AUSTIN (KXAN) — “We don’t really get to feel like parents because we were only with him for three days.”
Three days. That’s how long Carlie and Dietrich Linde got to spend with their late son Azzi who died from preeclamsia complications during pregnancy.
It’s heartbreaking, Carlie says.
Last summer in late June, Carlie noticed strange symptoms and called her doctor. She ended up in the hospital soon after with extremely high blood pressure. During those 10 days, her body stopped responding to medicine and she had to have an emergency C-section. Azzi was born at 27 weeks and 3 days. For being only 1 pound, 3 ounces, Carlie says he was healthy when he was first born. But soon after, she says, doctors noticed something was wrong.
“He got an infection about 3 days later and he passed away,” Carlie says.
Out of the pain of their loss, the Lindes reached out to the Preeclampsia Foundation.
From there, they set up a GoFundMe page and hit the road.
They are currently on a cross country trip from San Diego, California, to Jacksonville, Florida, on a tandem bicycle.
If you catch them along their ride you may notice a bright blue children’s swing turned into a baby’s bike seat. It’s symbolic for them.
“It was his swing so we wanted to put it on there just to give more understanding that this disease can be really terrible for moms and babies,” Carlie says. “It’s his empty swing. He should be here but he’s not.”
They want to spread the word and educate expecting mothers and others about preeclampsia. Preeclampsia affects 1 in 12 expecting moms. It’s one of the leading causes of fetal-maternal death worldwide.
The journey has been cathartic.
“We also just wanted to the ride to talk about him more,” Carlie says. “We didn’t get to talk about him a whole lot to friends, families, random people who see a cute baby and ask about him.”
“During this ride, we’ve gotten to say his name every day. We get to talk about how cute he is, we show his pictures.”
But the trip hasn’t been easy.
“It has definitely been up and down,” Carlie says. “I feel emotions very deeply, so that’s been a rough road to figure out. Is this OK? Should I feel this much? Or am I going a little bit too far?”
The Lindes are about 3/4 of the way to their goal. They’ve funded $15,000 so far and need $5,000 more. All of the money will fund a research grant from the Preeclampsia Foundation.
Carlie says the hope is that the $20,000 used for a year-long grant will help lead scientists to answers about what causes the complication and how to better treat it.
“It’s definitely going to get us more answers than we had before,” Carlie said.