My Twin Birth Story – 35 Weeks Delivery with HELLP Syndrome
I am so happy to even be here to share this birth story. The birth of my twins was both beautiful and very scary for me. I am forever grateful that I was able to have the best care possible and that the boys came out super healthy and big!
I will share a little bit of what happened leading up to my delivery of the boys via emergency C-section. If you want to get right to the labor story you can skip down to the week 35 update.
Week 32 – Preterm Labor Scare
During the 32nd week, I had a small preterm labor scare. I was having sharp pains in my pelvis and stronger Braxton Hicks contractions than normal. I thought I might have a UTI from the low pain.
I could not get an appointment at my OB because it was so last minute and instead went to the Urgent Care by my house. I was feeling light-headed and experiencing some vertigo. I was just feeling so off that I felt I should go in. Once there they checked for a UTI but said they couldn’t do anything else because I was pregnant and they couldn’t treat me so instead they said I should go to the hospital maternity triage instead.
Later that night I was starting to feel strange and felt like I was out of my body when I was laying down. It was just a weird feeling. In the middle of the night, I began to have cramps in my back that felt kind of like the ones when I get my period. I thought maybe it was constipation since people warned me that it was a thing that happened.
I also started having more intense Braxton Hicks contractions that were waking me out of a dead sleep. It seemed like every time I woke up it was 20 minutes on the dot later. So in notes on my phone, I started recording the time each time a contraction woke me up. This was around 2 am in the morning. Over the next two hours, the contractions went from 20 minutes down to 10 minutes apart.
I was walking around the bathroom and bedroom trying to manage the contractions. When my husband woke up to get ready for work I got back in bed not to alarm him because I was sure the contractions would just ease up since I was positive they were still just Braxton Hicks.
Week 33 – Losing My Mucus Plug
On the last day of week 33 I went to the bathroom and saw a large chunk of mucus when I wiped. I realized I lost a large piece of my mucus plug. I also had an Nonstress Test (NST) appointment at the hospital and told the nurse. They did not seem too concerned about the plug.
Week 34 – Something Doesn’t Feel Right
During my week 34 NST appointments at the hospital the boys looked great and my Braxton Hicks contractions were still random even if they were frequent. We did have a cervix check and they said it was about all the way effaced but the cervix was still closed.
I continued to lose smaller pieces of my mucus plug. I felt my body start to slow down. My nausea was in full swing again and I was having severe dizzy spells. I also started struggling to sleep, focus, and even walk around. I didn’t worry since the doctor said not to.
Week 35 – Our Twin Birth Story
The start of week 35 was Saturday, August 31st. We had my highschool friends in town visiting and helping us get ready for the babies’ arrivals. I was still sure nothing was going to happen right away since I had lost my mucus plug just over a week ago and nothing seemed to be moving.
This week was probably the hardest of all. I was starting to get nausea again, dizziness, and horrible fatigue and pains throughout my abdomen. I was still regularly having contractions but they never became close together or longer. I however sometimes could not walk through them yet my cervix remained closed.
On Saturday we went to the pool to relax for a few hours. When I got home I was so sick I threw soda water up for almost two hours straight. My energy level had tanked and I started to just feel weird. On Monday my friends helped us meal prep to have some freezer meals for when we got back from the hospital. I knew something was probably really off when I was sitting in a chair and could not stop from feeling like I was going to fall over. I was incredibly dizzy and just felt off.
Taking my Blood Pressure
After we dropped our friends off at the airport I came home and was seeing bright light streaks around the edges of my vision. I decided to take my blood pressure with a home cuff. I had been recommended by my doctor to get one mid-pregnancy.
Each of the readings was higher than I had ever seen. The top number was usually around 120 or so and this time they were reading anywhere from 135-155. I had asked my friend here if she thought I should be worried and she seemed very concerned. So after much prodding from her and my husband I called the after-hours nurses care that my OB office uses and told them about my blood pressure.
Their recommendation was to go to the maternity triage at the hospital to be safe since the number were very abnormal for me.
Going to the Hospital
Matt jumped on driving me to the hospital and I was sure that we were going to go in, be told it was back to normal already and then be sent home. I had readings in the past that went lower almost immediately. This time was different since they were not going down so I knew that it would be good to just see what was happening.
We checked in and I reminded Matt not to get too excited about having the babies because I wasn’t in labor and we would be going home since I had a meeting at work the next day.
Once we were checked in and hooked to the monitors I was able to see that I was actually contracting pretty regularly. Up until this point, I hadn’t even noticed because I was so off feeling I mostly just felt like my body was falling apart and failing me. When the nurse checked me I was dilated to 1.5 cm and my cervix was bloody. She informed me that we were probably going to have the babies that night.
After seeing my blood pressure number from earlier even though my blood pressure wasn’t significantly high at this point she decided to draw some blood and test us for pre-eclampsia.
Shocked to Find out I Had Eclampsia
The next person to stop in was the doctor with the nurse and the results of the blood test. I had eclampsia. I was shocked that I had eclampsia, but all of a sudden all of the symptoms that were plaguing me made more sense. The only way to fix it would be to deliver the babies. The doctor checked me again and I was 2 cm dilated so they decided that since I was in active labor, it was best to get me to a birthing suite to get prepped for delivery. Because both babies were head down I still was able to have a vaginal birth.
Prepping for our Vaginal Birth
Once we were in the birth suite they called in the anesthesiologist to put in the line. With multiples, my doctor always delivers in the operating room and suggests to have an epidural line in so that if there is an emergency in a high-risk twin delivery they can go right into c-section. If it’s not in and that situation occurs you go under general anesthesia and would miss out on the birth of your babies. Because of the new risks, I decided to do the epidural so that we could be on the safe side.
The epidural was not as bad as I thought it would be. Many people said it was awful. It felt like a bee sting and then a weird pressure along my spine. Then they put in a catheter which I grew to love over the stay in my hospital. Many people hate that as well but it wasn’t too bad.
My blood pressure was still being monitored and was starting to climb up. At one point they had started Pitocin to help my labor progress faster. Because my blood pressure was going up they started magnesium into my IV to help keep it under control.
Unfortunately, it also slowed down my labor progression. I was told to relax and they would come back and check me periodically. They drew more blood and left. In that time Matt and I tried to relax and rest.
Bad News Bloodwork
It wasn’t too long after that when a nurse and our delivering doctor were back in the room but this time they didn’t look as calm as they did before. I woke up feeling groggy and not very well even though I had just gotten a quick nap.
The blood work showed that my kidney and liver function was declining rapidly and my blood pressure was not being controlled well by the meds. They didn’t believe that I could dilate quick enough to safely deliver the boys vaginally anymore. Instead, they told us at this rate of decline the safest thing for me and the babies would be to go into an immediate c-section to get the boys out as soon as possible.
As we are discussing this I begin to shake and vomit. I knew that my health was declining because I was feeling worse by the minute. We told the doctor that we were ready to meet our babies and the prep for the surgery began.
I was almost immediately wheeled to the operating room and Matt was given head to toe scrubs to put on so he could come in and be with me.
I was placed on the operating table and they began to numb my whole abdomen. I was starting to feel super sick and shake even harder. I had a hard time keeping my arms flat out due to shaking.
Matt came into the operating room and I kept mixing him and my doctor up! They were both covered head to toe and the same height. My vision was super blurry and I kept asking why the doctor wasn’t behind the curtain. Matt kept informing me that it was him by my head and not our doc!
By the time I asked if they had started, they said they were already in and ready to deliver the babies. I heard the nurses tell Matt to stand up and take photos because the babies were coming out.
The Twins are Born!
All of a sudden I hear a baby scream and the nurses cheering for us. They kept saying here’s your first baby! Then I heard everyone cheering as the second baby came out. Matt was standing up taking photos and encouraging me.
The boys were born at 3:01 am and 3:02 am in the morning.
The babies were whisked into the side room to get cleaned, go under the lights and into the incubator. I was terrified they would be brought right to the NICU and I wouldn’t be able to see them. But by some miracle just minutes later they were brought in and placed by my face because they did not need to go to the NICU even though they were premies!
They weighed 4lbs 14oz and 5lbs 2oz.
I was so happy I couldn’t help crying because I was so happy the boys were so healthy. Then that’s when I don’t remember much. I felt like I faded in and out. I was so sick and shaking I remember asking if everything was okay. But from what I could overhear, I was not.
6 Hours Recovery
Fast forward 6 hours later and I wake up looking at the clock reading 8:30 am. I am still in a recovery suite and my husband is sitting next to me and the babies are in warming beds next to him.
I asked him if everything was okay because I remember being told that the recovery room was only about an hour. When I started looking around I realized I was hooked up to tons of wires attached to my chest. I realized I had on a heart monitor. I was also told I received a blood plasma transfusion.
I had a nurse administering something via a face mask over my nose and mouth. I was feeling panicked because I just didn’t know why all of this was happening.
My doctor came in a started to talk to me about the damage that had been done to my body. He was with another doctor I had never seen before. He introduced himself as an internal medicine doctor who would be working with me during my recovery.
I was then given a lot of information, much of which I didn’t understand at the time. I had HELLP syndrome. HELLP syndrome had caused my liver and kidneys to fail as well as my blood pressure to go so high it burst my blood cells and made it so I had to have a blood transfusion.
I would be recovering at the hospital and they would be working to monitor it along the way.
This is a pregnancy-related issue that is very rare, but very dangerous. I had never heard of it before, but the sum of my symptoms added up to this issue. I feel that I should have talked to my doctor more candidly about how sick I was feeling but felt a lot of times I was just being a baby and that it was probably just normal pregnancy stuff.
Some of the Symptoms of HELLP that I had:
Nausea/Vomiting (thought it was from the horrible heartburn)
Severe headache that I couldn’t get to go away (I suffered from migraines and thought it was from sleeping sitting up)
Pain under right rib (one baby was under my rib so I thought it was just that)
Extreme fatigue (I attributed this to how big and far along I was in the pregnancy)
I don’t know if they could have caught it earlier but who knows. I encourage you to talk to your OB about how bad you’re feeling and all of your symptoms even if you think they are normal.
Healing From HELLP
We were eventually moved to a maternity suite and I was able to spend 4 days recovering with the twins and my husband by my side.
Each day I had anywhere between 6-10 blood draws, vital checks every two hours and multiple visits from many different doctors. My recovery was up and down. Day 2 I felt better and day 3 my blood pressure shot up so high they cleared the room and worked to stop me from seizing. During this time I was unable to walk around on my own due to the shaking and dizziness but I was sure I was on the mend.
On day 5 the doctors made the decision to send my husband home with our twins. The boys were doing so good and passed all of their tests so they were cleared to leave. At this point, my digestive tract had shut down from the trauma of the birth and I was at risk for infection. They believed that for the best recovery for me and the safety of the boys they should be at home while I finished recovering at the hospital.
To be honest, of all the stuff that happened to me in the hospital, the boys and my husband being sent home was by far the hardest and most painful. I spent the first night crying and the following day begging the doctors to send me home too. But I was not able to leave for another 3 days so I instead spent my time trying to get as healthy as possible.
When they cleared me to walk, I walked as much as I could. When I was allowed solid foods again I ate as healthy as I could. I wanted to get home as soon as possible. And being away from the boys and my husband motivated me to push myself as much as it was healthy to get back home.
When I was finally cleared to go home I could not have been happier. I was able to go home to my babies and Matt on day 8 and continue to heal from there!
If you want to know how I healed at home, you can check out my postpartum journey and healing from HELLP Syndrome.
I hope this birth story helps you on your twin journey! I might have not gotten the birth plan I planned for but I ended up with the best more precious gift of two healthy boys for me and my husband to hold and to love. And I wouldn’t trade that for the world.