1. What was your experience with preeclampsia?
I developed HELLP Syndrome in 2009. Not knowing the symptoms of HELLP delayed my response to getting help faster. I went to the ER after three days of right upper quadrant pain (which I was told by the doctor on call that it was probably my gall bladder even though I was on bed rest for high blood pressure), difficulty breathing, and a sense of just not feeling well. I was told by the Labor and Delivery nurse I had made it just in time. When I arrived my platelets were dangerously low, my liver was enlarged and my blood pressure was high. They feared I was going to bleed out during delivery and prepped me for a transfusion. There is no scarier feeling than feeling like you might die during what is supposed to be the happiest time in your life. I delivered my son, Cooper, at 36 weeks. He was only 4lbs 13 oz. Although he was tiny and his platelets were low, he miraculously did not have to go into the NICU. We were able to come home after 5 days in the hospital.
2. How aware were you about preeclampsia before/during your pregnancy?
Before getting pregnant, I had heard the word "preeclampsia" but did not know the severity of the disease. At 34 weeks, I was put on bed rest for "pregnancy induced hypertension." The word preeclampsia was briefly mentioned by the doctor, but not explained. I remember reading a small section of information in my pregnancy book on preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome. I wish I would have known the signs and symptoms sooner as I would have gotten help faster.
3. Why do you volunteer for the Preeclampsia Foundation? What volunteer positions have you held?
After having a traumatic birthing experience, I developed Post-Partum Depression. I felt so alone and felt like no one understood what I was going through. In 2011, I attended my first Promise Walk in Raleigh, NC, and for the first time in two years I felt at peace. Even though I was meeting other women like myself for the first time, I felt like we had a special bond. I left the walk knowing that I wanted to start a Promise Walk in my hometown, Charlotte, NC. I helped co-coordinate the first walk in Charlotte this past May. I have recently been appointed the Mid-Atlantic Regional Coach for the Promise Walks and plan to coordinate the 2013 Charlotte Promise Walk.
4. What are your goals and dreams for your involvement with the Foundation?
I want to spread awareness of this deadly disease to not only women, but their families, friends, and to future health care providers. I was able to get the local high school's HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) club to volunteer. The club's mission is to promote career opportunities in health care to high school students and to enhance the delivery of quality healthcare to individuals.
5. What has been your most gratifying moment as a Foundation volunteer?
Seeing a community of survivors, family members and friends, and volunteers come together to raise awareness of Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome at Charlotte's first Promise Walk for Preeclampsia™. It was no longer about nearly losing my life to HELLP Syndrome, but celebrating the lives of those who had survived and hopefully saving more lives through greater awareness.