Preeclampsia: A Story of Survival

Kelli, Davis and husband James

We all know that pregnancy is an exciting time of life for expectant mothers and their families. On its own, pregnancy is filled with many changes, mental, physical and emotional. And unfortunately 5-8 percent of pregnant women face a very serious medical condition called preeclampsia.
           

Preeclampsia is not a well-known condition, as many of the symptoms often seem like normal parts of pregnancy. For example, things like swelling (edema), weight gain, shortness of breath and nausea are common during pregnancy, but when paired with high blood pressure, protein in urine, visual changes and severe headaches, could raise a red flag. To breathe life into the experience of preeclampsia, Kelli Ledford, a survivor of the condition, along with her healthy baby boy, Davis, share their story.

When Kelli first began telling her story, it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t just Kelli’s experience, but one shared by Davis as they fought together each day. For Kelli, every day brought its own set of challenges and uncertainties and from the very beginning uncertainty always seemed to be the hardest part. Like many women, the symptoms of preeclampsia went unnoticed and even then, once diagnosed, Kelli expressed feelings of confusion and fear. “The scariest part was not knowing how long I was at that dangerous level, unaware—very scary!”

Kelli admitted that the fear and uncertainty never subsided. Every day she would worry about how her body would react to medications, she would fear for the well-being of Davis and would endure near constant IV medication, fetal monitoring and the dreaded blood pressure measuring. However, despite the daily discomfort and worry that Kelli experienced, there were also daily highlights, “Every day that I could keep my baby boy inside was a good day and my family… I couldn’t have made it through without them.” The support that her family and friends provided is hard to put into words, from helping wash her hair, to eating lunch together, to riding the halls in a wheelchair, there were special moments in the midst of hardship. One of the most powerful thoughts that Kelli shared was the importance of this experience, “This experience was not about me, it was about him, my baby boy. I finally realized that I would sacrifice my body for him and in that moment, I became a mom.”

In addition to the spiritual and familial growth that Kelli experienced as a result of preeclampsia, she is actively supporting the health of other women by raising awareness. The most important thing for expectant moms is to pick the right physician and go to all prenatal appointments. Another important piece of advice that Kelli shared is to listen to your body, “You know your body better than anyone else, don’t ignore things or assume they’ll go away. It’s better to be safe than sorry.” In addition to medical advice and the importance of being proactive in your and your baby’s health, remember the end goal. “Pregnancy never goes as planned,” says Kelli, “Regardless of how it transpires, at the end of the day you are still bringing a miracle into this world.” 

The Gwinnett Women’s Pavilion is dedicated to providing special beginnings every day. We are here to support you and provide all the assistance you need during your special experience.  

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