Week 38, 2008
STORY OF THE WEEK
The Winner of the Readers' Choice Story of the Week
Your Story "What's HELLP Syndrome?" has been chosen as the Winner of the Readers' Choice Story of the Week.
And you have been placed into the draw to Win a Holiday Around the World for 2.
|My sister Leah was happily 32 weeks pregnant with her second child when things went astray. She hadn’t been feeling very well for a few days and despite two doctors telling her that she just had a bug, she knew something was wrong. The ominous black circles around her eyes and her pale-as-a-ghost skin were telling signs that all was not as it should be.
Despite the hospital telling her that she was fine, it was just a bug and not to come in, Leah trusted her instincts and asked her husband Chris to drive her to the hospital. She was immediately admitted.
|Leah had developed an extremely rare condition known as the HELLP syndrome. The only thing rarer than the condition itself was the likelihood of it occurring with a second pregnancy. Essentially, the baby was poisoning her body and her organs were shutting down one by one. The only solution was to deliver the baby early by emergency caesarean, the catch 22 being that to deliver the baby too early was to put the baby at great risk.
|Despite everything I knew about the universe unfolding as it should and that we are born when we are pre-destined to be born, I prayed and prayed that Leah could hold on for another week, just one more, so that the baby’s lungs would be strong enough. So the baby could grow just that little bit more.
But it was not to be. Leah’s blood pressure was nearing stroke level and as her organs continued to shut down, there was no choice but to deliver the baby early and pray. Waiting any longer could leave Leah facing a lifetime of dialysis, if she had a lifetime to face at all. Adding to the stress was Leah’s previous allergic reaction to anaesthetic -the last time she went under they couldn’t wake her and feared that they would lose her.
|I held her hand right until she went in to the operating theatre and they wouldn’t let me go any further. Leah made me promise to look after her babies if she couldn’t and I did, of course, all the while disbelieving that it could ever come to that, despite the present reality that we were faced with.
I waited. And I paced. And I prayed.
Our new angel, baby Lucas was born by emergency caesarean at 32 weeks and was tiny, so tiny. Incredibly, there were others in the intensive care nursery even smaller, but this little one had our hearts – and his life in their hands.
|Only Chris, the father was allowed in recovery with Leah, but I snuck in too – I sat with her as well, held her hand, comforted her and sent her light. Chris was outside at times, making phone calls, but one of us was always there. I heard the nurses talking amongst themselves, commenting how much her vital signs had improved since I’d been there. Despite the strict rules, they didn’t ask me to leave; we all just pretended that I wasn’t really there. And in a way I wasn’t. It was all very surreal.
From the moment he went into the intensive care nursery, the nurses told us that Baby Lucas was a fighter. And fight he did. He fought to breathe on his own, he fought to drink without the tubes. And so he grew, fighting every inch of the way in his plastic faux womb, with us watching him from the other side of the plastic. We cherished those moments when we could put our hands in and touch him, to reassure him that we were here and he wasn’t alone.
|The weeks passed. Leah started to recover almost as soon as baby Lucas was delivered. She was exhausted and sore but miraculously avoided any long term effects caused by the HELLP syndrome. It was a sad day the day Leah went home without baby Lucas, but the saving grace was that we knew that he wouldn’t be too far behind… and he wasn’t. He amazed everyone around him with his fighting spirit and was soon on his way to join his Mum, Dad and big brother Ethan at home.
This week we celebrated baby Lucas’s first birthday. We all thought back to those days spent pacing the hospital corridors and it seemed like a lifetime ago. To look at his chubby little legs, cheeky smile and the sparkle in his eye now, you would never know that Lucas was our miracle baby.
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