what I want you to know: gaining gratitude in the midst of loss (HELLP syndrome)

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. (If you are new to this blog, regularly schedule programming will resume after the holidays, but you can check out the “Best Of” section in the meantime). If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. This guest post is by an anonymous reader. Photobucket

When my water broke at 32 weeks with my first baby, I don’t even know if I understand what prematurity was.  Like many of us, I had received those misspelled return address labels in the mail from the March of Dimes. But did I understand?  Navigating the NICU, post partum, wasn’t the plan.  We were going to arrive home and be blissful.   Just not now.

So needless to say when my second son was born at 34 weeks, although I still wasn’t prepared, it was a bit easier.  He went home with me but we ended up back in the hospitalized at five days old due to low body temperature and jaundice.  So once again, here I was, in the hospital with a new baby and trying to figure out what went wrong. 

Both pregnancies were healthy and to this day, I feel cheated.  For years, I have obsessed over pictures on social media of friends in their hospital rooms.  Fawning over their newborns right after birth and smiling for the “going home shot”.  I had none of those pictures.  Just a lot of worry and tears.  I tried to tell myself that it was enough that my boys were healthy.  At 3lbs and 5lbs they had done remarkably well for preemies.   However, I wanted that perfect experience.  Still…

What I would have given for that perfect experience.  No struggle.  No worries over the basic survival of my child.  So when I found out about our third pregnancy, although very surprised, I was elated.  I mean why would God bring me here, but to give me what I had been agonizing over for so long.  Surely this was the “normal” experience that I had been hoping for.  I had been thru enough.

At 5 months, I started suffering from severe “heartburn” nightly.  It was excruciating at night but manageable during the day.  Until one morning, it never went away.  I ended up in the emergency room hardly able to sit still, but still convinced it wasn’t baby related.

I had never heard of HELLP Syndrome and I know many of you haven’t either.  Basically, the pregnancy was causing my body to shut down.  If I didn’t deliver my baby immediately, I would die.  As a mother of two small children, hearing this sent me into a horrible panic.  They wouldn’t remember me.  They wouldn’t remember me.  At 23 weeks there was no hospital that would revive the baby and my third son wasn’t going to survive.   This time, I wouldn’t be so lucky.  This time, instead of waiting for my son to come home, he wouldn’t.

Call it mother’s intuition or a sick sense.  Call it whatever you want.  But this is the lesson that my heart had feared all along.  Somehow, I knew that this was coming.  I had feared this with my first two only for it to come to light now.  All that wishing that I had been doing for that “perfect” experience seemed so stupid.  Those experiences were exactly how they were meant to be.  I learned it was time to focus on what I do have and know that it was all as He planned.  Pregnancy was never easy for me and I was so jealous of those that it was easy for.  But in the end, I received an amazing gift from each of my boys and their crazy entrance into this world.

As I held that tiny human being in my arms to say good bye, I made him a promise to finally “get” it.  I told him that his short existence would not go without notice and I would be sad forever about losing him, but I would always carry with me his gift and my biggest lesson. 


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