As continued from “Pree….WHAT??”  Welcome to the Scariest Day of My Life-  PART 1.

Finally, I called Richard and told him that I needed to go to the hospital.

About 30 minutes later he arrived and helped me get dressed.  When Richard got home, he asked me if we were going to Piedmont Hospital, which was an hour away.  I said, “NO, I won’t make it!  Go to the closest, Emory Eastside Hospital” (which is now Eastside Medical Center). As I was getting dressed, I noticed that my fingers were BLUE (a discovery that I kept from Richard until we reached the hospital).

When we arrived at the hospital, I explained to the triage nurse that I was almost 36 weeks pregnant, my fingers were blue, and I had been having trouble breathing for three days. He checked my blood oxygen level and immediately determined that I was not getting sufficient oxygen into my body. At that point, I was wheeled directly into a room and a swarm of nurses and doctors appeared around me. I was hooked to what seemed like every machine in the room and had a mask on my face forcing air into my throat and nose.

It wasn’t long before they determined that I was suffering with Severe Preeclampsia, Cardiomyopathy, and Pulmonary Edema. My blood pressure was high, my heart function was very low, and my lungs were filled with fluid.  I was told that they had to deliver my baby so that they could save my life. Needless to say, I was scared!

At 1:05 p.m., Drew was born at 35 weeks 6 days gestation via c-section and, after seeing him for approximately 15 seconds (literally), I was whisked into the ICU.

Later that day, I went into respiratory arrest and was placed on a ventilator.  My entire family was called in.  I was in critical condition.  I vividly remember thinking, “this is what it is like to choose to live or die…I want to LIVE.”  As soon as I made that decision, I could hear the nurse explaining to my family that I was not able to open my eyes because I was sedated, but I could hear them so they could talk to me.  I remember holding my husband’s hand on one side and my father’s hand on the other side as the nurse spoke.  Though I could not open my eyes, I could, in fact feel their hands in mine and hear everything that was being said.  I was trying so hard to squeeze their hands.

I woke up the following day and immediately started asking my aunt what day it was.  My fear was that I had been asleep and in a coma for multiple days or possibly longer.  Since I was on a ventilator, speaking was impossible, so I was using sign language.  My aunt, however, could not figure out what I was asking.  Eventually, she did tell me that it was Monday, August 18, 2008, and I had not lost any additional time.  Not long after that, my father appeared with a note pad and a pen and off I went!  I kept that notepad to this day and I still remember the many conversations that I had with visitors through writing on it.

After 5 1/2 days in the ICU, with 3 of those days being on a ventilator, I was released to a Mother/Baby room on August 22, 2008.  I was finally able to hold my baby for the first time. The hospital allowed Drew to come back and stay in the room with me and my mom that night. I was released from the hospital on August 23, 2008!

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Eight months later, I received a call from the husband of my dear friend, Michelle, to tell me that her pregnancy was also affected by Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome.  (You can read her story on our website.)

In April 2010, Michelle asked me to participate in the 1st Annual Promise Walk for Preeclampsia.  I agreed and the rest is history, as they say…

Promise Walk for Preeclampsia 2010 vs 2012

I have dedicated myself to spreading awareness of Preeclampsia, a condition which affects 5-8% of all pregnancies.  If you do not know the warning signs and what Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome are, please check out our website.  These conditions take the lives of far too many mothers and babies every year.

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For that reason, I spend half of the year spreading education and fundraising for the Preeclampsia Foundation, though the Atlanta Promise Walk for Preeclampsia.  This year, we will be having several fundraisers.  A list of the fundraisers can be found on our website.

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The first of the fundraisers will be held this upcoming Tuesday, February 26, 2013, at Mellow Mushroom in Snellville, Georgia. There will be a raffle from 6-8pm that will include various prizes, such as a family photo session from Tom Womack Photography, a gift certificate for Scentsy products, a gift card for Five Spot Frozen Yogurt, Mellow Shirts, and much more!  Bring your money and join us for a night of fun!!

Update:  Drew was born without any complications and has become a very smart and active 4 year old!

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Aren’t we silly??

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For me, it was a long recovery! I am happy to report that as of March of this year, I am no longer under the care of a cardiologist and I am off of all heart medications. My heart function is back up to high normal (which is better than normal!) and my blood pressure seems to be under control with my exercise and diet changes.

I am hopeful that one day every pregnant woman and her physician will be aware of the signs and symptoms of this way too common condition associated with pregnancy. Please take the time to educate yourself and your loved ones about Preeclampsia. You may be able to save a life or two one day!

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