Roberta Watkins has lived most of her life in fear.
At 8 years old, after her father suffered a serious heart attack, Watkins was tested for early signs of disease and diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. She was given roughly 10 years to live, and doctors said no amount of diet or exercise would help her hereditary condition. They also said she would never be able to bear a child.
But Watkins proved them wrong.
By her 20s, Watkins had been placed on a series of medications and undergone several surgeries to treat her disease, and she surpassed her initial prognosis. And at 35, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Emma Rose Litchfield.
“All I ever wanted was to be a mom … so when (Emma) came along, it was such a surprise,” Watkins said. “I was so excited.”
But four days later, Watkins went into cardiac arrest, and her fear returned.