Founder’s Story

October 22, 2010. A day before my birthday. I woke up that morning as I normally did; a cranky, nauseous, 6-month pregnant woman carrying twin girls. The night before was tough – my husband Teddy and I had visited our high-risk doctor for a regular visit and had learnt that my blood pressure was slightly elevated, the swelling from the pregnancy was a major concern, and I had put on 11 pounds since my visit to her office the week before. She suggested a visit to my OB-GYN the next day for an immediate follow up. She gave us a letter, which now I know was a suggestion to put me on steroids to help the lungs of my babies develop quickly in case of early delivery.
The visit at my doctor’s that morning was very off. My blood pressure was quite high, the swelling had increased overnight, there was protein in my urine and I had a severe migraine. My doctor was not smiling as she usually did and she told us to go straight up to Labor and Delivery ( L & D) at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood. Explanation – I was at a critical stage and needed to go over right away and instructions would be sent over to L & D.

Labor and Delivery

We still did not fully understand the severity of what was going on as we got to L & D. I was admitted immediately and put on several monitors. My initial BP reading was extremely high. I tried to explain it was nerves and I was just nervous about the situation. Within minutes, we had several doctors, specialists, medical professionals and more coming in and out of the room introducing themselves and explaining their roles. The twins’ heart beats were ok – they seemed to be doing well. I on the other hand was not doing too well. Every so often the alarm on the monitor would go off as my BP continued to rise and drop; very unstable and inconsistent.

Anxiety

With all the stories we were hearing and all the information from the doctors, I was a nervous wreck. My migraines were unbelievably intense, I was shaking, I was worried about my babies, I was worried if I would make it out alive – I just could not believe I was in L & D at 27 weeks pregnant. We were told I had pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy-related condition that effects many expecting mothers. Further, we were told the smaller one of my twins was being affected by the condition and was not getting sufficient oxygen.

Family

We did not want to alarm a lot of people. My older brother, a medical doctor specializing in Gastroenterology had been on the phone with us from Georgia since we arrived and got the diagnosis.

No more time

My blood pressure began to rise to levels where I suffered the risk of a stroke or begin to have seizures. My migraines were not controllable, I couldn’t see clearly from both eyes and one of the twins was already showing signs of oxygen deprivation. I was now classified as having severe pre-eclampsia and the only option or ‘cure’ was to deliver my baby girls.

Decision

We had to deliver immediately. I was rushed into the Operating room and at 1:32am on my birthday, October 23rd, my daughter Neriah was born, weighing 960grams. Her sister, Neriya was born at 1:34am weighing 790grams.

My worst nightmare

Our twins were in critical care in the NICU. They were both intubated and placed on ventilators to assist with their breathing. I was still unaware of what was going on as they were still monitoring my condition and blood pressure. The twins were very ill. My Neriah fought hard for her life, but due to complications and prematurity reasons, she went to be with the Lord on October 25th. I got to see her when they brought her to my room to say ‘see you later’. It was the hardest thing I ever went through in my entire life. Neriya continued to struggle, but thank God, 3 months after she was born, we were able to bring her home, still on a monitor, but she was home. I get to celebrate my birthday with my beautiful daughter Neriya and always say a prayer for my guardian angel Neriah.

Reason behind UAPAD

My Husband and I had no choice but to use our time during the 3 month daily, all-day visits to Neriya in the NICU to mourn, research and try to understand what had happened. We were so confused, but while grieving and at the same time staying strong for Neriya, we were shocked that with all the advances in medical care, having a team of great medical doctors, great healthcare, all the education available to us, this could still happen here in the United States. How could this be? How did we miss all the signs? I was definitely not the only one this has happened to, but if this happened to me, then can you imagine what women in developing countries go through?

Through our faith and believing all things happen for a reason, God gave us the strength and power we needed to research more about pre-eclampsia, eclampsia and other maternal issues. We learnt of the incredibly high numbers of women and babies dying from pre-eclampsia and related maternal issues and were shocked at the number of women who were unaware of such issues. We decided we had to do something! Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death in women, particularly in developing countries, with severe bleeding and high blood pressure being the two leading causes of maternal mortality globally. Knowing that 800 women die each day unnecessarily during pregnancy or childbirth from preventable causes and that infant mortality rates of newborns occur at 25%-45% within the first 24 hours from causes such as prematurity and low birth weight, there is no question of the great need for Maternal & Child health services and life-saving interventions for mothers and children.

United Against Poverty and Disease exists today to serve as a platform, voice and promise to deliver knowledge, education, tools and services and to empower those in need in developing countries and around the world who lack access to basic health care, education, prenatal care or are misinformed about issues relating to their health and lifestyles. If we can save one baby, one mother, one family or one community at a time, then when I reunite with my guardian angel, I will be fulfilled with telling her stories of the many lives she helped save.

- Toyin. 

 Follow Toyin on twitter @toyinidehen

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