Eliz’s struggle with infertility was long and wearisome. She and her husband tried infertility treatments for five years before taking a break from the roller coaster ride. They traveled and relaxed. On January 1, 2000 while at the Rose Bowl game, Eliz decided that she liked her life as it was – she had a great husband whom she had met while a Communications major at the University of Wisconsin, a fulfilling career as a dance teacher and choreographer who helped kids and adults overcome their disabilities through movement games, and an opportunity to travel and enjoy friends and family. She chose to be happy.
Upon returning home from the Rose Bowl she visited a friend who had just given birth to a little girl. As Eliz held that little girl, she decided to give infertility treatment one more try, but with a different doctor who assured her that he could help. A few weeks later, she was pregnant – with twins. She could hardly believe it. After hearing so many “no’s” in response to pregnancy tests, it was difficult to digest “yes.” She doubted the possibility because she did not feel pregnant. Killer morning sickness soon followed and lasted through her first trimester. Then, when she was four and a half months along, she was put on bed rest. Suddenly, she went from being a very active dance teacher to being on her feet only a few hours a day. At six months pregnant, she went into full pre-term labor and spent a month in the hospital on bed rest, causing her small frame to gain 80 pounds beyond her normal weight.
To prevent labor, Eliz needed constant hydration and monitoring. On days when there were no signs of labor, the hospital staff allowed her to shower after breakfast. On the morning of Sunday, November 12, 2000, Eliz took one of those showers, only to feel intense pressure in her chest as she gathered her hair into a ponytail. This wasn’t the usual heartburn that had been plaguing her throughout her pregnancy. She began to vomit and rang for a nurse. A high-risk OBGYN physician happened to be at the nurse’s station and after assessing Eliz’s condition, asked if anyone in her family had an early heart attack. Heart attack?!?! That’s exactly what happened. Eliz went into full cardiac arrest and didn’t breathe on her own for 10 minutes. Three lives were suddenly at risk. The staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital acted quickly and delivered Eliz’s twins by C-section at 2:42 and 2:43 pm that afternoon and then performed open heart surgery on Eliz for the next five hours. By midnight on November 13, 2000, Eliz finally uttered words to her husband after 13 frightening hours. She learned that she survived a rare heart condition induced by pregnancy hormones that not many mothers live to tell about. She knew immediately that there must have been a reason that she survived. She envisioned herself in front of crowds telling her story.
A nurse at the hospital informed her husband, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist, about Eliz and he wrote her story. The AP wire picked up the story and soon Eliz was flooded with national media attention. The American Heart Association asked her to tell her story. After hearing her speak, the Association asked her to speak more frequently and on a national level. Her vision became more clear and real. She decided to start her own business, Embrace Your Heart. She wanted to reach out to busy women to help them pay attention to their hearts and lead healthier lives. As she began to piece together her mission, a well-respected speaker informed her that her message would never resonate in the corporate arena because it was “too soft” and “too touchy-feely.” Eliz was livid, even though she knew that he was partially right – she had yet to shape her image to corporate clients. But she didn’t let his discouragement stop her from trying to break into the corporate speaking arena. After she gave her first speech to a pharmaceutical company about how the medical devices they make impact real people, she knew that she had found her groove. Today, Embrace Your Heart provides clients with entertaining and informative speeches and seminars about a variety of health and wellness topics in order to reduce stress and enhance life. Eliz’s difficult experience with infertility, pregnancy and cardiac arrest and her subsequent success is captured in a wise remark once made by her mother: “You get a lemon and corner the market on lemonade.”