I didn't hold my baby until...

5 min read

My due date was March 4, 2016. My water broke at 430am on February 9, 2016 and we went to the hospital. I knew I would have to deliver because I tested positive for Strep B so we needed to start antibiotics right away. We were admitted into a room by 530am and they started the meds. I was feeling great and excited to meet our baby 3-1/2 weeks early! What a treat!  They started me on pitosin to help get the ball rolling, as I was only 1 cm dilated. By noon, my labor was so painful I screamed for an epidural. Ouch, that hurt, especially during a contraction. I was barely progressing and only got to 4cm by 6pm. It had been 12 hours since we were admitted and my doctor decided that a c-section would be best. My husband gowned up and I put my hair cap on. The room was cold and very bright, and Justin Bieber was on the radio. They started to prep for the c-section and shortly after my husband was aloud in and sat next to me. I was so nervous so we scrolled through his phone to help calm my nerves. I felt some tugging and pulling and suddenly relief! My doctor gasped and said "we have a surprise! Your baby is breech!" She would have never come out vaginally. But we didn't care how she came out, she was here! We saw our baby girl for the first time and she was crying and we were so happy! That's when everything went downhill. I started screaming from the worst pain in my head that I've ever felt! The doctor gave me meds and that helped but then I felt so sick that I puked. At this point my husband left with the baby. I don't remember anything else until I woke up in a recovery room 2 hours later. My husband was with me but the baby was in the nursery. I wanted to see her and hold her but I was so ill. They were unsure of what was wrong. I then went back to my room and that's when the testing started. Lots of blood work was done almost every hour. I wanted my baby so badly but I could barely breathe. I was coughing up blood and had an oxygen mask on. At 5 am they moved me to the ICU, where I remained for 3 days. I think it was around noon that day and after tons of testing (cat scans, blood work, & an echocardiogram) they had told me I was in heart failure and diagnosed me with postpartum cardiomyopathy. I thought I was going to die and never meet me baby. I was so devastated. During the last month of my pregnancy, I had a swollen face and my feet were huge. It was ask sudden. I also had trouble breathing laying down and I felt my heart race. I thought this was normal. These were my only symptoms, but they're the same as pregnancy symptoms. This is why PPCM goes undiagnosed.  Luckily 2 days later, a maternity nurse brought my baby down to visit me in the little box. I got to see her but I couldn't touch her or hold her. We had to keep the box shut. I planned to nurse my baby so a lactation consultant came to my ICU room and taught me how to use their hospital grade pump. Man that thing was awesome. My mom and husband held the shields on my breasts as we pumped. I was barely awake as this happened, but I was so happy. So happy to be providing for my child the way I had planned. Those 3 days in the ICU were the longest of days. Doctors in and out. Constant testing. My veins were so weak that they had to give me a pick-line. I was told my EF was 25%. They had me on tons of meds and I was always sleeping. I felt miserable and saw no way out. I only wanted my immediate family near, so my mom slept in my room while my husband stayed in our maternity room with our daughter. She was doing so well and that made me feel so much better. 3 days of the ICU and I was finally admitted upstairs to the cardiac wing. The room was very nice and I was feeling hopeful. A couple of hours later, I heard wheels rolling down the hallway. Seconds later, I saw my baby being wheeled into my room. I started crying so hard. The nurses took my baby out of the box, undressed her and quickly laid her on my chest. Words weren't exchanged. Everyone in the room was crying. It was the most beautiful moment and I'll treasure it forever. She stayed with me for about an hour and then they had to take her back. At this point, I could see light at the end of the tunnel. But then I was told I wasn't allowed to nurse my baby because of the heart meds. I was so upset!! How could they do this to me! I begged for them to change my meds and do more research. At this point they did and said it would be okay to nurse. So I pumped. My baby was still down in maternity so pumping was the best choice. My husband would give her my milk in a bottle and that made me feel good. On day 5 of my stay, my baby was discharged from maternity and admitted into my room in cardiac! I was ecstatic!! Another consultant came to my room to teach my how to breastfeed! I was finally allowed to connect with my daughter. She latched and we nursed for a little bit. I loved it. But moments later, another heart doctor stormed into the room and said we couldn't feed the baby my milk anymore, that there wasn't enough research and it could harm my baby. I was so upset. There really are no words for this. I just had to give it up and mourn my desire to nurse. I was also told that I shouldn't have anymore children because this could happen again. This was my first baby that i had waited for and now they're breaking my heart telling me no more babies. I was shattered. I had a repeat eccocardiogram and it showed that my heart was now at 30-35%. On February 15, a week later, we were discharged. I went home with our baby and the recovery started. My mother stayed with us for 7 weeks and helped with everything. She's a saint. My husband also stayed home from work for a month, working from home. That was a huge blessing. 2 months later I had another eccocardiogram and it showed that my heart was 40-45%. I was feeling okay but still so tired. They adjusted my meds and that helped. 8 weeks after my initial diagnosis, I was home alone finally taking care of my daughter all by myself. It felt great. We are now almost 6 months postpartum, my baby girl is thriving and doing great, and I'm feeling "okay". I just had a repeat eccocardiogram yesterday (7/28/16) to check on the status of my heart. My doctors say my case is now mild, which should make me feel happy, right? But no. I've been told I shouldn't have anymore children because this "may happen again". I'm planning on getting a second opinion in the coming month. I trust my doctors but I want to make sure I've done all that I could do. At this point, I do feel okay. I'm still at home with my baby and not working. I understand that so many women have had it worse and I'm thankful for my situation. I just pray that I will be fully healed, that my questions will be answered and that I will find peace. I never knew about PPCM until being diagnosed with it.

Heart failure and pregnancy do not belong together.

My Details

  • Date Diagnosed: 10/02/2016
  • Child: 1
  • Initial EF: 25%
  • Current EF: 40-45%

Story By Lindsey Finelli

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