10 years and I'm finally telling my story

5 min read

This is a long story. Every time I think of telling it I always shy away, justifying it by telling myself that I couldn't tell it without it being too fragmented and possibly making it sound too clinical because I can't begin to touch the emotion behind it. Here goes... I got pregnant at the age of 18, not the best circumstance but her father and I got married and were going to try to make the best of it. In my 3rd trimester I was really swollen, I could barely sleep and I got out of breath really easily. I trusted my doctor. I TRUSTED my body. I made them induce me on March 22nd 2002. My blood pressure was sky high and I was dropping protein in my urine. Apparently my doctor was supposed to leave for vacation but *sigh* I GUESS he could induce me with my symptoms. After 24 hrs of hard labor they finally took me in for a c section. I remember hearing her cry...her first little cry. That's it. I don't remember much after that, I had rare moments of lucidity. Like when they told me I needed a blood transfusion... I had offered to give my own blood a week before just in case I needed a blood transfusion, I don't know what prompted me to do this. They told me there was no reason to. They were obviously wrong. I refused the blood. They deemed me medically unable to make my own decisions and my husband allowed them to give it to me. I found out later I was in kidney failure. My sister came into my room a couple of days later and starting crying, saying she was sure there was something more wrong with me. That night I couldn't breathe when I laid down. The nurses told me I was just hyperventilating. I was sent home 4 days after the c section, even with the kidney failure and elevated blood pressure. I laid with Mackenzie on my chest that night because I couldn't sleep laying down. I had no idea why. Less than 24 hours later I was crying uncontrollably.. I had no idea why. I couldn't breathe. I told my husband to call 911 immediately. I don't know why. Sixth sense I suppose. The fire trucks came first. They started yelling at me that I was just having a panic attack. My baby was crying in the other room..with nobody to take care of her. Just crying, screaming. I heard her but I couldn't do anything. Finally the paramedics got there and flipped out. They put me in the ambulance and I remember Mark Sherwood...my paramedic. Staring at him while he was breathing for me. I knew I was dying. He was radioing the hospital ahead of time, telling them he didn't think I was going to make it. I was going to die before we got to the hospital. I was leaving my newborn. I was 18. Was I going to heaven? We got to the hospital and the last thing I remember was asking the ER doctor if I was going to die, he said he didn't know. I guess while this was happening the chaplain of the hospital was telling my family that they needed to say their final goodbyes to me. The next thing I remember was waking up in the ICU. Over the next couple of weeks the doctors argued over whose fault it was. I lost 75 lbs in fluid during that time. I wanted nothing to do with my baby. They brought her in my room once. I asked them to please take her back. I asked someone to please tell the paramedic thank you for saving my life. When they went to tell him we found out that after the run with me he checked himself into the hospital for emotional distress. He lost it. He took about a month off. Now he runs the ambulance company. I love that :) I guess I blamed her. My husband started snorting adderrall just to get through the day in the hospital. He is now a heroin addict who can't even talk about that day still. We are now divorced. I got sent home on many medicines, I didn't even change my daughter for the first 4 months or so. I have no recollection of her life really for the first year. I have anxiety attacks. I am angry. I'm scared. 10 years later. I didn't bond with Mackenzie like I should have. I wonder if I ever will. I don't trust my body anymore. I always feel my heart beat.. I listen for it. I watched my dad died when I was 10 years old of a heart attack. I'm glad that I lived to see Mackenzie's 10th birthday. I'm bitter. I'm thankful. I'm grateful to be alive. I'm pissed. I'm all of these things. Fast forward to Feb of 2011. I accidentally get pregnant after being told since I was 18 that I couldn't have any more children. I go through with the pregnancy because I can't stand the thought of having an abortion. I want another chance. I want to trust my body. I spend the entire pregnancy in crisis mode. I have an uneventful delivery, and oh yeah, I finally get to breastfeed. I'm still angry that I didn't get to do that with Mackenzie. I look at my little girl that doctors told me to abort and can't believe how much I love her...then I leave the hospital and everything crashes down. I didn't relapse physically..but mentally and emotionally. Did I REALLY just do that? I had to go to a partial hospitalization program to deal with my anxiety and depression. Thank God I have a loving a supportive significant other. He took care of both of the kids while I did this, while working..and being there for me. My blood pressure went through the roof, more because I couldn't even stand being inside of my own skin. I had so much anxiety that I was going to relapse that I was sitting on the bed, scratching my own arms to redirect my thoughts. It was bad. I am ok now. I think. I put my baby, Amelia, to bed every night. I went back to work when she was 3 months old. I feel guilty. I think I love Amelia more than I do Mackenzie. You can hate me for that, I hate myself for that sometimes. A lot of times. I want to have a better bond with Mackenzie, I strive for that daily. I will never stop trying. Emotionally, it hurts me to read others stories. I've been there. I feel bad because I read your stories and I see the reserve that you have. The unwillingness to admit the weakness or the emotions, other than anxiety or a little depression. I wish more women would just put it out there. PPCM is something that is so fierce, so breathtakingly RAW, that when you look back on it you catch your breath...and make sure your heart is still beating and that you're still alive. I hope that when this happens you're thankful for it. I never want to ask myself if I'm going to heaven again. I want to live my life knowing that I left a mark. Knowing that maybe I changed  somebody or SOMETHING. I want to matter. PPCM stole so much from me and my family. My sister almost didn't get pregnant because of what she saw me go through. She only had one child and had so much anxiety through her pregnancy that she didn't have another. That makes me feel guilty. Sometimes I look at the ripple affect that ppcm caused and I want to take a sword to it and cut it in half..like it did me. My ex husband is a shell now. He is still in love with me. He can't get over what happened. He faced a life alone raising our daughter. All of the doctors told him that...I am weak. I am strong. I spend every day feeling guilty...but I also spend every day turning that guilt into something that I can work with. I hope my rambling means something to someone on here. Thank you for reading my story.

My Details

  • Date Diagnosed: 27/03/2002
  • Child: 1
  • Initial EF: 27
  • Current EF: 55

Story By Katie Risner-Tooker

Related Articles

Woke up confused.

I have a hard time finding another story quite like mine no matter how hard I look. I was 26 and pregnant with my second

Help Support my work

Money goes towards my writing, advocacy work, hosting and web development.

Support me

Subscribe to My Heart Sisters

Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox