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What A Way To Enter the World: Still Need HELLP with Answers!

January 11, 2023 By P. E.

What A Way To Enter the World: Still Need HELLP with Answers!

My first pregnancy (a little- I should say a lot- not expected): I had horrible anxiety the entire time... I dealt with the thought of "not being married, do I keep baby?" "What am I doing?" I had panic attacks; couldn’t sleep but at the same time excited. I’m almost 30, have a good job and supportive significant other. I was lucky enough my SIL was an ARNP so I could ask her all kinds of questions. I remember like it was yesterday….

It started with horrible side, stomach, and arm aches. I called my OB who said "sounds like stomach issues, check with PCP." So I did that but they weren’t overly concerned. I waited another week for my 32 week appt, still having this horrible arm pain. I should add during that week my feet were like basketballs and people asked if I felt good… as I puffy really everywhere. I knew I didn’t but I thought it was just pregnancy, that this is normal. As I waited for my urine culture to come back, I knew something was not right - they told me I had HELLP Syndrome and "you will deliver the baby." I called my boyfriend (husband now): "I’m getting admitted so please pack the bags." Well I am fortunate for amazing co workers as they sat with me till he got there. I think he packed the entire closet. We both had no clue what we were doing. That evening we were to do a birthing class. That evening my little miracle Taylor Jo’Ann was born 4lb 6oz (decent size). She is such a little fighter and to this day you wouldn’t ever guess she was a premie.

I dealt and still deal with PTSD. Anytime I get my BP checked I have to take a Xanax because I freak out. I couldn’t thank our neonatologist enough… he recognized I was dealing with postpartum anxiety depression. I was living in the NICU, wouldn’t eat, lost so much weight trying to breastfeed and be 100% to my daughter. The sad thing was I wasn’t. There were times I cried because I didn’t want to go. The main reason I am writing this is because I want moms to know it’s ok to feel this way and there is light at the end of the tunnel. I had a great support system as I worked at the hospital and people reached out to me as they dealt with postpartum issues.

I was scared I was going to die. I did weekly BP checks with my PCP- god bless her, she talked to me at all hours of day about it: "It will be ok, you're not dying, your bp will come down."

If I can give any advice for HELLP Syndrome - stick to your gut if you don’t feel good. I should’ve asked my OB to see me. My SIL (who already knew I was hypochondriac) said "I’m not trying to scare you but you may have HELLP." One thing is that my OB doesn’t overreact and I need that because obviously I’m high strung! He was calm and cool - just what I needed!!

My husband and I welcomed our 2nd baby October 2020- all good. That pregnancy I took baby aspirin. I was even lucky enough to donate my milk to the university of Iowa and to mothers around the area. I just wanted to give back as we got donor milk.

To this day I would like another baby, but I have horrible anxiety thinking about doing it again. I am very blessed to have a great outcome and care team. Our neonatologist isn’t here anymore but we talk several times throughout the year.

I just want to be that someone for someone dealing with BP issues and postpartum because I was at one of the lowest points of my life. It’s easier to talk to someone that has the same feelings and thoughts vs someone who hasn’t dealt with that.

Honestly I don’t like to look at statistics of what happens to people that have HELLP. I know cardiovascular stuff - but that’s all I know. I feel there needs to be a reason why women develop this? I don't know, is it anxiety? High stress-related? I feel for all the moms out there- hope this helps at least one mama. I stayed up long hours reading up on HELLP and why it happens but never get a real answer.

Love,
PE