Six years ago I was admitted to the hospital and stayed there for what felt like weeks, but in actuality was exactly 7 days and 6 hours. I’d arrived at the ER by ambulance with my heart beating 160 bpm at rest, a 103.2 temperature, and was getting weaker by the minute. I was diagnosed with double pneumonia, severe sepsis, and peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM).
This was a month after my son died unexpectantly.
My cardiologist mentioned that losing my son may have contributed to the weakening of my heart in addition to the PPCM.
Learning More About Peripartum Cardiomyopathy
Being the researcher that I am, I googled Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM) right after talking with my doctors. PPCM is a form of heart failure that occurs during the last month of pregnancy or within a few months after giving birth. My Google search returned the bleakest of news, especially in the area of subsequent pregnancies.
I instantly thought back to all of the well-meaning people who, when I’d had miscarriages and even after losing Jacob, said that I was “young and could have more babies.” Those words had never been comforting, but I understood that people just don’t know what to say in these situations. Then faced with the possibility of not being able to carry or birth any more children, those words stung even though they’d been said weeks prior.
I felt helpless but hopeful, so I joined a support group for PPCM survivors. I learned that much of the information I’d found online was outdated and that many of the women in the group had gone on to have successful pregnancies. I also got pointed in the right direction of updated information. These ladies, my Heart Sisters, also provided and are still providing me with so much support six years later. I’ve learned so much from them and have gained some awesome allies. I’ve also gained a great resource in Dr. James Fett, whose article titled Peripartum cardiomyopathy: A puzzle closer to solution was the first article I read after being pointed in the right direction.
After being diagnosed, I have had three subsequent children while being under the watchful care of doctors. I have not relapsed, but I take heart medication daily.
Peripartum Cardiomyopathy Awareness
After doing my own research, I thought back to the days leading up to my delivery, and the days just after. I had all of the symptoms. However, I had attributed my symptoms to being pregnant or just having had a baby. I knew nothing about PPCM. Had I not been ill with pneumonia, my heart failure may not have been diagnosed, and I likely would not have gotten the treatment I needed.
If you’re interested in gaining knowledge and helping to spread further awareness about Peripartum Cardiomyopathy, check out these links for more information: