Have You Ever Heard of HELLP Syndrome?

 is a group of symptoms that occur in pregnant women who have: H -- hemolysis (the breakdown of red blood cells); EL -- elevated liver enzymes; LP -- low platelet count.

  As you all know I am a Mom, a stay at home, busy Mom. Some of you know that I have 4 children, very few of you know my daughter Missy was a preemie born very premature due to a severe pregnancy complication called HELLP Syndrome. She was born at 28 weeks gestation weighing in at a mere 2 pounds 5 ounces and 15 inches long.

Our story and experience is a pretty intense story. I have been writing this blog for a little while now and would love to share the story with you. I was eighteen when I found out I was expecting a baby. The Dr. said I was due the end of September. I was pretty nervous but I knew it would all work out. when I was about 6 months pregnant I started feeling miserable. When I went to my OB appointments I would tell her my aches and pains. I was having severe backaches and mind splitting migraines. My OB explained to me that this was typical during pregnancy. I accepted her answer and went about my day. What would I know, she’s the Dr. As the weeks wore on I was getting worse. I thought to myself this can’t possibly be normal, women wouldn’t keep having babies if this was normal. My doctor kept telling me that this was normal and to just take it easy. I was directed to take warm relaxing baths, use a heating pad and take plenty of naps. 

I followed her orders and there was still no relief. I was very frustrated and felt like no one would listen to me. One night around 11:00pm I was in such excruciating pain I decided to go to the ER. As I walked into the birthing center everyone was real polite. I had to put on the gown, and belly sleeve, hooked up to a monitor and given a full exam. I was nervous and in a lot of pain. I had to give a urine sample. I was starting to think that what ever was wrong would be taken care of and I would start to feel better. At about 2:30am the doctor came in and prescribed a pain reliever. I thought to myself YAY! About time, I was finally going to be feeling better. Little did I know it was only just beginning! After a week I had run out of medication and was still in a lot of pain, it had not made any difference. I made an appointment with my OB. While I was there I was given the normal exam, urine, blood pressure etc. I explained everything all over again, all my pains, aches and the whole situation. My OB signed me up for physical therapy for pregnant women. I asked if this was normal, and she replied yes, the reason for the back pain is because my back is not used to supporting all the weight of the baby. I accepted her answer and thought to myself that this can’t be right. Something is wrong! No one is listening to me! when I told her this and expressed my feelings I was given this long drawn out explanation and lecture all boiling down to a lot of crap, in the end I left feeling like she had basically told me to shut up, suck it up, quit acting like a wimp! I was FED UP! Even my friends and family were beginning to think that I was a wimp and that I was over exaggerating things.

 As I was riding the bus home from the clinic, things took a turn for the worse. I was in pain, a lot of pain! I felt like I was going into labor. When I got home I fell on the couch crying, so frustrated that I was going through this and no one was here to listen or help! I knew something was wrong and I was backed against the wall with no where to go. I felt so alone and scared! My friend brought me to my room and calmed me down. At about 5:30pm my cousins came to visit. she gave me an amazing back massage and I felt a lot better! The pain was gone, I was relaxed it was very comforting. Feeling so good, I decided to take a nap. when I woke up the pain was back. My friend asked if I wanted to take a bath, nope, not me, I was way to sore to even move. The Dr. had said if the pain gets bad, lay down, put my feet up and take a nap. My friends had suggested this and to see how I felt later. Nope, I was sick of this shit, I needed to go NOW!! I was on a mission! I was going back to the hospital and I wasn’t leaving until they figured something out! I got a ride to the hospital. My friend decided to stay home, seriously, people were really beginning to think I was full of it and it was all in my head, no one came with me, I got a ride to the hospital and was left after I checked in.

 As I walked into the birthing center all the staff had the look of “oh great, it’s her again, the baby is back” I was infuriated! They did the same procedure as last time, urine, monitors, blood pressure cuff, another exam. Then I noticed things started to get a little weird. This time lab came and did a blood draw. I just figured maybe they were going to try testing for something else. Then nurses and doctors started moving a little faster, people were popping in and out constantly checking different things, nurses were sweating, and moving fast. No one could answer any of my questions or explain what was going on. I was starting to get very stressed out! When the nurses came in to hook up an IV, I knew something was wrong, something was happening and I needed answers! It took 5 or 6 tries, lost count after 4, if you’ve had an IV you know, this is not pleasant at all, pretty painful, especially if you are poked over and over. Then the nurse told me to call home. I told her it was OK, I could tell them everything later or tomorrow when I get home. 

Then she looked at me and very rudely and harsh she said, “Call them NOW, you are going to have the baby!” I kept saying over and over, “it’s too early, I’m not due yet” I called my friends and family and told them to come to the hospital, I was having the baby! As I said the words, I started to bawl my eyes out! I was so frustrated that all this time I had been telling them that something was wrong and nobody would listen to me. When he got there things took a turn for the worse. He was sitting next to me trying to calm me down. I said I was nauseous. I told the nurse and she handed me a puke pan, I set it aside, I felt like this my whole pregnancy and I never threw up. All of a sudden I started vomiting, and it was bad! It was very forceful and projectile, I felt like I should haven been filming the exorcism (I know gruesome but hey, it happened) The nurses suddenly pushed everyone to the side.  All of a sudden I was in a surgical room. I still had NO CLUE what was going on and what was wrong with me. 12:16am  July 2000, I gave birth by c-section to a tiny daughter, Missy Kym. She weighed in at 2lbs. 5oz and a small 15 inches long. I had only been 28 weeks along when my little girl was born. She was immediately taken to the NICU. After the surgery I was given 1 blood transfusion and 2 platelet transfusions. It turns out I almost died, my liver and body were shutting down. My OB said if I would have lied back down and took another nap, I probably would not be here today. I was told my body had shut down and I had gone into shock, which caused the vomiting and incoherence. Out of this whole experience I have learned two things.

1. Always trust your instinct no matter what anyone says
2. I truly do have a miracle baby, a real gift from God!
  I AM A HELLP Syndrome Survivor

   Now that you have read all this, I am sure you are wondering what is HELLP Syndrome?

HELLP Syndrome is the medical term for one of the most serious complications of pre-eclampsia, in which there is a combined liver and blood clotting disorder. 

H- stands for hemolysis, breaking down of red blood cells
EL- stands for elevated liver enzymes in the blood, causing liver damageHELLP Syndrome Infographic
LP- stands for low platelet count, needed for blood clotting
 
Hellp Syndrome is life threatening. Sometimes misdiagnosed as gastritis, acute hepatitis, disseminated intravascular coagulation(DIC), gall bladder disease. As a result, the mother does not receive the right treatment.
When it comes to diagnosing HELLP syndrome a platelet count appears to be the most reliable indicator of the presence of HELLP syndrome. The syndrome has been considered a variant of pre-eclampsia, but it can occur on its own or in association with pre-eclampsia. Pregnancy-induced hypertension, pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome are related and overlap in their presentations.
 
Symptoms for HELLP Syndrome are as follows,
1. High Blood Pressure
2. Protein in Urine
3. Swelling in face,feet and hands
4. Pain below the ribs known as epigastric pain
5. Severe headache
6. Vomiting or feeling of nausea
7. Feeling tired
8. Visual disturbances
9. Bleeding
 
If you notice any of these symptoms, Notify your doctor immediately. Not all symptoms have to be present but these are the symptoms that are most often reported. The most common reasons for the death of the mother are liver rupture or stroke. These can be prevented if it’s caught in time! If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, please see a doctor immediately! The only known treatment for women with HELLP Syndrome is delivery, regardless of how far along in the pregnancy the mother is.
 
They do not know the cause of HELLP Syndrome. Any pregnant woman can get this illness. 5 to 7% of all pregnant in the U.S develop pre-eclampsia. Between 2 and 12% go on to suffer from HELLP Syndrome. Estimates are that HELLP Syndrome occurs in 1 per 150 live births, with a mortality rate of 3.50% . New Information shows because no cause for HELLP syndrome is yet known, doctors aren’t able to pinpoint who will develop the condition. It seems that any pregnant woman is at risk for developing HELLP syndrome, though there are a few factors that may increase your risk. These include:
* being under 20 or over 35
* being pregnant for the first time
* having high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, or eclampsia during your pregnancy
* having HELLP syndrome, pre-eclampsia, or eclampsia during a previous pregnancy
 
Does HELLP Syndrome effect the baby? Most common is small for Gestational age/ low birth weight. At birth baby may be over sedated due to medications of both mother and child. Child may have Hypermagnesemia due to magnesium sulfate treatments given to the mother. Surfactant is usually given to the mother which will help babys lungs mature at a faster rate. Other than that the baby is usually given morphine or other relaxers so the baby does not pull out any tubes and such. 
 
Can you get HELLP Syndrome again? HELLP Syndrome has a 29% chance of re-occurrence
Studies show you are more likely (50%) to have some other pregnancy complication including but not limited to:
diabetes
preterm labor
heavy weight gain
high blood pressure
severe morning sickness.
 
When I was expecting my second child , the Dr. had me do the following to ease things along:
1. I made sure my Ob was aware of my past
2. Made sure my Ob has dealt with HELLP before
3. have my weight, blood pressure and urine checked each visit
4. made sure they will be watching my platelet levels
5. Talked with the doctor about preventive measures she then has me on a higher dose of pre-natal vitamins and a low dose 80mg children enteric aspirin once a day called aspirin therapy.
 
  There is not a lot of information out there about HELLP Syndrome and how serious it is. They do not write about it in the pregnancy books, or magazines. I have done a lot of research on HELLP and have talked to a lot of women who have had HELLP and have heard a lot of stories. Because this story and experience has had a major role in who I am today and the bond I have with my daughter I felt I should share my story with you.  I am also sharing some of the photos that were taken of my princess in the NICU. If you have any questions feel free to ask, my goal has always been to share information and educate people. Feel free to share our story with others, the more people that have this information the better! Thank You for listening and thanks for you’re support! 
 ~Miranda~ 

 
HELLP Syndrome Premature Baby
My little girl, I was still to weak, I was in my hospital bed, notice my arm on the edge of her table
Tiny Premature Baby born early from HELLP Syndrome
She was SO small she was laying IN a preemie diaper
Premature baby in NICU due to pregnancy complication HELLP
She was a fighter!
NICU baby born early from pregnancy complications HELLP
Notice the normal bic pen next to her?
HELLP Syndrome a pregnancy complication NICU
Today she is a healthy Almost, 15 year old!

 Have you or anyone you know had HELLP Syndrome?

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About Miranda Sherman

Miranda Sherman is a stay at home Mom of four & full time student majoring in Business Management & Marketing from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. She blogs about her crazy family of six & two dogs on her blog Minnesota Miranda, featuring book and product reviews, giveaways, news, parenting tips and advice, shopping, recipes, fashion, travel, deals and so much more.” Find me on Google+

Comments

  1. Wow – having lost my precious daughter at 27 weeks, you have a true blessing and a miracle. What an amazing story!

  2. I’m now following you from Debbie Does Coupons weekend Blog Hop. Hope to get a follow me back at http://fabulousdealsandsteals.com/

  3. What a wonderful and informative post! She is truly a blessing. I am totally a believer in mother’s instinct! Newest follower from the hop. Please stop by and visit.
    http://skinny-bean.blogspot.com

  4. Hopping over from So Followed Saturday.
    My youngest son was born at 27 weeks. You’d never know that looking at him now. Glad you listened to your body, and glad things turned out ok!
    Paula
    http://www.circleofmoms.com/blogger/real-house-wife-singapore#_

  5. This is an absolutely touching and heartwarming story – as you say, always go with your gut. Keeps us strong and alive. Happy to hear you and your daughter are survivors and that you can educate others through your own (shocking) experience.
    On another note, I am following from the FNF Blog Hop in every way I can.
    Cheers!
    Flora Loveday
    http://www.the-upper-hand.com/

  6. Oh my, what a horrible disease! The acronym is a bit ironic, considering no one was helping you to discover what was really causing the pain until it was almost too late, right? I’m glad you and your miracle baby survived!
    Btw, I’m stopping by from Welcome to the Weekend and hope you’ll come join my Spring Blog Hop, too.”

  7. Stopping by from the Friday Follow hop.
    Have a great day!
    POSH
    http://poshonabudget.com/2011/05/tgif-hop-with-me.html

  8. Hi, I’m your new follower from the Crazed Fan Weekend Hop.
    Your story was very educational, I’ve never heard of this before. I’m glad I stopped by.
    Nikki@ Raising Marshmallows

  9. I am a new follower from Thursday’s Blog Hop.
    hope you’d stop by my blog sometime too.
    Jennah Smith
    PMS Relief

  10. Aw, she is so tiny and beautiful! I was fortunate to have an uncomplicated pregnancy, but I felt uncomfortable with how casual the medical staff were about every test or concern I had. I had placenta previa during part of the pregnancy and would have liked to be warned that now was not the time to lift weights and do high-impact aerobics, due to the risk of placental abruption. I know they see lots of pregnancies where everything is fine, but some compassion for a first-time mother’s worry and uncertainty would be nice. So glad you and your daughter made it through this.

  11. Well…your story brought back lots of memories. Your msg of ‘trusting your instinct’ is the best msg one could give someone. On occasion, I think of how I felt the doctor wasn’t listening to me when I was pregnant for my son. Obviously he wasn’t or my son wouldn’t be as severely disabled as he is. Family was telling me it was all in my head when I said my son’s head was getting heavy when I nursed him @ 1.5 wks. Yup…it all started in utero when I complained of feeling no movement…went on to giving birth and my son had two dislocated hips and a large head…to having brain surgery at the age of 3 weeks for what they didn’t know what they were going in for but had to b/c it was causing hydrocephalus…to having them close him up as he was hemorrhaging severely and they were losing him to another brain surgery for a shunt placement at 7 wks of age. Twenty-seven years later…he’s got spastic quadrapalegia but is with me. They said he’d be a vegetable but isn’t…he has a 200 word vocab, can feed himself, loves music and TV and is extremely social and will bring you into his world. What they went in for was determined to be a tumor caused by his dad’s genes and mine not being compatible. I wouldn’t trade my son for the world but if someone had only listened when I said something wasn’t right…maybe he wouldn’t be in a wheelchair today.
    Anyway… Hello..new follower from Tiggerific hop. Would love for you to follow along @ http://www.fingerclicksaver.com Have a great week!”

  12. Wow! What a scary experience. Thanks for educating me–I’ve never heard of this before. Glad your daughter is doing well now.

  13. A moving story – I miscarried our only pregnancy, after 3 years of infertility. We went on to adopt two of the most precious children on earth, so that was God’s plan for us. So glad your story turned out beautifully, too – God bless you. I “followed” your blog and would love a follow back.
    Thanks,
    Mary @ Redo 101

  14. new gfc follower from hop. please follow at http://www.simplyshopandsave.ca

  15. What an amazing story, thank you for sharing! I’m so glad it ended happy and that you have your beautiful daughter~

  16. What a wonderful story! Like Mary, I miscarried after several failed inseminations and after so much heartbreak, we decided to adopt. We have two beautiful children from domestic adoptions that I was able to bring home from the hospital. They are 12 & 13 now… God is good! Thanks for linking up to TGIF blog hop!!

  17. Hi! I’m a new follower.
    I delivered our second daughter at 24 weeks and she was oh so tiny, but amazingly healthy for a micro-preemie. (1lb 4oz) Sadly, she had a fatal reaction to a routine med at 4 days old and we lost her when she was just shy of 3 weeks. That was almost 11 years ago and it seems like yesterday sometimes. It’s not something you ever get over, but with God, family and friends, you heal a bit each day and you move forward as best as you can.
    I know quite well the emotional roller-coaster that the NICU can be and I commend you for posting these symptoms for other moms-to-be. I had no complications with my pregnancy until the amnio sac developed a leak and it sent me into labor, but knowing the signs of an extremely life threatening problem for mom and/or baby is of the utmost importance.
    Blessings to you and your lovely family.
    ~Mrs B

  18. Oh my gosh! Wow she was tiny. I can’t believe she was laying in a preemie diaper. Wow. My friend had her last baby at 34 weeks and I thought he was small. Good thing you trusted yourself, that’s terrible that no one took you more seriously. Thanks for sharing.
    New follower from Super MEGA 7 blog hop

  19. WOW wonderful info, and such a blessing you made it through—
    found your blog through the blog hop hosted by Design it Chic FOLLOWING and voted for you
    God Bless

  20. That story is wonderful. I am a new follower from the Copper Brick Road Blog Hop!

  21. That is a very powerful story. I had some of the symptoms you describe when I was pregnant with my daughter at 17. I developed hypertension, SEVERE AND CONSTANT morning sickness, and towards the end, the most severe back pain I’ve ever felt.
    I was given a c-section as well, but luckily, only 2 weeks early. I had further complications after the delivery, including nearly bleed to death due to them not being able to stop the bleeding.
    They never mentioned this disease, but my pregnancy was 19 years ago. I’m not able to have any more children because if all that went wrong with my daughter. She’s almost 18 now and I’m thankful every day I lived to see her grow up, as I’m sure you are as well.
    You have a very powerful and touching story. Thanks for sharing it.

  22. Following you from You Like Me Blog Hop. Please follow back at http://gardenofgiveaways.blogspot.com. Thanks!!!!
    So glad your daughter is doing well:-) To God be the glory!!”

  23. Amazing story. Certainly a blessing from God that you have your sweet baby.
    I’m here from The Mom Road. Love the old books!
    Blessings,
    Pamela

  24. What an incredible story!!! I had heard of HELLP, but that was only from reading online message boards. Some women just don’t know until they’re faced with it! Thanks for speaking out about it and sharing your experiences!
    following you from the weekend blog hop! http://captainfussybuckets.blogspot.com

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  27. I had HELLP before it ever had a name. This isn’t bragging, but a caution because it can happen in very early pregnancy. I started vomiting all day every day when I was 12 weeks pregnant. I was 20 at the time and I was going to a RN instead of a doctor. My urine always came back with protein in it and my blood pressure was always high. The place I was going didn’t have a large cuff and so they kept blaming it on the cuff. I finally was sent (by my choice) to an OB in a teaching hospital and there they told me I was fine even though I had high blood pressure and was still spilling protein in my urine. Finally at 26 weeks I started having the severe pain you were talking about but mine was on my right side and wrapped around. My right kidney had failed and my left was on its way. Some magnesium, quiet, pain killers and fun later I delivered by c section a little girl. She weighed 1 lb and 5 oz when she was born and though she was born at 26 weeks her eyes were still fused shut (yes babies eyes are still fused shut up until 22 to 24 weeks gestation). She lived 23 days and and infection got the better of her and she died.
    It was 10 years before I got pregnant again and lost that one at 7 weeks for the same issue, clots cause that babies heart to stop beating. Then, with my last pregnancy I took heparin from the time I was 5 weeks pregnant until 32 weeks and I delivered my son at 35 weeks and 5 days and besides being small he was healthy. =)

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