Pregnancy and birth are often portrayed with a single brush as if all these experiences are basically the same for every birthing person. But for Lauren and her family, that was far from the truth. The anticipation of the ideal birth ended abruptly and unexpectedly when her husband arrived home early with flowers one day, finding her looking unwell. He talked Lauren into going to the doctor for a “just in case” checkup, which turned into a totally unexpected outcome for Lauren.  

We will explore Lauren’s story to understand how preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome impacted not just her birth but continue to impact Lauren’s life to this day. In sharing her story, we will discover the tenacity of all those involved in her experience, including Lauren. During the conversation, we will discuss what, if any, warning signs were there that she didn’t recognize at the time. She will give us ideas for ways to speak to our students and patients about this still largely mysterious malady that affects 5 to 8% of pregnant people (and of these, 15% of these develop HELLP syndrome). Overcoming  preeclampsia/HELLP syndrome takes not just a team but an entire village—and that is just what happened in Lauren’s journey.  

Lauren Ward Larsen is a storyteller, writer, speaker, advocate, and former corporate and nonprofit executive. As a professional speaker, Lauren has delivered hundreds of keynote addresses at corporate meetings, conferences, nonprofit events, and fundraisers in the U.S and Europe.  Based on her birth experience with Clare, she has added another type of storytelling to her repertoire. Educating pregnant families and medical care providers about her experience with preeclampsia has become a key component of her life.  

Listen and Learn: 

  • How the lack of information caused big trouble for Lauren: “I didn’t know what I didn’t know
  • The signs to look out for regarding preeclampsia, including upper right abdominal pain
  • How things changed for Lauren so quickly 3 days after a “normal” appointment 
  • How her husband’s unusual mid-day personal flower delivery likely saved her life
  • While pre-existing health conditions like high blood pressure can be a predictor, others can be affected, including   Lauren, who is an active athlete
  • How important it is for everyone in the hospital and medical community to understand the signs of preeclampsia, including the Emergency Department
  • The importance of listening to your intuition and not taking possible symptoms lightly
  • Zuzu’s Petals is not a book for pregnant people  

Resources & Mentions: 

Eclampsia Foundation 

Hear Her

Zuzu’s Petals: A True Story of Second Chances by Lauren Ward Larsen (on Amazon or other book sellers)  

Lauren’s website:  

Related Products from InJoy:

Discussion and Warning signs in: 

Understanding Birth 

Understanding Postpartum Health & Baby Care