The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

Tomorrow Is the Anniversary of A Sad Story November 14, 2014

Filed under: Bad Luck,In Memoriam — DDKlingonGirl @ 10:47 am
Tags: , , ,

TRIGGER WARNING:  Pregnancy, pregnancy loss, pregnancy trauma

Hello all.  Just a little while ago, I stumbled across a Facebook page called WTH- What The HELLP?  It is devoted to a disease of pregnancy called HELLP syndrome that often occurs concurrently with pre-eclampsia.  There were many stories there on that page of women who had suffered from this syndrome in their pregnancies, and there was a place to submit your own story.  Well, as most people close to me know, I experienced this.  I had pre-eclampsia and HELLP with my first pregnancy in 1992.  It was a pretty traumatic event, and I am not sure I ever realized at the time how seriously ill I was.  Here is my story, mostly as I shared it with WTH:


I was 20 years old and pregnant with my first child.  I was in nursing school full time and driving to campus and back, a 40 minute one-way drive every day.  I wasn’t married at the time, and although my fiancé was there, I was dealing with the stress related to being unmarried and pregnant, due to church things. (Believe it or not, our church building had actually caught on fire and burned, and as unreasonable as it sounds now, I was terribly upset because I thought the whole congregation was being punished because of me.)


I was approximately 23 or 24 weeks, and went in for a regular appointment with my doctor.  I knew I was extremely puffy and just generally felt unwell.  The night before, after church, I had sat out in the car and cried from sheer exhaustion and wished that I could be admitted to the hospital so I could rest.  At my appointment, I had all the markers.  My blood pressure was high and my urine showed significant protein.  They told me to go straight to the hospital, which was right across the street, because I needed to be admitted.


It was Monday night, Nov. 9.  I was admitted to the hospital and they continued trying to treat and monitor me.  I don’t think they started any IVs when I first got there.  I lay there in our small local hospital for a couple of days and started having upper gastric pain.  They kept asking me if it was gas.  Finally, I guess my local doctors decided they didn’t know what was going on with me, (or maybe they knew all along, but thought they could handle it) and they called a specialist in a larger teaching hospital about 100 miles away.  The specialist said, in effect, “Put her on an ambulance and get her up here, NOW.”  They started an IV of magnesium sulfate and sent me from Ardmore to Oklahoma City in an ambulance, and that was the first time I ever got any IVs. (It was also the occasion of several other firsts:  it was the first time I’d ridden in an ambulance, and I also got to experience the joy of trying to use a bedpan in a moving vehicle with a male attendant.  Just, you know, to throw some levity in there.  The mag sulfate IV induced a serious need to pee, and that was one of the few parts of this story that make me laugh a little.  The other part was that one of my anesthesiologists later strongly resembled Superman.)


I don’t know how high my blood pressure was at the time, but I’m thinking my bottom number was at least 100 or 115.  I know that my mother, who rode up there with me in the front seat of the ambulance, claims she is positive hers was higher.  (As a side note, many years later I would understand her claim when I too, rode in the front seat of an ambulance to Oklahoma City with my daughter in the back, but that’s a story for another day.)


They admitted me to OU Children’s Hospital, and continued treating and monitoring.  They couldn’t find any good veins for IVs because I was so terribly swollen.  They were searching in the tops of my feet, if that gives any idea.  Also they considered starting a line in my neck.  I was incredibly thankful they didn’t have to do that. But the guy who was doing the searching was the guy I mentioned a moment ago who looked like Superman.  That was the only good part.


All this time, to the best of my knowledge and recollection, the baby was fine.  She was not as big as she should have been, but I don’t think they thought she had any other serious health problems.  If they did, I don’t remember them telling me.  Unfortunately, the illness and the years have erased a lot of the details.  They began doing all the tests, and I still had sky-high blood pressure, still had protein, still had upper gastric pain, and now they also knew I had HELLP.  They did a scratch test to determine clotting time, and a scratch that should have clotted within a minute took 22.  C-section was ruled out, and delivery was a must.  They gave me medicines to start contractions, tried to start readying my body to do something it wasn’t supposed to do for another 3-4 months.


At one point, they were trying to dilate my cervix using something I remember them calling “mechanical dilators” which they said would be painful so they gave me morphine or something.  I remember waking up from my medicated haze, legs in the stirrups, lifting my head, and there at the foot of my bed was practically an entire medical school class, observing this procedure because I was, at that time, an incredibly rare case.  I just closed my eyes and dropped my head back to the pillow and tried not to care.


I wasn’t making progress, and they decided they needed to rupture my membrane.  They had put monitors on me and on the baby, and I didn’t know at the time what they knew, that once I had my membrane ruptured, the cord, which was ahead of the baby, would probably become compressed as the fluid rushed out, and as she moved down toward the birth canal, and she would probably die.  They came in and turned the volume down on the monitors, but I didn’t know that was why until later. They had asked me if I wanted to be enrolled in a study they were doing with the use of surfactant, a substance premature babies don’t have yet in their lungs that makes them expand.  I gave them permission to use the baby and give her this surfactant if she was born with any attempt at breathing.


My poor mother had finally left the hospital to go shower and rest, and they called her back because they were taking me to delivery.  I couldn’t push.  I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know what it was supposed to feel like, and I was sick and exhausted and scared.  The nurse helped push down on my stomach and all I remember was that my mom’s surgical suit was white and the rest of them were blue, and her green eyes stood out.  I thought she looked like an angel.


It was November 15, 1992.  Finally they managed to pull the baby out, and I remember the doctor putting her face right in front of mine and saying, “Baby has no heart rate, no breathing effort.”  Ok, then.


They delivered the placenta, which I remember hurt worse than the baby. (Because it was actually bigger.)  Katrina DeAnne (Katie) was 11 inches long and weighed 13 ounces.  She seemed to have suffered some significant trauma during birth because her head was misshapen and squishy.  I think they told me she had some water on the brain or something.  They fixed me up and wheeled me back to my room, and here I was, holding this oddly colored, deceased baby.  I felt embarrassed.  I felt that people were looking at her and seeing her as scary or disturbing.  I didn’t hold her as long as I later wished I had, because I thought people would think it was weird to spend time holding a dead baby.  I wish now I’d been a little more sensible about that.


I stayed in the hospital a few more days, and I don’t remember any of my numbers- my blood pressure or my platelets or how fast they returned to normal.  I just had to go on with my life.  I had to quit nursing school because they won’t let you make up clinicals and I had missed some.  I finished the semester of my regular non-nursing school class and life went on. Well, sort of.  We had to go through the funeral and everything.  Some people might not have bothered, but it never occurred to me not to.  There was a dear lady who went to our church who actually owned a monument business and she gave us Katie’s headstone as a gift.  My cousin Gene was asked on the fly to lead everyone in singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and he never faltered.  It was a cold, cloudy day.  That much I remember.

This was not her actual casket spray but it looked very similar to this.  The real one was destroyed in our house fire in February 2009.

This was not her actual casket spray but it looked very similar to this. The real one was destroyed in our house fire in February 2009.


I have since been pregnant twice.  The next time was with my twin girls, who were born healthy and perfect a year and two weeks to the day after I lost Katie.  Their baby brother was born in May of 2001, and he too was healthy and I had no serious problems with either pregnancy.  But my experience with Katie will always be in my mind.  Here is my one other post related to Katie, and how I spent what would have been her 18th birthday.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,



2 Responses to “Tomorrow Is the Anniversary of A Sad Story”

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss. I too had HELLP, in Feb 2014, at 24 weeks. My son died aged 35 days. I’ve been writing about the awful condition, and my heartbreak, on my blog. It’s such a tough thing to get your head around xxx

    • Hi! Sorry for the delay in approving your comment. Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your experience. I am blessed in that my story took place so long ago, it feels like it’s not something that still affects me on a daily basis, but when something reminds me, it all comes back with a force. Blessings and love to you, and thanks again for reading!

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