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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Matthew's Journey

I had a lot of experience working with premature babies.  I was a Respiratory Therapist for a busy Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  Working with premature babies every day made me almost numb, thinking it wouldn’t happen to my own child.  When I got pregnant, I was ecstatic!  I took good care of my body, eating healthy foods, taking my vitamins and drinking plenty of water.  I didn’t have any morning sickness and I felt great until I was about 11 weeks pregnant.  I began to have severe reflux and morning sickness around the clock. I just didn’t feel good, but everyone assumed it was normal pregnancy side effects

At 28 weeks I started to gain a lot of weight and became very swollen.  I felt awful and tried to get into the Obstetrician (OB) for a checkup, but there were no openings for several days.  The nurse advised me to rest and diuresis with tea and asparagus.  In the middle of the night on May 23 I woke up with severe pain in the middle of my stomach.  I contacted the on-call doctor and explained how I was feeling, like I was having severe heartburn in the wrong place. The doctor advised me to come in for an exam and testing.  I didn’t even take an overnight bag.  After a thorough exam I was found to have an elevated blood pressure and my blood tests results were not promising.  I had a complication with my pregnancy, HELLP syndrome.  My baby would have to be born right away, at 31 weeks gestation.  I couldn’t believe this was happening; it felt surreal.  There was no room at the hospital’s NICU that day so I was transferred to another facility; the hospital where I worked! I was started on Magnesium Sulfate which made me feel as if I was burning from the inside out, it was awful.  My blood pressure came down enough that we could wait a few hours before delivering and I was able to receive surfactant for the baby’s lungs to mature quickly.  Matthew was born 2 days later, 2 months early, weighing only 2 pounds 15 ounces.

Matthew’s stay in the NICU was 7 weeks long. He did great for the first 3 weeks and then developed meningitis.  I watched him deteriorate before my eyes.  He was emergently intubated with a breathing tube and placed on a ventilator to assist his breathing.  It was awful to watch helplessly.  Thank God for the doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists that day. They saved my Matthew’s life.  Today Matthew is a happy, healthy six-year old in first grade.  He loves to play soccer, Legos and read books.
Doctors don't know why HELLP Syndrome happens, but the only cure is to deliver the baby. Maybe with more funds for research, we can find a cause for HELLP syndrome and prevent others families from the experience we had.
One day... all babies will be born healthy.

Today... too many moms and families know the heartbreak of having a baby born fighting to survive.

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