What was your experience with preeclampsia?
On February 17th, 2005 I was so blessed to become a mom to a beautiful, blue-eyed, baby boy. Roddick was born 2 weeks early, by emergency c-section, due to my blood pressure staying elevated, even with bed rest. My husband was out of town for work, so he missed the birth of his 1st child. It was crazy, nurses and doctors running around trying to get me into surgery and deliver my son. Much of the delivery was a blur. They had me on and off mag sulfate to control my bp. I felt so awful, I kept thinking that this surely couldn't be what it felt like to be a new mom. I felt so bad that I didn't even have the warmth and compassion I should have had for my newborn. The next day my situation declined. I was in my room alone with my newborn son. I decided that I needed to get up, get to the bathroom and freshen up. I pulled Roddick's basinet into the bathroom with me, washed up, and headed back to the bed. I was completely exhausted! I finally got settled back into to my bed. As Roddick lay sound asleep in his basinet next to my bed, I noticed that the letters and numbers lifted up off of the tv screen I was watching, and started to float across the room. I thought that was really weird. I decided that I better call the nurse and let her know. By then it was too late. There, alone, I had my 1st eclamptic seizure. I'm not sure of what happened exactly, I don't remember anything until a day or so later, after which I had experienced ANOTHER eclamptic seizure. I woke up, finally, in the ICU. On the wall, across from the end of my hospital bed, hung a picture of my sweet little baby boy. This picture was the only way I was able to see him for several days. It felt like my heart was broken. This was my 1st of 3 experiences with preeclamptic pregnancies; 3 preeclamptic pregnancies and my babies and I were blessed to survive.
My brother, a Physician's Assistant, had never seen anyone go through what I went through. A week or so after I was discharged from the hospital, he was able to use my experience to help diagnose, and treat, a woman in his ER. I believe my experience may have helped to save her life.
How aware were you about preeclampsia before/during your pregnancy?
I have always felt that my doctor didn't 'scare' me enough and I wasn't told much about preeclampsia. I was put on modified bed rest, but since they didn't seem too concerned, I didn't see the seriousness of the situation. So modified bed rest, to me, was just putting my feet up a little more often. I could have done so much more to take care of myself and my baby. I later learned that this particular doctor had never had a patient experience eclamptic seizures. When I asked this doctor if I should see a perinatologist for my next pregnancy, she said "I don't see why. Your blood pressure was never really that high." Needless to say, I found another doctor and I made sure to find out all I could about preeclampsia and eclampsia.
Why do you volunteer for the Preeclampsia Foundation?
I feel so very strongly that we need to do all we can to spread the word about preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders. Most importantly to find a cure so that lives can be saved. I'm hoping that doctors will find a way to communicate with their patients about the seriousness of these disorders.
What are your goals and dreams for your involvement with the Foundation?
I have spent the last year training for a 50 miles trail race. The race will take place December 15, 2012 on Look Out Mountain in Chattanooga, Tenn. I decided to run this race in remembrance of all the lives that have been taken by hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and also to celebrate being a survivor of preeclampsia & eclampsia. I made a goal to raise $2012 for the foundation. During this year of training, this has really become so much more to me. It has been an emotional ride (or run, I should say) and I'm excited to step foot on the trail and give it all I've got. No matter whether I finish the race or not, I've still won the battle.
What has been your most gratifying moment during your time as a Foundation volunteer?
Being able to bring awareness of these disorders to people who would have otherwise had no idea about them. Since I'm a survivor, I know first hand what it's like to experience preeclampsia and eclampsia. I'm invested in it and therefore I can relay the importance for fundraising and finding a cure. It feels wonderful to know that donations are coming in and we are getting one step closer to finding a cure!