HELLP Syndrome: (Memoirs of a Teenage Author)

(This is post #4 of the My Journey to Gritty: Memoirs of a Teenage Author series)

Warning: this post is disturbing.


I wasn’t planning on writing this post… It’s far too close to home for my liking.
But this whole series has been too close to home for my liking…
Anyway, during the trailer park chapter of my life, I experienced death strike intimately for the first time.
My family had always been pretty healthy. (Except my Dad’s constant, life-altering pain of course.)
All of us kids were strapping strong, surgery-free, even allergy-free.
And we were expecting a new addition soon. Mom was nearly eight months pregnant. It was a bit of a miracle baby, she had been going through menopause for years. Dad was especially thrilled.
Everything seemed to be going good. Mom was tired a lot, and her skin was turning a yellow color, and she was gaining several pounds more of water weight than she had in her previous pregnancies, but life was busy, and we didn’t think much of it.
Around the thirty-first week of pregnancy, the midwife recommended that we get an ultrasound. Mom was as big as a forty-week pregnant woman; there was a distinct possibility that she might be carrying twins.

The whole family went to the ultrasound appointment. My sister, the youngest, was about four years old. So we tried to explain to her what we were doing. She was excited.
We weren’t in the ultrasound room very long before the bad news hit. The technician operating the machine started asking questions. I knew something was very wrong as I looked at the image on the screen.
I had been there for the sonograms of my other siblings. This one was different. It wasn’t moving… at all.
The tech asked for me to move the kids back to the waiting room, as we left, I glanced back and saw her circle part of the baby with her pointer and label it, “heart”.
Sometime, in the last four days, my baby brother had died.
Everything was a blurry daze as I sat in the waiting room with the kids. They talked about the baby, and made me read picture books to them. Mom and Dad came out of the ultrasound room, stoic-faced.

It wasn’t until the car trip home that Dad made the announcement.
“Well… it looks like we lost the baby, kids,” he quietly said.
I looked out the window and cried. It was the middle of April, but snowflakes were drifting down outside. A freak snowstorm blanketed the city with fluffy whiteness that day.

Mom’s body was still operating as if all was normal. They tried to stimulate labor with herbal concoctions, but nothing would work.
Days passed. Silence reigned. No one knew what to say.
How do you comfort your mother when her body’s become a coffin for hope?
How do you comfort your father when he says the Kaddish with tears running down his face?
I wasn’t sure I wanted kids in my future anymore. This was so, so painful.

When natural means failed, my parents went to the hospital to have Mom medicinally induced.
They told us that she had HELLP Syndrome. A type of pre-eclampsia, (toxemia of pregnancy). Science doesn’t know what causes it, and there are no known cures. It strikes randomly and is often deadly. When a woman develops HELLP, the most hope she has is to try to keep the baby until it’s old enough to be delivered.
The hospital staff said that it was a good thing my parents came in and induced her labor when they did. Mom’s liver was failing, (which accounted for the yellow skin) if she had lingered at home only a couple more hours, she would have died, too.

There are all kinds of details to that day that I remember. It snowed again. The baby was a boy and had ten fingers and ten toes, but was very dead.

But I choose not to linger on those memories. They come back to me often enough every time I’m pregnant with one of my own children. That incident scarred my perception of pregnancy very badly for a long time.
However, I can’t let fear rule me. When I cry out to God about the fragility of life, He whispers to me that He holds each spirit in His hand, in or out of the womb.

"Oftentimes it takes years to understand what God does and does not allow. Sometimes we never know. Sometimes we just have to accept reality for what it is. But sometimes… we don’t have to wait so very long… sometimes He surprises us." ~A Memoir of Love

Click here to read the next post in this series: The Shelter

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