Stephanie’s story: Part four

Preeclampsia happens in 1 in 25 pregnancies and is responsible for 10-15% of maternal deaths globally. Millions of people have a preeclampsia story to tell. This is part four of Stephanie’s story, 21 years later. 

Ovia stories is a series that goes deep on a shared experience from our community.

“Shortly after we settled in at home, I began experiencing acute anxiety as I started to process everything that happened. 

The neonatologist in Cyprus told us that Nick could not get sick for the first two years because his lungs might not be able to handle it, so I quarantined with him other than essential travel for doctor visits. We were very consumed by our circumstances and focused on Nick’s health and wellbeing because he still needed a lot of specialty care. 

As Nick started getting older, we would tell him more and more bits of the story. Our family traveled back to Cyprus in 2012 for the first time since he was born. We visited the hospital where Nick was born and showed him the NICU. We also visited his lead neonatologist. It was just amazing to thank him in person and have him meet Nick and talk with him.

It took me a long time to realize that I had PTSD. I did some therapy when Nick was a baby because I was experiencing panic attacks — especially when my husband would travel for work, and it was just me and Nick alone in the house. Every year around the time of Nick’s birthday or whenever I’d pull out the picture album that I made when we were in Cyprus, I would get intense anxiety. 

But slowly our stress eased as Nick got healthier and stronger. Nick’s 21st birthday last year was the first time that I made it through the day without having any anxiety, which made me realize I was ready to talk about it. Telling my story to Ovia and Women’s Health colleagues in May 2022 was the first time that I opened up about the details. I walked away feeling this incredible sense of release and relief. I’m sharing my preeclampsia story to raise awareness and hopefully to make a difference for other families.  

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