Written by guest blogger Jessica Staggs
Most people remember important dates in their lives; birthdays, wedding anniversaries, work anniversaries, the birth of their children, etc. One day that changed my life forever and one that I will never forget was May 17, 2014 because it was the day I found out I was a “heart mom.”
My oldest daughter Adelyn was born on May 16, 2014. We had a relatively easy pregnancy and delivery and had no reason for concern. During her hospital newborn screen, the on-call pediatrician noticed a slight heart murmur, and although he didn’t seem concerned, he ordered an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) to be safe.
After Adelyn had been in testing for about an hour, the pediatric cardiologist broke the devastating news to us; Adelyn was in the NICU and was being transferred to another hospital to undergo major open-heart surgery within her first week of life (her heart was the size of a walnut!). He said it would be a long road ahead of us, and through the tears, I remember asking my mom if Adelyn would survive. We had more questions than answers, but all we knew was that we were going to fight for Adelyn’s life.
Adelyn was born with several congenital heart defects known as Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome (HRHS). HRHS refers to the underdevelopment of the right-side structures of the heart including the chambers, valves, and related blood vessels; therefore, the right side of the heart cannot send enough blood to the lungs resulting in abnormally low oxygen levels. There is no cure for a congenital heart defect, but thanks to modern medicine and an amazing medical team, Adelyn has survived and thrived following three open-heart surgeries in her first three years of life. Adelyn has spent about two months of her life in a hospital room, but we are extremely grateful to be considered the lucky ones with a successful story to share.
Fast Forward to the Present
Adelyn is now a thriving 5-year-old who enjoys swimming, dancing, singing, and all things Disney like her mom. She will be starting kindergarten, cheerleading, and Girl Scouts in the fall (another Schneider Electric-sponsored organization to empower young girls to build courage, confidence, and character).
Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) affect 1 in 100 babies. There are 35+ medically recognized CHD’s; the abnormality of the heart is similar in everyone who has a CHD, but each person is unique and is affected differently. There is no cure for CHD, only procedures and treatments, and the heart must be monitored throughout life. Awareness is the key for hope and survival.
Finding Meaningful Purpose at Work
I am proud that Schneider has a strong national and local partnership with the American Heart Association (AHA), which funds cardiovascular medical research, educates consumers on healthy living, and fosters appropriate cardiac care to reduce disability and deaths by cardiovascular disease and stroke.
I have been extremely fortunate to partner with and give back to our local AHA chapter as a Schneider employee and as the Dallas Office’s Health and Wellness Leader. Over the last two years, our Dallas office has raised over $13,000 for the AHA, and in 2018 at 4-years-old, Adelyn was the youngest heart hero to cross the finish line at the 25th Anniversary Dallas Heart Walk. In addition to the Heart Walk, we have participated in other local events including STEM education, Builders with Heart, Go Red for Women, and CycleNation.
My managers and colleagues have been extremely supportive of our journey, from allowing me to take the necessary time to care for my family and being emotionally supportive and considerate. Two of the sweetest moments I recall were when a colleague posted a picture after the 2017 AHA Heart Walk (when Adelyn was in the hospital following her third surgery) with the Schneider Electric group holding a “Team Adelyn” sign and after the 2018 CycleNation event when Adelyn was listed as their “why.”
Another memorable time was when a few colleagues and I participated in Little Hats, Big Hearts with AHA by passing out hand-made hats to babies in the Congenital Heart Surgery Unit at Medical City Children’s Hospital. This activity raises awareness of heart disease and congenital heart defects by celebrating the littlest family members by providing them red hats during American Heart Month.
Schneider Electric invests in the organizations that its employees are passionate about, and it is easy to get involved and make a difference. I am proud of my colleagues for their support, and I am thankful to work for a company that supports an organization that is close to my family. We hope that you will join us in the fight against cardiovascular disease!
About the Author
Jessica Staggs began with Schneider Electric in 2011 and has held several HR positions, most recently as a Talent Management Specialist for North America Operations. She resides in Celina, TX with her husband, 2 daughters, and 2 dogs. Jessica is an advocate for well-being and enjoys running, traveling, and spending time with family. She is currently training for the RunDisney 2020 Dopey Challenge.
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