Bekah: Hello and welcome to today's episode from Power of Mama's Voices. My name is Bekah Bischoff and I'm the education and development coordinator. Today we will highlight a certified patient family partner and talk about their experience in their pregnancy as well as how they came to MoMMA's Voices. We hope this will give insight to our listeners about different conditions while also creating a sense of community.
I'm excited to introduce our guest today, Judith Francis. Judith is a survivor of preeclampsia and postpartum depression and gestational diabetes, which turned into type two diabetes. She is a certified patient family partner and has now joined the team as the Community Specialist for MoMMA's Voices.
Thank you so much for being here today, Judith. It's been such a joy getting to know you, and I would love for you to share a little bit about your birth story with us today. [00:01:00]
Judith: Thank you, Bekah, for inviting me to share my story on here. So I have two children. One is 12 and she's a girl. And then I have a little boy.
He is two. And with both of them I had preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. After having my daughter , it got better. And then having my son, the pregnancy was, the severity was worse. And then I ended up still having diabetes. With the preeclampsia, it ended up also doing some damage, so it just didn't go away like it did with my first pregnancy.
It caused me to have a enlarged heart and then still having to deal with high blood pressure, hypertension. But you know, I'm here and I'm happy to be here. . And when I look at my children, you know, I see having my kids, I see that it was worth it. Not every mom [00:02:00] can say the same and families can say the same cuz there's a lot of moms, that lost babies.
And thankfully that, you know, they were able to make it out of this alive. And so am I. So I'm grateful. Thank you
Bekah: so much for sharing that, Judith. I know that no matter how long ago it was or how many times that you've shared part of your experience, it still can be hard to uncover that and to say it again.
So I just wanna acknowledge that and to just thank you for briefly sharing your story with us. I would also love for you to share what made you want to get involved with sharing your story and also how you found MoMMA's Voices.
Judith: How I found out about MV and becoming a PFP is, after my first pregnancy, I was hospitalized while I was pregnant, [00:03:00] and there was, a group that I got in connection with from a hospital flyer.
And through that group I kind of like learned about, you know, there's advocacy and there is help, but I didn't know how much. Or if that was something that was for me until after I had our son , by him being in the NICU and me going through more than I did with my first pregnancy. It just told me, it was just something that I felt that I just, there's something that I can do.
And I just felt like after re doing more and more research, I found out that there's a lot of babies and moms that don't make it. So I reached out to the the lady from Better Bedrest was the name of that group from my first pregnancy. And I told her that there was something that I want.
I feel like there's something that I can do and that this is what my purpose [00:04:00] is. And she told me to reach out to Preeclampsia Foundation and through Preeclampsia Foundation they told me about MoMMA's Voices and I went to the training on how to be an advocate, basically. How to relay what I'm trying to relay so people can hear what I'm saying and understand what I'm saying and how to put emotion into my word.
And instead of, you know, feeling those emotion at the point where I'm trying to say what I'm trying to say. Preeclampsia, set the foundation and MoMMA's Voices give me the platform to be a patient advocacy.
Bekah: That's amazing. And I love how it all started just from a flyer that you read.
It's just, it's amazing how something that might just seem so small is what connected you to find us here at MoMMA's Voices. I just have loved getting to know you over the course of the last year or so and to work alongside you. For those of you who don't know, [00:05:00] Judith was one of our early PFPs, that's what we call them our patient family partners and , got to really work with her on sharing her story , and identifying she had a story and being able to pair her with different opportunities for engagement with quality improvement work since she's become certified.
And so, Judith, I would love for you to share about some of those opportunities that you have had.
Judith: So gracefully. Cuz each opportunity that I have is just, it's a step closer to my goal. Which is if there was a mountain that you stand on, that could spread a word to the whole entire world,
I just feel like , everything that I do, each involvement is like I'm getting closer and closer to get on top of that mountain. So I was involved in maternal health community implementation [00:06:00] project, the MHCIP virtual workshop. I did two summit , through TCHMB. And then I did two cohort and I have also been speaking on platforms.
And then I have another one that is scheduled. A part of doing this is, we're constantly being told that preeclampsia is something that , it is an illness that goes away after birth.
And I'm a strong advocate that it does not, and I think that a lot of healthcare is still saying that it does, when it, it doesn't. So we still need to, even though we have the baby and sometimes our babying up in the NICU, we still have to be aware and be an advocate for ourselves. That preeclampsia still, it is a possibility that it's still lingered.
Like my first pregnancy went away. The [00:07:00] second one, it did not, and I wasn't told that it didn't go away. I was feeling like, okay, it's like the , first pregnancy, but I just wanted to really spread the awareness that it, it doesn't. So if you had it while you're pregnant, just still look out for those signs and you need to get yourself back to the hospital.
Bekah: Yeah. So you've really been able to be involved in a lot of different opportunities and really get to share your passion, which is that preeclampsia doesn't just stop after you deliver the baby. We know that a lot of our listeners today could also agree with you. We have stories that we hear all the time.
Mothers saying that they had to go back to the hospital after they got home because they ended up with postpartum preeclampsia. So I love that you're highlighting that and that you're making sure that everybody that you talk to understands the importance of that. You have just done. So many amazing things since being certified.
It's been so [00:08:00] wonderful to watch you get to the top of that mountain. Like you talked about. If somebody's listening to this and they are not involved in our training or at all with MoMMA's Voices, what advice would you give to them?
Judith: If you want to be an advocate, but you are afraid of being judged, you feel like the pain is gonna be all so real, just one day all it takes is just one day to just get up and say to yourself, this is gonna be the day. Because even though for each time I speak about it, It does hurt. You do feel the pain over again, but through training,
you're taught not to dismiss those pains, but just to let your voice overcome the pain that you're feeling. That way when people remember you and remember what you went through, they won't just remember the hurtful part of it. They will get the [00:09:00] lesson that you're trying to bring out. They will get what you're trying to say.
So if you want to be an advocate and if you're scared for any reason, if this is something that you really wanna do, you will get the courage one day to just get up and say, okay, this is a day that I'm gonna do it. And each time you speak, just remember that it's a possibility that you're saving lives, you're saving a mom's life, you're saving a baby life.
You're saving a pain from a husband, because we're not the only one that goes through this. Husbands go through it as well. If the baby have siblings, your older kids also face it. So just remember that each person that say something, we're formulating a community and we're making difference.
We're making a difference. We're, spreading words and there's no such thing as too much information, I don't believe so the more information we get is the better it is for us to better ourself and also the community. [00:10:00] That's
Bekah: such great advice. We just never know the impact that our story might have on saving somebody else's life.
So thank you so much for giving that advice. Judith, I just wanna thank you so much for our time here today. I know that this is such an inspiring episode for our listeners, and thank you to all of those of you that have tuned in to this episode.