When Haley was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome at 29 weeks, she was not prepared for what would follow.
This is Haley’s story:
My partner and I had been trying for a baby for 14 months before I saw those two pink lines. I suffer from PCOS so to conceive we needed the help of Letrozole. My pregnancy was fairly straightforward until 20 weeks. My feet just puffed up like crazy. When I mentioned it to my GP, she did a urine test for pre-eclampsia which came back negative.
The weeks went on with my swollen feet which were painful to walk on. I was also hit with fatigue like crazy. I did a 23 week GTT test and yes, I had gestational diabetes. It was uncontrolled no matter how much insulin I used. At 27 weeks I was once again tested for pre-eclampsia and once again, it was negative. At 29 weeks I woke up vomiting and with pain on my right side. I ended up in hospital just for monitoring and fluids and felt better. Once again, I was tested for pre-eclampsia and it came back negative.
At 29+ 5 weeks, I spent the day sick on the couch. My pain was getting worse. By that night I had tried to eat but couldn’t keep it down and the pain was so bad, pain killers weren’t helping. At 10 pm that night, my partner drove me to the hospital. My BP and basic OBS were taken and my BP was 169/104 and I had developed a terrible pain in my shoulder. I was rushed straight up to the labour and acute pain ward where my baby was monitored, I was on BP meds, magnesium drip and 4 hourly blood draws.
I was told I had HELLP syndrome and that when I was stable, I was having my baby. I cannot tell you what went through my head at that moment, but I was not ready for this news. The 4 hourly blood draws were a killer. They had to be taken directly from the vein. No cannula could be used. I was so dehydrated that I was stuck over and over as my veins would not give blood as they would collapse. My platelets were dropping (clotting factor) and if they dropped below 100, I would need a general anesthetic and probably a blood transfusion.
Preparing for the birth
When my platelets got to 101, they said they would do a 2 hour draw. From there they increased to 154 where it was safe for me to have a c-section. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. I was stuck again and again in the back with a local anesthetic as I was too swollen or too dehydrated for them to get the epidural in. When they did get it in it took what felt like forever to kick in. After 45 minutes I was finally numb, and they got my baby boy out. He was whisked past me, and I barely got to see him. But he needed oxygen so I can understand.
I didn’t get to see my little man until late the next day as I was unwell. He was on CPAP but doing good but unfortunately soon developed a right pneumothorax. He was intubated and had a chest tube inserted. He was on morphine as well for the pain. I mention this as they think this slowed his digestive system. Every time he had some breast milk they got green asperities and had to wait another day before trying again. It was on Day 8 that he had his first meal and kept it down. Day 10 he came off the chest tube and on Day 11 I got my first cuddle. I cannot tell you the magic that moment brings.
Reflecting on the experience
From then on it was smooth sailing. We spent a total of 51 days in hospital. I can now say I have a healthy 3 year old. If I had to take anything away from this experience it is that if someone offers you help, take it. From Life’s Little Treasures’ information packs, prem packs and in-hospital morning teas, to family and friends cooking you food or doing some laundry. Take it all! You learn you are not alone and, in those moments, you are so supported when and where you need it.
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