Monday, July 16, 2007

HELLP. Or when pregnancy goes wrong, but professionals get it right.

The double l is not a typo – HELLP's a condition that's part of the suite of problems called pre-eclampsia. It's one of the less pleasant ones. Here's the short version of what happened......

Our boy was born a couple of weeks ago, four weeks early. Sofie had high blood pressure brought on by her pregnancy, but without many of the other markers for pre-eclampsia – protein in her urine, for instance. Not fire-hose blood pressure like last time, but still, not good.

So. One day we're in the local hospital, Sofie's getting blood tests, all come back okay, except for her one marker, trending up. Verdict – if nothing gets worse, baby out in about ten days. Next morning, Sof's puking and feeling lousy – first time in months that she's had a chunder. Ring the doctors', pop in a little after 0900. Time to start delivery.

So by 1300, they've started induction and she's on a magnesium sulphate drip. By 1800, not much happening in the way of contractions, but she's got some small tremors in her extremities. Shakes start spreading. She throws up. Doctor's called back in, cranks up the MgSO4. A few minutes' respite from shakes, then they reappear.

By 1930 or so (I guess, I wasn't checking my watch closely at this point) – Sofie's twitching all over. Several impressive, down-to-bile pukes. Bernadette, the midwife caring for her, looks worried.

Sofie has one very small seizure. Her back muscles tense, her body jolts a little, not much. Because I'm behind her, I notice.

“Seizure”, I say.

Sofie looks around with that – where was I – expression that comes of blacking out for a second or so.

Bernadette says, “You sure?”, but as she does, Sofie's leg spasms. Bernadette hits the call button.

Head midwife arrives. Bernadette speaks with her, quickly. Doctor arrives. Glances exchanged, short discussion, nods.

“We're going to do a caesarean now”, he says.

Two hours later, a small boy, purple, smeared in white goop, cried in my arms.

And by 2230, Sofie's sitting up in bed, saying, “Wow. I feel fine.”.


It could have gone very differently. Sofie's blood tests weren't really showing much. Her blood pressure was up, but not horrifically high. There was no protein in her urine.

Then, suddenly, bang. Things went downhill, really fast.

But medical and nursing staff understood what was happening, knew the danger. They listened to us, too. And they responded, really fast.

So now - apart from recovering from major abdominal surgery and not getting a hell of a lot of sleep - Sofie's fine. Because she was cared for by professionals who knew what they were doing.

Doesn't always go like that.


Anne Garrett said...

Thanks for sharing your story. My fourth was so much like that that I founded the Preeclampsia Foundation because my third was a trainwreck that changed me forever. I am so happy you were there and that your doctors and nurses responded. Thanks for using your voice to make a difference.

Anne Garrett

Mary J Corkeron said...

Peter I'm so proud of you and what you have done, firstly as a husband and secondly for speaking up and airing your views. Too many people just complain and do nothing - you have really helped the cause of good midwifery and shown that there can be good outcomes when the professionals ACT professionally.
Mary Corkeron - Melbourne, Australia

kimberly said...

I had some problem with my first pregnancy, i wanted to be pregnant and have my first baby, buy my husband had erectil dysfunction problem, so we decided to buy viagra and after that he turned very strong and could get powerful erection after this medical treatment. Thank to this i have two litle and beautiful girls.