Thursday, November 14, 2013

Long Time Gone

Just a quick post to say I haven't disappeared completely. I'm working full time and trying to find time to write - so will come back to this soon. It's November - which means it's Prematurity Awareness Month. It's also the month my little preemie came home from the hospital.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Preeclampsia Awareness Month

Preeclampsia Awareness Saves Lives. I wish I had become aware of preeclampsia through a simple infographic such as the one above. If I had been handed something like this at my doctor's office, I would have read it. I read everything - cereal boxes, advertising circulars, the instructions on the shampoo bottles. But I didn't read about preeclampsia - at least, not at a time when the information might have done me some good.

Since 2006, I have read A LOT about preeclampsia. I read down the list of signs and symptoms and nod my head and mentally check them off. Headache. Check. Seeing spots. Check. Swelling. Check. Vomiting. Check. It seems obvious in retrospect. It seems so completely obvious. My body was screaming these signs at me - loudly - but I was one of the 49% of college-educated women who didn't know or understand the symptoms. I did not take action - and that absence of action very nearly took my life and that of my son.

I've written a lot about the events of his birthday - the parts that I can remember. I've written about the confusion, the fear, the pain, and my complete and utter inability to help myself. By the time I recognized that my symptoms were symptomatic of something other than the flu, I was beyond my own capabilities. This is not a good place to be. It's a place from which many people never return.

The thing about awareness is that it drives action. Ignorance encourages inaction. In the face of something as cruel as preeclampsia, inaction can kill quickly. And as the blood pressure creeps up and the thought processes dull and the eyesight blurs and the reflexes engage and the body edges ever closer to seizure or coma - inaction can make death inevitable.

Awareness drives action. This awareness campaign is not about instilling fear or unsettling women. It's not about creating an atmosphere of impending doom. It's not about undermining the experience of pregnancy. It's about reaching those 5-8% of women who will develop preeclampsia. It's about helping those women advocate for themselves. It's about getting those women in to see their care providers before they end up seizing on the floor by themselves.

Be aware. Know the signs. Know the symptoms.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Post Haste

So, since I haven't been writing here, I figured I'd post all of the other posts that I've posted elsewhere. Post haste. Or something like that.

So, I'm blogging for the Mommy Docs - so far, I've had the following posts:

Postpartum depression: (Jan 24, 2013)

Baby New Year: (Jan 1, 2013)

Travel tips: (Dec 10, 2012) - also published at (Feb 5, 2013)

National Prematurity Awareness Day: (Nov 17, 2012)

Here is an interview I did with Walker Karraa for the Lamaze International blog Science & Sensibility - it is in two parts:

Part 1: (Feb 5, 2013)
Part 2: (Feb 7, 2013)

Here is my guest post for Finnegan & The Hughes on the Unexpected Project: (Jan 28, 2013)

I did a guest post for Postpartum Progress on eclampsia and postpartum depression: (Jan 9, 2013)

I was profiled on the Preeclampsia Foundation Promise Walk blog: (Feb 6, 2013)

I also wrote this article for the Preeclampsia Foundation newsletter: (Nov 1, 2012)

We also have our Indiegogo campaign active for the Unexpected Project documentary: (live through the Ides of March)

And visit us at
Anne wrote most of the copy on the website, but I'm working on some stuff to appear soon. Oh, and check out my bio: I crack myself up:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

In Other News

My poor, sad, neglected blog. I started with such lofty intentions. The execution may have fallen short, but the ambition is still there... So here's what else I've been working on. Some of it writing, some of it organizing, and some of it housekeeping....

I am blogging now regularly for The Mommy Docs - a trio of ob/gyns from LA who wrote a book (which placed 7th on the Preeclampsia Foundation Top 10). They were also on the show Deliver Me on the OWN network, and are in the works with a new show. I love that the doctors know complicated pregnancies from the inside out - Dr. Allison Hill is a fellow HELLP survivor. And I love that they approach pregnancy and complications from a grounded, reassuring angle. They aren't going to tell you that complications won't happen, but they will tell you what needs to be done and that the odds are still in your favor even if you start trending that way. So visit me at and say hi!

Also, I am working on a documentary with my good friend Anne Garrett Addison. She's a PE sister - and it's amazing how quickly that bond can kick in. The documentary is on maternal mortality and morbidity (that's us close calls, if you were wondering) in the US. We rank 49th in the world in maternal mortality, yet we spend more than any other nation. If you were wondering why health care costs so much... maternity care. We spend more on that than on ANY other area of health care. We should be getting a much better return. The documentary is called Unexpected, because really - NO ONE expects that this will happen to them. And when it does.... So visit us on the web - we're on Facebook and we have our own site We are planning to launch our fundraising campaign very soon - so stay tuned.

I am also organizing the Orange County Promise Walk for Preeclampsia for 2013. It will be on May 18 at Bill Barber Park in Irvine, CA. Why Orange County? Well, though I live in the infamous San Fernando Valley, which is around 60 miles from Irvine - this walk needed a coordinator. It was already established and so I offered to take over. I went last year and it was lovely - so I wanted to make sure that it stayed that way this year as well. I may regret that somewhat as May draws closer, but you never know until you try and it could be awesome. Like totally. Because we all know that every event needs some Valley Girl to truly be tubular.

I'm working freelance and looking for more work. I joined the Y. I'm eating better. So things are looking up. I'm excited for 2013.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Asking for HELLP

I come from a family that routinely downplays illness. My mother denied feeling ill up until the point that she cracked a rib coughing. I was raised with a sense that doctors were something to be avoided if at all possible and that most things could be made better simply by saying "oh, come on, it's not that bad. You're ok." This isn't to say that we didn't go to doctors - we did. There were trips to the ER for the normal bumps and bruises of childhood. But the relationship between illness and cure was always couched in terms that emphasized mind over matter. There was a tendency to minimize symptoms or just to ignore them in hopes that they would resolve. There is some value in this approach - certainly it can be harmful to run to the doctor at every small thing. Some things such as cold viruses need to just be waited out.

But this attitude nearly killed me. I didn't call my doctor when my symptoms certainly warranted it. I tried to wait it out. Of course, I also was ignorant of the possibility that they could all add up to something as insidious as HELLP syndrome or eclampsia. I struggle with that even now.

I made a promise to myself after my son was born that I would accept any and all help offered. I pretty much stuck to that. In the early days alot of people offered to help in specific and general ways. We had offers of babysitting, food, moral support, flowers, gifts, and other small gestures. I accepted help and was grateful. I still am.

But I missed out on an important part of the puzzle - I never learned to ask for help. I still have a big problem asking for help, even when I'm drowning in my own depression. Especially when I'm drowning. It's hard to ask for help. I floundered for 2 years before I pulled myself out of depression after my first son. After my second, I got help in the form of an antidepressant. I am grateful for that help - it shut down my anxiety and allowed me to function. But I never addressed the issues that caused the depression in the first place. I still have those issues.

Recently, I began therapy with my husband. We had gotten to a bad place and he forced the issue - but I'm glad in a way that he did. It has been extraordinarily rough these past few weeks. I'm stressed out and feeling raw. My anxiety is running high and I'm just not sure where everything will end up. I am holding on to the hope that this will end well. So, yes, now I am asking for help. I can't do this on my own.

Monday, November 19, 2012

How to Piss Off a Preeclamptic in One Easy Step!

Last week, I posted a link to an article on my Facebook page. I knew that it would get a reaction from my PE sisters and I was not disappointed. The comments section on the Texas OB/Gyn's page had been (up to that point) full of glowing praise for his list. He was saving women and their VBACs from doctors who would give bogus reasons to c-section them again.

Here is the offending quote - which is offered as a "Bonus Tip" on his top 10 list:
"11. 38-week visit, “Your blood pressure is a little high today. You are probably developing preeclampsia or toxemia. That can cause you to have a SEIZURE! The treatment is to deliver the baby. You need a Cesarean Section, as this is the quickest way to resolve it. Let’s get you up to L&D NOW!” Translation – Preeclampsia or Pregnancy Induced High Blood Pressure is a pain in the butt. If I induce you, it could take 24 hours or more and then I would have to manage your blood pressure, and put you on Magnesium. This is way too inconvenient. Do not worry you can try to have the baby vaginally next time. Yeah right!"

We piled on in the comments section - gave reason after reason why #11 was offensive. But I think what it boils down to is that it is dismissive. It makes light of seizures, which, by the way are WAY WORSE than a c-section. His response to our concerns about his flippancy was to tell us that we were reading it the wrong way:
"Apparently a few women who had bad experiences with preeclampsia and read my list did not understand the purpose of the list. The list was posted to empower women to ask questions. It did not say anything about not performing a C/S when medically indicated."

Again, dismissive. Because, yes, reading comprehension was DEFINITELY the problem here.

There is a way to say what he was trying to say WITHOUT offending us. And there's also a way to respond to our complaints without further dismissing us. If a doctor tries to bully you into a c-section by saying you will have SEIZURES - without a proper diagnosis or enough information to truly have INFORMED consent, then yes that is a problem. But this doctor is also detracting from informed consent - if a woman reading that post goes into her next appointment and gets a PE diagnosis - will she argue against a c-section?

We argued this point because we have been there. None of us expected to be caught up in the trainwreck of PE. Mine went undiagnosed in part because of my own tendency to dismiss. Treating it flippantly sends the wrong message. A woman reading his list right now is going to become a PE sister. She doesn't know it yet. The doctor can't know that either. I hope she gets the help she needs when she needs it. And IF a c-section is warranted, I hope she will genuinely be able to provide informed consent.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Prematurity Awareness Month

Welcome to Prematurity Awareness Month. I am aware. Are you?

I wrote this:

And this:

for the Preeclampsia Foundation in honor of the month.

I will be doing two other guest blogs this month and hopefully some more personal blogs right here, too.

Tomorrow is the 6th anniversary of Budge's homecoming from the NICU. That is something to celebrate!