1. What was your experience with preeclampsia?
My partner and I had tried for a couple of years to conceive our first child, and finally succeeded in 2009. I felt fabulous during the pregnancy, except that I developed an annoying cough that got more frequent and more productive as the months went on. I mentioned it a hundred times to my doctor, but he always shrugged it off, saying pregnant women often have excess mucus. At 7 months along, I expressed concern to my doctor that I had only gained 12 pounds, but again, he said it was not a problem. Based on my gut instinct that something wasn't right, I insisted on an ultrasound that day, which showed my son was severely growth restricted. He was delivered that night (at 31 weeks) via c-section. He weighed 1 lb 15 oz. We named him Mack. Despite showing all signs of doing great for over a week, Mack developed an infection in the hospital and died when he was 10 days old. I was later diagnosed with postpartum preeclampsia (high blood pressure), which subsided after about a month. But, a year and a half later, the loss of my baby Mack remains with me every moment. My cough never subsided, so I saw an allergist who diagnosed me with cough-variant asthma. The new study recently published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showing a link between uncontrolled asthma and low birth weight/preeclampsia weighs heavy on my heart... if only my doctor and I did more to diagnose my asthma during the pregnancy...
2. How aware were you about pre-e before/during your pregnancy?
I was totally unaware of preeclampsia. In fact, I'd never heard of it. This was my first pregnancy. I am healthy and did everything right during my pregnancy, so naturally I figured everything would go smoothly. After my son was born, and died, I leafed through to the back of my well-worn copy of "What To Expect When You're Expecting" and found the "When There's A Problem" section about Preeclampsia. Only then did I realize that some of the symptoms applied to us.
3. Why do you volunteer for the Preeclampsia Foundation? What volunteer positions have you held?
I have donated my graphic design services to the foundation, for the Expectations newsletter, website, and for the "I am a Preeclampsia Survivor" tee shirts.
4. What are your goals and dreams for your involvement with the Foundation?
No pregnant woman wants to think about there being a problem in her pregnancy. It is not until you've had a problem that you allow yourself to go there. My goal would be to encourage pregnant women to be educated, without getting spooked by the suggestion that there could be a problem. I showed no signs of preeclampsia. I only had a gut feeling that something wasn't progressing right. And that's what I would encourage all women to do, don't just take your doctor's word for it, listen to your gut.
5. What has been your most gratifying moment as a Foundation volunteer?
Receiving my "I am a Preeclampsia Survivor" tee shirt in the mail with my design on the front and knowing that I am part of a community of women, and men, who provide comfort to one another through our collective memory of what is probably the most frightening moment in each of our lives, and accepting that we will be forever changed after having survived through it.