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At 31 Weeks, This Mom Felt Fine. Then The Doctor Said She Needed A C-Section ImmediatelyThis mom shares her story of how HELLP syndrome almost put her and her life and baby's at risk.
Not too many women have heard of HELLP syndrome. I didn’t know about it until I was diagnosed with it when I got pregnant with my second child, Hope.
HELLP stands for
- Hemolysis or the breakdown of red blood cells
- Elevated Liver Enzymes, which indicate liver damage
- Low Platelet count, which prevents blood clot
Symptoms of HELLP syndrome
On July 2, 2020, I was scheduled for a regular checkup with my OB. Before I left the house, I had a sudden urge to check my blood pressure (BP), and it read 150/100. It was high, but I dismissed the reading and assumed something wrong with my BP device.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
As it turned out, my BP’s device was not wrong. At my doctor’s clinic, my BP was abnormally high — it was 160/110 that jumped to 180/110 in a matter of minutes.CONTINUE READING BELOWRecommended Videos
An ultrasound showed my baby was too small and had only the weight of a baby on its 29th week — I was only 31 weeks pregnant. My OB told us to stay put at the clinic and recommended a hospital for my confinement.
As these events were happening, I felt fine. Then the symptoms came suddenly: dizziness, difficulty breathing, and a strange feeling similar to hyperacidity under my ribcage. My OB probably suspected it was HELLP but decided not to tell me yet at the time.
Emergency Cesarean section
Two days later, on July 4, I was still confined to the hospital. I was hoping to be sent home since I felt okay. I was not because my OB was requesting bags of blood for possible transfusion. She told me she needed to perform emergency CS because my platelet count was only 42 — the normal count was 140. My hemoglobin was very low, while my liver enzyme was high.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
I couldn’t think clearly. Then symptoms suddenly showed a few hours before my operation:
- nose bleeding
- swollen face
- pain in my stomach
- a feeling like my baby was going to come out
A few minutes before being wheeled to the operation room, my OB explained it was my pregnancy that was causing HELLP and its complications. In such instances, the baby had a 50-50 chance of survival because it would be born premature, and the mother’s life was the priority.
I had second thoughts about pushing through with the CS. If my baby does not survive, I will feel like it’s all my fault. But if I didn’t push through, we will both be at risk. I felt like I was left with no choice.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Surviving HELLP syndrome
According to my doctors, HELLP symptoms typically go away days or a few weeks after giving birth. I had been improving, but I had to have blood extractions every day for four days.
Three weeks after delivery, I still experienced episodes of high blood pressure. My OB said that it was highly likely that I would experience HELLP if I got pregnant again.
Once out of the hospital, all my focus was on baby Hope. Thankfully, she only had the usual complications of premature babies like slight pneumonia and coffee ground discharge from her stomach, which were treated with antibiotics.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Hope had a common preemie eye disorder called Stage 1 Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), which is mild and will resolve. I would visit the NICU every day to spend four to five hours with her at the hospital for skin-to-skin sessions. Hope recovered well and was discharged on the first week of August when she reached 1.48 kg or 3.26 lbs.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
The financial cost of having HELLP syndrome reached Php225,000, excluding the drugs and tests I would have to take every month. In her third week, my baby’s bill was Php300,000. I am lucky with family, and friends’ full support as my husband just got on board his ship for work.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Spreading awareness about HELLP syndrome
After what I’ve gone through, I just hope more moms become aware of HELLP syndrome. Its cause is still unknown, so there’s no way of preventing it. The next best thing is to always check your blood pressure and have regular checkups with your doctor. Once any of the symptoms shows, contact your doctor at once because early detection is critical.
Perhaps my highest realization from this whole experience is how a healthy pregnancy can still go wrong. I had thought my baby and I were doing great until HELLP happened.
Thankfully, the worst is over. Now, I just look forward to the days I will spend at home with Hope, our miracle baby.
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