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.