I found the Preeclampsia Foundation website in January 2003 when I was pregnant with my second child – and terrified of what might happen. That second trimester panic so many of our members know all too well.
I’ve been a volunteer ever since. Anne Garrett was my savior, and by the time my daughter Camille was born, I was a devotee for life. I thought Anne’s vision and leadership were amazing, and I wanted to help her and the Preeclampsia Foundation in any way I could. I’d have washed her windows if she’d asked me.
When I had severe preeclampsia during my first pregnancy in 1998, there was no one there. No one to help me pick up and keep going after that freight train hit. But the Preeclampsia Foundation is that ‘someone’, or rather many ‘someones’, dedicated to raising awareness and funding research. Most of all, the Preeclampsia Foundation is here providing support for women and families who need someone to turn to after preeclampsia turns their lives upside down.
The Foundation has grown exponentially since I discovered it – an amazing achievement considering it has all happened through the dedication of our volunteers. There’s so much that we can be proud of. I was thrilled when the Foundation got the Gates grant for the International Preeclampsia Summit in 2004. And I’m tickled every time I get a Google Alert in my inbox telling me that somewhere we’ve been quoted as an authority.
I’ve been honored to accept a position on the Board of Directors, to begin in January 2007. I’m humbled almost beyond words. We’re blessed to have the team that we have working on this. Not only are they a pleasure to work with, they’re also quite brilliant. In the next year, we’re hoping to develop a comprehensive support plan with specific protocol for what we offer members at different stages of their life: people thinking of trying to conceive, after a loss, in later life after childbearing, during bedrest, etc. The hope is to establish a standard of service, with continuity of support. We want to make sure our members have all the information they need to make the critical choices forced upon them. The next stage of the plan is to figure out what areas of support we should offer, and develop a task force with volunteers from each service area to identify the priorities and make recommendations.
The experience of our volunteers is critical: they know better than anyone what can help in the midst of a crisis. And sadly, we know how devastating that crisis can be. My heart swells when one of our members who we’ve followed since the loss of a child experiences the healthy birth of another. When our lovely Ileana had her Bobster after losing Angel, when Julie had Jack after losing Zach, when Jenn had Gabe after losing Maggie, and Tracy had Casey after the loss of Katlyne - I couldn’t be any prouder of them than if I was their real auntie. They and others like them are our living hope that there can be joy and life after loss.
Over the past three years, you guys have all become my family. Making sure our ‘girls’ are properly taken care of is – second only to caring for my own kids – my mission in life.