A Mother’s Day Mulligan and HELLP from the Lord Pt. 1/2

What do you do when your special moments are seemingly robbed of their brilliance?


Let me tell you about my first Mother’s Day. It both exceeded and fell woefully short of my expectations. Due largely in part to a pregnancy that fell woefully short of my due date.


My first time joining the ranks of “Mother” was not a day of picturesque moments or milestones, but deep hurt. Actual physical hurt in my body. Actual aching in my heart and soul. My firstborn, my son Emerson, was born at 32 weeks. He was 2 lbs and 14 ozs. Tiny, tiny baby. I had HELLP Syndrome–Hemolysis, Elevated Liver, Low Platelets. HELLP is what they call eclampsia or toxemia when it get worse. Way worse. Deadly.


I was a high-risk pregnancy from Day 1 of it because there was never supposed to be a pregnancy for me. I had lots of health issues in that department and had been cautioned about the unlikelihood of having children without heroic interventions or adoption. Nonetheless, it was a very easy pregnancy. Until the end.


Spring Break was around my 30th week. And as a middle school teacher, I WAS READY. But our little jaunt to Charleston, SC wore me out. I was just so very tired. Then, so very swollen. I had wondered when I would get to the dreaded cankle phase and kinda thought maybe genetics had smiled on me this one time and it would never arrive. But it did. With gusto.  Mucho gusto. The feet, the fingers… the eyes that were little slits. Ah well. Seemed normal to me and I didn’t have my mama nearby to tell me otherwise. Back to school.


At 31 weeks I just didn’t feel right. Not the flu. But flu-ish. Achey, tired, wheezy, my head pounded all the time. I called the doctor, and they got me in quickly. A stress test earned me what I thought was a weekend staycation at Spartanburg Regional Hospital. And honestly, nothing sounded better than being off of my feet and a few mandatory naps. My husband had just left for a pastor’s conference, and I assured him to stay at it. I didn’t need anyone watching me sleep!


Day 2 of my siesta, I came to understand we were now watching my blood pressure closely. It seemed strange because we hadn’t been this entire time. Mine was always low, pregnant or not.  This was a problem. My normally award worthy low BP had made it hard to detect when it was high. At a cool 120/80 most of my pregnancy, I just figured everyone always had a headache. And near unstoppable nosebleeds when they bent over to tie their shoes. Alas, nay.


My chest feels tight just remembering it all. Andy returned home on Saturday and not a moment too soon. By the time he got there I was in distress. Labs, livers, low platelets. Oh my, indeed. The conversation had gone from discharge maybe Monday to let’s watch another couple days, to emergency C-Section today. Better yet NOW.


It’s best I was so young and dumb. I was scared but if I had truly known my reality, I would have been terrified. The surgery went well and quick. Emerson was so tiny. I had never seen a baby that small–until my daughter was born 17 months later (and she was smaller). The recovery? Not so well and quick. It turns out those low platelets are not at all helpful to living, after a major surgery. And to sleep I went.


The doctors began coming by more frequently. Then the “let’s talk in the hall” chats began with Andy, preparing him for the possibility that the bleeding may not stop. And I may not wake from my slumber.

Continued in A Mother’s Day Mulligan and HELLP from the Lord Pt 2/ here: A Mother’s Day Mulligan and HELLP from the Lord Pt. 2/2 – Hey Salty Lady


  1. Amy Ambrosini on May 13, 2023 at 1:25 AM

    I had HELLP syndrome as well and deliver a tiny tiny baby too. I have not heard or met anyone who has ever known what this is!
    My husband was told to say his goodbyes to me the night after I delivered. I went into a coma but not before losing my sight, sense of smell and hearing. I too had low low blood pressure through my pregnancy and as it rose throughout the pregnancy it never reached high enough levels to alert anyone until the day before I was medevaced to another larger town with a NICU. The one difference is I was miserable through my whole pregnancy. I lost so much weight. I weighed ten pounds less delivering my daughter than when I started my pregnancy. But the night she was born God worked in everyone who had ever known me. Woke them all up in different ways and across the country people were praying who had no idea what was going on. That was 22 years ago and my daughter and I are both happy and I praise God for the journey!

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