Hours after Bella was born, my life almost ended.
From my hospital bed I looked thru the little window of my room; I could see a sliver of a beautiful blue sky with cotton like clouds. ” Please give me the privilege to be able to raise this child and be part of her life Jesus”. I was intensely praying, to be honest I was begging God to allow me to raise the child I had just given brith to. I left like I was dying, my body was not responding. This is a story, my story, of HELLP Syndrome & How I almost died at childbirth.
Almost dead: my journey to motherhood & surviving HELLP Syndrome, my birth story and how I survived this rare condition.
Pictures by: MARelly from Happy Thoughts Studios
HELLP Syndrome is:
H Hemolysis ( which is the breaking down of red blood cells)
EL ( elevated liver enzymes)
LP ( low platelet count)
I became very very ill. In fact, it’s considered to be of very rare occurrence. I remember being asked if student Doctors could come in and see me, because it might be the only opportunity they got to see a case like mine. So scary right!! Anyways…
I remember the horrible pain on the upper right corner of my back. It was so intense that I asked the nurse for a heating pad. I specifically remember her asking me to rate my pain on a scale of 1 and 10. I was like 10! This is a 10! She taps me on the shoulder while placing the heating pad on my back and tells me – “sweetie it’s not a 10, a 10 means you are dying.” Just take a nap you will feel better.
And I did, I took a nap.
I woke up, only because the pediatrician came to check on Bella. She was getting her wellness check-up. At that point, my pain was so intense. I was desperately trying to explain to anyone that I wasn’t feeling well -(Clyde later said to me that I wasn’t making sense. I was just pleading for help). It was at that point when my skin started turning a greening color. Bella’s pediatrician was actually the one who alerted the nursing staff… and that began the process… the nurses called my doctor
and Bloodwork was ordered…
What happened next is a whirlwind -as soon as the results from the bloodwork came in, My OBGYN called my room and told Clyde the news. I couldn’t hear the conversation between my husband and my doctor- and to be honest I probably would not have understood everything that was said. I was very confused, nothing made much sense; what I could see was my husband’s face and his reaction to the news -he broke down and began to cry. I still remember his face- one of a man whose entire world was crumbling before him. It was uncontrollable, he didn’t know how to process the words that had just been uttered into this ears. He sunk unto his seat as a group of nurses rush into my room.
Clyde tried his best to explain bits of the conversation to me, basically I was dying. My blood platelets were dangerously low – I could bleed to death. He couldn’t tell me without his voice breaking down. It was a very hard conversation to say and to hear. As he broken down, I remember telling him No! You don’t get to be the one who breaks down- you have to be the brave one. I needed him, I needed him to tell me that everything was going to be okay, that I didn’t need to fear…but those were promises that couldn’t be made.
What followed was blood work after good work. I was wheeled down to imagining, so they could scan my liver and other organs. Student Doctors asked to come in and observe me all the time. Nurses came in every 30 minutes to evaluate me.
Honestly, it was a zoo.
I remember just wanting my family to be there. I wanted my mom and my dad. I wanted Clyde to have family and friends that could support us during this difficult time. Being in the Coast Guard and stationed so far away from home, away from family, away from the community we had built thru the years made it even harder.
The moment it all sunk in for me, the moment that I broke down, when I finally understood the severity of the situation or perhaps the moment that I didn’t really feel like I could actually survive was when I got a new IV placed. A male nurse came into my room, to put another IV on me. He was making small talk and mentioned “wow magnesium sulfate, this is serious. I was given this once because I was basically dying, must be serious.” I mean, I had heard the words from Clyde, but in that moment, when this random stranger said this to me, it all sunk it. It was serious.
As he left I was lost in thought…
I remember looking out from the tiny window I had in my room, looking up at the tiny piece of the sky and praying to the Lord, begging Him to allow me to raise my baby girl. My tiny 4 lbs baby! I still remember how my heart cried out to Jesus at that moment.
Her delivery was a good one. Actually a really good one – I was 37 weeks ( to the day), I remember Clyde, who was in the Coast Guard at the time, was standing duty that night down in the San Francisco Bay Area. We lived up North, in the Walnut Creek/Concord area. So he had a good 45 min commute that early morning. Since contractions were 10 mins apart he came home. By the time he was home my contractions were 8 minutes apart and the pain was getting stronger.
He drove me to the hospital like a mad-man. I was wheeled up and admitted. Contractions were 6 minutes apart. I quickly received my epidural and was basically waiting for the doctor to come in.
My OBGYN was on vacation at Cabo San Lucas that weekend… to my surprise this hot, young doctor comes in to deliver Bella. I was asked to pushed when I felt it and I did. And just like that Bella was born. One push.
She shot out. The doctor was surprised at how quickly she came out of the birth canal. She was tiny. They worried instantly. I remember reaching out my arms to grab my baby and a wave of doctors and nurses flooded my room and were all over Bella. My heart sunk. It was such a horrible feeling to reach out for your baby and to just see her get taken away to an incubator next to my bed to get examined by so many people. A pediatrician, 2 nurses for Bella, 2 nurses for me and a technician.
Here I was legs wide open and what felt like the entire nursing staff of the hospital coming in and out of my room. After carefully examination, Bella passed all the baby exams, she was perfect.. just a tiny, healthy 4lbs 9 oz baby girl!!
And she was finally in my arms. Y’all she was so little. Oh my gosh the first time I held her I could barely believe it. She opened her eyes as she was placed in my arms. And I feel in love. We were deeply connected from that point forward. As a first time mom, I needed that, I needed to know that everything was good with my baby.
My body, on the other hand, was a different story. I had a third degree tear from birthing her and I had to get a few stitches. I was in a bit of discomfort -to say the least. But holding my baby girl in my arms made it all better. We were both wheeled to our recovery room to rest and heal.
Little did I know that the next morning I would wake up to my HELLP Syndrome nightmare.
Fast forward to looking out my window, IVs in every arm. Being monitored every 30 minutes because I could bleed to death from my stitches. It was all like a bad dream. Being monitored constantly, the Magnesium Sulfate made me feel really tired and weak. I also had to have a catheter -every liquid that I drank had to be measured against the liquid I discarded.
I would just see the hours on the clock in front of me spin, around so quickly. I was just focused on feeding Bella. Y’all throughout all that I was determined to breast feed her… except when I was given Magnesium Sulfate. At that point I was just too weak and too tired and Clyde fed her formula. And I slept!
After a week at the hospital, I was sent home. I was home monitored by nurses, who would come to my home to check on me. I was also told to rush to the hospital if I got any cuts. It was a very surreal time in my life. The nurses warned we against, shaving, or cutting anything with a knife. I had to carefully drive home…but I survived. I was weak for about 2 weeks and then recovered.
Any time after that prayer has felt like borrowed time. I have felt like I have been blessed to have had Bella and survive such a life threatening disorder. It taught me to live and love intensely.
So on this Mother’s Day…two kids later I feel beyond blessed to be standing here holding them. And though motherhood can be very difficult at times, it has also been one of biggest answered prayers. I get to stand here and witness them and see them grow!
I guess you can say that is the reason why I love them so intensely, I know how fragile life is. It is also one of the reasons why I started writing A LOVE JOURNAL TO MY CHILD” . In it I write special messages to them, special memories that they will treasure forever. Click the link to read the post.
I know that every single day with them is a blessing that God has gifted me and I pray that I may continue to see them grow and guide them in His ways and keep teaching them how He saved my life. Keep teaching them that love wins, to never give up and to live life to its fullest! Everyday matters!
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