Volunteer of the Month Spotlight - April 2011
Autumn Spear, Promise Walk Beat Editor
1. What was your experience with preeclampsia?
At 21 weeks into my first pregnancy with our daughter Sydney, I developed severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome and had no idea what was happening. I spent a week in the hospital trying to sort out what was happening at such an early stage in my pregnancy when preeclampsia is not typically seen. When my symptoms worsened, I was transferred to a high risk hospital and forced to deliver our stillborn daughter. It was a horrible and frightening experience. With the help of a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, we were able to deliver a healthy baby boy a year later though I still developed preeclampsia again at 36 weeks.
2. How aware were you about preeclampsia before or during your pregnancy?
I had never heard anything about preeclampsia and still did not understand what it was until I was researching it on my laptop in the hospital. My mother is an OB nurse and she was the one who suspected it might be preeclampsia and told me to go to the hospital.
3. Why do you volunteer for the Preeclampsia Foundation? What volunteer positions have you held?
I served as co-chair for Saving Grace in Seattle in 2010 and am now the Promise Walk Beat Editor. I volunteer because when I lost the most important thing in my life and had just gone through the most tragic event of my life, I was lost and scared and wanted answers. The Preeclampsia Foundation's website and message boards provded not only answers but hope and friendship. I found my way to the Promise Walk in San Diego two months after we lost Sydney and was so comforted by the embrace I felt from the PF community and the other women whose stories mirrored mine. I volunteer to give back and be that person for other women who so tragically have to go through the same experience.
4. What are your goals and dreams for your involvement with the Foundation?
My goal is that my contributions help facilitate the ongoing support the Foundation provides to women who have gone through losing a baby or parents and husbands who have just lost their daughters and wives. I hope that anyone who is looking for answers to what has happened to their family is always able to find those answers with our Foundation and find support about how to help treat it, what to look for and help others to be aware of the risks and symptoms so we can prevent such a horrible thing from happening to other women and babies.
5. What has been your most gratifying moment as a foundation volunteer?
Serving as Co-Chair for Saving Grace last year was not only one of the most gratifying moments of my life but working so hard on something and seeing it all come together and being in the company of so many others who are dedicated to finding answers to this disease and who understand what its like to go through such a tragedy brought me the biggest gift I could have ever asked for which was peace around Sydney's death. I will be forever grateful and will forever want to serve the Preeclampsia Foundation for giving me that gift.