Then: HELLP, I Need Somebody


I had many appointments leading up to the birth of my twin boys.  I was seeing my Midwife every two weeks.  Towards the end of my pregnancy I started to experience some concerning symptoms.  My midwife told me everything was fine.

The last few months of my pregnancy was tough and I expected that to be the case.  I had never carried a child (far less two) to full term before so assumed the symptoms I had was normal, and my Midwife reassured me.

The month before I gave birth to the boys, I had various ailments.

I felt really tired; I couldn’t move out of bed without my heart racing.  I was so exhausted that I had to have a sleep after making a cup of tea or having a shower.  When I mentioned this to my Midwife, she reassured me that this was normal in the final trimester of a pregnancy.

The huge rash on my tummy was itchy, raised and sore.  Progressively, it spread over the next few weeks, to the point it was all over my bump.  The Midwife said to use cream; it was only stretch marks.

Black spots darted about in front of my eyes. I found them frightening and they made me feel panicky.  The Midwife said that this was just a sign of tiredness.

My blood pressure was high  and my heart raced when I tried to do anything.  My Midwife told me to take readings each day on a home monitor.   When I took my high readings to later appointments the Midwife said that my heart was just coping with carrying the extra weight of twins around.

I had a pain on the upper left side that never went away. The Midwife said this was a foot sitting under my rib-cage.

I had a sharp pain when I breathed in deeply.  The Midwife said the babies were running out of room and my organs were shifting to accommodate them.

My morning sickness had returned.  Not to the extreme of the first trimester but I was nauseous, a lot.  The Midwife said this was normal towards the end of pregnancy.

Headaches.  A constant dull thud.  Awful, painful headaches.  The Midwife said that I  needed to eat more.   That was difficult because I felt nauseous and my stomach had shrunk to the size of a pea.  And I was tired.  So tired.

I was swollen.  Everywhere.  When I look back at photos, I struggle to recognise myself in the final few weeks.  At the time, the Midwife said that was normal because it was so hot that summer.


One week before I was admitted to hospital.  I gave birth at St Thomas Hospital, right next to the London Eye.  This was taken after a consultation to discuss my birth plan.

I had protein in my urine.  The Midwife said it was on the high side of normal so not to worry.

In any normal pregnancy, the Midwife would have been right with the prognosis of these individual ailments.  But, as it turns out, mine wasn’t a normal pregnancy.  And my Midwife missed the underlying cause.  Rather than look at my symptoms in their entirety, she was assessing them individually.

Over the many appointments I had with my midwife, I had started to notice that she put ‘everything is fine’ on my notes every time.  I  felt nowhere near fine.  Having no experience of full-term pregnancy, I believed her; the Midwife was the expert after all. I didn’t have a ‘funny feeling’ that something wasn’t right, well not at this stage anyway. I didn’t know any different.  I was just generally anxious throughout the pregnancy.

The Midwife wasn’t the only one who missed it.  High-risk twin pregnancies are often consultant-led.  They didn’t seem concerned either.  Although it seemed to me that they mostly read the notes from the Midwife and assumed everything was okay.

Then everything changed.


Taken the day before I was admitted to hospital.

I went to a routine check-up at 36.3 weeks; my Midwife was not there.  Her colleague was taking her appointments that day.  I think this colleague saved my life and the lives of my children.

He asked how I was feeling.  So I slowly explained all my ailments, somewhat fed-up having to go through the whole rigmarole again, seemingly just like at every other appointment.  But this time, he looked concerned.  He asked to look at the rash on my tummy.  He looked even more concerned.  Despite his consternation, I still felt dismissive.  None of this had meant anything before.

He said: “How long have you had these symptoms?”.  I said: “Oh, weeks, my Midwife told me they were normal”.

He explained that collectively these symptoms together were concerning, particularly the rash on my stomach which indicated problems with my liver (I later found out that he was right, it was a sign my liver was failing).

He calmly explained I needed to go to the hospital.  I asked if I could go when my husband finished work.  He said:  “No, go straight away, I don’t want you to wait”.

So off I went to the hospital.  I walked into the hospital and threw up in reception.

I had never heard of HELLP Syndrome before… unfortunately I would not hear the words for another four days.  The hospital staff didn’t tell us what was wrong.  But that is another story…

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  1. February 11, 2016 / 10:23 pm

    scary story, and a good reminder to people to listen to their instincts and get a second opinion if you think it necessary. I work in healthcare and can say that these people are just as fallible as anyone else. I’m glad everything worked out OK.

    • February 12, 2016 / 6:12 am

      I do feel I was well looked after in the hospital and my after care. Some of my future posts will feature some of the amazing Midwifes in the hospital, those ladies deserve a medal. I still get tested to check my liver and kidney function and I am lucky that it appears I have no scaring. I count my lucky stars every day 🙂 x

    • February 12, 2016 / 6:07 am

      Thanks for sharing, I will go and have a look at it now. Xx

  2. Stuart
    February 12, 2016 / 7:14 am

    Love your writing sister, if not the topic.

    • February 13, 2016 / 7:41 am

      Aw thanks 🙂 x

  3. February 12, 2016 / 9:29 am

    Oh my goodness! How on earth did your first midwife miss all the signs? Worse, they were normal, when clearly something wasn’t right? I’ve never heard of HELLP syndrome either and can’t wait to hear what happened next!

    • February 13, 2016 / 7:44 am

      From speaking to medical professionals awareness isn’t great for HELLP syndrome and a lot of midwives won’t have come across a case of HELLP before, which makes it even harder to diagnose. I am thankful the other midwife saw that I wasn’t right and sent me on, whether he knew it was HELLP or he just suspected something wasn’t right I don’t know. Thanks for reading 🙂 xx

  4. February 12, 2016 / 9:30 am

    Goodness how lucky you had a different midwife that day! It sounds like everything turned out ok in the end – looking forward to reading the next part! #effitfriday

    • February 13, 2016 / 7:45 am

      Yes it did, I am thankful I am here to write this blog and know my kids are now cheeky three-year-olds 🙂

  5. February 12, 2016 / 9:53 am

    Goodness me, what an utterly terrifying experience for you all. I can’t believe all your symptoms were just palmed off as ‘normal’ the whole way through, it’s awful to think what could’ve happened…

    I’ll be reading your next posts with interest. Thanks for posting and you write very eloquently.x

    • February 13, 2016 / 7:46 am

      Thanks that is kind of your to say xx

  6. February 12, 2016 / 10:15 am

    Wowsers, that is incredibly scary. I think that midwife needs a good talking to at the very least. It is so good that you are bringing HELLP to peoples attention, it is not very well known. I for one had never heard of it, and have had 3 full term pregnancies.

    On a side note, my sister also gave birth at St Thomas’, Small world!!

    Leah xx

    • February 13, 2016 / 7:49 am

      Oh gosh it is a small world. The hospital staff were fantastic on the whole, there were a few blips but they are busy. The aftercare that I received in High Dependency was amazing. One of the midwives who helped me in labour, kept popping into see me afterwards to check I was ok. She didn’t need to do that at all. Very kind. I plan to pop into to speak to them at some point. Just not sure I have the strength to walk into that hospital again just yet xx

  7. February 12, 2016 / 10:27 am

    What a scary thing to experience, so glad that you saw the consultant who picked it up and you and your babies are ok. Pregnancy is such a difficult time – it’s such a new and alien experience that it’s difficult to know what is normal and what isn’t. You hear pre-eclampsia talked about but I’ve never heard of HELLP – thanks for sharing this.

    • February 13, 2016 / 7:51 am

      I genuinely didn’t know anything was wrong at all, not until much later. I didn’t know what to expect so just assumed it was normal. I was lucky though, it all worked out ok in the end x

  8. February 12, 2016 / 11:07 am

    How horribly scary – it must be even worse to feel so bad, feel sure something is wrong and just have to trust the experts that all’s well. Thank goodness someone worked out what was going on.

    • February 13, 2016 / 7:51 am

      We were lucky and it had a positive ending. Thanks for reading 🙂 x

  9. February 12, 2016 / 11:59 am

    Hi! I found you through Twitter and had to comment on this post. You were very, very lucky. And I am so glad you shared your story. I had only barely heard of HELLP before getting pregnant with my twins. (Even though I was studying to be a nurse-midwife!) I found out all about it because I had all the signs and symptoms. Itching, rash, migraines, nausea, proteins, exhaustion, so much pain and swelling. But I didn’t have HELLP. My midwife was so sure that I did that she had me tested over and over.
    Your midwife definitely should have put 2+2 together. But maybe it really is so normal for twin pregnancies that it goes un-noticed sometimes. If so, there may be a lot more mothers out there that aren’t getting treated properly.That is very scary, and I hope more moms find your post and do some investigating on their own if they don’t feel that things are “right”.

    • February 13, 2016 / 7:55 am

      Did everything work out ok for you in the end? I think it is so tricky to diagnose, I am in the middle of getting my maternity notes from the hospitals to see if it can shed any more light on what happened. In particular I want to know if they tested my platelets towards the end of my pregnancy and what the results were. It may be that they were fine up until I gave birth. Will be interesting to see. My husband and I were in such shock afterwards that we never thought to ask these questions and look into it further. I just wanted to bury my head in the sand and forget about it. X

      • February 27, 2016 / 11:00 am

        Ours turned out fine in the end. I just had an outrageous amount of pregnancy hormones. Much higher than normal, and it took over a year for them to return to normal. They recommended follow up blood tests to watch the liver and other organs. Apparently pregnancy hormones can be bad for your body in such high doses. Eek. I hope your notes let you get a better idea of your circumstances. It could play a major role in what happens to your future health!

  10. February 12, 2016 / 3:58 pm

    Wow that gave me chills, how scary that the midwife did not pick up on it and how fortunate for you you saw a different midwife on that day.

    • February 13, 2016 / 7:56 am

      We were very lucky indeed. Thanks for reading 🙂 x

  11. February 12, 2016 / 4:44 pm

    Wow, this is so scary. And a real case where (unusually) continuity of care didn’t help…maybe if you’d seen different midwives this would have been spotted. It’s very true that if you feel something isn’t right instinctively that you should pursue it, but that can be so hard if you don’t know. Thank you for sharing, an interesting read #momsterslink

    • February 13, 2016 / 7:58 am

      I don’t feel any anger towards the Midwife at all, I really think it is so very tricky to diagnose. So hard when you have nothing to base your experience on. Thanks for reading xxx

  12. BloggerMummyLauren
    February 12, 2016 / 9:09 pm

    Wow, it’s very scary that your midwife didn’t pick up on something that could have potentially killed you. Thanks goodness your midwife was off that day!
    I’ve never really heard of HELLP before, it was never mentioned during either of my pregnancies. More needs to be done to raise awareness of it so other women know what signs to look out for!
    Looking forward to reading the next part of your story!

    • February 13, 2016 / 11:55 am

      Thanks for reading 🙂 xx

  13. February 13, 2016 / 7:45 am

    So sorry that you had to go through all that! HELLP is hard enough when you are diagnosed, let alone when no one believes you. It sounds that you and your kiddos are doing well now and that is reassuring. I hope that your midwife learned from your experience and will be more careful in the future. #momsterslink

    • February 13, 2016 / 11:53 am

      All is well now. I guess when someone presents these symptoms again it may be picked up sooner. So someone else may benefit 🙂 x

  14. February 13, 2016 / 2:43 pm

    Wow scary story, it’s terrible how much trust we have to place in our caregivers to only find out that they weren’t always doing the right thing or making the right diagnoses. I’m glad you met the midwife who picked up that something was wrong!

    • February 14, 2016 / 6:52 am

      We were very lucky in the end. Thanks for reading xx

  15. February 13, 2016 / 8:50 pm

    What a scary story! Thank goodness your midwife was off that day!

    • February 14, 2016 / 6:56 am

      Thankfully the outcome was a happy one in the end 🙂 x

  16. February 14, 2016 / 8:51 pm

    It’s scary that no one realised what the symptoms meant. I’m so glad you saw someone who had the experience and expertise behind them to signpost you correctly.

    • February 15, 2016 / 3:28 pm

      I was very fortunate to see someone who recognised that something was amiss, thanks for reading x

  17. February 15, 2016 / 9:32 am

    It is frightening how often health professionals seem to miss the sign across all health problems, but especially pregnancy related. I had never heard of HELLP before. Thanks for linking this up to #coolmumclub lovely x

    • February 15, 2016 / 3:23 pm

      Thanks for reading xxx

  18. February 17, 2016 / 8:43 am

    Amazing. It is scary to think that all of your lives were in the care of someone who was incompetent! Terrifying! #abitofeverything

  19. February 17, 2016 / 3:55 pm

    I love reading your story knowing that it’s a happy ending. And I love the awareness that you are putting out there. I am such a paranoid person that I would have never trusted my midwife and would have went to 3 or 4 different doctors. I’m so glad that Doctor you saw that day was on the ball. Thank you for linking up with #momsterslink. Hope to see you again tomorrow!

  20. February 17, 2016 / 8:19 pm

    Thank goodness your midwife wasn’t in at that last appointment you had, so pleased he looked at the big picture and sent you to where you needed to be. Shame about the midwife though, fingers crossed she has learnt from her mistake! I’d never heard of HELLP either, really interested to read the rest of your story now 🙂 x #BloggerClubUK

    • February 20, 2016 / 3:32 pm

      It’s a bit of a long one, hence splitting it up into so many parts. I haven’t even started on the really crazy stuff yet 🙂 x

  21. February 17, 2016 / 11:43 pm

    Oh my word thank god there was a different midwife that day! How scary for you, thanks for linking up to #PicknMix

    Stevie x

  22. February 18, 2016 / 10:58 am

    Oh my gosh, this is terrifying. There is so little awareness over Pre-E and HELLP in particular that even health professionals can miss it, there needs to be more done to promote awareness as it’s life threatening in every single case. I’m glad that you got to hospital and the symptoms got caught in time for you and the twins. Looking forward to reading the final part x

    • February 20, 2016 / 3:35 pm

      There isn’t enough awareness on HELLP at all. I am hoping that more will be done in the future. Not much research on it either x

  23. February 21, 2016 / 8:52 pm

    This is so scary, especially that it wasn’t picked up by the midwives. I don’t know if you have heard of Leigh over at Headspace Perspective but she developed HELLP and sadly it was devastating for her as it resulted in a very premature birth and the loss of her darling baby. She writes a lot about it and does a lot of work surrounding it. I’m sure she’d be chuffed to hear from you. Thanks for iinking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  24. February 21, 2016 / 9:53 pm

    That is a really scary story, but also very worrying. I had a similar situation when I was in labour with my first. My fears about the amount of blood I was losing while in early stages were dissmissed as I was a ‘young first time mum’. I ended up having a really bad birth and needed 3 litres of blood transfered after. The consultanrs couldnt explain how I had lost so much blood because the midwife nevee noted my blood loss.
    Thanks for linking, Tracey xx #abitofeverything

    • February 25, 2016 / 7:57 pm

      The first time mum card is used a lot I think. Terrible really, not sure what happened to them trusting your instincts. Sounds like you have quite a birth story too. Xx

      • February 25, 2016 / 11:20 pm

        Yeah, the first one was rather eventful for all the wrong reasons x

  25. Becky, Cuddle Fairy
    February 23, 2016 / 12:15 pm

    Oh my goodness, how frightening! Thank goodness you saw a different person who knew what was going on! That was fate stepping in. You poor thing it sounds like such a difficult pregnancy. It’s a shame that the midwife didn’t take your issues more seriously. I had palpitations in my pregnancy & kept telling the doctors – they said it was normal until it did it in their office & I was sent up to the ward. I learned a lesson to be more pushy if things aren’t right. Thanks so much for sharing with #bloggerclubuk x

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