Whitney’s Story

April 13, 2024 By Whitney Fuller

Whitney’s Story

At my 35 week prenatal appointment, a routine test flagged protein in my urine sample. Out of utmost precaution and care, my OB sent me  for additional blood and urine testing that morning straight from my checkup. Those results indicated rising protein levels in my additional urine sample and low platelet count in my blood. I was then sent home with directions to monitor my blood pressure and to call the office if this surpassed the “normal” benchmark. A few days later, I was admitted to the hospital my blood pressure exceeding the normal benchmark I was given. The labor and delivery team continued blood pressure monitoring, urine testing, and blood draws to further monitor mine and Sebastian’s health over the next 36 hours. Coincidentally, my OB was the doctor on call on the labor and delivery floor that evening. She came into my room (outside of her hours) to advise and reassure Adam and I that she would get both Sebastian and I through labor safely; putting me on bedrest until we could safely schedule an induction at 37 weeks. I was given 2 steroid shots to speed up Sebastian’s lung development in utero just in case he was to come earlier than 37 weeks. Three days later, my water broke and Adam and I were on our way back to the hospital with the hopes of seeing and holding our sweet boy that same day.

After being admitted, my blood platelet levels continued to decline, protein enzymes in my urine rose, and blood pressure stabilized at consistent high/abnormal level. With my preeclampsia diagnosis and data points from the past week, my team advised me to receive a magnesium drip to prevent a seizure (preeclampsia translates to “before the seizure”). Because the only “cure” for my condition was delivery, I was also put on a Pitocin drip to combat magnesium’s slowing effects on the body during labor. My body was given chemical mixed messages to keep baby in but also get him out.

After 19 hours of labor, our sweet Sebastian John was born. My memory of these precious moments are minimal due to the effects of the magnesium drip and a post partum hemorrhage. I received 2 units of blood via transfusion in the minutes and hours after delivery. I don’t have memories of the 12 hours following delivery; holding my son for the first time during that golden hour, watching Adam cut his umbilical cord, or telling our friends and family that Sebastian was healthy and here. This still breaks my heart and something I am working through.

My symptoms of preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome presented through high blood pressure, mobility difficulties, and lightheadedness continued for 4 weeks postpartum. My anxiety and fear around potentially being readmitted to the hospital is always at the forefront of my mind. I’m not sure if that fear will ever go away. The scariest part is knowing that had ZERO preexisting conditions that led to my diagnosis of preeclampsia and HELLP. However, what helps me is to remember that I am incredibly fortunate to have had the medical team and resources I did and continue to have. Without them, I can honestly say I would not be here today to share my story. Many families are unfortunately not that lucky. I am lucky that I get to grieve the loss of a “typical delivery” and heal alongside a healthy son and husband.

I share my story not to seek pity or to field compliments of how strong I am. I know I am strong because of the exceptional resources at my fingertips, as well as an incredible support system.