April 30, 2020 By Cara Capuano
3.18.20 is an important date, my due date. I had been looking forward to this date since August 6, 2019 when my husband and I learned I was pregnant standing over our bathroom sink, staring stunned at the 2 positive pregnancy tests in front of us. We experienced a mix of thoughts and feelings but quickly moved past any anxiety to feelings of excitement and joy at how our lives would forever be changed.
Instead of my due date as our child’s date of birth, it came nearly 3 months early. We had the sweetest, fiercest, tiniest little girl you could ever meet. At birth, she weighed in at 1 pound, 14 ounces and was 13 1/2 inches long. Today, she is 6 pounds, 9 ounces and 19 inches long!!!!!
We did not know the sex of the baby until we asked my favorite L & D RN to announce it! A GIRL!!!!! We had waited in anticipation and were absolutely thrilled!! We had her name set since the early days when we were dating. She has made us so incredibly proud, showing unbelievable fight, strength and resilience from her start at 28 weeks and 4 days.
I would love to only celebrate the amazement of our daughter completing our family but her unexpected birth was coupled with the hardest fight I have ever known in my life. I was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome, a severe form of Preeclampsia, 12.27.19 and we were gently told by a wonderful, compassionate MD the only solution to keep us both safe was to deliver within 48 hours.
A couple weeks before Christmas, I experienced an alarming, unexplained bleeding at 26 weeks. My OB checked me out and my blood pressure was normal, the ultrasound was good and she cleared me to keep my travel plans for Christmas to Arizona to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and my two nephews. I was relieved.
Then, about a week later, fatigue, nausea and vomiting followed. I thought, I am just dehydrated and moving into my third trimester with new symptoms. I came home early from work, hydrated well over the weekend and we flew out on Sunday, 12.20.19. I celebrated Christmas with my family and was full of love.
However, each night after dinner, I would feel terrible with what I thought was indigestion. My sister-in-law, an OB/GYN, thought it may be a virus. She took my blood pressure and it was a bit elevated from my normal low blood pressure of about 100/70. I did notice while in the shower, my feet were swollen and painful. We still did not panic. By Thursday night, I had lost my appetite and could barely walk into the place we were staying. I could not get comfortable in any position in bed and did not sleep, experiencing nausea and vomiting again. I did not wake my husband or sister-in-law but finally called my sister-in-law Friday morning to tell her I needed to go to OB Triage. I could not imagine flying home the next day with how miserable I was feeling. The only way to describe it is everything hurt, head to toe.
I do not share this very personal experience with you because I want sympathy but to inform anyone (women AND men) reading this to be aware of HELLP Syndrome and look up the symptoms to try and prevent it happening in a loved one. It is difficult to diagnose and comes on frightfully fast.
If you are currently pregnant or thinking about trying to get pregnant, my intention is definitely NOT to scare you. Believe me, I avoided the internet and googling questions at all costs while pregnant. I was already 40 and had heard every negative birth experience from countless friends and colleagues over the years and had to wonder if it was all worth it and why women do not fear childbirth in a country with high rates of maternal death. I was terrified and so was my husband.
I was told by my doctors during my 8 day hospitalization that I was at especially high risk for Postpartum Depression due to HELLP Syndrome, Cesarean birth after an attempted vaginal birth and NICU stay and have PPD. Please seek help from your OB for any symptoms of HELLP Syndrome or PPD!
I'm do proud of you for telling your story and helping to educate other women. What a great role model you are for your little one!
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