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After my second son was born in 2003, I started to have health problems. I was eventually diagnosed with kidney disease and lupus. It took six years and several different combinations of medicines including a few rounds of chemo to put the disease into remission. During this time, my husband and I were sure we were done having kids. We love our two boys and had decided we had the perfect family. However, after six months of being in remission, we got the green light to try for another child if we so desired. After talking about it for awhile, we decided we would try for a couple of months to see what happened. I was sure it would take awhile because of the chemo I had had to be on. To our utter surprise, we got pregnant on our first cycle trying. We found out on 8/23/2010 that we were expecting number three due on 5/6/2011. We were excited yet nervous at the prospect of starting over again.
The first trimester passed without a whole lot of excitement. I had morning sickness bad enough to lose 17 pounds. But then again, I had plenty to lose because of the weight gain from the steroids I had been on in the past. It wasnít anything concerning and all in all I felt pretty good. During the first trimester, my blood pressure remained low enough to not need meds. I was about 15 weeks along when my blood pressure started to creep up. We were expecting that because high blood pressure comes with my kidney disease and I had been on blood pressure meds up until I got pregnant. So I started on methyldopa. It helped a bit, but my blood pressure kept climbing so every week or so my dosage would be increased. My maternal fetal specialist said she would eventually put me on a different drug.
It was Wednesday; 12/22/10 when I noticed I was feeling a bit different. That day I checked my blood pressure and it was running higher than normal around 150/95. I called my OBís office. Since it was close to closing time and I live 45 minutes away from the office and I was over 20 weeks, they decided to have me go to labor and delivery and be monitored. I went there that evening and my blood pressures stayed relatively decent at 135/85. After doing baseline labs and monitoring my blood pressure for a couple of hours, they sent me home with a 24 hour urinalysis.
On Friday, Christmas Eve, I returned my 24 hour test to the labor and delivery ward as the lab was closed for the holiday. When I got there, I told them my blood pressure was still running high and that I would like to be monitored again. This time when they hooked me up my blood pressure was 175/110. It remained that way for most of the night dropping occasionally to 160/100. They did more labs and my OB waited for the results from my 24 hour urinalysis to come back. When he got the results he came in and told me he was shocked. I was only spilling 350 mg of protein in 24 hours which is considered normal for me. So since it was Christmas Eve, he sent me home with a prescription for labetelol (a new blood pressure med) and told me to see the specialist first thing Monday morning as he was going out of town for the week. I spent the rest of the holiday weekend feeling crappy with my blood pressure remaining around 185/120. I called labor and delivery on 12/26 to find out what they wanted me to do since the blood pressures were still creeping up and they said to double the dose of the labetalol. So I did and rested while I waited for Monday morning to come around.
Monday morning (12/27/10) I got my two boys off to school and headed down to the specialist. My blood pressure was still 175/100 when I got there and I had gained almost 15 pounds since my previous weight 2 weeks prior. The doctor came in and did an ultrasound which showed that my baby was looking healthy except for that she hadnít grown quite as much as she should have. The doctor pulled up my records from my Christmas Eve visit and found out that my regular OB had read the wrong lab results. He had read my 24 hour urinalysis from prior to my pregnancy. The one that I had just done showed that I was spilling over 5 grams of protein in 24 hours. Not good. She thought that my kidney disease was coming back and sent me immediately to labor and delivery to be admitted. She said not to take time to go home and pack my bag and to not expect to be home before the weekend. So off to the hospital I headed.
At the hospital, my nephrologist came in and started me on steroids and immunosuppressants for the kidney disease. My blood pressure remained high and there were no changes. Tuesday passed by the same way. Tuesday night I started to notice that my pee was copper colored. I called in the nurse and had her look at it so she could let the doctor know. Nothing else was ever said about it. Then at 3:30 Wednesday morning I woke up with what I thought was extremely uncomfortable heartburn. The nurse brought me some Tums which didnít help but I tried to sleep anyway.
When I woke up at the nurse shift change on Wednesday, 12/29/2010, I just knew something was horribly wrong. I called my husband and told him he needed to get up, shower, get the kids to the in-laws and come down to the hospital. I didnít know exactly what, but I knew I was not going to be getting good news. The specialist showed up to the hospital about 8:30 that morning. She told me my labs were not looking good. My kidneys were failing, my liver was failing and my platelets had dropped below 50 which was critical. The only cure would be delivery. They had no choice but to induce.
I was given an IV, started on magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures and the induction was started at 9:30 am. I was told I couldnít have an epidural because of the low platelets but I didnít mind as my second son was born at home med free. By the afternoon, I was having contractions but they werenít painful at all. I was however having extremely painful upper right abdominal pain from the inflamed liver. I had a couple of doses of IV fentanyl for the pain. I kept going downhill and the doctors were worried that I wasnít delivering. They were trying to decide if they needed to do an emergency c-section which could have been really bad for me.
At 7:30 pm, I called for a nurse because I felt like I had to push. She checked me and said I was only 2 centimeters and 90% effaced. I was shocked as I was sure I was pushing. I told the nurse if it was going to be in labor longer I was going to need some more pain meds. While the nurses were out in the hall, I was pushing again. This time I checked and I could feel my daughters head. I sent my husband out to find the nurse. While he was out, I delivered our perfect little daughter at 7:40 pm. About a minute later a nurse came in and a couple of minutes after that the doctor followed. She put our daughter on my chest and let me hold her for awhile. They started pitocin to help deliver the placenta.
We named our daughter Sara Hokulani. Sara is a family name and Hokulani means heavenly star in Hawaiian. My husbandís side of the family is Hawaiian and it is family tradition that girls have Hawaiian middle names. She weighed 8 oz and was 8 Ĺ inches long.
After I held her for a bit, the nurse took her and wrapped her up so we could spend more time with her. My boys got to spend some time with her as well as my FIL, SIL and my parents. I wish that I had not been so ill, because most of that evening and the next day are a blur. They took lots of pictures though so I can look at them and remember a bit.
I stayed six more days in the hospital where I got a couple of transfusions of platelets, remained on magnesium sulfate for a couple of days and waited for my blood pressure to stabilize. I am home now recovering. They said I developed a Class I case of HELLP syndrome which is the worst there is. I was lucky to have been in the hospital already as I went downhill very quickly.
I think the worst part of the whole ordeal was hearing the specialist say absolutely no more babies for me. Since it was such a bad case of HELLP and started so early on in the pregnancy my likelihood of developing it again is pretty high. It's just the finality of the whole deal that is hard to fathom.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading my story! Here are some pictures of Sara.
I'm so sorry for your loss thank you for sharing your story with us...I hope you can find a lot of support here (((hugs)))...Sara looks a lot like my Ella, who was the exact same size...She's beatufiul!!
I am so sorry for your loss and the ordeal that lead up to it. That must have been so painful. And your daughter is absolutely gorgeous. She could not be more perfect. Thank you for sharing her story and letting me see an angel today.