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HELLP Syndrome aka: Severe Toxemia
In the early morning hours of July 12, 1998 I awoke with a tremendous amount of back pain with a minor headache. I called the doctor and they said to wait it out that I was not ready to come in yet since my due date was not until August 19, 1998. I hung up knowing something was not right. This was our second child so I had an idea of what was "supposed" to happen. About an hour later I could not concentrate the pain was unimaginable. We made another call to the on call doctor and they said it wasn't time yet.
Against doctors orders we drove to the hospital. By the time I made it to the hospital the pain in my back was relentless, my vision was blurred, my headache had grown to immeasurable pain and I was becoming incoherent. I was immediately deteriorating and no one had the answers. They continued to run tests and ultrasounds as my blood pressure rose off the charts and my urine was turning orange from protein. No matter how much morphine they were pumping in my body my head felt like it was going to explode. They started giving me anti-seizure medication intravenously.
I have "snapshots" of when I would come to. One, I can't forget the pain of my whole upper body. Two, when the team of doctors told my husband they had to take the baby to save my life. All I could think was "no, not my baby"! I couldn't express this verbally but I remember thinking it with all my might. I remember one single tear rolling down my cheek. That's all I could muster.
A couple days later, when I came out of ICU the doctors were still closely monitoring me. All I could think of was my baby. They were bringing me polaroid pictures of him hooked up to all these machines. He had tubes running in and out of his tiny body. They told me I was not well enough to see him. They advised me to concentrate on my health so I could be strong for him when he was ready.
Eventually (5 days later), they wheeled me to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). It was a world of its own. I had never seen anything of the sort. There were so many babies in all different kinds of machines that did their own function.
Our baby was in a "showcase" with an oxygen hood, ventilator and jaundice lamp overhead when needed. They explained to me his lungs were not developed due to his prematurity. He did not know how to suck therfore, they had to feed him through a feeding tube placed in his esophagus. "He just needed time" the nurses would say and that was all I had to hold on to at that time.
During my many visits to the NICU, I recall one of the nurses telling me that some or all of the machines were donated by our local March of Dimes. At the time, it wasn't that important to me because all I wanted was for my baby to be breathing on his own and to be able to come home. Now, looking back, our baby (now 13) would not be here today if it weren't for the March of Dimes.
I had HELLP Syndrome which is a severe case of toxemia. The acronym stands for Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelet count. To save me they had to deliver my baby no matter what trimester I was in.
Our son was taken c-section 5 weeks early, weighing 5lbs 5oz (big for being so early, thank God!) He had many health issues the first two years of his life but is healthy now and you would never know that this was our story.
To this day, my husband says it was very traumatic to know he may have come out of that event without a wife and a son. With the help of March of Dimes and God's Grace we are here today to help other families and their babies. If our situation would have been caught sooner I could have been monitored and the outcome may have been a little lighter. HELLP Syndrome has a high neonatal death rate due to prematurity. We beat the odds because of the March of Dimes!