Volunteer Profile: Amanda Meier, Baby Fair Coordinator
What was your experience with preeclampsia?
I was having a normal first pregnancy when I started feeling pressure on my upper right side at around 28 weeks. It wasn't very painful at the time and would come and go. I thought it was related to all the over-eating I was doing! At some point in my 30th week, the pressure became a daily occurrence. I asked my midwife about it and she felt it was likely heartburn. I had never had heartburn in my life, so I had no point of reference. My blood pressure at the time was 138/80 and there were trace amounts of protein in my urine dip. Two days later, the pressure turned to pain and I was unable to eat or drink anything. I was admitted to Labor and Delivery with questionable labs results. The next day, a diagnosis of HELLP Syndrome was confirmed and I was transferred by helicopter to a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit. I was induced and delivered Bennett at 31 weeks 2 days.
Why do you volunteer for the Preeclampsia Foundation?
Volunteering was part of the healing process for me. It took a couple of months after Bennett's birth before I was ready to face any preeclampsia- or HELLP-related information. I have gotten so much information and support from the Foundation Forums and felt like I needed to be a part of this amazing organization.
What goals and dreams do you have for how the Preeclampsia Foundation could inspire more awareness raising activities?
From my experience so far, I think connecting volunteers is one of the most important things the Foundation can facilitate, especially volunteers in the same geographic location. While the Community Forum is a great place to connect with other survivors, there is nothing like actually being in the presence of those who share your experiences to get you inspired. I have learned that not all Preeclampsia Foundation members frequent the forums, but that doesn't mean they aren't an important resource for local events and activities. In fact, they are excited to be involved in any way they can.
How aware were you about preeclampsia before/during your pregnancy?
I had no idea what preeclampsia was! My midwife never discussed it as a possibility and it was glossed over in every baby book I ever read. I'm sure some of my ignorance stemmed from the "nothing will happen to me" mentality that many pregnant women seem to have.
What resources do you find most helpful to volunteers and Foundation members?
Let's see....the Forums, the Forums, the Forums! It is so comforting to know that I can log on each day to be supported by other women who understand. The other volunteers are also very helpful. They are always there to answer questions about organizing events. It's really amazing that this organization is run almost entirely by volunteers.
What has been your most gratifying moment as a Foundation volunteer?
It was wonderful to see the volunteers around the Denver area come together to help with the baby fair booth we recently organized. That activity connected us with another and we have had subsequent meetings to plan future events. I truly believe that we are a strong resource for the Preeclampsia Foundation in Colorado.