This time of year brings so many warm memories of Autumn's past, but one Fall season in particular brings bitter-sweet memories.
This time three years ago, I was nearing the middle of my third trimester and settling into our new home. I noticed some severe swelling and was experiencing daily headaches. I brought it to the attention of my doctors however they dismissed it as regular pregnancy symptoms.
The day after Halloween I went to my 35 week OB appointment. Everything seemed to be a whirl-wind from the moment I stepped into his office until I was rushed to the OB Triage area of the hospital with complications due to preeclampsia. I was surrounded by a team of eight doctors as they informed me that they needed to get my baby out or both our lives would be in jeopardy.
Little did I know that this was just the beginning of the scariest time in my family's life.
After 13 hours of hard labor our son Brennan was born five weeks premature weighing 4 lbs, 9 oz. He was a tiny little guy in comparison to what I was expecting a newborn to resemble. Within moments after my delivery my vision started fading in and out and I began to experience severe headaches. I was told that my blood pressure would come down after delivery but as doctors came in and out of my hospital room, the numbers continued to climb. My OB said there was nothing left for him to do and I was released from the hospital on blood pressure meds. Within four days of arriving home I couldn't shake the blind spots in my vision and the headaches made my mind and senses fuzzy. The most frightening point came one week after my son was born. I began to slur my words, and my extremities were going numb. I began experiencing all the symptoms of a stroke and my reflexes were locking as I was on the brink of a seizure. I was rushed to the emergency room with a blood pressure of 180/120. For four days the doctors vigilantly watched over me as my numbers continued on an upward trend. It wasn't until I was six weeks post-partum that my blood pressure began to return to normal and over a year before my vision was completely restored.
Too many moms experience preeclampsia and many of them die from this horrible and devastating condition. I was one of the lucky ones. I am a survivor. In my 31 years, I have faced cancer twice and other battles with my health, but have never come so close to death as I did when I had preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia claims the life of 76,000 moms and 500,000 infants each year. My ultimate dream in life is to help educate women and families on the signs of this horrible disease. I am hoping that with donations from my effort, we can pass this information along helping save the lives of thousands of moms and babies and provide support in research to cure preeclampsia. Some of these women will never get a chance to meet their children. I want to ensure that they get that chance.
To honor the memory of the moms who did not have the opportunity to see their children grow up and the babies who never got to encounter all of life's experiences I wanted to find a way to give back. On January 8, 2011, I am raising donations running the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in Orlando, Fla. for these moms and babies.