I am 34 years old and this was my first pregnancy. I didn't have any problems during the pregnancy except for swelling of any ankles starting at 26 weeks (which I thought was due to the hot summer) and carpal tunnel syndrome in my hands at night. I had gone to my weekly doctor's visit on July 20th (Thursday) and all was well. My due date was the following Tuesday (July 25th) and I had only dilated 1 cm, so I thought I had another week or so to go. But on Sunday, I started to feel nauseous and really tired. I went to work on Monday but went home early to take a nap. I picked my mother up at the airport that night, and she took one look at me and said, "what's wrong? you look terrible!" I said that I wasn't feeling very well but thought it was the start of labor. She wanted to bring me to the emergency room that night, but I told her to wait until morning and I would call the doctor.
We went to the doctor's office the next morning (Tuesday - my due date), and my blood pressure was high (160/110) and I had protein in my urine. They sent us to the hospital immediately where they did further blood tests and diagnosed me with HELLP syndrome. I had never heard of HELLP Syndrome before and was told it stood for Hemolysis, Elevated liver, and Low platelet. HELLP occurs in approximately 0.2 to 0.6 of all pregnancies. The situation was serious and the only way to stop me from getting any worse was to deliver the baby.
At 6 pm, I was still only dilated 1 cm, so they put medication into my cervix to help me dilate and then they started me on pitocin and magnesium sulfate. The contractions started quickly and were very strong. By 2am I was begging for an epidural as I had severe back labor but they couldn't give me one because my blood had a very low clotting factor (a result of HELLP). I spent that very long night vomiting every time they increased the dose of pitocin and having my friends rubbing counterpressure into my spine to relieve the pain. The lab staff took blood every 2 hours to monitor the platelet count and liver enzyme levels. Eighteen hours later, I was only dilated 6 cm and was deteriorating quickly. My platelets were at 40,000 and dropping. They rushed me in for an emergency c-section. They tried to give me a pedi-spinal four times, but were unsuccessful. They used general anesthesia and Erin Mackenzie was born a very healthy 8 lbs, 6 oz at 2:30pm. My Mom brought my baby over to me and I was so thrilled! She was so beautiful!
During the night, my condition continued to worsen. My platelets went down to 24,000 and they scheduled me for a platelet transfusion. But by mid-afternoon on Thursday, I was starting to improve. My platelet count crept up to 27,000 and my urine output was increasing. From that point on, I continued to improve. By Sunday, I felt much better and was discharged that day. My blood pressure was still high so I was put on blood pressure medication (Procardia). My recovery was quick from that point on although I may have to be on blood pressure medication for the rest of my life. I was told that my chances of recurrence of HELLP in subsequent pregnancies is about 7%.