Life After Loss · Pregnancy

The Trauma of HELLP

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 10 months processing the trauma of losing Brady.  Weekly appointments with a therapist, grief support groups, grief hours, journaling, and, of course, blogging.  Losing a child is a horrific, unnatural kind of loss.  Even if I you haven’t experienced it yourself, I probably don’t have to tell you this.  What I have started to realize is that I haven’t scratched the surface of processing some of the other traumas I’ve experienced.  The fact that a significant date is looming, less than 2 months away, is making this all the more clear.

I know it’s completely normal to focus on the biggest trauma first, so what I’m doing isn’t weird.  When your child dies, it’s really hard to see past that trauma to examine anything else.  It also doesn’t mean those other traumas aren’t bubbling right underneath the surface.  Getting so sick with HELLP syndrome would have been traumatic itself, without our extra-traumatic end result.  Sure, I’m alive (and “lucky” in that sense), but there’s a lot of fear when I think about the possibilities of this happening again.

My case was severe.  It happened super fast.  It occurred very early in my pregnancy.  I’m grateful that I was in the hospital and under the care of competent physicians when I got critically sick.  If it were to happen again, what if I’m not that “lucky”?  This class of pregnancy-related complications tend to be more common in first pregnancies, but occasionally, things actually get worse in subsequent pregnancies.  What if I’m one of those people?

The problem is that there is no way of knowing what camp you fall into without rolling the dice and trying again.  One of my mom friends compared pregnancy after loss to the definition of insanity – doing the same thing and expecting a different result.  We do have one little thing to do differently.  We’ll have baby aspirin in our pocket this time.  That’s been shown to reduce the risk of recurrence in some cases, but there are no guarantees.  I can’t help but fear that I’m one of the ones it won’t help.

I know these fears are all completely normal.  There are potentially lives on the line, so it would probably be less normal if I wasn’t afraid.  I know that there’s no magic cure to this fear.  There will always be extra fear associated with pregnancies for me.  Even if we were to get a “successful” one under our belts, the fear will remain.  My therapist asked me this week if the fear is bad enough to prevent me from wanting to try again, and so far, it’s not.  I still have a little bit of hope on reserve.  I’m hopeful that we can have a better result the next time, or the answer to that question would be “yes.”

4 thoughts on “The Trauma of HELLP

  1. With mouth that little bit of hope, I think we would all just give him. Best of luck to you! ❤️ Brady will help you have a successful pregnancy.

  2. Hi Becca!!!

    I’m not going to ask how are you, as I already know what are you feeling now and I’m just a stranger who is writing to you because HELLP is in her mind again and found this blog. But let me tell you a secret: I was in your shoes 5 years ago…. Same story, point by point. The pain is just unbereavable…. It’s still unbereavable for me, even 5 years later.

    I just want to give you hope: I had HELLP/ severe preeclampsia/ acute kidney failure at 24 weeks…. And I had a successful second pregnancy. The joy of my life is a 2 years old princess. I have 60% of recurrence (even more, as my sis had eclampsia last year 😔 so docs think it runs in my family), but after losing my daughter I knew I had to try again. I did it even knowing that my odds ARE quite bad, but I succeeded. You will too, I’m sure.

    It won’t be easy, it won’t be a blissful road… there is so much to do… But Brady is with you, he’s your angel and he’s going to help (no pun intended).

    When it happened to me I felt alone: I was a textbook case and no one had ever heard about it… Even for some GPs was a “rare” disease…:😣 I hope you don’t have to deal with this alone as I had to do.

    All the very best luck for you!!💪💪

    1. Chanel,

      Thank you for sharing you story. I am so sorry for your loss, and that you had to experience the unbearable pain the way we have. The story of your second pregnancy gives me hope, and I am so happy you have a little princess bringing you so much joy. My husband and I feel the need to try again as well, and have similar feelings to what you described – that Brady will be with us along the way. Thankfully, I was under the care of a wonderful team of doctors and they were able to figure out what was going on with me very quickly. In any subsequent pregnancies, I will be under that same care team, so that gives me the tiniest bit of confidence and hope too. Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story. I appreciate it so much!

      -Becca

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