Running is a celebration of life for Lisa Larson
A little more than a year ago, Lisa Larson feared that the baby she was carrying wouldn't survive and that her own health wouldn't allow her to resume the active lifestyle she had come to enjoy.
In three weeks, she'll run a half marathon in Arizona. Alaina, the daughter born 11 weeks prematurely, is the normal weight and height for a toddler her age.
It's all because of the goodness of God, Lisa says.
"The reason I want to run this race is to celebrate the life of my daughter - to celebrate life."
She was 26 weeks into her pregnancy with her third daughter in September of 2004 when she suffered a heart attack brought on by a condition called pre-eclampsia - described to her by doctors as pregnancy-induced high blood pressure.
Her husband, Brad, drove her to the clinic in Stillwater, Minn., in the middle a foggy night after she became violently ill. She had had what she thought was a bad case of heartburn for three days.
The Stillwater Medical Group put her on an ambulance to United Hospital in St. Paul, where Dr. Lea Fairbanks ordered that she undergo an EKG test.
"Everyone in the room, including myself, was thinking, why would you do something like that. I'm pregnant. I have heartburn," Lisa, 39 years old, recalls.
But the EKG revealed that she had had a heart attack. Instead of delivering Alaina by Cesarean section because of the pre-eclampsia, which the medical team had been planning to do, they gave Lisa medication to heal her heart.
Four days later, Dr. Fairbanks told Lisa she didn't know why she had ordered the EKG and echocardiogram. Something just kept telling her to do it.
"Well, I know what it was," Lisa says. "My angel."
Her life would have been in danger if they had performed major surgery while her heart was injured.
Alaina weighed just 2 pounds, 9 ounces when she was delivered four weeks later. She spent seven and a half weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children's Hospital before coming home to Lisa, Brad and sisters Gabriella, 10, and Olivia, 8.
"She wasn't developed and had to fight for her life for a while," Lisa says. "We were able to watch (God's) miracle develop right before our eyes with how she learned to breath on her own - and learned to suck so she could start eating."
Alaina is like any other 1-year-old now, Lisa says, "starting to walk and talk and all that good stuff."
Lisa had started running six years earlier and was afraid she might not be able to do it again. But she, too, now has a clean bill of health.
Last April, doctors gave her permission to resume strenuous exercise.
"Running is such a passion of mine, and I was really glad," she says. "I'll never take it for granted again. It's a true blessing to be able to just get up in the morning and spend your day with the kids. Every day is a blessing now."
She and Brad, a 1980 graduate of Hudson High School, have been married 15 years. They own and operate the Comprehensive Communications cellular phone stores on Crest View Drive in Hudson and in New Richmond and Baldwin.
The trip to Phoenix to participate in P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona half marathon also will allow the Larsons to visit Michelle and Brian Raleigh, friends who moved from Hudson to Cave Creek, Ariz., last summer.
Randy Hanson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org