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May 25, 2023

A rare medical condition, emergency C-section and a Preemie fights

Join us as we delve into an extraordinary narrative shared by our special guest, Jodi. She takes us through her remarkable journey of meeting her husband, experiencing pregnancy, and undergoing an emergency C-section birth.

Welcome to the latest episode of the "Between The Before & After Podcast"! Join us as we delve into an extraordinary narrative shared by our special guest, Jodi. She takes us through her remarkable journey of meeting her husband, experiencing pregnancy, and undergoing an emergency C-section birth.


Jodi's story not only captivates us with its emotional depth but also brings to light essential themes such as the significance of human connection in empathy, the dire need for improved maternal care in underserved areas, and the profound impact of past experiences on our relationships.


Throughout this episode, we delve into Jodi's personal odyssey and the subsequent founding of her organization, FLRRiSH. Through FLRRiSH, Jodi provides invaluable support to parents of premature babies, shedding light on the challenges she encountered and how she overcame them. We gain insight into the invaluable lessons she learned along the way.


As you tune in, expect to glean significant takeaways. We explore the pivotal role of human connection in fostering empathy, the urgent requirement for enhanced maternal care in underserved regions, and the profound influence of past experiences on our relationships.


Prepare to be inspired and motivated as Jodi shares her extraordinary tale. Listen closely to discover how you, too, can make a positive impact on the lives of premature babies and their families.


Don't miss this must-listen episode of "Between The Before & After Podcast"!



Welcome back to between the before and after a podcast about the stories that shape us. I'm your host, Coach Jon Mclernon. Each episode, I bring you an inspiring guest with a moving story that shines a light on the power of the human spirit. I'm excited to share this story with you. So let's dive in. 

Well, imagine having what seems to be the perfect pregnancy and everything's going along smoothly. All the checkups, everything's looking good and then all of a sudden a very rare medical condition is discovered and your child has to be delivered at 28 weeks. This is the remarkable story of Jodi Clasen Feld. Now, I should have checked the pronunciation of your last name. 

I hope I got it close to. Right. That's awesome. Well, Jodie, welcome to the show. I'm excited to explore your story. Thanks so much for having me, uh coach John and just listening to the intro, I'm like, I'm inspired and that's what inspired me to create flourish. So it's a perfect place for me to be that. That's awesome. And well, actually, before we dive into your story, why don't we tell people a little bit about sort of what you're doing presently and, and where you're at because I think your, your daughter's uh doing well. So the story has, at this point, a happy, happy continuation won't say a happy ending, but a happy continuation. But what does he do currently? 

I currently uh help other N U and Premi families on their journey through the N U and the years beyond. Um there's a lot of trauma and processing and understanding from a parent perspective that needs to really be fully digested after you go through such an experience as having your child in the N U. And some studies say it takes up to on average 7 to 8 years to fully process that whole experience. And in the meantime, that experience pervades every aspect of your life personally and professionally. And I really work with parents to reframe their mindset on what they thought their parenthood journey was going to be and how it currently looks and how to unpack that and move forward. 

Well, I think that's uh a really important discussion. What's really encouraging is we see kind of, I think at a societal level, we're becoming more trauma aware and trauma informed. Um because for, I, I think for a lot of human history, we didn't really have an understanding of it or its effects or how far reaching it could be. And so to become more informed about it, uh means that we don't necessarily just have to push aside what we're experiencing in brush. I as, oh, well, this is just a fact of life and I gotta, you know, dig my heels in and put my head down and, and, and kind of carry on. But, uh, give space to process that. And he mentioned, you know, I, I mean, I, I'm, I've got number two on the way. 

I've got a two year old and, uh, thank you. It's, it's super exciting and, and actually my wife at 28 weeks as of as of yesterday. And so at the time of recording this, that is, um, but uh, so, so I think about this and we have this idea or this picture in mind of how this parenthood journey is, is going to go. But I think to myself, you know, uh like we're really fortunate. 

Number one, he, he was um late actually, it was about 15 days overdue and, and my wife had to be induced and there was some, some trauma actually around that side of it as well because it was a very difficult, I mean, I, I don't think any birth is easy. Um I, my respect for motherhood is just off the charts after witnessing it firsthand. But, uh there's some, I guess there are even more difficult than the average, um average birth and that was the case for my, for my wife. And so that was a really difficult thing to go through and I spent probably the first couple of months really, uh, just, just being her care nurse and helping her to recover from that experience. But we have this idea in our head of how the parenthood journey is, is supposed to go and play out. 

And, you know, so far it's been really, we've been really, really fortunate. My, my little two year old boy, he's gorgeous. He's beautiful. He's just a ton of fun. Um, And, and we're loving it. But in the back of my mind, you know, uh this pregnancy is a couple of years later. 

My wife's a little bit older. She's, she's getting close to 40. Uh So we're, we're kind of older parents and I think to myself, man, I just hope this comes out kind of ok. There's always this sort of nagging thought in the back of my mind that I can't really relax until the baby is born. Um What did you kind of going into your pre? Was this your your first? And I'm not sure if this is your only child. 

Yeah, it's my first. It's my only child as a result of what happened. I am not allowed to have any more Children, but my husband has three boys from his first marriage and they, our daughter like a princess. It's really cute. Oh, that's, that's amazing. Yeah. And so, uh I, I think as we dive into your story, so, you know, going into this, this pregnancy, you kind of had an idea or a picture in your mind. What were you picturing this was gonna be like? 

And, uh, obviously you're, you're together with your husband. What age are the three boys? The three boys, believe it or not, are 28 27 22. And together we have a four year old. Ok. Well, it got to be a flower girl in the 27 year olds wedding. 

Well, that, that's quite remarkable. Is there a bit of an age difference between yourself and your husband or he to get started very young? Um, there is an age difference between us. Uh, 12 years. I am just fortunate and I always tell this to people that he wanted to do it again. Ok. Yeah. No kidding. A lot of times when you could be an empty nest or you've been through those, those baby years you just don't want to and for that he wanted to. Well, that's fascinating. And, and how did, how did you two meet we met on a blind date? 

Um, we really never would have met but for the people who set us up, our lives were just so different geographically and everything else. But, you know, the stars were aligned. It's about timing and being in the right place at the right time. Yeah. Was this like an old school blind date? 

So, not just like an internet, plenty of fish or something like that. An old, an old school blind date. I actually never even spoke to him on the phone before we met. We just texted briefly, but I saw, um, pictures of him and I knew I was going to like him because I saw pictures of him mostly with his three boys and I could tell how much he loved being a dad. Yeah, that, that's, that's quite something. I, I mean, so now I'm curious, like, what's kind of your first thoughts? You're going to this date? Uh, where, where, where did you go for your, your first date? 

We went out to dinner, um, in the East Village of Manhattan, uh, to an Italian restaurant and he was living in Westchester at the time and our date went so well. He was literally struggling to make the last train back because the Metro North closes, uh, at a certain time on the weekends. And he's like, I gotta go now because I'm gonna miss the last train. And I'm like, ok, uh, what, what was your first thought as you, as you walk up the table or did you meet him like before, uh, being at the table, I met him, he was sitting at the bar before we were seated and when he turned around and smiled, I was just smitten. Right? And I knew that smile that I saw in those pictures was exactly the smile that I saw in person. That, that's amazing. I, I love that because I'm I'm just kind of playing this like a movie scene kind of in my head. 

You know, picturing you walk into a bar that maybe the lights are a little bit dimly lit. You've not met this, maybe some butterflies you're like, ok, what's this gonna be like? I, I, I think it's gonna be good. I have feelings for, for this, this man already because of what I've seen and what I picture he's like and then turns around and smiles and bang. You're like, wow, that, that's the guy that I'm looking to meet here. Yes. Yes. Yes. And like I said, not for our friends we wouldn't have even have met. Yeah. I mean, how do, how do people go about arranging a blind date? Like, how do they approach you with this? And how do they, because I, I would think to myself like, you know, did what you had, you said to them like, hey, I'm, I'm like looking for, for someone or something like that or, or were you like, busy as a professional? Like, how did, how did that come about? 

Kind of a little bit of both. Um, I kept bumping into this woman who, ironically I went to school with, she was in my elementary school, junior high school and high school, but lost touch with, but I would see her out just at parties or um events in New York City. And she'd always say to me, how is it that you're single. How is it that you're single? And I'm like, I don't know, I'm waiting to meet the right person and she's like, I'm gonna work on it for you and I'm like, ok, and then that was it. 

Well, well, that's quite something. Um, and do you, do you see this friend a little bit more regularly? No. Yes. And then randomly we found out that our dads went to high school together. But this was only after the fact after I was already married, it, it was kind of, kind of incredible. 

Oh, I mean, and this is, this is quite the, quite the fun back story really. Um, it's, I, I, I like to explore that because I think that kind of lays the groundwork for kind of what, what you were going to go through. And so, um, and what's your husband's name? David. That's a great name. Um, the, the name runs through, through my family. My, my middle name is David. 

My dad is David and, uh, both on my wife side as well. So it's, that, that's the mark of a good man. Um, and so, so you get married and you realize, hey, you know what, like, I, I would like to have kids and he's already through it and I, I, I kind of, I, I, I feel like I would at first think that, yeah, maybe if he's already got three grown Children, like I don't wanna go with the diaper stage. Again, the sleepless nights, the, the, the infant ears, things like that, the toddler tantrums, all that sort of fun stuff. 

And, but he says, no, I, I'm, I'm game on our first date. He did and I actually only agreed to go out with him because I knew he wanted to have more Children. So I knew that ahead of time. Otherwise I was not gonna go out out with him on a date because it was something that I really, really wanted and felt was missing in my life. So, aside from finding the right partner, finding the right partner who also wanted to have Children. So we had that discussion even on our first date. Yeah. Well, and, and imagine if he's like, a little bit older, you know, there, there's a difference between, you know, I think about, like, maybe in high school or like ear early in life relationships where, you know, there's a sort of a lot of, kind of like dancing and beating around the bush and there, there, there's a lot of, sort of shielding and protecting and, and not wanting to be vulnerable and so on. But there comes a certain point in life where you're like, it doesn't matter anymore. Like this is where I'm at and I don't really want to waste time, you know, just with this sort of pleasant trees. 

Let's get down, let's get to the, yeah, you're, you're 100% correct. I think, you know, I got married. I was 40. So I think you get to a certain point in your life and you're just like, I don't have time for the b si time to play the games. 

This is what I want. This is what's important. This is my non-negotiable, right? Or this is what I'm willing. I cannot live without. I think there's a difference when you say I cannot live without this. And once you take stock of that and realize that and also as you're older, you realize that time is short and playing games is fun when you're in your twenties, maybe like young thirties. But after that, you just want that person. Yeah. Yeah, 100%. Um You said something interesting um as well there that you felt like like something was missing in your life because I, so you were, you already had like a pretty well established career. 

You were, you were an established professional and uh but at some, at a certain point in time, you said, hey, I feel like something's missing. I'd like to, I'd like to be a mom. Um Was that, was that a conscious choice to wait until you were older to have Children? No, I think as a woman, we all kind of dreamed when we were younger when we're gonna get married, how many kids we're gonna have, what that all was going is going to look like, right? Similar to your point about your vision of your pregnancy. And so I thought I'd be married at 28 a mom by 30 maybe have like three kids or so. And I just had met the wrong people. 

I had been engaged and called off my wedding and hardest best decision ever because it led me to my husband. And it also, I learned so much from that experience that made me such a different person that I don't know if I had met my husband prior to that experience, that we would have even been right for each other. That's actually a really prescient point as well. The idea that our past and sometimes unpleasant past experiences kind of shape who we are, but actually lead us to appreciating the person that we end up with. And, you know, I think my, my wife had, had been in a really difficult like multiyear relationship with uh uh an individual prior to meeting me. And I wasn't really fully aware of that situation until after we'd actually got together. 

But, uh, you know, I, I joke that like he, he did me a great service by being a jerk because it made me look even better. So, um, but yeah, these, these hard experiences in life. Uh and I think it's tagline the podcast, right? The stories that shape us. And, uh, and so I, again, I, I love hearing the back story that this sort of lays the groundwork for this. And so you decided we're, we're gonna, we're gonna have a kid and, you know, the excitement. 

I, I remember that, you know, when my wife said to me like, hey, I'm, I'm pregnant, you know, and, and all the butterflies and nerves and, um, actually I was just thinking there, there was one thing my wife had, had a bit of digestive upset and I gave her some enzymes to kind of help. Uh So I'm, I'm a nutritionist and I have a background in, in supplement chemistry and so on. But so I've given her some enzymes to kind of digestive enzymes just to help break things down. And then I panicked because on the enzymes, there's a couple of, there's a couple of um plant based compounds. One from pineapple uh called uh papa. Yeah, papa or bromine. Sorry. And it was said that there's the potential, you know, that with this substance here can trigger like a, a miscarriage. 

Now, it's quite rare to be fair. But I remember because of our first pregnancy and had taken, we've been together for 17 years at this point and I was like panicking like, oh no. And then my wife had had all this like pain and, and discomfort and things and I was just freaking out thinking that like uh oh you know, have I just like um doomed our pregnancy by accidentally giving my wife something innocently to help her with digestion. And uh so I just share that story to say, you know, and I don't know if this was your experience but like kind of now you're, you're pregnant after so many years, you know, was there like this sort of anticipation of this? This was like a high stakes? Did it feel like a high stakes thing for you? Um I don't, I don't know, you know, we had gotten pregnant and I miscarried and well, first and foremost, let me say you, you would not have, right. 

I don't know anything about the science, but you said you didn't even really even know that your wife was pregnant yet. So, you know, um, but to your point of was it high stakes? It was something that I really had wanted and becoming pregnant is a very humbling experience, I think. Um, regardless of your age, yes, if you're in your twenties and your thirties, it's that much easier. But that doesn't mean it's going to be easy and you can't model it out. 

You, you can take vitamins. I credit acupuncture for really helping me and a whole bunch of other things. You can put yourself in a position to hopefully help have a successful outcome. But there's not no hard and fast recipe, um, for getting pregnant on top of. Yes, being the right time of month, you also have to have a little bit of luck and, and your eggs have to be right this right. So all of that. Um And so my husband and I, after we had miscarried, we tried some I V F and that didn't work. 

We were taking a break and that was when I got pregnant. I went, I called my fertility doctor. Uh because I was like, I'm always regular. Is it the one time I really wasn't regular was when I was pregnant the last time I said, do you think it's because I've been on hormones for about a year or so? That, that, and he goes, well, did you get your period last month and the month before? And I said, yes, he goes, well, come in, we'll check it out. He goes, we'll give you a pregnancy test, just, just, you know, just to check it out and like, ok, I hadn't even given it a second thought. And later that afternoon he called me and told me I was pregnant and my immediate reaction was ha because we had taken a break. Like I feel like that's a great job. 

We had taken a break from doing I V F and I guess whatever. Right. And, you know, they say that that happens for a lot of people. Um, so there we are, we, we got pregnant. That's, and I find that kind of funny as well because I think in, in my own experience, like we, we, we sort of plan, ok, we're gonna have, we're gonna have a try for a second one and and we tried for a bit and we're like, ok, like, let's just sort of take the pressure off because, you know, again, the idea, like we want to have like, this sort of time gap, you know, nine months at this point or whatever, you know, so they're this many months or this many years apart and so on each, like you said, you try to plan it out and then, and then when we, we weren't really uh planning on it and my, my wife actually got pregnant and uh so maybe there's something about just kind of taking that pressure and that stress off of like trying to make it happen. 

Did you, did you feel a sense of, you mentioned, uh I think you said you were 40 when you were pregnant. Is that right? Uh No, I was uh 40 when I was 42. 40 two. OK. My sister in law uh got accidentally pregnant at 42. Um vasectomy didn't work, I guess. Um she thought she was going through early menopause and now they have a beautiful, uh a beautiful daughter that's just eight months older than my son. So these two, it's really special. 

These two cousins get to connect because the other two kids are, are, are like 18 and 20. And so, uh but uh you, you also mentioned something else that I just wanted to briefly touch on that because sometimes it, it this part also gets gloster we mentioned that you, you'd miscarried as well and I know in a sense it's a relatively common experience. Um, I, I don't know, the stats, I thought maybe one in four are like, it's, it's quite high or surprisingly high. Although many times it happens within maybe the first, the first trimester, maybe before someone's aware, a woman's aware that they're pregnant. But, um, I guess at this point you would have been aware that you were pregnant and you were aware that you were miscarried. And, um, how, how do you navigate that? And sort of the disappointment that comes with that, I think, you know, first of all, regardless of, of, of whenever you would miscarry. Right. It, it's a huge loss. 

I reconciled it by something would have been wrong with me, the baby or both of us. And then my sister in law said something wonderful to me. And, uh, you know, she, I hope Nicole, you're not mad at me that she had miscarried between their 1st and 2nd. My brother and my sister-in-law have three girls. And she said to me, well, if I didn't miscarry, then I wouldn't have Madison and I wouldn't have Emily. And I couldn't imagine my life without Madison and Emily. And I don't want to imagine my life without Madison and Emily, these were the Children I was supposed to have. So in her way, she was telling me right, you give birth or the situation allows you to have birth when it's supposed to happen. So she believes she has the Children that she's supposed to have and likewise, same here. 

That's why I said something would have been wrong. That's not to say that it didn't take me a while to get over it and to grieve the loss. Yeah. But I feel like when she put it in terms like that, it made me understand so much better the reality portion of and not from a medical perspective, just from a real life experience perspective. And, and I thought that was really, really important. Hm. And I appreciate you, you sharing that as well because I think it's important. 

I know awareness has increased uh again, quite significantly, but there's still a lot of, a lot of, um, maybe there's like a shame or sort of a stigma around when it happens despite it being very, very commonplace. And so whenever we can share difficult experiences like that, it can maybe help somebody realize they're not alone in this experience. So I appreciate that. I think, I think as women too, we, we feel like we shouldn't complain, especially right, how many people want to get pregnant that maybe can't get pregnant or the fact that they were even allowed to get pregnant. You know, I think there's a lot of shame in that. And also you could add mom guilt to that if you can add mom guilt to so many things in life but something like that maybe did I do the wrong thing or maybe before I knew I was pregnant, I drank too much or whatever you can. What if yourself? So I think we just need to kind of destigmatize that and, and let women or society as a whole understand that, you know, there is a grieving process and there is a process um to getting back to how you once were or not even necessarily how you once were, but just moving on forward from that experience, giving, giving place to process the emotions, which is really, really important, you know, and one of the things I feel about being like an older parent, I'm, I'm 41. Um and I think there's a level of compassion and understanding that I have that I probably wouldn't have had as like a headstrong 20 something year old who felt like I had the world by the tail. So maybe there's, there's also something to be said for just an element of kind of grace and compassion that comes into the picture as life is knocked us around a little bit more. Yeah, I think that just comes with experience and wisdom and I think you realize that you're not necessarily invincible, right? 

Someone in their twenties thinks they could do whatever and it's not gonna matter and it's not gonna make a difference. And while I think we all have to go through that part of our lives there is beauty and wisdom in age and I would say the same even about getting married at an older age in so far as that I knew myself as a person at that point and what was important to me and what I could maybe, you know, compromise on and I knew that I wanted someone who would grow with me and understand what I wanted to do with my life. As opposed to when you get married, when you're younger, you don't necessarily think of all those actions and consequences. It's funny, I just had this thought. Um You know, what, what advice would I give to my. So I got married when I was uh 20 just before my 25th birthday, like four days before actually. So I guess I got a wife for a birthday present. Um But I, I picture in my head I wasn't gonna get married till I was 28. But then I met my wife and I was like, this is the one. So I, I, I was very fortunate regard, but I was just thinking, what advice would I give to my, my younger self as I got married and it would go something like um the person that you married is not gonna be that same person in 10 years, you're both gonna grow and you have a choice whether or not you grow together or grow apart. But the one thing that's inevitable is you're going to grow and change. And so, uh, I, I think that's, uh, again, maybe something that comes, comes with age, it's hard to pass on to great advice. 

I mean, I think everyone could learn, learn from that. You're so true. When you're 25 you haven't lived a lot of life, quote unquote, especially as an adult and doing things on your own. And yes, to your point, you want someone who's going to grow with you. And even if at some point, right, maybe one person might grow a little bit faster or you still, at the end of the day, the two of you together, that's what matters most and you're there to lift each other up and, and cheer the other person up. Absolutely. And so with your, with your daughter and with this pregnancy, um, you know, things as far as you knew were going along, um, swimmingly, shall we say? 

I, I just wanted an excuse to use that term. Things were going swimmingly and it seemed like everything was going well. Um, most checkups, I guess ultrasounds looks good and whatnot. And then at what point was this, uh the uh actually what was the condition? And, and at what point in the pregnancy was it discovered? 

Well, it was discovered the day gave birth. But so I turned 28 weeks, uh the Friday before Saturday before, and I gave birth to my daughter on a Wednesday and that Monday, two days before we went for our 28 week sonogram, the 3d one, you know, where the babies look like Martians and aliens. And, yeah. Yeah. And the doctor said to me and this was a special doctor. It wasn't like my normal O B. Um, the doctor said to me, oh, you know, the baby is a little bit small. 

I'd like to have you come in in another week or two. I'm gonna talk to your doctor and we're gonna figure out something. I'm like, ok, I had also started to not feel well, maybe two days prior, but I thought that since I had such an easy 1st 28 weeks, that pregnancy was catching up with me. So I thought a lot of things that could have been warning sign or should have been warning signs were just me hitting the 28 week mark. And, um, for example, that my, I, I felt like I couldn't even eat or drink anymore. My stomach felt like hard as a rock. And prior to when I got weighed the week before I had only gained like 6.5 £7 through 28 weeks of pregnancy. And as one of my friends like to joke, it looks like you ate an extra hamburger and I wouldn't give my seat up on the bus for you. So I'm like, well, thank you. 

Um, so, but all of a sudden I started to put on this weight and, and I never wore maternity clothes because of that small weight increase. And that was a sign, water retention. That was a huge sign. And I also had a bloody nose that I couldn't stop. And that also is a sign of preeclampsia and help syndrome. And the morning I gave birth, my mom happens to come. So right after that 28 I'm sorry, I'm jumping around right after that sonogram, my husband jumped on a plane to Paris. 

He goes to Paris every year, the same like week to 10 days for like an industry event and thinking, ok, the baby is a little bit small but everything else seems fine. I know you're not feeling well, but your mom's coming tomorrow and I'm like go, it's gonna be fine, it's gonna be fine. And my mom came the next day and she told me I looked like a P OS and she had just seen me maybe 10 days before. And so she got there Tuesday night and then Wednesday morning, I woke up and I started to see double and I said to my mom something is wrong and she goes, let's call the doctor. I don't, you know, I don't know, but I think we should just go to call the doctor and called his office. He was doing rounds and at the hospital and they said to me, you know, can you come in at 12 30? Sure, no problem. I walked into his office at 12 30 we walked into the hospital at one. 

She was born at 3 16, I was a complete emergency. I was knocked out. I did not meet her for three days. Um Yeah, I was that case that every single person on the maternity floor knew who I was. I was next to the labor and delivery O R for 2.5 days until I moved to my room, which was closest to the. And when my doctor told me that we were gonna go to the hospital and not leave till I had the baby, I was so confused, but I was also kind of really out of it, not aware. 

Actually, my body was shutting down and my organs were shutting down. And I, I had no clue how sick I really was and how heroically he was so calm and saved both my daughters and my life. Yeah. Wow, that is quite something. And just for those who might be listening, um you mentioned uh two conditions, one called help, which I believe is an acronym H E double LP and preeclampsia. 

If we could just define for those who might not be aware of what preeclampsia is. And then as help, a subset of pre eclampsia help syndrome happens roughly in about 10% of cases that are pre eclampsia. Um It's kind of a more deadly and extreme form, but preeclampsia is um essentially when you have incredibly high blood pressure my blood pressure, which normally was low, like 1 10 over, you know, 68 or something was 1 90/1 60 which is near stroke levels. And so, but compounded with what I had the bloody nose, which was a sign of the help syndrome, excuse me, I was losing platelets because of all the blood loss and it was causing my liver enzymes to be out of whack and uh like my hemoglobin. So it stands for hemoglobin enzymes in your liver. And like I was having placenta, my placenta was separating from the uterine wall. And um yeah, and my pancreas also. So all these things combined. Um The only way to save us both was to take the baby out and that helps almost a lot with the preeclampsia, the help syndrome. It doesn't help with as much right away. Um And I was given a magnesium drip. And the reason I didn't need my daughter was because I was hallucinating from all the magnesium that they were giving me. 

They were constantly giving me, they were giving me platelets. They didn't know if my blood would clot when they were taking my daughter. If I need a hysterectomy, they didn't know anything. Um You know, fortunately for in that part, it was they were able to take her at just a simple like c section. I don't mean to say simple, but based upon the other choices that they told my mom that could happen. 

And, um, so yes, and now when I look back on it, there are so many warning signs that I just didn't know. And I think the thing, I think what's also scary is that I had never really known even about preeclampsia and it is very common in about 25% of births in the US. At least, I'm not pretty sure. I'm not sure about statistics in Canada. So that's a large enough number. Oh yeah, that's quite significant. Um And so preeclampsia, uh how does that affect the the baby? Well, so the your blood pressure, right? 

You could have a stroke. So you they need to regulate your blood pressure. Now, sometimes what they do is if someone has preeclampsia, they monitor them, they put them on bed rest, they give them blood pressure medication, but mine was at extremely high. So there was really no, there was nothing that they could do to get that down short of taking the baby. Plus on top of the fact, like I said, my organs were shutting down. Um So in order to save us both, they had to take her early. So this as you describe it, I'm thinking this is like an immensely traumatic experience to go through. 

I mean, you had to go through the I I mean, sort of being rushed to the hospital, not entirely knowing what was going on, not seeing your your daughter for three days, you know, hallucinating not sure what's going on. Uh When, when did you kind of have a moment of clarity and realization about what all had taken place? I would say, right when I, I right bef before I met her or right as I was going to meet her, I didn't, I still, at that point didn't understand the totality of the experience. But I remember now my husband was back from Europe at this point and he was telling me he goes, ok, we're gonna go into the N U and you're gonna meet Jenna. And I go what I go, I didn't meet her. I didn't even know that I didn't meet her. I, I don't remember so much of those other, those days. Um Again, I don't know if it's also sometimes, you know, when you go through trauma, your body kind of has like a selective amnesia about certain things as a form of protection. So part of that part of what they call is a magnesium haze. Um when women are given these high doses of magnesium. And I remember walking into the N U. Not even though I, I remember actually not wanting to walk into the, excuse me, I wanted to take the wheelchair and my husband said to me, I will have have the wheelchair behind you or I will ask a nurse to bring a wheelchair behind you, but you can walk and you know, and I had just taken some of my first steps also since the surgery. And I said, ok, I'm like, I'm gonna do this and I walked in and I took such baby steps and I was shaking and I was so scared and I remember my husband bringing me over to her Isolette and her name was on there. And he said to me, well, does she look like a Jena? And I'm like, of course she does. And then I just started crying and I really don't remember anything else. 

I know I didn't hold her in that moment. I wasn't ready. I don't think I was ready, both physically or mentally. Um And the next day I held her for the first time and it was only then that I started to understand what had happened. Um, my O B came, it was a Saturday morning. She was born in January and it must have been like subzero temperatures and I was like, what are you doing here? It's a Saturday. He's like I came to check on my star patient. 

He goes and I'm not meeting you like, meaning my daughter. And I said to him, I go, I go, ok, I said I talk to him. I go, there's something really wrong with me and he goes, what's wrong with you? I go, I met Jenna last night. 

I don't, I don't know if I asked for her before I met her. Did I don't remember seeing her asking her before David telling me, it's time to meet her. I go. Shouldn't I have met her, shouldn't I have, if I, then I started to ask a little bit of questions about that and he started to unpack some of, um, what had happened with me. Yeah. And that's a lot to process. 

And, you know, in, in a, in a short window of time, we, we hear a story like this, I think sometimes maybe reading like a chapter in a book that doesn't take all that long to read. But the story itself, the lived experience is quite something. And so as you, as you're going through this, uh I mean, was your, was your daughter given a prognosis? Like there's this percent chance of survival or was it like there's a, it's a pretty good chance. Did you have to kind of emotionally or mentally prepare yourself for the fact that she may not make it? Or was it looking pretty helpful at this point if, if they did my husband shielded that for me. Um I think again, because I was so sick, he wanted also me to focus on also myself starting to heal. So I, I can't say that I, that I know whether something like that um was, was said, I do know she was small at £2 and um you know, at, at some point, you know, babies lose weight after they come out of the womb. 

She was under £2 and, but and I knew she was really small and she did have a list of I'll say developmental, like physical developmental issues that they told us about, um, right after she was born so that I knew and, but I still didn't fully process and understand what any of this was going to look like. And even seeing her for the first time I didn't get it. And, and even when I held her the first time, I think, I think it dawned on me, why do I have to ask permission to hold my child? And I, I, I cognitively know because there are machines and tubes and, and, and everything hooked up to her. But in my mind still, well, wasn't I just gonna go in have the baby put them on my chest and then leave the hospital in a day or two that I think that scenario was still running through my head and I still didn't understand how I got to where I, I was at that point. And if I understand, right. Uh I, I know in my case, I was, I think I spent 99 weeks. So I was born for those listening who might not know I was born at 26 weeks. So it's very interesting to, to hear a story like this and I was uh £2.01 ounce. And uh so I spent the next nine weeks um in the NICU which stands for neonatal intensive care unit. 

And, uh, you know, my mom wasn't even able to come visit every day because I was in, in this hospital in Vancouver. But my parents actually lived about an hour away from the hospital and my dad still had to work. And so, um, what was, what was the situation for, for you with your, your daughter here, um, in the unit? Well, I was in the hospital myself for 10 days and, but my daughter was in the hospital for 77 days. So 11 weeks, she came home three days before her due date and they told us to plan or to figure that she would come home around her due date. And I remember thinking to myself, but that's such a long time from now. 

It's never gonna come. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Um So, and we are fortunate because the hospital is not far from, from where we live. And there are many cases like your mom's experience right where people don't live nearby. And that is much more difficult on the parents than from like my husband and myself since, well, he could walk to the hospital. 

I wasn't allowed to at that point. But um but you know, we could get to the hospital relatively quickly and our N U also, you know, each N U has different roles and, and even more so with COVID. But R N fortunately we could be in the hospital 23 out of 24 hours A day if we wanted to, they didn't encourage that. Right. Of course. But short of when they were doing their staffing changes, either one of us could have been with my daughter at any other point in time during the day. 

Another thing that was wonderful that our hospital had was cameras so we could see into her Isolette when someone wasn't there. However, if they were changing her diaper or if a doctor came and was doing some type of examination, they would turn it off. So you couldn't see and all you would have to do then would be to call over there and they would tell you what was, what was going on. But that's so fortunate. Again, the modern technology to have that accessible and even still most Nick do not have those cameras. We were just fortunate that um they did, right? And so 77 days and then you get to bring her home. Uh Was that an emotional experience for you being able to finally bring home after this seemingly extremely long wait, emotional was an understatement. 

I I was elated, yet terrified. I was happy and panicked. I I recently wrote an article about that um in saying that it's ok to be panicked and quite normal, to be panicked when you bring your child home. Now, most parents are panicked to begin with, right? Especially when it's your 1st 23 days in the hospital. And then you, you really think what am I supposed to do? I don't know. Yeah. There, there's this new life here that I'm supposed to keep a life that's complete, you're completely responsible for. Yeah. So, there's, there's that added to it. But for us, I mean, I was terrified because she had been hooked up to monitors and, and around the clock 24 7, someone watching her. Right. And then she was coming home and we didn't have that. So I, I was, I was so happy that I was like, extremely, extremely nervous and, and, and terrified that, you know, some type of apnea episode. So where babies um, stop breathing momentarily because that had happened on occa on occasions when we were in the, uh, and it's very common, extremely scary, but very common. And I've heard that babies can stop breathing for 15 to 20 seconds sometimes. Yes. Yes, because they're still learning to move their lungs and breathe something that you and I take for granted or most babies. Right. But this is something they're still learning and they're supposed to be learning it while they're on the inside. So she had to learn it on the outside. Yeah. You know, speaking of technology, I was really grateful that we, we got like what was called, I think it's called an Angel care monitor. 

That's the brand and it has like a movement sensor that you can put underneath the mattress. And so for now there's no point because of a toddler who just like, takes flying leaps. But, but for the first, like, you know, first year, so we were really grateful to have this little like sensor under the mattress. So if he was to stop breathing, it would give like a beep and, you know, it would just trigger him to just move a little bit or whatnot and, uh, to, to have that because, yeah, that, that was probably like the biggest fear that we had is like, what if, what if he rolls over and like stuffs his face into uh the mattress or something like that, you know, and can't roll himself back over. Yeah. Yeah. Terrifying thought. So, you yourself also had all of this physical recovery too, you know, you went, you went to the C section, but there was all of the sort of the, maybe the ramifications of like this wasn't just an ordinary C section. 

Your body had gone through a lot and was in a really difficult state. What was your recovery like for those three months? Um My blood pressure took about five months or so to resolve itself. But it was really crazy because I had to monitor my own blood pressure and it's almost like a self fulfilling prophecy, right? You're nervous, you have to take it and then when you're putting on the blood pressure cup, you're even more nervous. So that just makes it go higher. So that White Coat syndrome that and, and actually it's so interesting you say that because I now have that. So whenever I go to a doctor and they take my blood pressure, I start to freak out and it just brings me back to that place of having to take my blood pressure or the hospital, they'd wake me up at all times of the night to take my blood pressure or give me medication and all this other stuff. Um But you know, the physical wasn't as bad. Like if someone said to me, well, how is it healing from your C section? 

I'll say I didn't even realize I had ac section. That's how that wasn't a, a non entity for me because I had all these other factors and this emotional healing and yes. Yes. Yes. And I was quite fragile for, for a period of time. And again, I think it goes back to what you said from the outset when you, when you did your intro, right? 

What you think the typical pregnancy and birth experience is going to be. And I think until I wrapped my head around the fact that this experience was different and that's OK. And I'm a better person having had this experience than that allowed me to move forward. I for the longest time, I, I was really, really sensitive about Jenna being small. The woman stopped me on the street and told me how beautiful my baby was. But then asked me when I told her how old she was. She asked me if I was feeding her if I was sure I knew when she was born, you know, and this woman doesn't know me from anything. But I let it affect me so much and I think it's the mental that stays with you, uh, for a really, really, really long time. 

Well, there's something interesting about trauma itself and I, I've been through trauma and ptsd myself, it's recorded in a part of the brain that's essentially timeless. And so there's this idea that time heals all wounds. And I think when it comes to trauma, that's not entirely accurate to put that statement there. Well, I'll just let the passage of time make it go away. It could show up 40 years later if it is unresolved during this time, were you able to get some kind of therapy, mental health or emotional support? So, I fortunately was in therapy for myself, um, prior and my therapist was amazing in, in helping me out. But still, it was very different because someone, even though I, I love her and, and her telling me it was going to be ok. And that was one of the impetuses behind flourish is that it's very different. Like your mom and I, uh are, are connected in a way that no one else can possibly understand unless they've been through a n you experience. And so hearing a success story or a story from someone else or stories from someone saying, no, you're not crazy to be happy one moment and hysterically crying the next. Or it's not crazy to think. Well, will your baby know who you are? Because there are 20 doctors handling, handling her are not right. So there are all these other pieces. 

Um, and again, mourning what you thought your birth story was going to be like, or, you know, telling someone about your birth story and not have them go. Um Right. Yeah. Yeah. As opposed to congratulations, you have a baby. That's wonderful. And so yeah, I think what was missing from my journey and this is how I help other parents is. 

The empathy piece is that I don't want someone else's sympathy. It's someone who I want someone who can completely empathize with me and there's a huge difference there is. And um so that really was was missing, but I had to do a lot of work on myself. And unfortunately my years in therapy helped me with that on top of having like a great husband. And um my O B was amazing. So I really feel as though we we should normalize therapy in the same way that we go for like eye checkups and, and regular medical checkups. 

We should go for therapy checkups. I really truly, you know, I think again, there's, there's a significantly higher level of awareness around mental health, but I still think there are areas where it's lacking and part of it is the stigma associated with getting therapy where we should actually normalize um like taking care of our, of our mental health. So your, your experience led you to forming um flourish now flourish. Is it a company is an app? What, what exactly is? It's, it's a company. 

It's a platform, a community uh for Nick You and Premi parents. Um I seek to educate empower and support uh parents on their journey from the N U and the years beyond because growth and trajectories and milestones and all of the support and tools that you will need for, you will probably need for your child as a result of having been born early and are in the N U is very different from parents that have full term Children. That's not to say a full term child couldn't be in the N U and have issues. But um there, there's still very much some unique issues surrounding the the premature birth experience. Yes, I mean, or even just the fact that you don't just generally go and see your pediatrician. 

We saw five specialists on top of pediatrician and that or you can't see anyone for months. And the physical, you know, not being able to physically see someone or interact with someone is also takes a toll on you mentally. Um That isolation, I often tell people we lived COVID without being in COVID right before COVID. Um because we didn't see people for a very long time. And so all of those, all of those things or, or teaching parents really just how to reframe their mindset as they go about their parenthood journey. 

I tell people who couldn't benefit from a little extra love and support in their life. Now, I'm not talking about that saying that you're not a great dad or that I'm not a, you know, I'm not talking about that. I'm, I'm talking about someone who can steer them or help them and actually help the parents on what to do to help their child and set them up for success. And I think um I was just gonna say the, the, the empathy piece is so, so important the lived experience. So I, I, I work in the realm of, of weight loss and emotional eating. Um And again, not to go too much on my own story, but just to say a lot of people come and work with me for the very fact that they're not so worried about the pieces of paper with my name on it. 

They're like you understand because you've lived this experience. So I know that when I come and I ask you questions, when I talk to you about this thing that I'm having, you're going to understand, you're not going to dismiss it. You're not gonna tell me I'm a failure or any of these other things you're going to understand. And it's that human connection piece that makes a tremendous difference in someone's journey. Yes. Absolutely. And to your point, right, you just get it and someone maybe doesn't necessarily have to go through their whole story for you to understand their story and, and, and it's the same thing here. 

So, and I think it's that compassion, that, that empathy and also reshaping what at least initially your your parenthood journey is, is going to look like. And also I tell people there are a lot of beautiful things about being a prey parent. So I, and I choose to focus on those as well. Think of all the wonderful bonding moments you have and you know, your dad would have been able to do kangaroo care and hold you. My dad was the one that delivered me. Oh, wow. Yeah, mom thought she had to go to the bathroom and dad ended up being the one that delivered me and had to, you know, open my nose and things like that. Oh my gosh. Wow. That's a fun one. A different trauma in of itself like exciting yet like, right? Who would ever think that that would happen? Um But you know, so all of all of those things, right? Or to me, it just did a reset in my life of what's important, what's not what I have time for what I don't. And also reiterated to me that it's all the little things that are so important in life. And I celebrate every little thing and I think we lose sight of that. Yeah, I know. I, I think to my wife, uh, you know, we're very enamored with our little boy and sometimes I think men are all parents like this in love with their, their kid. 

But, uh, you know, the one thing is I, I used to be like the tin man so I used to hide a lot of my emotions, suppress them, whatever, just unhealthy masculinity in general. And, and now, you know, I'm, I'm like loving doting. I hug him, I cuddle him. I tell him, I love him 100 times a day. I probably kiss him 100 times a day. Like just, you know, a kid won't lack, I'll tell you he won't, he won't lack for love anyways. And so, um, well, Jodi, you have quite a remarkable story and I think you're doing a very, very important work because, and obviously, uh flourish has been able to well itself probably flourish because there's such a need for this. 

This is an underserved area of like birth and, and maternal care. And so I think it's absolutely fabulous that you've, you've established this and having your own remarkable experience means that you can really connect with people in such a meaningful way. One of the things I always like to ask my guest is, um, someone who's listened to this conversation today and we've only just scratched the surface of your story. There's so many details that really couldn't be fully explored in this conversation. But if they were to take one thing away from this conversation today, what would you like that to be? I would like to, to tell all parents out there, right? 

That everyone's growth and trajectory is different and there are milestones there for a reason, but not everyone could come in first place and it's OK to not come in first place. The thing is, is that how you pick yourself up and how you still um I'll say deal with that, right? And, and try and see the positive in each of your experiences, really helps both yourself, your relationship with your, your spouse or your partner and also your child. I think people don't realize that Children really do remember now, I'm not saying from when you're first born, but they do remember if you're nervous all the time or if you're anxious or if you're angry or whatever. And I think to your point about showering your son with love, we do the same with my daughter that it means so much because that helped shape them as to who they are. And so, you know, I would just tell everyone to, you know, especially with parents that who have a baby born in the N U and a premi baby that your child will get there. 

It's just gonna take longer, trust me. I'm still going through it and I know it, it just takes longer. But if the the sooner you accept that and channel that energy in a positive way, the better off it will be. 

Well, Jody, thank you so much for being on today. Thank you for sharing your remarkable story. It's really been a pleasure. Thank you. Same here and congratulations to you and your wife and I hope she continues to feel. Well, thank you.

Thank you so much for tuning in to between the before and after. If you've enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave a review because that helps this podcast to reach and inspire more people. I love exploring the stories that take place between the before and after the powerful experiences that shape who we become and I love human potential. I love the possibilities that lie within us. So whatever you may be up against, I hope these stories inspire you because if you're still here, your story is not done yet. So keep moving forward. 


Jodi KlaristenfeldProfile Photo

Jodi Klaristenfeld


is the founder of FLRRiSH. She is
a mom to an adorable little girl who was born at 28 weeks due to a rare and life-threatening form of preeclampsia
and HELLP Syndrome. After
her daughter's
early birth, Jodi quickly discovered preemie moms and dads aren’t always given the support they need. As a result, she created FLRRiSH, a platform that
offers NICU parent education,
empowerment, support and resources to help families navigate this beautiful and challenging journey.
Jodi, her husband and her family live in NYC.