Speak Up: Preeclampsia & HELLP

While waiting to pick up Ethan from school, I overheard a very pregnant mom telling her husband on the phone about her latest OB appointment. Yes, I was eaves dropping but it was for a good reason.

She had been experience swelling in her hands and they were also numb and itchy. The doctor had assured her that the itching was due to the swelling. But if other extremities started to itch to call right away.

Something about my liver functions.

Something about your liver functions? That’s all they told you.

They didn’t tell you about the other symptoms? The headaches. The blurred vision. The high blood pressure. The pain in your side.

They just briefly mentioned the itching on your feet and it might have something to do with your liver?

Why aren’t we told more about HELLP? Why aren’t we told more about the warning signs and what to look for?

I know if I wouldn’t have trusted my gut and insisted on seeing a doctor bad things would have happened. I could have stroked out. Ethan could have died. I could have died.

Why aren’t we told the bad things that could go wrong?

I get not wanting to scare someone but armed with warning signs and symptoms, HELLP can be treated.

But back to my eavesdropping.

Being who I am, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I butted in after she hung up the phone. I apologized for being nosey but gave her the short story of what happened with Ethan. I didn’t tell her to scare her. I told her so she had all the information.

She thanked me for sharing my story and for giving her some more things to look for.

I find myself telling more and more women I run into about HELLP. They’ve never heard about it. Or “oh it was a little asterisk” in the baby book.

It’s time for HELLP and other preeclampsia related disorders to be more than an asterisk in the baby book. They need their own chapter. Hell, I could write a book with the stories of other women with stories similar to mine and, sadly, worse.

It’s time for Preeclampsia and HELLP to be known to all pregnant women. Will you help me? If you would like to share your story, send me an email, leave a comment, tweet me.

preeclampsia and hellp

It’s time for us to speak up and share our stories to help others!

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  1. When I was pregnant with my first child in 2007, I had severe swelling and really high blood pressure for the last 3 months. My drs and nurses didn’t mention anything about anything. I kept working all the way up til the day before I delivered (and walked 2 miles to and from work each day) because when I asked about bed rest/swelling, he said I was fine. I was 21, had no internet access, and didn’t know any better.

    The only reason I stopped working that day was because the school nurse (I was a para) took my blood pressure at the urging of some of the teachers (who said I looked like crap) and was astounded that I was still up and walking with my BP that high.

    My dr was not concerned at all. This was my only option for a dr, or I may have sought a second opinion.

    I only delivered the next day because I was in the hospital anyway (for ‘monitoring’). I had a horrible delivery experience that ended in an emergency c-section and 4 hours in recovery because my blood pressure would not come down and the feeling in my legs would not return. No one would tell me what was happening. I didn’t even know if my child was ok. My husband didn’t know if I was ok.

    I am so glad we moved away shortly after that, and I have had really great experiences with my new OB with my daughter in 2009 and this new baby due in January. (And really GOOD blood pressure…)

    (Sorry for the novel!)

  2. As a pre eclampsia survivor x’s 3 and a HELLP survivor I agree wholeheartedly with you. I often find myself butting in where I probably shouldn’t but don’t want to see others suffer as I did. Like you if I didn’t listen to my gut I know for sure I would have lost my baby and probably my own life. Thank you for publishing this

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