Sunday, December 09, 2007

Preeclampsia and Heart Disease Risk

Frankly, this is not new information for me, but when the American Heart Association sent me an email with this newsblast inside, it was a wake up call. Preeclampsia survivors do not have good odds when it comes to risks for heart disease or stroke.

So ladies, may I issue a health challenge? How about we take the new year to create a better version of ourselves? Whether that is living a happier life to improve your mental health or making your physical health important to you, it is up to you.

Women Who Experience Preeclampsia More Likely To Develop Heart Disease, Study Says

Women who experience preeclampsia -- a condition in which blood pressure increases late in pregnancy -- have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke later in life than women who do not experience the condition, according to a study published in the Nov. 1 edition of BMJ, the Washington Post/Hartford Courant reports. For the study, British researchers analyzed data from 25 studies that involved more than 3.4 million women, 198,252 of whom had preeclampsia during pregnancy and 21,958 of whom had been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or cancer.

Women who had preeclampsia were four times more likely than women who did not have the condition to develop high blood pressure within 14 years, the study found. The risk of having heart disease or stroke within 10 years nearly doubled for women who had preeclampsia, compared with those who did not have the condition. The study also found that a woman's risk for heart disease increased the earlier during pregnancy she developed preeclampsia. The researchers found that preeclampsia did not increase women's risk for breast cancer or other cancers. The study is available online.

I had Grace 5 1/2 years ago. I guess I only have 4 more years before heart disease or stroke may hit me. Sigh. I'd better get myself to a cardiologist for a work up and figure out how I can live a healthier lifestyle. Life isn't a guarantee, but I know that all of my preeclampsia survivor friends are some of the strongest ladies I know. We can do it ladies. We can!

With much anticipation of a healthier me and you!

Jen, mom of Grace & Meghan, survivors of preeclampsia and prematurity

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Searching for connections

Preeclampsia is a horrible disease. No question about that. Anyone who's ever experienced it, especially in its severe form, wouldn't wish it on any other woman, EVER.

So why, then, does it seem like lately I'm looking for pre-e everywhere I go, almost.......dare I say it........*hoping* to find out that someone's experienced it? But as I do so, I'm also pondering, "Why?", and here's what I've come up with:

Often, I think we pre-e survivors feel alone, like there can't possibly be anyone out there who understands what we've been through, what we've lost to this disease. So, when I hear of a woman who has had...........
........a preemie
........a stillbirth
........ unnamed "pregnancy complications"
I immediately wonder, and then ask, whether it was preeclampsia that caused it. It's like I'm some kind of pathetic preeclampsia detective or something, constantly searching it out and following leads wherever I find them. Last week, a friend from church sent out a group email about her niece who'd just lost a baby at about 20 weeks. Didn't say if it was known why the baby passed on, but I wrote to her to ask if it was pre-e, and then to offer my support (and that of my website) if so. At school today, the "keep in your prayers" board had listed the wife of a teacher, who's baby was born more than a week ago, and it says "complications after pregnancy". So of course, I had to snoop around and ask other teachers who might know the story. Was she seizing? Swelling? BP trouble? Turns out, she had a staph infection after a csection.......and I felt (horrible, I know) vaguely disappointed in some weird way.

I guess that I'm searching for connections with other women who know how preeclampsia feels, as opposed to most people who don't even know what the word means. I've met women around the world via the Web, and we all have suffered the loss of the idyllic pregnancy we've grown up expecting. When we meet other survivors, we don't feel so alone anymore. And since a true cure or preventative for pre-e hasn't been found YET, new members are added to our survivor ranks every single day. I'll just keep on looking for them, looking to connect with my sisters, so that they don't ever have to feel alone either.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Validation of our experiences as preeclampsia survivors is so important. I recently received validation of my experience from a reader of my blog:

Jen, mom of Grace & Meghan
2 X Severe Preeclampsia Survivor and NICU Mom

Monday, October 01, 2007


Preeclampisa survivors are a strong bunch of women, who share similar experiences. Each one of us has our own story or stories. Today, being a preeclampsia survivor snuck up on me, and well, bit me square on the butt. Ouch!

Jen, preeclampsia survivor and NICU mom X 2

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I thought I'd share some perspective I gained today. Enjoy my cosmic reminder.

Jen, a two time severe PE survivor and NICU mom

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mixed feelings

Here I sit today, pondering, thinking over a subject I've been discussing with a dear friend. As usual, the topic is preeclampsia, but more specifically the recurrence of it in women like me.........who have it twice, three times, or even more.

Seems like every day there are press releases about new research studies, findings that give new hope for the eventual prevention of (and cure for) preeclampsia. I read a lot of these articles, and it's exciting to know that researchers are making headway in discovering why women get pre-e and what might be done to stop it someday.

Even now, more and more women are finding that their subsequent pregnancies can be healthy and pre-e free, through drug therapies or other evolving treatments. This is wonderful news, and something for which we should all be rejoicing!

However, there are still women like me around........women who had preeclampsia more than once, with no identifiable cause and therefore NO preventative options. Thankfully, my two sons survived, and I know how lucky I am to be able to say that. My husband and I have decided against risking the odds again and trying for more children, so I'll never know if a pre-e free pregnancy is even possible.

Today, I have many friends all over the world who are preeclampsia survivors. Several of them have recently given birth to new babies, at the end of a long, healthy pregnancy. Others are currently pregnant, and understandably worried about a pre-e recurrence but have kept it at bay so far. And naturally, I wish them all the best, and celebrate with them when full term healthy babies arrive.

But I'm left with mixed feelings..........the tremendous excitement for my friends who overcame pre-e, and the lingering hurt, disappointment and loss I feel for myself and for women like me everywhere. In my efforts to promote preeclampsia awareness, I often hear from women who've suffered from pre-e once and are scared to try again. It's wonderful to be able to say "Many women go on to healthy pregnancies" and to try to provide hope and encouragement to them on this scary journey.

But I also sometimes want to say, "Don't forget about me! I tried my hardest, I did everything I knew how, and my body still failed in its pregnancy responsibilities. But it's not my fault!" I usually just stay quiet, though, and cherish what I do have. Maybe someday no woman will ever have to feel this way at all....and that keeps me going. That, and my two precious boys who are my preeclampsia miracles.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Overview of Pre-Eclampsia, Part 2

I finally found part 2 of the Preeclampsia Overview presented by Action on Pre-Eclampsia in the UK. Previously, I had posted part 1 here:

Click twice on the movie to view it.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Announcing the Preeclampsia Survivors Web Site

Hi! I’m Jennifer, one of the Preeclampsia Survivors founders and a two-time preeclampsia survivor. I hope you have had a wonderful summer so far, as my family certainly has.

I have very exciting news to share, and I hope you will be excited about it too:

On Monday, August 6, 2007, we will officially launch our brand NEW website, which you can find at The web site has survivor stories, frequently asked questions about preeclampsia, a link to our blog, and lots of other great information for anyone who would like to learn more about preeclampsia or meet others who have survived it.

We also are launching a brand new forum, and are finishing the process of moving ourselves over to it. The new forum will require you to register again, but it’s easy and we’d love to see you over there. You can read and search the homepage anytime, and then just register to join us in discussions and support in the forum. The new forum’s layout is quite similar to the Proboards site we had before, so you’ll feel right at home and “see” all of your old friends there. Very shortly, the Proboards site will be locked so that it is “read only”. You can look there for an archive of info and old posts, and then come and chat with us at our new home.

We look forward to seeing you on the new site and discussion forum. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at admin{AT}preeclampsiasurvivors{DOT}com. I hope that you and your family enjoy what’s left of your summer.

Jennifer (Jen_miracles)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Still Fresh

Failure is the subject of Amy's post for today. Enjoy her eloquent words. It is obvious Amy is an amazing mother and preeclampsia survivor.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sophie's Homecoming

This week's post is from 4onfaith, who blogs at

It hit me this weekend that the 5th is Sophia's homecoming anniversary, 2 years! I look at her and can't believe that she is the same child that I brought home. She was so teeny, and although I have an older daughter, I felt like I was starting over with Sophie. Not only are she and Bella slightly more than 7 years apart, but there were a host of new lessons to be learned with Soph. As much as she has grown and changed in these two years, it seems like so much time has passed and yet I can remember the months surrounding her birth and homecoming with such clarity it can be overwhelming.

Shortly after I had Soph, we found out that we would be moving to another city, so just days before she was expected to come home we had to drive a couple hours and overnight to house hunt and look for schools. Not to mention, we were celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary. I know that my husband and oldest daughter were excited about going away for a day or two. Bella especially, literally from the moment she stepped off the school bus on her last day of school in May a portion of every day had been spent in hospitals, between visiting me and her sister. As much as I was looking forward to planning our new life in another city I wasn't entirely ready to leave what I was experiencing at that moment. I had never spent a night in another city away from my new baby. I know how fortunate I was to be only about 4 miles from her NICU, but every night I said good night to her and kissed her. Every night, I had sung the same "good night" song to her in person. This would be the first night that I wasn't with her. I know that normally every Mom spends the occassional night away from their baby, but it felt like there was so much at stake to me.

From conception, Soph was obviously always "with me." She with me, and I with her. Pregnancy allows you to experience a closeness to your child that only mother can know. I knew when she had the hiccups, when she was playful or restful. It felt so good to "see" her grow, and know that our second daughter would be in my arms soon. We had waited for her for a long time. I took every precaution I could to ensure that my pregnancy went well. I continued to take stairs and walks to ensure I would stay fit. I ate well and got plenty of rest. I read as much as I could and kept open dialogue with my OBs. I tried. I really tried, but I had failed. I failed to carry her to term. I failed to stay healthy. I failed at having a body that was "friendly" for babies. This teeny baby that I was going to be miles and hours away from had come into the world in such raw circumstances. And now, I wasn't even going to be "down the road" from her.

In the eyes of a "normal" parent, I know that is nothing. I mean I can honestly "hear" the eyes rolling when I say that. To go through an experience like this, is something that brings you so close to life, so close to reality, so much awareness of the world around you. There are times when you can feel yourself outside of your body as if you are in the middle of some near death experience. And that feeling doesn't subside very easily. It's a real life movie. And the camera's are rolling and following your every moment. It's a clear reminder that you are not in control. Not to take one minute, one hour, one day for granted. Things may seem very normal one day and the next they can change without notice. In such a short time I had already experienced that. Twice Sophie encountered circumstances that nearly took her from me. I wasn't comfortable with the thought of not being able to run to her side. Again I knew that I wasn't in control, but to be able to hold her, touch her, sing to her, kiss her. To let her know that I was there and that I was sorry. So sorry that I had failed her. That was what my life was about at the time.

I know that there is nothing I could have done differently. I know that I'm just built in a way that predisposes me to preeclampsia. But I am the vessel in which she came into this world. As a mother you experience guilt daily, in large and little ways. To begin a relationship with my youngest child with the feeling that I already failed her and that I wanted to make it up to her was and is a driving force. That nagging "what if" was not something I was ready to contend with. I knew, though, that I had no choice. I knew I needed to hope, to have faith, to believe....I needed to go. I must have called the nurses station at least 12 times in the 36 hours we were gone. And I still sang our song to her that night....just not in person. And when we returned the following day I immediately went to see her and she was fine. She was still there. All ten fingers, ten toes, and that perfectly shaped head.

I couldn't wait to get her home. And a few days later I walked into that NICU with her carseat knowing that I wouldn't leave without her. The nurses all gathered around to say good-bye, to wish us well. I put my tiny child in her seat, bundled her up.....and turned around. After 37 days, 7 hours and 40 minutes, and with my husband's arms around me the three of us walked out of that NICU and into our life. When the large steel doors clicked behind us, the grasp on my heart loosened a bit. I looked down at this beautiful gift and walked down that hall without a second thought. I had my baby. I had failed her on delivery, but there was something at that moment that made me know everything was going to be alright.

It's not easy being the mother of children who came early. The concerns that arise, the "weight" and see game, the germs, the extra shots, the colds, the battles about eating. They are all there....all the time, to no avail. But then so am I, and I am NOT failing.

Today, I can say that I am thankful. Preeclampsia and prematurity have given me an awareness that I otherwise wouldn't have. A great appreciation for my purpose, for my children, for my husband. An opportunity to learn and to grow. To encourage change. So while I look forward to the day that preeclampsia will only exist in history books, today I live with the thought that maybe, just maybe I know it personally for a reason. Maybe because I am strong enough and good enough....and maybe, maybe I can do something about it!!!

~~~~~"Good night sweet Sophie, it's time to sleep. Good night sweet Sophie, time to dream. I'll see you soon, when the morning comes, good night Sweet Soph - Good night."~~~~~~~

Sunday, July 01, 2007

D'Arcy's Story

Today' post is from D'Arcy, a fellow preeclampsia survivor. Her story may sound familiar to you, if you are a survivor too. Most of us can recount how we didn't quite understand the implications and consequences of preeclampsia until the birth experience was over. The good news is that even when life throws us a "preeclampsia curve ball," that we still learn and grow from the experience. Even with the bad comes some good.

My story doesn't start when I was diagnosed with preeclampsia, which didn't officially occur until 30w1d. My pregnancy had a pivotal moment, and that moment occurred at 7am 24w5d. That morning I awoke to the phone ringing. I jumped out of bed and ran to the phone. Before I knew what had happened, everything became a blur, and I woke up with a terrible pain in my head and the phone buzzing because it was off the hook. I had been passed out for a little over two minutes, and my head hurt because I hit it on a bench in my bedroom as I fell. I had leg and foot pain and been exhausted since I was about 16w, after all I couldn't go Christmas shopping because my legs hurt so much. Many people told me that having my legs hurt, passing out, and swelling were normal in pregnancy. Even my OB wasn't concerned early in my pregnancy or even after passing out, after all the baby checked out fine and my blood pressure was normal. Although during that appointment, he sat there and looked at me and said we have to get to 28 weeks, it is our magic number.

As the weeks progressed from the day I had the fall, I began to swell, not just a little ankle swelling, but edema that made it impossible to wear shoes. I went from a 7 1/2 to 10 flip flops. Again people telling me this is normal, just buck up. Around 28w, I was in for a visit with my OB, and he said that my blood pressure was high. I had gained too much weight in between visits and needed to restrict my diet to low sodium and prepare my employer that there was a good chance that I wasn't going to be able to work until I was full term. He ran labs and personally called to tell me that everything still looked good, but he felt things were going to change. During the next week, one of the guys in my office walked in and looked at me and said, "you are huge, what has happened to you?" A week and a half went by, I had another visit, it was a Thursday(29w6d). He looked at me and said, "you are done." I was like "WHAT?" He said "You are now on bed rest until you deliver your baby."

Well the Superwoman that I am or thought I was went to work the next day, it was a Friday and I needed to be able to turn over all of my work. After all I manage a Real Estate team, and I had about 4 dozen homes in the pipeline; I was the only person that knew what was going on. What I meant to be a half day turned into a full day, and I was totally exhausted, panting, and limping from the pain in my legs.

Saturday (30w1d), I woke up and took my blood pressure. It wasn't good: 156/112. So I laid down to rest and it seemed to get better, that was until I would sit up and it went higher. Then while sitting in bed I saw shooting stars, I knew that I needed to go to the hospital at that point. Being stubborn and not truly understanding the seriousness of the situation, I told my husband that I wanted to get dinner because I knew I wasn't getting out of the hospital, but thought it wasn't a big rush to get there because they were just going to admit until I delivered in June. HELLO IT WAS APRIL!!! WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Upon my arrival to the OB Triage, I quickly learned that I was not going to go home and that not only my life was in jeopardy, but also the life of my daughter. Her ultrasound showed that she was much smaller than she should be, the amniotic fluid was low, and she was at risk, due to me having preeclampsia and the early stages of HELLP. The next 48 hours were filled with Mag delusions, steroid injections, oxygen, hydrotherapy, and consults with my Peri and the Neonatologist. I remember the neonatologist saying to me that he hoped he would never see me again, and the peri told me that our goal was 35 weeks and to make myself at home because I wasn't leaving. Well, Monday(30w3d) arrived, and my OB came in to talk to me about the latest ultrasound. The fluid had dropped even more, the baby was small and weak, and I had gained 12 pounds overnight. All of the doctors agreed that I needed to have a c-section as soon as I reached the steroid window, which would be the following morning. The baby could not tolerate a vaginal birth and if we waited more than 24 hours the outcome would not be good. My window started at 2:30am, and my daughter was born April 19th, 2005 at 5:30am, weighing 1000g(2pounds 3.5oz) 14 1/2 inches long.

The following week was a blur because I was so sick. I was released 5 days after the birth of my beautiful little girl. She remained in the NICU for 47 days. My little girl was a fighter from the start. She had Apgars of 9 and 9 and was on room air on day 3. Sh had terrible feeding and digestion problems and a level III IVH. She was discharged on June 4th, 2004 weighing 4 pounds 3 ounces. The days in the NICU are something that I would not wish upon any family. They are the ties that bind all of us.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Preeclampsia Video from Action on Pre-Eclampsia

This is Rebecca Black, an obstetrician at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England. Mike Rich of Action on Pre-Eclampsia posted this video on YouTube. It is a 7 minute video, but is only part 1 of 6. The other parts are not posted on YouTube yet, from what I can tell. Enjoy the educational overview of preeclampsia.

Click on the movie twice to view it.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What he gives you

Last weekend, my family went to an 80th anniversary celebration at the church that my husband attended while he was growing up. We got married there, and his parents still attend this same church. It was like a Homecoming and women who'd grown up there, but now are married and living elsewhere, all coming back and catching up with old friends. There were many small children there too, and everyone was ooohing and aaahing over them, remarking how much they look like their parents, etc.

After the church service, they had a potluck lunch in the building next door. We went and stood in the long line to get our fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and green bean casserole.......

Slightly ahead of us in line was a family my husband had known from "way back". A man he'd known from high school, and a lady who'd grown up in that church, and they're both about our age. With them were their 4 little girls, who looked to be around ages 1, 3, 5, and 7. The mom is pregnant again, too.

As the line crept forward, someone near the pregnant mom asked her if this new baby would be her last, and the response just struck a chord with me. She replied, "Well, we don't know yet. We'll just have to see what he gives us."

I haven't been able to stop thinking about it, truthfully. For quite a while I've known the old saying "God doesn't give you any more than you can handle". In this day and age, 4 (soon to be 5) children is certainly a lot, and I can't imagine caring for them all---either emotionally or financially!

But that's not what got to me about her comment. Instead, it was the old, nagging, irksome feelings that haunt many women who are survivors of preeclampsia........why was THIS what he gave me? That woman was the picture of health, could be on the cover of "Beautiful Pregnant Woman" magazine, and has 4 healthy perfect girls already. Pregnancy is a breeze for her, or so it appears. And she's just going to keep on and see "what he gives her" in terms of how many easy pregnancies she'll get to have.

Meanwhile, there are women all over the world who suffer from preeclampsia each and every time they are pregnant. Women who've lost a child, or more than one, to the disease. Women whose own lives were lost as a result of PE. I've never had one easy pregnancy, never one easy delivery, never one time to take home a chubby, healthy baby on the same day I go home from the hospital.

And I never will. That's what he's given me........and if I were to be pregnant again, it would be that way again. And again. And again......the constant fear, overanalyzing every little twinge or symptom...........being petrified to get my BP taken, or worrying if the headache I feel is THAT kind of headache.

So I'm left to wonder why and to never truly know the answer of why some women have preeclampsia and some do not. Why my body just doesn't "do well" with pregnancy, and others breeze through. The only way to keep on coping from day to day, I guess, is to look down at the two precious miracles that stood by my side in that lunch line at the church......and to know that every bit of what I suffered while pregnant, and after, was worth it to have those 2 boys here with me today. After all, he gave me them as well...........

Friday, May 04, 2007

Happy Birthday Meghan!

My daughter Meghan's 3rd birthday is today. I hope you enjoy this post where I remember the day she was born. You'll see that magnesium sulfate was putting me into a case of sensory overload, and how that influenced my experience of meeting Meghan for the first time.

Jen, mom of Grace & Meghan

PS: Happy birthday to Ariana too!

Monday, April 30, 2007

4 Years

One of our fellow preeclampsia survivors, Denise, posted a wonderful recollection of what she went through 4 years ago as her diagnosis of HELLP was unfolding. Happy Birthday to her daughter, Ariana!

Enjoy her thoughtful post:

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Seeing is Believing

My girls, Gracie and Meghan, have become "thick as thieves" as they say lately. Often times, I feel like I'm the referee in the middle of a boxing ring, but then I witness heart melting episodes of the girls playing so sweetly together. After a normal weekend of a little too much time together, Grace asked me if she and Meghan could watch baby movies again.

In our house, baby movies are home movies of Grace and Meghan. For the last two weeks, we've watched home movies. I've really enjoyed seeing them as babies on tape since my memories are beginning to fade with time. Tonight, I selected a tape that said "Grace in the NICU." When I picked it up, I hesitated at first. Like some other preeclampsia survivors, I continue to struggle with the guilt associated with having severe preeclampsia and premature babies. I haven't watched that tape in well over 4 years. Grace will be five in May.

Honestly, I only had a fuzzy idea of what was on that tape. I think that is because I was in a magnesium sulfate induced haze at the time of the taping. As I was putting away laundry in their room, the girls were parked in their favorite chairs watching intently. Most of the tape was Grace in her incubator, doing little to nothing. I had forgotten how much of the time in NICU is just sitting and waiting.

As we watched Grace in the NICU shortly after being born, we then watched Grace having her blood drawn for the first time. I left the room for moment. When I came back in the room, a picture of Grace's NICU monitor was full screen on the television. I reviewed the numbers, and began to panic on the inside. Grace was "desating" to 68. For those of you who have seen a desat, they make moms and dads shudder. I finally realized that Grace was desating because she was having a blood draw. It made sense, but reminded me how often we encountered episodes of fear and panic in the NICU.

Grace asked, "Mommy, why don't I have my eyes open?" I responded that the NICU had very bright lights and that she was sleepy. Another part of the tape was of my siblings meeting Grace at her bedside. Grace simply asked, "Mom, why is everyone so sad?" I explained that seeing a baby in a box (aka incubator) can be scary, but sometimes people cry when they are happy, too. She didn't seem phased by the tape. I love her ability to just accept what I say as golden.

As the tape drew to a close, I watched as I was loaded into a wheel chair, still very swollen. It was three days after Grace was born, I was finally going to see Grace since I had glimpsed her in the delivery room. I was pleased to see that I appeared excited on the tape. My memory is quite different as I had post partum depression.

The camera shook and bounced as we rolled down the hallways toward the NICU. My husband narrated. I'm pretty sure I remember my heart pounding. Seeing the NICU for the first time was obviously overwhelming, but it appeared I was able to process it slowly. My eyes darted this way and that. (I was still suffering from hypertensive retinopathy with macular swelling.) I really couldn't see.

I couldn't see Grace. Neither my husband or the staff knew that. They knew that I kept complaining about my eyes. Most just said, "Oh, that is mag." It was the day after my first visit, that I was diagnosed with more than "just mag" vision. Now that my vision has mostly returned to normal, I watched myself experience one of the most heart wrenching things ever, on tape. I suppose it was actually the viewpoint of my husbad since he was behind the camera.

I couldn't see my newly born Gracie. I couldn't see her. I could see light and dark shapes. I could hear the monitors alarming here and there. I could hear ventilators and CPAP machines administering oxygen to babies born too soon. I felt Grace's body startle as I placed my index finger in the palm of her hand. I felt the tears streaming down my face. I heard my husband attempt to console me by saying "She's just skinny, Jen. It'll be okay."

It is there...all on tape for my family and me to see. I wish I could feel better about it. Hopefully someday, I'll be able to watch it without too much emotion, without welling up.

As most moms say, "We'll see."

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Another sign of survival

February 12, 2004 should have been a fun day. Instead, it was one of the worst days of my life. I had tickets to see a live show of A Prairie Home Companion, which I love and listen to often on the radio. Instead of seeing the show, however, I was admitted to the hospital. I was 24 weeks pregnant, diagnosed with severe preeclampsia and told that my baby would be delivered within days and probably wouldn't survive.

Fast forward to February 12, 2007. It was a Monday, and I went about my business as I do each Monday......taking my sons to school, teaching my band class, picking the kids up, taking one of them to speech therapy, etc. Typical Monday, I suppose. The date didn't ring a bell in my head, I didn't think anything about it all, believe it or not.

It was February 22 before I realized it. Like a lightning flash, I thought "Oh my goodness, I didn't even think about the significance of Feb. 12 on that day"! This is the first year since it all happened that I haven't thought about it, remembered it, written about it, etc. Obviously, we've come a long way since then, and my son is about to celebrate his 3rd birthday in March. We've got the typical day-to-day stuff that most families deal practice, laundry, work, school, etc. And, we've got 2 former preemies, one who's on the autism spectrum and has a lot of therapy and doctor appointments to keep us busy. So I guess it's no wonder that I "missed" the anniversary of my hospitalization 3 years ago. But, I can't help but think it's another sign of progress----beginning, EVER so slowly, to move past the experience. Maybe just a little.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Do you share some of these fears too? Amy, mom of Gracie, shares this very eloquent post:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ever Feel Like a Poster Child for Preeclampsia?

Tonight, my husband and I had dinner with an old friend, Dolly. She is currently 14 weeks pregnant. We're thrilled for her. She seems thrilled, too.

In the course of normal conversation, Dolly began a side conversation with me to ask me what my preeclampsia symptoms were. So there I sat...relaying my story yet another time. On one hand, I felt that it was worthy information for her to have. On the other hand, I didn't want to scare the heck out of her. In reality, I just wanted to crawl in a hole somewhere. I didn't want to be the poster child for preeclampsia tonight. I still struggle with the feelings of failure. I still feel like denying what happened to me and my babies. Why couldn't my body do something that was so natural? Why did my children have to be born premature? Why?

As I was listing my symptoms, I noticed that the other two women at the table were listening intently to me. Naturally, my story drifted to the NICU and how my husband and I were able to bring both of our children home. There I was telling the story of my very personal journey with preeclampsia, and I had a captive audience who was just waiting for that "miracle" ending. After all, who doesn't love a story with a great "miracle" ending? Right?

While I do very much value the miracles I have in Grace and Meghan, I also know the devastating effects that preeclampsia has had on me, my daughters, and more importantly other preeclampsia survivors. The key word in this message is survivors because it also implys those who didn't survive.

I dedicate tonight's entry to a tiny, yet beautiful soul who had to leave her mommy, Denise, too soon. Madison, honey, your mom will love you forever.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


My best friend in the world is 12 weeks pregnant. I'm thrilled for her as they tried to get pregnant for 27 months before it finally happened for them. Aside from being thrilled I almost feel sick about it. I *know* that she will be fine, but then again, why wasn't I? I have no underlying conditions...What about my body caused me to develop preeclampsia in not one, but two pregnancies?? I don't think I will EVER feel complete happiness hearing that someone is pregnant. I know all too well what can happen. Although I don't know anyone in real life that has had preeclampsia I know so many women in our online forum that have suffered from it and I know just how bad it can be. I worry about my sister. She has chronic high blood pressure. They are going to start trying to conceive later this year or early next year. I know that I will feel nothing but worry for her until that baby is safely here. Growing up I knew that if I had children that I wanted three of them. I have my two boys and I am so thankful for being blessed with them, but I feel like a part of me is missing...I feel like there should be one more child running around here with my boys. I've talked to my husband about adoption and he's not keen on the idea. I would adopt in a heartbeat. I know that I could love an adopted child just as much as my boys. I don't think he's going to budge on the idea either. He is fine with us having one more baby, but I am so afraid. What if I lose a baby this time or what if my boys lose ME? There are just too many "what ifs" that outweigh the end result for me right now. Then I think how Dalton will turn three this year and Hunter will be six and we have those hard "baby" years over. I'll have a little more time to myself without having to chase after a baby or a toddler all day. Maybe it's best this way. I wonder if all women still feel a desire for a baby even after they know they are done having children. Darn preeclampsia!!! It shouldn't be this hard...It's so unfair. A woman should be able to have a baby without having to worry about something like this. If nothing else, I'm at least armed with a wealth of information about preeclampsia and I can be there to help watch for problems in my friend and my sister. I just pray that they never have to deal with this.

Monday, January 15, 2007

My lens

People sometimes ask (or wonder): "Why can't you just get over that preeclampsia thing and move on?" I've wondered about this myself. What is it about those experiences that stays with you, makes it nearly impossible to move on even if you want to?

I think the answer is that preeclampsia is now my lens--the lens through which I see the world. Nearly all aspects of my life continue to be influenced by the fact that I had preeclampsia in my two pregnancies. Or like what happens when a pebble is dropped into a makes a quick splash, but ripples instantly begin to move outward from that point. The ripples grow, expand, and move to encompass an ever-bigger portion of the water.

So, the initial pebble was the diagnosis of PE itself--although it was more like a 5-ton boulder than a pebble. From there, the ripple effect sons were born extremely premature due to PE. They experienced long hospital stays and lingering health issues due to the prematurity. I completely altered my career path in order to be a "mom of preemies". I experienced severe stress and nearly-crushing depression years AFTER the fact due to the strain of caring for the developmental and health issues of my boys. I learned the meanings of so many new words, phrases, and acronyms.........can you say BPD, CPAP, PDA, As and Bs, ASD, RSV? Most recently, I became a online forum founder and a blog contributor! It's now a part of my daily life to work at helping and supporting other PE moms around the world, and it's my own form of therapy as well.

So, in early 2001 if you had told me I would have 2 extremely premature sons, would have survived a life-threatening disease twice, would no longer be a full time teacher but would be Mom's taxi service to weekly speech therapy appointments and the endless doctor's visits, and would be a part of a worldwide sisterhood of PE survivors..........I would have thought you'd truly lost touch with reality. Instead, this IS my reality, and it colors my view of my life, my world, because I've gone in an entirely different direction than I would ever have predicted.

Did I ask to have PE? No. Would I choose to have it, or wish it on anyone else? Not a chance. But now that I've had it, I can't just walk away unchanged. I can't move on as if it never happened. My life isn't the same as it was before August 6, 2001. All that I can do, all that any of us can try to do, is move on as if it DID happen--and know that we're not alone.