116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Christine Streets wakes up every morning and asks herself, “Is this real?”
She has many reasons to wonder.
There's her daughter, Delaney, born three months premature but now a healthy, happy 2-year-old.
There's the home in Schaumburg, Ill., she shares with Delaney and her husband, Josh - two years after the Cedar River claimed their former Cedar Rapids house in the 2008 flood.
There's her health. Streets survived HELP (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelets) - a severe form of preeclampsia that can develop in pregnant women - but fell into a depression that sent her to food for comfort. Her weight topped more than 200 pounds before she decided to change.
All of which leads to the tiara. And Oprah.
Streets, 29, will be featured on “The Oprah Show” on July 12. The show will include a video diary leading up to the pageant and photos of before and after Streets' diet.
Streets was crowned Mrs. Iowa in May and will compete for the Mrs. United States title in Las Vegas in July.
“Everything has aligned so well in the last six months,” Streets said. “I don't understand why.”
Streets had gained weight before her pregnancy but gained 30 more pounds in two weeks during it. Her face and body ballooned.
She experienced every symptom of preeclampsia - a life-threatening condition - but didn't know it. She went to a doctor who transferred her immediately to St. Luke's Hospital.
Streets' liver and kidneys had shut down. She had to have her baby then or risk losing the child.
Delaney arrived on March 11, 2008, weighing less than 3 pounds. The next two months were touch-and-go for mother and daughter before either could leave the hospital.
Then the flood hit. Streets and her husband lost everything at their home at 716 F Ave. NW. “My mother told me
what happened to us was a life-altering event, not life-changing,” Streets said.
Life-changing would be losing Delaney. Life-changing would be losing her father, who was battling cancer. Life altering isn't easy, but it isn't permanent.
Still, the effects of the flood and the events leading up to it stayed with Streets. Known for her bubbly personality, Streets kept a smile on her face. But she knew it was a lie.
“I didn't know what depression was,” she said. “I smiled through everything, I laughed through everything, but inside I was not myself.”
Delaney's health improved and the family moved to in Marion and then to Schaumburg when her husband's employer, U.S. Cellular, transferred him.
“I just kept thinking God wouldn't save my life so I could spend it sitting on the couch eating Whoppers,” Streets said.
She wanted to do more to educate expectant mothers about preeclampsia and had an idea. As Mrs. Iowa, she would have access to speaking engagements. She never considering running for the Mrs. Illinois title. “It's where I was born, where I was raised. I went through the flood. I struggled with my weight. I like corn. I'm all Iowa,” she said.
Streets went to a doctor, met with a nutritionist and joined a gym. She ate about 1,500 calories a day and exercised regularly, putting in two to three hours on the treadmill. She attended the state pageant 10 sizes smaller, 75 pounds lighter.
She gasped when her name was announced as the winner. The biggest thrill, she said, was calling the Preeclampsia Foundation to say she had won.
Streets shared her story with more than 100 doctors at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics earlier this month.
Now the pictures from her darkest time will be televised nationally on “The Oprah Show.” The thought terrified Streets, who had skipped her
10-year high school reunion because of her weight, so she did the only thing she could to cope - she posted them on Facebook.
“I'm a strong woman. I never knew I was such a strong woman. I can handle what comes my way. Everything happens for a reason. The last few years taught me that.”