Broken, but Mended by Grace
My beautiful daughter, Gwendolyn Grace, was born at 3:16pm via c-section on January 8, 2012. Even though my entire birth plan went out the window (no drugs...definately no epidural & vaginal birth) I was very excited to FINALLY be a mommy after wanting for 7 years to have a child. She was a beautiful 8lb 11oz baby, but had to be rushed to NICU since her blood sugar had dangerously dropped causing her to be almost comatose (I am a type 2 diabetic so I was actually somewhate prepared for this, despite it being my first pregnancy). After being wheeled back to my room in labor and delivery, my husband and I thanked the family and friends that came to the hospital and got them caught up on what happened to the baby. After everyone had left for the evening, her nurse in NICU called my room and told me that she was responding well to her IV and was definately sounding every bit the newborn as she should. With the news that my little bundle of joy was doing well, my husband and I settled down for the night so that we could be well rested to visit with our daughter in the morning. Little did we know that our euphoria was about to turn into a nightmare. The next morning around 10am my ob/gyn came in to check up on me. We should be leaving 2 days later so we were happy. A quick call to NICU to check on our daughter and then it was time to order up some breakfast. We called down to the cafeteria for my breakfast and then I got hooked up to the breastpump the hospital provided so that we could send some milk down to NICU. While pumping milk, I noticed that it was slowly but definately getting harder and harder for me to breathe. At first I shrugged it off, thinking I was coming down with a cold but eventually I had my husband shut off the pump and call for a nurse. Something was not right. By the time the nurse came in my room I was definately having trouble breathing. Thinking that I was having a panic attack she told me to calm down. Of course, it didn't work. I started screaming that I couldn't breathe, over and over. Of course I can breathe, I'm screaming is what I was told. My doctor came back in the room and mentioned possible blood clot in my lungs. Slowly but surely I began to drown in a room full of people that didn't have a clue as to what was wrong with me. I looked around the room and counted 3-4 nurses, my doctor and another doctor, my husband. They all were breathing...and I took my last breath for several minutes. One of the nurses finally listened to my lungs and relayed there was fluid in them. Someone ran out the room while another nurse put me on oxygen. My eyes rolled to the back of my head as my panicked husband was shoved into a chair. As I felt myself blacking out I fought as hard as I could to stay concious. Finally I had a trickle of air and I sucked it in the best I could. I later found out that one of the nurses had put lasix in my IV, which was pulling the fluid out of my lungs, allowing me to breathe. When I was finally able to be stablized in labor and delivery, they rushed me up to ICU where an emergency echo was done which showed that I was in heart failure. I had an EF of 25%. It was in ICU that I learned a new word - Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. Even though I was diagnosed post-partum, it was figured out that I was going into heart failure during my 3rd trimester of pregnancy. I had several symptoms - severe swelling, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath (especially laying flat). But everything was chalked up to normal pregnancy symptoms. I don't know why this has happened to me, and a lot of it I don't understand. But one thing I do know is that I have a story to tell, and maybe by telling my story I can help rewrite someone else's into a better one.
I went to see my cardiologist on August 7, 2012. My ef has improved up to 40-45%, but my heart is still enlarged (which actually doesn't surprise me being that I can literally see my heart beating through my chest). I have not been released to go back to work yet, but I will be going back within the next 2-3 months to have another echo done. From there we will figure out if I am going to be released for work or not. If I'm maintaining or have improved, I will more than llikely be released for work. Until then, I am trying to remain focused on my family. I have also been battling anxiety issues, which I guess is somewhat expected being the ordeal I've been through. If they don't get better in the next few weeks I will be making a phone call to my primary care physician to see what avenues he can suggest for me as a means to deal with it. PPCM is a daily struggle, but I fight and I press on for my daughter, and all of the heart sisters that are out there - newly dx, veterans and even the ones that passed on.