One night when i was 35 weeks pregnant what i thought was my usual heartburn turned into excruciating chest pain and vomiting. After spending a few days in hospital (being discharged and returning a few hours later) i was diagnosed with the life-threatening pregnancy complication of HELLP Syndrome.
Most people have heard of Preeclampsia but not many people have heard of its ugly sister HELLP Syndrome.
HELLP Syndrome stands for:
H (hemolysis, which is the breaking down of red blood cells)
EL (elevated liver enzymes)
LP (low platelet count)
My liver enzymes had reached 3000 and my platelets had dropped to 22, and the only way to cure it was to get Zara out and get rid of my toxic placenta. So i was rushed in for an emergency cesarean. I was put completely under and my husband wasn’t allowed in with me which was all terrifying (this happened all VERY quickly) I’d always said I didn’t have ‘birth plan’ natural or cesar I didn’t mind, just the safe arrival of my daughter was my end goal. BUT this was 100% not part of my not having a plan plan!
Zara Rose was born weighing 2.5kgs and was in great health apart from some Jaundice, which after 24 hours of Phototherapy basically cleared up, what a little trooper! Zara was allocated a wonderful paediatrician Dr. Shorter who gave Brendan (my husband) a quick Dad to Dad run through of nappy changing and wrapping, then Brendan had to teach me! Haha. At this stage i was still in ICU and Zara was in the nursery so Brendan had to keep juggling his time between us both. All while expressing colostrum from me to take to Zara! Can we take a moment for these incredible husbands who get thrust into parenthood in an unexpected manner and absolutely shine.
I am so lucky to have had an amazing Obstetrician, Dr. Farag who saved my life. I’m one of the lucky ones who one, survived and two didn’t have any long-term complications. Without the incredible and thorough testing Dr. Farag did this story could have had a very different outcome and for that, i’ll be forever grateful to him. Especially knowing there were a couple other women in the hospital that had HELLP, who were unfortunately on kidney dialysis and two women had lost their lives in another hospital not far from me. Knowing that makes me emotional every time I think about it…
To all the HELLP survivors out there, you are all so amazing. After going through something so traumatic AND then having to be a new Mum makes things so much tougher. I don’t even know how i survived those first few months between still being sick (Plus having PTSD, Post Natal Anxiety and Depression) and then the newborn life of sleep deprivation.
7 months on life is different and i’ve come out the other end, but it was most certainly one of the hardest things i’ve ever gone through in my life (I remember thinking I was going to have to run away, it didn’t feel like I was even in my own life anymore and I didn’t know if I could go on) also only a handful of people really understand the severity of it so it can be a very lonely recovery.
Below are some pictures of my not so ideal birth.