It is AFE Awareness Day today, and I will “celebrate” it by paying my respects to the women and families who have been devastated by this condition. It is a freight train that rolls in uncontrollably and destroys lives. I know I am one of the lucky ones. And not a day goes by that I don’t think that. Almost 2 years later and again, not ONE day goes by that I don’t think about how lucky my entire family is.
I have met some survivors and I have spoken to families who had mothers who didn’t survive. The impact and the effect never cease to amaze me. No matter the race, creed, color, type of delivery, number of pregnancy, age, etc., AFE doesn’t discriminate.
I recently read the story of a woman, Charlsie Swadley, who was pregnant with her eighth child. Her husband Michael and their 7 other children were looking forward to meeting the new life they created with their love. Unfortunately, Charlsie had an AFE and their baby girl, Lilly, died. Charlsie slipped into a vegetative state and an entire community prayed alongside, digitally, globally, with her husband Michael and their children. Devastated, an entire family lost their mother 5 weeks later.
How do you tell 7 children they no longer have a mother? How does Michael wake up in the morning, pray and go on making life as enjoyable as he can for his children? Michael posts his feelings on Facebook and they are some of the most profound emotions I have ever heard come from a man. These are Michael’s words:
So how am I doing? Well, I’m not ok. I’m not doing very well. You see the love of my life and the delight of my eyes, my fair maiden is gone for a long while. I can see the love she had for me in her eyes!!! I am so devastated and broken to my very heart of hearts. I have so much to keep me going. But it’s so so hard. As the shock wears off the level seems to increase. But He has sustained me this far and I know He will continue.
How he goes on, how he believes and how he suffers is a testament to the calamity this condition brings. Recently, my friend and colleague Miranda Klassen went to visit the Swadley family and she was asked by his 6 year old son Josiah, if she had what “my mommy had”. Miranda said “Yes”. And the astute, open-hearted little person looked up to her and said “Why did you survive?” I broke down crying when I heard that story. What do you say to that absolutely rightful question? I don’t know.
What I do know is that we will not stop until we get answers. We will not stop until all operating rooms are prepared for this worst case scenario. We will not stop until all doctors are educated and armed with the latest information on AFE. We will not stop until all families are safe from this deadly experience. Make Moms sAFE. That is our goal.
Please help by learning about AFE and donate. Your funds will help research where it is desperately needed.
This year, AFE Awareness Day is Friday, March 27. Wear your tshirt proudly knowing your contribution supports medical research into the causes and solutions for this too-often fatal condition that leaves families motherless.
If you want to learn how you can help Charlsie & Michael’s family, click here.