A Birth Story from Molly Winn

November 2, 2011

Image by Hazel Leggatt.

I was starting to blow up like a balloon and could no longer really see ankles. All my shoes were too tight and each day when I walked into work (I worked for an insurance company at the time, in the medical management department, so my boss was a nurse) my boss would say to me, “I sure wish I knew what your blood pressure was!”

I was retaining fluid with each second and getting frequent headaches. I went to the pharmacy to pick up some Tylenol and while I was there I decided to stick my arm in one of those blood pressure taking machines. My blood pressure was in fact through the roof so I called my doctor’s office.

No one answered the phone (it was a Saturday) so I left a message for the on-call doctor explaining that I had just taken my blood pressure and it was pretty high, and since my sister had pre-eclampisa and two 3lbs babies I was a bit concerned. Within minutes the doctor called me back, told me to get right to the hospital.

So, my husband and I hopped in the car, drove to the hospital where they continued to monitor me for several hours. At this point I was a little over 31 weeks along. After watching my blood pressure rise and fall over the next several hours they admitted me. Sigh.

I was in the hospital for almost a week while they monitored my blood pressure, urine, and blood several times daily. After several days I just didn’t feel right, my gut told me something was wrong. I expressed to the nurse that I knew something wasn’t right, I couldn’t explain it very well, I just knew. They decided to do some more tests, took me for an ultrasound and deduced that yes, something was in fact very wrong and they couldn’t wait any longer to take the baby out.

I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, toxemia, and the HELLP syndrome. My doctor had been out of town and when she walked into my room and saw me she did a double take, I had gained so much weight (fluid retention) since my previous appointment nearly 4 weeks before that it was astounding and I didn’t even look like me any more!

The doctor told me to get ready, that I would have a baby in the next couple of hours!

My husband was teaching a class and came to the hospital when it was over, (per his usual routine that whole week), when he walked in I said “we’re going to have a baby soon!!” He was a bit stunned but rallied quickly and we both made some calls to family and a few close friends. It was nearly midnight at this time and a couple of my dear friends came to the hospital to sit in the waiting room and just be a support.

I was wheeled into surgery a little before midnight for my emergency c-section. At 12:09am at exactly 32 weeks pregnant at 3lbs 6oz my baby girl was born. It was the most amazing, beautiful moment of my life. Even in the midst of all the chaos and urgency I had a peace that washed over me, God is so good that way!

They held her up for about 1 second for me to see her face and then whisked her off to the NICU where she stayed for 26 days. My beautiful, perfect baby girl was here, totally healthy, just tiny. I practically lived in the NICU for the next month until I could bring my sweet girl home where she belonged.

My birth story wasn’t what I thought it would be but it was how it was meant to be and I got the most perfect reward.

From Molly Winn.

P.S. — Here’s another early delivery story with lots of stunning images.

Note from Design Mom: throughout my 6th pregnancy, I posted advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family. My baby is hardly a baby anymore — here’s her birth story and her newborn photos — but the series has been so popular that I’m continuing it indefinitely. You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here. Have a story you’d like to share? I’d love to read it. You can send it to me at gabrielle@designmom.com.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mary November 2, 2011 at 11:18 am

My favorite part of this story (aside from the happy ending of course) is the fact that she listened to her body and then communicated her feelings and took action!


2 Melissa November 2, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I just love that Molly stayed positive about her birth story! So many women whose birth plans don’t end up happening as planned have such negative feelings towards doctors, nurses & circumstance.

Way to stay positive & listen to your body, Molly! Focusing on the fact that your sweet baby arrived safe & sound is fantastic.


3 meg brown November 2, 2011 at 1:17 pm

So glad you’re sharing your story….I had preeclampsia and HELLP with both of my pregnancies and delivered early and little babies. It is amazing how even though it’s not how you planned, God is good through it all. I’m hoping your post will alert more women to the mysteries of preeclampsia and HELLP and toxemia…

here’s a site if you’re looking for more information: http://preeclampsia.org

(I don’t work for them, but their site is super helpful)


4 Rachel S. November 2, 2011 at 2:02 pm

This is, nearly verbatim, my birth experience w/ my son. I can’t tell you how therapeutic this was to me to read. I’m grateful for her positive outlook on it and I’m realizing that I need to adjust my own thoughts about how it happened for us.

Thank you for sharing this!


5 Sherry November 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Wonderful story….I had pre-eclampsia as well and delivered 4 weeks early. It was scary..I still am shocked when I look back at photos and see how puffy I was..especially my feet.


6 Joanna L M November 2, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Thanks for sharing your story Molly Winn! I too developed HELLP during the last month of pregnancy. The symptoms didn’t match up but my doctor had me go to the hospital twice a week for tests. I think he had a prompting that something was wrong before it became apparent. 2 days before my due date I recognized that something was wrong and went to the hospital. Grateful for nurses and doctors who act quickly. Healthy baby…sick mom who stayed in the hospital for a week and almost had a platelet transfusion. I was too oblivious and happy to recognize how serious it all was. I now realize the severity and am grateful!


7 Kristin November 2, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Yes, thanks for sharing your story. I am another HELLP mom— my baby was delivered at 36 weeks. I’ve thought about writing a birth story about it since so many people don’t know what HELLP is…glad you did it!


8 Jessica Frazier November 2, 2011 at 6:10 pm

My son Sidney was born via emergency C-Section at just 25 weeks gestation. He was a mere 1lb 8oz at birth. My husband and I practically lived in the NICU for 3 1/2 long months, never leaving his side. We’ve never experienced that much heartache in our lives. Each day was touch and go, not knowing what the next day would bring. It’s amazing just how much strength these tiniest babies have. Their will to survive and thrive is miraculous. Thankfully my beautiful son made it through his rough start to life and is now a spunky and lovable 16 month old learning to take his first steps.


9 Lamchops November 2, 2011 at 11:56 pm

I had my first babe at 31 weeks. Total suprise without medical reason. I had just-gone into labor. After 1 hours of trying to stop it I went home on “bedrest with bathroom privelages”. Only this was NOT the plan my sweet babe had. After some food & a well needed nap I ended up in labor again. We ended up back at the hospitol within the hour & our 4lb. 14 oz. boy was born within 45 minute. No way to stop him. After 3 weeks in NICU in our comunity instead of him being taken 350 miles away, we took him home! What a whirlwind it is to have a baby early in any form. After my first the 3 to follow were all 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 weeks early. Crazy, but reading this post makes me feel a bit nostalgic nearly 10 years later. It is really something that you cannot describe appropriately to anyone. No matter how you try. My early babe is now a full head above all the other children in his calsses & is “healthy as a horse”. We love him & all the crazy drama that he STILL brings to our lives.


10 Lamchops November 2, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Umm, it was, 11 hours. Not, “1 hours”. Doing good here, can’t you tell?!


11 stephy-lou November 3, 2011 at 8:02 am

i’m definitely going to have to start following this series. i have another 25 weeks to wait to find out how my birth story will pan out but i’m glad for all the inspirational education in the meantime!


12 donna November 3, 2011 at 8:16 am

we signed adoptions papers for a baby girl and she was born 10 weeks early the very next day. she weighed 3 lb. when we met her and lived in the hospital for 3 1/2 weeks. that was 13 years ago, and now our beautiful camille is a healthy normal teenager. thanks for bringing back our own memories of our first daughter’s birth. motherhood is the hardest and best job you will ever have!


13 Christa The BabbyMama November 3, 2011 at 11:55 am

I had my baby early and love reading other people’s early baby stories. My own was a grower, too, just small. Still kind of small, actually. Thanks for sharing your story xoxo


14 Anneliese November 3, 2011 at 1:12 pm

I love happy endings! So happy your little baby is healthy and you’re all well. Thank you for sharing.


15 Ellen W November 3, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I also had HELLP syndrome but was not diagnosed until after the blood work from an uplanned c-section (baby was breech) – my son was 38 1/2 weeks. I had no symptoms that alerted my doctor aside from feeling awful the last week or so of my pregnancy – non-stop back pain and GI discomfort, I didn’t even want to drink water. I made two trips to the birth center where it was chalked up to reflux and dehydration.

Once I delivered and the doctors realized what was wrong with me, I discovered how serious HELLP syndrome can be. Aside from a longer than expected hospital sta,y I fully recovered and thankfully my son had no problems.


16 bdaiss November 3, 2011 at 10:03 pm

I always love these birth stories. Thank you for continuing them.


17 Tresa @ Reese Dixon November 7, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Another HELLP mom here! My son was born at 28 weeks and weighed 2 lbs 8 oz. He’s now about to turn 4, has CP and uses a wheelchair, but he is amazing. I’m hoping some day it will work out to have another.


18 Jen November 10, 2011 at 11:15 am

Wow, I’m also another HELLP mom. I love reading the birth stories on this site and am so happy that I’ve come across this one. My son was born at 38 weeks, so we were very lucky he was full term. We ended up in the hospital on the instincts of my amazing doctor. Also lucky to not really know what HELLP was while we were in the hospital, I’ve since learned quite a bit and am happy that I didn’t know all of it. It seems that not many people know about HELLP when I mention it. He’s going to be 5 in a few weeks – amazing how the time flies.


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