Laura
Mom to Cara Angel
Born at 30 weeks due to severe Preeclamsia and Hellp Syndrome
November 17th, 2009
Chicago, IL

No one ever talks about what could happen, or tells you about diseases to look out for during pregnancy. I bet 90% of women don’t know what Severe Pre-eclampsia or HELLP disease is. These diseases took my daughter’s life and almost my own. This is Cara’s story…

May 23th 2009
my husband and I learned that we were pregnant. Little did we know that this would have such a tragic outcome. November 17th 2009 we lost our little girl Cara at 30 weeks due to Severe Preeclampsia. She was beautiful, she was perfect, she was silentHere is her story…

My pregnancy was uneventful, typical first ultrasound and prenatal doctor appointments.
November 1 2009 at 28 weeks I went to my 3D ultrasound. We got to see our baby girl move and smile and even suck her thumb. Everything looked great.

November 2 2009 at 28 weeks I woke up with swollen ankles, my eyelids were even swollen. This could not be normal… I knew I had an appointment the next day but did not have a good feeling at all. I called my doctor and told them I needed to be seen right away. I was told a nurse practitioner was the only doctor to see me, at the point I did not care who saw me I wanted to be seen. I went in and they did a urine test (I later come to find out that I had 1+ protein in my urine…(protein in urine during pregnancy can be a huge indicator of pre-eclampsia.) We talked about my concern with Preeclampsia. My blood pressure was 128/90 which was my highest reading yet in pregnancy. Typically my blood pressures were 100/70 or 60′s…without any further testing…I was told… I was fine…I was young…I was sent home.

November 15th 2009 at 30 weeks It all began… I was laying in bed with ice packs on my head with a headache I would never be able to explain to anyone. Then came the vomiting. I called the doctor on call, explained my symptoms. I was told I probably had the flu and to wait 4 hours and if I still was feeling bad to come in. Within an hour I found myself on my way to the hospital. On the way to the hospital I knew something was very very wrong. I remember thinking that I was dying, I remember thinking how quickly I just wished to get there. As my husband pulled into the hospital… I had started seeing flashing spots/sparks and my vision started to go in my left eye.

November 16, 2009 I was 30 weeks and 2 days along. While checking myself in the hospital, I noticed I could not think straight or even pull my id card from my wallet, I felt like I was going to pass out. Upon entering my room, I began to vomit again. The nurse came in wearing a mask. Of course everyone was concerned about the swine flu. The nurse tried for about 10 minutes to find a heartbeat. Nothing…nothing at all. We knew something was wrong…all we heard was silence. In the back of my head I never in a million years would have thought that my baby was dead. I just thought…Just get a nurse in here that obviously knows what she is doing… I mean my baby just had a heartbeat not even two weeks ago! I called my mom and told her they could not find a heartbeat…she was on her way. The nurse said a ultrasound tech would be coming in to “get a better look.” When the tech came in we knew something was wrong. Not by the lack of a heartbeat sound…but by the way the nurse and ultrasound tech were acting. Nervous, on edge, jumpy. You just knew by looking at them, that something was horribly wrong.

On the screen we saw her in a head down position…no movement. I asked the tech if he heard a heartbeat, he said “The doctors will be able to have a better look.” Again I knew something was wrong but never did I think she was dead…I guess that as “a soon to be mother” a dead baby inside of you is the last thing that crosses your mind. My mom arrived, and my dad was on his way. When the doctor came in I knew immediately that we had lost her, because not only did a doctor come… two nurses came in as well. Very quiet…very slow. The doctor said “Laura your baby has passed.” My first thought was that’s impossible, there was no way, are you fucking kidding me? I looked over at my husband who was crying “no…no…” I began to cry…

From there my mind seemed to stop. It all gets real blurry from here…(every few months as I remember the events of that day I tend to fill in my story)

I remember suddenly a switch turned on… I was calm. I asked what is going to happen next, and was told I needed to deliver my baby. I could not believe it. I had to deliver a baby and I could not even keep her or see her cry or smile? I thought they would just suction the baby out…never I would I imagine that I would give birth to a dead baby. Those are things no one in life prepares you for or warns you about…things in life you don’t even think about. My mind was filled with 1,000 different emotions. The strangest feeling for me was…I was not scared...I did not care…I had no idea how sick I was and how sick I was going to become. I had no idea what time it was…nothing… I just wanted to go home and pretend this never happened, to pretend I was never pregnant to begin with. I wanted to erase all horrible outcomes from my head. I remember thinking “Ok ill give birth…lets get this over with…I want to go home…I want to go back to work…Ill just tell people to never talk about it…ill pretend it never happened…I was never pregnant.”

Blurry…its all so blurry. I truly believe now it was my body’s way (as well as Gods way) of taking care of me. Blocking any crazy emotions I had for the time being. I do not remember this part at all…I was told I was wheeled into a bigger room and right away was started on a IV hooked to fluids, blood pressure medications, antibiotics (because I was running a fever of 101), and magnesium sulfate (Anti seizure medication) My mom told me she never in her life saw nurses and doctors move so fast. I never once asked what time it was. I never asked what was going to happen. Never asked how sick I was or what was wrong with me. Never asked if it was going to hurt. Never asked how many times I would push, or how long I would be in labor…nothing. I was put on IV drug called Magnesium sulfate …It is a brutal drug.

The 4 days I was in the hospital. I laid there…no TV…no lights…no sound…nothing. If my husband was watching TV with the sound up I would have a fit. The room was always at around 60 degrees IN NOVEMBER…THAT’S how hot I was…people in my room wore jackets. I remember asking them if they were cold as I lay there practically naked with ice rags all over my body. They would respond “nooo.” My head was going to explode…that I was positive. My BP was 160/110 which is dangerously high. After running blood work, the doctors immediately knew I had Severe Preeclampsia. I remember the doctors coming into the room and hearing the words “Severe Preeclampsia” I already knew what that was. That is WHY I went to the doctor for my emergency appointment. That was WHY I asked about Preeclampsia Well now everyone seemed to be very concerned about how sick I was and I didn’t even care. The magnesium made me vomit frequently and vision loss on my left eye became worse. I don’t remember falling asleep that night, but I do remember nurses giving me pills to make me sleep.

I remember having labor pains, and for some odd reason the nurses kept pushing me to get an epidural saying “Your already going through enough, you should not have to suffer any pain from this” I kept thinking who cares…I don’t care. I kept having contractions that were stronger and finally said ok to an epidural which made me itch…itch to the point where I had sores on my face and scratches all over my neck and chest. The sores on my face lasted for 2 weeks. It was a horrible feeling. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I guess I was sleeping on and off majority of the time. Next thing I remember was waking up and saying, “Im ready to push” Its weird its like your body just knows. I finally was dilated to 10. I remember asking “what if im too tired to push” I had to have people hold me up, I could not hold my own body up. (later I come to find out I was in labor for more than 24 hours!) Seems like minutes…My mom and Kyle stood with me as I delivered our angel into this world…with wings.

I guess I have never talked about how we got to the name Cara, as we had Mya picked out along with some others that honestly I can’t even remember now. I never in a million years even gave thought to naming her. At the time I didnt even think I was supposed to name a dead baby. Something that from the beginning I was so ANAL about! Now I just did not care. My mom came over to me at one point after she was born and asked what I wanted to name her… I said I did not care. Well my Family is Italian. My Pappy is from Italy. My Aunt P said what about Cara, it means beloved in Italian. I said fine, and that was that. Now its so perfect for her!

November 17th- Cara Angel Meindel…born at 2:30… 2lbs 11 oz and 16 inches long…stillborn.

As you can see she was super long, just like her six foot three inch daddy! She has the cutest nose on the planet. The nurses asked me if I wanted to hold her, I said no. I can’t explain why I did not want to hold her, although I wish I had. They cleaned her off, gave her a bath and dressed her. I dont remember any of that. At one point right after she was born I asked my mom why she was that color. It was like a scene from a movie, a dead baby laying right in front of me…and she was mine.

My family came in and everyone was able to love and hold her when I could not. I did not even cry. I had no emotions. I don’t remember much at all, just wanting to sleep and wanting everyone to leave me alone. When she was born she looked like she would breathe or move…but she didn’t. She just lay there. I remember being mad that everyone was holding her and rocking her and dressing her. I did not want anyone to hold her.I was so mad that nurses were taking pictures. I did not want any pictures. I could not understand why everyone wanted to hold her and kiss her… she was dead. Now I only knew everyone was doing it out of love. I am so mad at myself for not loving her more during that moment. I wish I could take it back. Every day now I wish I could hold her. It is to date a big regret of mine. Now I am so glad that I got to spend time with her because now whatever time I did spend and the pictures I have I cherish.

Apparently I passed out after my delivery. After my delivery I must have gained another 10 pounds. I started pre pregnancy at 127 and got to 162 when I was admitted…then gained more after delivery. So you can imagine how much water weight I had. I had nurses tell me that when I originally admitted myself and gave my ID to them…they could not find who it belonged to…that’s how different I looked. I remember my mom telling me I need to start thinking about her baptism and funeral. I could not. My Uncle J (Who spent every day there at the hospital with me) helped my Parents plan everything. I had no part in her funeral, I was too sick. I held my beautiful daughter for the first time (that I remember) during her baptism, it was done right in the room. Lots of hail mary’s and our father’s.

From that point on I don’t remember much again. I know I was hooked up to a blood pressure machine to take my blood pressure every 15 mins, was still on the magnesium sulfate, and was getting blood drawn twice a day. Cara stayed in the room with us that night in her basket, I dont even remember falling asleep. I know I had nightmares. The next morning it all sunk in. I held her and cried, she had my nose and my chin, and Kyles eyes and toes and long body and lips. Just how amazingly beautiful she was. I could not even comprehend why this was happening to me. I know that Wednesday the 18th that the funeral home did come and take her, I thought it was time. (I now wish I would have spent more time with her) I was also still in the hospital. That morning the doctor came in and told me I had HELLP syndrome…HELLP is basically when your liver and Kidneys shut down. Scary stuff. It was hard to comprehend why this happened to me, and how it was not caught.

November 19th 2009 I was finally released from the hospital. My blood pressure was still high. I went home on blood pressure medication.I can tell you that when I went home that night I wanted to go back to the hospital, I thought I was just going to keel over, because of how sick I was. I must have called the doctor on call that night a million times. I was scared to be home and not to have nurses and doctors looking over me every movement. I could not tell you what happened the next day because I simply just do not remember. I knew I did a lot of staring into space, and just counting down the hours until I could just go to sleep again…because sleeping was the only time I was not emotionally in the worst pain.

November 21 2009 We lay our beautiful Cara to rest. It was the first family funeral I ever had to go to. We kept it family only. Open casket so everyone could see how beautiful she was. It was hard because I wanted to hold her again and could not. I had my brother her god father carry her casket, that memory is etched in my mind like a movie scene. Watching his tears run down his face as he carried her white casket. Another haunting memory I have is having to watch my grandfather kneel and cry and watching my Dad almost have to be carried away from her grave site. We all said goodbye to a beautiful very loved little girl.

November 22 2009 I was not feeling right all day, I had my husband go and purchase me a blood pressure cuff and took my blood pressure. 178/130, I knew I could have a stoke with numbers like that. I was rushed to the emergency room where after 3 hours they could not get my blood pressure down and my heart rate was a steady 130 when I was laying down, that was so scary for me, I kept thinking that I was not going to make it through this. I was the most scared I had ever been in my life. They actually had to admit me again and the worst part…they had to admit me back to labor and delivery because I still had preeclampsia in my system…Which was rare. Of course it was…everything that was happening to me was “rare”…Next time someone says to me “Oh that’s rare” I’m gonna say oh really? Rare things seem to happen to me… I remember getting in the room and there were huge seizure pads on the bed, and 2 nurses and a doctor, standing there almost anticipating something to happen to me. I was so scared of having a heart attack or stroke or seizure…Again I was being hooked up to blood pressure machines and they had to put me back on magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures and again I got pretty sick. I remember my husband having to feed me jello while I was laying down because I couldn’t even sit up. I remember asking for ice rags to be placed on my forehead about every 5 minutes. I laid like that all day Monday the 23. That night they took me off the magnesium sulfate and I started to come around. My blood pressure went way down and I was able to go home on the 24th on 2 different blood pressure medications and 2 different anxiety medications. This time feeling much better.

November 16-29 were the hardest days for me. Because of the obvious and because I was so scared I was not going to make it…having people ask if you have a living will…just nightmarish! My anxiety about what happened I hope will eventually subside. Losing your daughters life and then almost losing your own is the scariest thing to ever imagine. I have nightmares now and when I look at my husbands face I see our angel Cara. I know that hopefully someday we will be able to have a healthy baby. Hopefully by me writing this everyone can better understand the disease preeclampsia, how it can effect pregnant women during pregnancy as well as after for up to 12 weeks. Always listen to your instincts, and please share the knowledge of this disease, it can save lives!


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Comments

  1. Roxanne says:

    I can't even read your whole story right now because many things are so similar to our story but I just need to tell you how sorry I am for your loss and I am glad you are here to tell us your story. I am so sorry for the loss of dear Cara… I lost my son Colin, I had an emergency c-section at 22 weeks, I also had been to the doctor and sent home until my urine protein came back near 9,000, i looked like i was stung by a swarm of bees and my bp was 208/110…he fought for a week but his lungs were too premature. I agreee that the warning signs and dangers of preeclampsia need to be put out there more prevalently!!!

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