Chances are you have heard of Pre-eclampsia… but have you heard of HELLP??

Mhairi Caitlin Conway kindly gave Very Mummy permission to share her experience and raise awareness.

This is her HELLP story

At 33 weeks pregnant, I was rushed to hospital with severe abdominal pain to the point it was making me scream and be sick. The pain was intense. The doctors thought that I was having contractions but the pain was too high up in my rib cage. I went from having one midwife in my room to about 20 doctors in the space of minutes. They realised something was wrong. I had HELLP syndrome.

HELLP syndrome is a life-threatening liver disorder and is one of the rarest forms of preeclampsia and not nearly enough people know about it, including doctors! My organs were shutting down fast, especially my liver. The platelets in my blood were wrong and I wasn’t producing enough red blood cells for my body to repair itself. My heart rate was almost 200bpm and I could hear my baby girls dropping. That was literally the single most horrible and heartbreaking moment of my life. It was at that moment they told me they needed to operate on me within the next 20 mins or Georgia and I weren’t going to make it. I only had enough time to beg her dad to look after her for me in case I died before they wheeled me through to the theatre. At 5.06am my beautiful daughter was born.

Courtesy of Mhairi Caitlin Conway

At 8.30am I woke up to find out how serious everything actually was. The doctors tried to tell me how close I’d come to not being here. I didn’t want to hear it. They told me all the symptoms of HELLP syndrome; nausea, vomiting, abdominal tenderness, high blood pressure, swelling etc. I’d had all of these but because they are quite common during pregnancy and not a lot of people know about HELLP, it went unnoticed which is why I want to let girls know what to look out for.

All I wanted to do was see my baby. I couldn’t. Sadly, I was weak and attached to many machines to make sure I didn’t have a fit, that I couldn’t move. I spent the whole day on the labour ward while she was in the neonatal .  On top of this, I had to listen to other mothers give birth to their healthy babies, whilst I had to wait until that evening. When I first got to see her I didn’t even get to hold her, she was in an incubator and she was attached to her own machines as well. I have never seen anything look as beautiful as she did. She was only 3lbs 11ozs but she was absolutely perfect in every way.

The point in this blog is that I want to make people aware of HELLP. Not enough families and doctors know about it. It’s about time that changed. I was extremely lucky to come out of hospital a week later, followed by my baby another 2 weeks later. Some other mothers I’ve read about have been nowhere near as lucky as I have and reading their stories breaks my heart. You need to remember that no one knows your body or your baby the way you do. If something feels wrong to tell somebody and make sure they listen, I wish I had.

I want people to be aware of HELLP because of obvious health reasons but it’s the mental health side too. The having to deal with what you went through every day. I still see images of me in the hospital every day, in the theatre, walking again for the first time, seeing Georgia in her incubator, not being allowed to hold her…. everything.

I don’t want anyone else to have to go through that. Dealing with the fact there’s a 20%-40% chance I could get it again if I fall pregnant, I’d have to be closely monitored. It’s terrifying and it kills me because I’ve always wanted a big family. Thankfully, having Georgia here with me after everything that’s happened is enough for me to stay strong and be grateful.

As scary and as horrible as it was it’s made me appreciate life more than I ever have before. If I could just make one other mum aware of this syndrome or let another mum know who’s also suffered from this that it’s okay. Things will get better and you’re not alone. Please share and spread awareness x

Thank you to Mhairi Caitlin Conway for the image