It's Not Heartburn or Anxiety, It's Class 1 HELLP

December 21, 2022 By Micailyn Halley

It's Not Heartburn or Anxiety, It's Class 1 HELLP

Around weeks 30-32 I stared experiencing swelling in my face and feet. My blood pressure started to gradually increasing and I was prescribed blood pressure medication. I was diagnosed with gestational hypertension but was told it wasn’t preeclampsia because I had no protein in my urine. At week 35 I woke up with chest pain that was different from the usual pregnancy heartburn I had been experiencing. I was going to take tums and go back to sleep but my dog was freaking out and would not leave my side so I knew something wasn’t right.

I was admitted to be monitored because my gestational hypertension was no longer being controlled with medication. My lab work wasn’t showing signs of preeclampsia, despite my high blood pressure and excessive swelling. The doctors decided to start me on magnesium for my blood pressure and pitocin to begin the induction process. The chest pain progressively got worse until it became so severe that I was having trouble breathing (I thought I was having a heart attack).

After repeatedly being told “it’s probably heartburn” and “are you sure it’s not your anxiety?", my lab work showed that I had developed class 1 HELLP syndrome. My platelets had dropped to around 40 and my liver enzymes were nearing the thousands. The chest pain I was experiencing was my liver failing. I was told I needed a c-section ASAP or (1) my liver would rupture (2) I would start seizing or have a stroke.

After two platelet transfusions, my platelet count didn’t improve much. It was too risky for me to have an epidural or spinal tap as they feared I would bleed into my spinal cord. Instead I would go under general anesthesia and be intubated for the delivery. At this point my husband and I said our I love yous/ see ya laters. Our little 35 weeker weighed 4lbs 13oz. He needed a few puffs of oxygen at first, no NICU time. /After a few days inpatient on magnesium and oxygen, my blood pressure, liver enzymes and platelets gradually went back to normal with no permanent liver damage.