Shelby Hope's Dramatic Birth - HELLP

When the door opened, I took in a breath, ready to listen to the hospitalist and then refuse anything he or she wanted to do. Instead, there was my doctor. I breathed a sigh of relief! We may have had some tense moments in the past eight months when discussing things like episiotomies … but I’ve been his patient for a long time and I really trust him. I figured he’d say his nurse practitioner was being overly cautious and we’d be checking out and on our way to Chic-fil-a in no time.

Instead, he informed us that the blood work indicated I have developed HELLP (Haemolysis, Elevatated Liver enzymes, and Low Platelet levels) syndrome. My elevated blood pressure, coupled with elevated liver enzymes indicated that my liver is in distress … during pregnancy this is caused (they think) by the placenta, and the only cure is to deliver the baby – even strict bed rest doesn’t help. I would not be leaving the hospital until Shelby was born. I tried not to panic, picturing the packing awaiting me at home.

I was given some ugly yellow anti-skid socks and allowed to walk to a regular L&D room. Room 26, which would become my “home” for the next week. I was given a slow saline drip to keep my IV open and informed that once labor started, I would need to be on magnesium sulfate … again, to prevent seizures. Dang it – I was being induced. So much for 100% natural birth … but that didn’t mean I had to have an epidural or anything like that – so I focused on what I was (so I thought) able to control.

The next several days are pretty blurred for me. I remember letting work know I wasn’t coming in (I remember my boss saying “So, do you want to start your FMLA now?” … heh, yeah – I guess so. We didn’t even make it to August). I remember ordering “Hawaiian chicken” from the hospital … oh yeah, a portion sized piece of grilled chicken with a slice of pineapple on top. Actually – some of the hospital food wasn’t half bad (chicken quesadillas, pineapple upside-down cake) as long as you knew what to order.

Thursday morning, I was started on a lower-than-normal dose of Cytotec. I had planned to refuse Cytotec if they wanted to use it after reading horror stories – well, that went out the window. Their plan was to ripen my cervix (which was currently dilated 1cm and 30% effaced) in preparation for inducing labor with Pitocin. I forget now how many doses it was, but I was on the Cytotec all day. I was having contractions, but I only know because they showed me on the monitor. I was barely feeling anything. My doctor came in as I was finishing my breakfast and said I had good timing, because he was putting me as “NPO” (Latin … nothing by mouth).  And I was given a catheter because the magnesium made me a fall risk so they didn’t want me getting up to go to the bathroom. So much for my great relief months previous when we were told on the hospital tour that they encourage laboring moms to move around … that apparently only applies to “normal” labor.

Friday I was on Pitocin, again at a low dose, for the entire day. In the afternoon I did start being able to feel the contractions and needing to concentrate during them. Tim did an amazing job as my coach. We spent a good couple of hours laboring together as he described a beautiful field of flowers, a tree, and a lamb – our little lamb! The excitement that we might meet Shelby today helped me ignore the increasing interventions … I’ve never had so many wristbands and now knew why IV poles have so many hooks.

But, as the day drew to a close … it seemed we were no closer to meeting Shelby, though her steady heartbeat on the monitor was reassuring to both of us. My doctor stopped the Pitocin and let me eat. Tim once again pulled out the little love seat and we settled in for a long night, interrupted periodically by the alarm going off on my blood pressure monitor, nurses coming in for various reasons, etc. At 6am we should be starting the Pitocin again … maybe tomorrow we would meet our strong steady little girl.

Meanwhile, that day, a group of Tim’s coworkers (psh - our FRIENDS) was moving us along with my in-laws. I will forever be thankful and indebted to those selfless friends! They told us not to think about the move, and for once in my life I let go and let myself be dependent on someone else. Was this how I pictured this? NO! I was counting on Shelby being at least 4 days late and assuming I’d have about a month to get the house situated before she arrived. I was going to finish my thank-you notes, unpack, and have everything “perfect” for her arrival. I was going to fix meals and put them in the freezer so I didn’t have to cook right away. Ooooh the plans we make!