Images and text by Sarah Brown.
My name is Sarah Brown and I am from Hurricane, WV. I am 28 years old, have been married for almost 9 years and have a 6 year old and a 16 month old. In 2012 I was getting ready to compete for the Mrs. WV International pageant when I discovered I was pregnant. I decided to compete anyway and as luck would have it I won the state pageant and went on to compete at the national pageant in July of 2012 at 19 weeks pregnant! I felt great my entire pregnancy, unlike the pregnancy with my first child, I was active this time around. I taught Zumba classes 4-5 times a week and even ran 2-3 times a week. At 32 weeks I started to feel very tired and decided to put back on my routine a little bit. I didn’t have any swelling, no protein in my urine at my appointments, so I just assumed it was the natural way for my body to tell me to slow down. At 33 weeks pregnant I started having this terrible pain in my stomach. It was only at night and I thought that maybe it was how he was laying, possibly putting pressure on some nerves. I walked a 5k for Cervical Cancer Awareness the next day and was completely exhausted. I made arrangements that week to have a sub to take over my Zumba classes around Thanksgiving because I just felt ill and thought it might be time to stop until I had the baby. Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast and created a state of emergency in WV. We had tons of snow and since I worked a state job I was able to stay home for a few days. The stomach pains started to keep me up at night. By this time it was November 1st, trick-or-treat had been moved to this date because of the storm. I came home from work and told my husband how terrible I felt. He urged me to go to the doctor in the morning. I was up all night that night with stomach pain. I called the doctor in the morning and they wanted to see me. They sent me to the hospital for blood work and I left the hospital thinking it could just be acid reflux, granted severe, but I was hoping it was something that could be remedied. I get a phone call an hour later from my doctors office telling me to get to the hospital immediately. They admit me on arrival. I had forgotten to ask the doctor what test he had ordered, I had no clue what was wrong. Nurses were in and out of my room and everyone told me the doctor would be there soon. I had a team flying around me, monitors all over the place. They took more blood. Finally my doctor came to tell me the news. It was HELLP syndrome. I had no idea what we have talking about. I am an educated woman who looked up everything there is to know about pregnancy, why hadn’t I read about this? He then told me the news I never wanted to hear. Your baby will be delivered today, at 34 weeks. My baby boy, born prematurely because my body failed him. I was a mess. I had an emergency C-section after getting platelet transfusions. My platelet level was in the 30’s, my Hemoglobin was 6, had I waited any longer to go to the doctor, I wouldn’t be here typing this e-mail. My son was in the NICU for 19 days. He was 3lbs 8oz. We brought him home at 4lbs. For a year I struggled with the fact that I had him prematurely. I battled with the stress that things did not go as I had hoped. However I am happy to report that currently we are all doing well, and he is active and happy!
If there is anything I could wish by writing you this story, it would be to help spread awareness about HELLP, to save a mother, a baby, or both!