This month, we highlight the volunteer efforts of Stacy Vallely, whose fundraising team "Ty's Team" raised an astonishing $10,300 for the Boston Promise Walk! Stacy raised $5850 herself, making her the highest individual fundraiser of all the Promise Walk participants. We asked Stacy a couple questions about her involvement with the foundation.
1. What was your experience with preeclampsia?
I started to swell pretty early on. I remember thinking that I couldn't believe that I had to take my rings off before the 3rd trimester. Then when I started to feel funny. I called my midwife and expressed concerns about preeclampsia because of the swelling. She asked if I had any headaches? No. Any vision changes? No. She told me that they don't usually worry about preeclampsia until 36 weeks and I was just 26 weeks. My blood pressure at our last appointment was fine, so I should "put my feet up and I will see her in a little over a week". I didn't make it to that appointment. At 27 weeks, 6 days, I had such bad epigastric pain that I, the one who hates the doctor and hospitals, literally pulled my husband out of the shower and made him take me to the closest hospital, not the one I wanted to deliver at. I was wheeled immediately to labor and delivery. My blood pressure was taken... 222/165. Moments from having a stroke, my room filled with doctors, nurses, neonatologists and staff. I was put on the magnesium to prevent a seizure. They got a transport ready to take me to the city hospital. I was confused and scared. I lasted 5 days at the city hospital with my blood pressure going up and down and up and down. Finally, my son's tracings started to look not so great. So at 28 weeks, 4 days, I got prepped for an emergency c-section. The spinal didn't work and I was placed under general anesthesia. So much for my non-medicated home water birth. My son, Tyler, fought hard and struggled through the next 82 days in the NICU. He came home one day after his due date. Then was readmitted after 11 days for severe reflux for another 4 days. As for myself, I spent another 5 days in the hospital trying to manage my blood pressure. I was discharged, only to be readmitted for another 4 days. I visited the ER a few more times after that and stayed on my medication for almost a whole year after my son's birth. My son is now 16 months old (13 months adjusted) and is just amazing. The light and love of my life. He makes me laugh and smile every day.
2. How aware were you about preeclampsia before/during your pregnancy?
I had never heard of preeclampsia before my pregnancy. I had never heard of preeclampsia at any point during my pregnancy from my doctors and midwives. It was my sister, who saw my swelling, that warned me about it.
3. Why do you volunteer for the Preeclampsia Foundation? What volunteer positions have you held?
I volunteer for the Foundation because I don't ever want a woman, child, or family to suffer because of preeclampsia. I lost my pregnancy, my dream delivery, nearly my life, and nearly my son's life. My husband and I endured the NICU and all that worry, trauma, stress, and sadness that comes with it. All of this because of preeclampsia. The first year I found out about the walk, I offered some simple services to the walk coordinator like donations for the raffle and watermelon to eat. The second year, I took on the role of the Boston walk coordinator.
4. What are your goals and dreams for your involvement with the Foundation?
I don't want anyone to ever have to go through what I, and many others who have had worse experiences, went through because of this disease. I want to find a way to prevent this disease, or find a cause, or find a cure other than delivering the baby.
5. What has been your most gratifying moment as a Foundation volunteer?
The most gratifying moment personally was being the highest fundraising team in the nation. My friends and family have been incredibly supportive. Sometimes you get so swept up in moments and you forget how much illnesses affect people other than yourself. My family was scared and so were my friends. Yet, they visited and held Tyler. They brought food, cooked food, drove me to the hospital to see him when I couldn't drive. They washed bottles so that I could pump and rest without having to worry about it. They texted me when it was time to take my medicine so I wouldn't forget. The cleaned my house and took care of our dogs. My co-workers kept me up to date but didn't bother me. They filled in when they could. I was constantly surrounded by caring people filled with support and love. That shows even more when you realize that because of them, my team was the highest fundraising team in the nation. I just want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who helped us get there and for all the love and support that people have shown over the past 16 months.