‘That baby in the photo, the one you can’t see. The one who’s all snuggled up inside her mama. She did not survive.’

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“This is the last photo I have where Dorothy is still alive. As I lay there snuggled into my nest of blankets and pillows, she lived inside of me. She was still breathing, and her heart still beat; she was going to be okay.

At the time this photo was taken, I had been in the hospital for a week being monitored. I was in the safest place that I could be and under constant supervision. And then, it happened.

Preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome happened.

I need you to know how fast it came. I need you to know that less than 12 hours after this photo was taken, she was gone.

Dorothy died because of a placental abruption. When my blood pressure surged, my weak and tired placenta could not take it anymore. It broke away, taking with it any chance of a life with Dorothy.

It’s amazing to me that something so traumatic can happen while a person sleeps. I didn’t know anything was wrong until the nurse came in for vitals and couldn’t find a heartbeat. It’s amazing that the silence of a lost heartbeat could be a catalyst for such chaos.

Just like that she slipped away and in the next 9 hours, I would fight not to slip away too.

I fought as my blood pressure soared to 180/120. I fought as my kidneys shut down. I fought to breathe when my lungs started failing. I fought as I received multiple blood transfusions to replenish the blood lost. I fought to see as my retinas detached. I fought to deliver my baby vaginally because a C-section would have definitely killed me. I fought, I fought, I fought.

I almost died.

I don’t say this to be melodramatic. I say this because you need to know that preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome take LIVES. They take the lives of babies and they take the lives of mothers. Yes, you may know many mothers and babies who survived, but there are so many who don’t.

Like that baby in the photo, the one you can’t see. The one who’s all snuggled up inside her mama.

She did not survive.

Preeclampsia and HELLP took her. They took her and they left me. They left me damaged and heartbroken and devastated, but they left me.

And they left me with a story to tell.”

Woman who had preeclampsia and HELLP and lost her baby lays in hospital bed
Courtesy Rachel Whalen

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rachel Whalen of An Unexpected Family Outing. The article originally appeared here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

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