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I had been married 6 months when I found out I was pregnant. I was excited! I absolutely loved children and had spent my young career as a teacher for children with special needs. My big dream was simple. I wanted to marry and have a family of my own.

My pregnancy, like most women, started out roughly. I had morning sickness all day and all night. I had a difficult time keeping food down. As a special needs teacher I was on my feel a lot and tired easly. I read all the books and was assured that this was normal. Around 5 months into my pregnacny I was able to eat and I started showing.  Everything seemed to be going as planned.

The real stress began at 30 weeks. My legs and ankles kept swelling and I was having contractions. I was rushed to the hospital and was told I was going into pre-term labor. They injected me with a drug called "Breathine" and steriods to help with the baby's lungs. My contractions slowed down and I was sent home on strict bed rest. I was given an oral drug of "breathine" and was directed to take it around the clock to slow the contractions down. This drug made me so sick. My heart would race, I would break out in a sweat, I was tired and weak. I loss around 15 pounds. My doctor told me this was all "normal". I later discoverd this drug was black boxed by the FDA for treating pre term labor, as women were having heart complications.

By 33 weeks, my body had enough. I was weak and had a hard time breathing. The baby's heart was starting to be abnormal. I was admitted to the hospital and was told I would be induced. Within 30 minutes of being there I was having an emergency C-section. I was given a spinal block and went into a foggy state of mind.

The doctor struggled getting my son out as his foot was stuck in my ribs. I remember when the doctor pulled his foot out of my ribcage that my heart started acting funny. I screamed out and my husband passed out (the only funny part of my delivery) :). My son needed care as he was premature and was rushed away before I could hold him. I was lucky that he ended up only needing fluids and oxygen. He was perfect, beautful, and healthy.

My health however seemed to get worse. I swelled very badly. I was alarmed out how large my legs and feet were. I asked the nurse and doctor if this was normal and I was told "yes". I couldn't really walk without being in excruciating pain. This was my first child and I had nothing to compare it to , so I just thought this was normal and suffered in silence.

4 days after giving birth I was sent home. I felt worse and had no energy and was still swollen and in pain. I rememeber my feet kept "falling asleep", circulation in my my feet and legs were very poor. I kept hearing a dripping sound and feel something warm running down my leg. I now know it was blood leaking from my heart.

My third day home was our first wedding anniversary. My husband cooked dinner and bought a bottle of champagne. After I took a few sips of the champagne I felt funny. I went to lay down only to discover I couldn't breathe laying down. I panicked. My husband called the OB and he said to rush me to the hospital as I could have blood clot from the C-section.

He rushed me to the ER, but could not go inside with me as we had our newborn premature son with us. He waited in the car with our son until some of my family could arrive (My husband is from England and has no family here). I can't imagine what he was going through at this moment...

They ran my vitals in the ER and everything seemed OK and I thought maybe I was overreacting. They placed me in a bed and had me lay down. When my head hit the pillow, alarms started going off as my blood pressure was high.  They ran several types of test. All I really remember is the ER doctor telling me there was swelling around my heart that was leaking into my lungs. I was told that I was being admitted and would need to see a cardiologist in the morning. He went over several things that it could be, including preeclampsia.

The next day, I was seen by one cardiologist. She ran an echo on my heart and told me that I was in heart faliure. Because my case was "difficult"  another cardiologist would be taking over for her. That new cardiologist told me I was suffering from PPCM. I think my world stopped at that moment. I was by myself in the hospital, a new mother , and I had just celebrated my one year wedding anniversary. I cried and cried to myself. I went to a dark place and thought (what I am sure every mother with PPCM thought).....will my son ever know me? Will I get to watch him grow up? How long do I have to live? Why is this happening to me?

I was lucky that I had an AMAZING cardiologist. He made me feel confident, he gave me the light of hope I so desperately needed. He started me on intensive drug therapies and I was so fortunate that they helped me. It took over two years, but my EF went up and I was taken fully off my medications. I still have a few issues every once and a while, but I am doing great. Besides the fact I have been advised not to have anymore children, my life is good.  I wish PPCM was more well-known and that pregnant women were more educated on this condition. If I had listen to my body I believe I could of caught this disease before it manifested into heart-failure. Knowledge is power.

My Details

  • Date Diagnosed: 27/10/2009
  • Child: 1
  • Initial EF: 35
  • Current EF: 60

Story By Jaclyn Foster

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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

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