I suspect I had some form of incomplete HELLP near the end of my first pregnancy. I told the doctors I was having painful gas, heartburn, and stomach cramps. Since my blood pressure and urine looked fine, they told me it was normal and advised me to take Zantac. Finally, after many sleepless nights spent trying to ease an unrelenting upper back pain and heartburn that made me double over with my face in the pillow trying not to cry, at 40 weeks, I tested positive for protein and developed high blood pressure. They took me straight over to labor and delivery where I delivered naturally. My son was fine except for being a bit sluggish and blue at first.
No more was said about it except that "it was just time to have the baby." I felt like maybe my symptoms were part of promodal labor and that I was being a terrible nuisance. I felt ashamed because while I wanted and ended up achieving an unmedicated vaginal birth, I could not handle some silly stomach pains in the days leading up to it.
All was forgotten until my second pregnancy presented the same symptoms. This time it was NOT time to have the baby as they had told me before. This time I was only 32 weeks along when "heartburn" and "intense gas pain" started in my chest and back. I told husband to take me to the ER because something wasn't right. This time my hands were itchy and I was nauseated with shaking and cold sweat. I began vomiting when the nurse tightened the fetal heart monitor around my abdomen. I'm almost glad that happened this time, because that was one of the things that made them order a liver function test.
When the doctor came in and told me I had HELLP, I said "what in the world?!"
"It's your liver. It's starting to fail and we need to deliver your son tonight."
In all my life I never thought my liver would even come up in a conversation. I just assumed it was in there somewhere, doing its job...functioning. Surprise! Your healthy lifestyle with occasional ice cream consumption was not enough to guarantee anything great for you or your baby. What a crappy realization.
Our son was rescued via c-section shortly after the diagnosis. It was simultaneously the worst and best day of my life. He spent three weeks in the NICU and did amazingly well in spite of how sick we were getting.