Hospital Diary: My HELLP Saga

February 09, 2023 By Kaiti Clark

Hospital Diary: My HELLP Saga

Saturday morning, May 23, around 6am I woke up with a raging headache. The night before I’d had one as well but had taken medicine to help. It didn’t seem good though that I woke up with one. I took some more medicine and began my morning by tracking my blood pressure due to already being diagnosed with mild preeclampsia. The numbers were just rising by the hour. Around 9am I had a reading of 160/110 and that’s when I knew I had to call the after hours nurse. I called and left a message. Quickly they called back and after getting all my information informed me I needed to go in. I wasn’t sure if this was it so I took a quick shower and made sure my hospital bag was packed just in case. 

In Triage, they began to hook me up to the monitors to see what my blood pressure was doing. Surprisingly it was reading fine there and my baby Melody looked healthy as could be on the screen. The on-call OB came in and said she wanted to keep me for a 24 hour observation period because of the headaches, wonky blood pressure readings at home, and the fact I’ve been to triage a lot this month for similar issues. 

Eventually, a nurse takes my labs + I do a COVID swab. Shortly after,  I was being admitted for delivery. I was starting to panic. I had no idea what was happening. When I asked the nurse why the sudden change, she said the OB was on her way to talk to me but not to worry. The OB came in and told me my labs had come back with very elevated liver enzymes. I had no idea what this meant. But from the reactions I could tell it was not very good. They told me I seemed to have an atypical case of pre-eclampsia and even a mild case of HELLP syndrome. 

Things begin to get somewhat blurry at this point because they put me on magnesium sulfate. They also had to pad down the sides of my bed in case of a seizure. They pushed through the first round of magnesium and informed me it would feel like I was having the flu and then some. They weren’t wrong. By the end of Saturday night I had the chills, then the sweats, then the chills, and back and forth. I had to call for a nurse every time I had to use the bathroom because they had to unhook all the monitors and my IVs, and they had to help me walk because the magnesium made me feel so weak. I was getting labs done every twelve hours. I don’t remember it much. I do remember  I started throwing up a ton. 

On Sunday, they pushed more magnesium into my system on top of nausea medicine and I was extremely worn out from that. Most of the day I just remember sleeping, ice chips, and cool packs. I know I was having contractions simply because they told me. The OB decided to move forward with a c-section on Tuesday.  I remember how drained I felt though after the mid-line, epidural, and catheter. At 11:30ish on Tuesday morning, I was prepped for and taken to the OR. I felt nervous but also so exhausted and ready to meet our baby girl.  They went ahead and began operating. It was very quiet at first and I was nervous. I didn’t know how long it took to get to the baby but I just wanted to hear her cry and it was such an awkward silence while waiting. It felt like an eternity. Finally I remember them saying “12:31pm” and I heard a muffled cry. The whole world stopped. I started crying. She was here and everything felt so much better to know she was okay. She was 19 inches and 6 lbs 13 oz. She was a little fussy but really not bad. It felt surreal that she was here. 

They had told me that Wednesday I could hopefully get off mag and the catheter would be coming out later tonight probably. Our night was pretty peaceful. We were both on a baby high for sure. The next morning, my liver enzymes were still a little high but going down compared to before and my mag levels were good. They took my mag off and everything around noon. I had to practice walking a little with help but I was determined. Eventually I was able to do so without help but it took time. The day seemed to kind of fly by honestly.  Thursday rolls around. My OB comes in and says he wants me to stay one more day and do labs one more time Friday morning. He said my incision looked great though and encouraged me to keep getting up more. Friday morning finally comes and I’m seriously so happy I could cry. I knew we got to go home. It was the best feeling leaving that Friday early afternoon with Melody in the backseat. It was our family all together headed to our house. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. It’s a delivery I’ll never forget. But most importantly, it brought us Melody who we will always cherish and love more than words can describe.