In 1996, I nearly died of preeclampsia during the birth of my third child. That day my life did a complete 180;(which, coincidentally, was also what my blood pressure was when I was admitted to the ER — 180/120 at 38 weeks pregnant) — it seems I didn’t take to dying too well.
And as a result, I decided to really live — to speak the truth, even when it was hard; to admit my mistakes; to be kind to myself and others; to be open to change; to listen to the lessons life was trying to teach me, and to make a difference.
So, in 1999 I founded the Preeclampsia Foundation. I went from being a 5th grade teacher with crippling stage fright, to an outspoken, pushy woman who would not take no for an answer, talking to World Health Organization, the March of Dimes, the Gates Foundation, to anyone who would take my calls. I even talked my way up to Laura Bush’s press secretary because I knew she, like me, had had preeclampsia. Suddenly, I had no fear. And no experience!
I wasn’t a doctor, or nurse, or nonprofit manager, or fundraiser, or database developer, or public speaker — but I had nothing to lose. I jumped in the deep end. I immersed myself in it all and didn’t care if I fell flat on my face. Nothing…nothing could be worse than what happened to me.
I was wrong.
Over the years I have met many people who have suffered far more harrowing experiences than my own. In fact, over the years I’ve learned there is nothing very special about me at all. All of us experience loss. All of us experience pain.
In early 2009, everything seemed to fall apart — my father spent time in ICU and I couldn’t go see him because I had pneumonia, and then, two days before an annual board retreat that I was in charge of, one of my sons became extremely ill and we didn’t know if he was going to pull through. I didn’t eat or sleep for days. My older brother called me the day of the board retreat, which coincidentally was my birthday…”Happy Birthday!”
“Oh yeah,” I said, “HAPPY birthday to me…my son might die, my dad might die, I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I have to keep working…” Eeyore would have been proud.
He cut me off, “Yes, Anne — HAPPY birthday to you, your son is not dead, you are getting him the care he needs, and he has you – it seems to me that that is about the best birthday present anyone could ever ask for.”
I was stunned. He was absolutely right. What an idiot I’d been.
For the next several months, whenever fear started to get the best of me, I repeated this mantra, “my son is not dead, he is getting the care he needs, we have health insurance, we have a home, we have friends, we have family…” Repeating and repeating this mantra of what was working carried me through some very dark days but it wasn’t easy, it didn’t come naturally to me, and it took practice.
This website is about that practice–of recognizing the good in the every day, be it big or small, and focusing on that. Time is short. Nothing is guaranteed. Time to find the good in all things.
This website is dedicated to my family – who are my biggest reminder of the good in all things.