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It is the time of year where I spend quite a bit of time reflecting. Since our son's angelversary was December 28th, it's natural to think not only of the past year, but also of the time our lives changed forever. It has been 7 years now since that day and I can honestly say that I would have never believed I would be where I am today. A few weeks after the loss of our son, I was researching on the internet to figure out what happened to me when I found the Preeclampsia Foundation. It was perfect timing to bond with other bereaved parents on the forums. I found healing through the community of sharing our losses and our grief. It was easier to bare knowing there were others I could turn to that had experienced the same devastation. I spent alot of time on the forums and through my time there was where I felt the need to give back. I made it through the blackest of days thanks to those ladies. I knew if I could do it, so could others. I not only wanted to help families avoid my heartache, but help those that that unfortunately found us the hard way. In doing so I found out that I healed more and more myself. The hard days became fewer and farther apart. Then once I started, I couldn't stop. I had to do more and more. Every time I read of another loss, I get mad and my determination doubles.
This past year, I was asked by a reporter where would I be without the Preeclampsia Foundation. I didn't have an answer for her and I've spent many months trying to put the response into words. I can guarantee that I would have become a very bitter person towards anyone with simple and successful pregnancies. The volunteer work that I do has given meaning not only to my life, but to Cooper's. I refuse to let his life be meaningless. That desire has fueled plenty of sleepless nights thinking of ways to change the world. I have met any amazing group of women across the country that are now some of my closest friends. Even though most of them didn't suffer a loss, we are still bonded by harrowing pregnancy experiences. Almost like our own sorority. These ladies know deep down what it's like to have zero control of your situation. And I know that if I ever have another pregnancy, the members of the Preeclampsia Foundation will be there to support me no matter the outcome.
Volunteer Nicole Purnell is the Preeclampsia Foundation's 2012 Volunteer of the Year.
International Society for the study of Hypertension in Pregnancy
October 23, 2016
San Paulo, Brazil