my chest. It seemed to get better when I was sitting up, but not by much. After my appointment I went to work, and still felt bad-- like I had incredible heartburn. I was taking as many TUMS as I was allowed, and eventually took a Zantac. I remember calling my dad to see why the Zantac wasn't working, and being puzzled when he said that it "always" worked for him. I then decided that the baby was simply in a weird position, which was what was causing my pain and discomfort. I did not get any sleep the next few days because the pain was so terrible. By the time Thursday rolled around, I could not even breathe without wanting to cry. I felt exhausted, but never thought something was seriously wrong. These were "normal" pregnancy symptoms....right?