The Promise Walk for Preeclampsia
We are the faces of Preeclampsia, a disorder of pregnancy that takes the lives of 76,000 mothers and 500,000 babies every single year. We are both beyond lucky to be here today.
August 28th started like everyday had for the past week, I woke up exhausted from vomiting randomly throughout the night with a pounding headache that wouldn’t subside. This had become the new normal for me since hitting 29 weeks pregnant. That night we went to our first Saints game, and on the walk back to the car I couldn’t seem to catch my breath and had a persistent pain in my upper right abdominal. All of these symptoms I chalked up to the stress of moving from North Carolina just two weeks before and adjusting to the intense Louisiana heat.
The next morning, our worlds were rocked when my regular prenatal appointment landed me in the hospital with a diagnosis of Preeclampsia. A few days later Jude, our son, failed his Non Stress Test and we received a visit from the Neonatal Intensive Care staff, a visit no expecting parent should have to have. Scared doesn’t even begin to cover it, my mind was a blur of survival rates and what long term issues we could be facing with such an early delivery.
Many people see Preeclampsia only affecting the mom and that’s not always the case. My high blood pressure caused issues with cord flow and placental function in turn causing him to have intrauterine growth restriction, low amniotic fluid, and often heart decelerations. Everyday that passed was a delicate balance between his much needed development and my body going down hill.
On September 6th, the constant blood pressure monitoring, twice daily blood draws, twenty four hour fetal heart rate and contraction monitoring came crashing to an end. Suddenly I felt like there was an elephant sitting on my chest, had a pounding headache, spotty blurry vision, a stabbing sensation in my abdominal, and I was showing signs of hyperreflexia. At that moment, I was on the verge of having a seizure and possibly going into liver failure as well. I was rushed into the Operating Room and Jude was born shortly after at exactly 31 weeks weighing two pounds nine ounces breathing on his own, steroid shots are miracle workers. The birth of your child is supposed to be one the greatest days of your life, it was by far the most terrifying day of mine. Afterwards, I was hooked to a 24 hour drip of magnesium sulfate for the second time, and until that was over, I couldn’t move because I was still a seizure risk. This meant I couldn’t see Jude and this was absolutely heartbreaking because I didn’t even get a glimpse of him in operating room.
Jude spent the next 41 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit fighting constant apnea episodes, brain bleeds, learning how to eat, and learning how to regulate his body temperature. The day we walked out of the hospital with Jude was one of the greatest most awaited days of my life; we were finally complete as a new family of four. He was able to come off of the apnea medicine by six months old and has had no more issues with it. His first year was a rollercoaster ride of multiple specialists, multiple tests and procedures, and weekly early intervention sessions. His will to fight absolutely amazes me and I’m happy to report he’s now a healthy very happy 19 month old that loves everyone!
This is why our family walks in The New Orleans Promise Walk for Preeclampsia. The walk supports the mission of the Preeclampsia Foundation in providing patient support and education, raising public awareness, catalyzing research and improving health care practices for the millions of families impacted each year by Preeclampsia and other related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. This year’s walk will take place on June 11th at Audubon Park. Registration opens at 8:30a.m. with the Welcome Presentation beginning at 9:30a.m. Registration is FREE this year. For more information or to register, click HERE.
Other families have not been as fortunate in the fight against Preeclampsia. Please make yourself aware of the symptoms; it could save a life one day. Symptoms include high blood pressure, proteinuria, swelling, headache, nausea or vomiting, abdominal/shoulder area pain, lower back pain, sudden weight gain, changes in vision, hyperreflexia, and shortness of breath.
An enormous thank you to everyone in our support system and all of the medical staff. It’s been a wild ride and we appreciate and love you all!
Amanda is a stay at home mom to two rambunctious boys and wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s a native of Eastern North Carolina who relocated to New Orleans less than two years ago and fell in love with all the culture the city has to offer. She’s a graduate of East Carolina University with a degree in Family and Community Services. Go Pirates! This year, she’s volunteering with Preeclampsia Foundation to bring hope to other families affected.