Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

A Mother’s Heart: How to Help it Heal After Severe Preeclampsia

It’s been four years, almost to the day, since I gave birth to my preemie at 29 weeks, weighing 2lb 6oz. Nothing at all like the big, bouncing baby boy I had been fantasizing about. Yet, he was the most beautiful, and tiniest, baby I had ever seen. Being rushed by ambulance because severe preeclampsia had reared its ugly head, and being told my baby had to “come out NOW!” was a far cry from the birth experience I had envisioned. But the quick action of all involved, from the ambulance driver to the Neonatologist, kept both my baby, and me, alive. Then, once we were both home, and he was thriving, the last thing I felt like doing was start thriving myself.

11 days old!

11 days old!

Unlike many moms of healthy, full-term babies I know, I could not worry about getting right back into shape after having my preemie. How can any of us possibly be concerned with losing the baby weight when we almost lost the baby? Furthermore, the depression and the stress of taking care of a special-needs child is overwhelming, to say the least.

Now, four years later, I finally feel like my head is above water, and I am trying to take better care of myself. More specifically, I need to start taking better care of my heart. All of us women need to be concerned about heart disease considering it is still the leading cause of death for us. And those of us who experienced severe preeclampsia and its more severe form, eclampsia, especially earlier in the pregnancy, may be at an even greater risk for developing heart disease later on. If you add to that the resulting depression and stress we all experienced because of our preemie’s traumatic births, then you have a recipe for potential disaster later on.

This is how I like to sum it up, plain and simple: If you feel like crap mentally, then you will eat crap! Which, in turn, will make you feel like crap physically. So, it’s best to address your mental state first. For me, I head outside and do something physical because doing something physical always helps me mentally. Walking, jogging, hiking, shoveling snow, raking leaves… I do pretty much anything that gets my heart rate up. I also use the time to yell at God, which helps me both mentally and spiritually (because I know He can take it).

Here are some other tips to help heal your heart:

heart, heart health, preeclampsia, NICU, prematurity

almost 4 yrs old!

Eat better. I can’t be bothered with trying to figure out whether this or that diet is the best. I try to eat smaller portions from all the food groups at each meal and I feel better if I eat smaller meals five times a day rather than three bigger ones. I also am trying to avoid as much processed food as I can because of the high sodium content. But, you also should go easy on yourself, especially if you currently aren’t dealing with health complications. Moderation in all things is a good motto to live by!

Meditate/Pray. This one needs no explanation.

Let things go.  Messy houses or meddling mothers-in-law? Forget about them! I know, easier said than done. You can pick your battles, however, and agree to disagree. And if it doesn’t bother YOU, a messy house is just fine.

Just say “no.” To anything, or anybody that you aren’t parent to or married to, that interferes with you doing any of these recommended tips. Or who threatens your peace of mind.

Do something you love. It can be a job or a hobby, but please, just do it! If you don’t know what “it” is yet, sometimes remembering back to a time when your life wasn’t so complicated and asking yourself, “what made me happy?” or “what did I do for fun?” can help you figure it out. Then do it as frequently as you can!

Lots of hugs! This is the most important thing you can ever do with those you love. Hugs definitely heal. Whenever my son asks “Hugga Mama!” I make myself put down my damn phone, just stop what I am doing, and hug that little boy so tight. That hug always makes this mama’s heart soar!

Please share any tips you have for making your heart happy!

Beth Puskas About Beth Puskas

Beth Puskas (NY) is a children's librarian and has one child, Benjamin, born by emergency c-section at 29-weeks after Beth developed severe preeclampsia in 2013. Ben also was born with a cleft lip and palate. He came home after a 68-day stay in the NICU and spent the next year having his cleft lip and palate repaired. Despite a global developmental delay, Ben is a thriving, happy, toddler who loves to laugh. Beth hopes to use her experience to help other families.

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