February 10, 2011

My HeartBreaker

Oh, she's cute.  No one has ever doubted that (and I'll gladly admit that I'm biased because she is my offspring after all).  But really, she did break my heart.  Or rather the pregnancy in general did.

We only stayed in the hospital for 2 days after she was born.  Not the typical 72 hours that the insurance will cover for c-sections.  My OB felt that we'd be better off at home if we wanted to go and I agreed whole-heartedly with him.  My incision felt good, I was moving around well, baby was doing well.  It would be easier to have our family at home in our own beds so we could start adjusting to the new addition.

So they kicked us loose from the hospital late on Monday afternoon.  

By the end of the day Tuesday, I was just beat.  I told C that it seemed so much harder (physically) this time around.  I recovered really well after the c-section with KT (and after surgeries in general, usually I'm up and moving around so much quicker than we anticipate); this time was just really different.  I was having trouble with swelling from my feet up to my hips, my whole body ached and I just felt really horrible.  That night we laid in bed and I cried about how I was feeling.  I tried reminding myself of the obvious: that my body was 4 years older, that I had been through brain surgery and I was not getting as much rest because of taking after a four year old during the day.  Add to it post-partum hormones and I hoped I was just over-reacting.

Yeah, not so much.

I woke up about 6 am on Wednesday, January 5th and couldn't get a good breath.  It felt like there was a palette of bricks on my chest that wouldn't allow me to fully expand my lungs.  Physically it hurt to inhale more than just a little.  As I tried shifting to different positions in an attempt to get some air C woke up and I explained what was going on.  We agreed that I'd call my OB's office when they opened to see what they recommended.

A few hours later when I finally drug myself out of bed my breathing was still labored and I felt really, really weak.  A phone call to my OB's office had us scrambling to head to the hospital once again -- this time to the ER in fear of a pulmonary embolism.

When we got to the ER it was immediately apparent that *something* was wrong.  An initial EKG showed my heart rate between 30-15 beats per minute while my blood pressure was soaring somewhere above 170/120.  Based on how fast the nurse excused herself from the room, I knew it couldn't be good.  They immediately ordered an ultrasound of my legs and a CT scan of my chest.  (Meltdown #1 for Mandy came as the doctor told me I wouldn't be able to nurse the baby "for a couple of days" because of the contrast dye used in the CT scan.)  Both tests came back showing an absence of blood clots -- which was the initial concern -- but instead showed a significant amount of fluid around my lungs and heart.

The not-so-good-with-his-bedside-manner ER doc came into the room to tell us the diagnosis was postpartum cardiomyopathy and I was going to be admitted to the hospital for care.  

Postpartum cardiomyopathy occurs when there is damage to the heart. As a result, the heart muscle becomes weak and cannot pump blood efficiently. Decreased heart function affects the lungs, liver, and other body systems.

His explanation of the condition was brief, generating more questions and alarm than anything else (que meltdown #2 for Mandy as he left the room).  At this point a flurry of activity began -- the nurse came in to give me some diuretics to start draining fluid, a tech came in to talk about the echocardiogram she was about to do and the baby woke up (she'd been asleep through all of this so far) with full fledged wails of hunger.  Thankfully the ER staff was completely understanding of the situation and went on a mission to get us some formula from the Women's and Infants Center as we had none packed in the diaper bag.

A couple hours later I was settled into a room in the cardiac unit and was trying to process what was happening.  C had left with the baby to go get KT, the longest echo in the world had been performed (the combination of heavy duty diuretics causing me to need to pee every 8 minutes and the tech being trained by the service rep on how to run the new echo machine meant a 20 minute echo took us almost 90) and meltdown numbers 3, 4 and 5 and subsided. A meeting with my newly appointed cardiologist put some of my fears to rest and a hope that there would be no permanent damage.

Twenty-four hours after diagnosis I was once again kicked loose to settle back in at home with strict instructions on monitoring myself and severely limiting activity.

Over the last month I've undergone a series of bloodwork, another echo and follow up appointments with the cardiologist.  Thankfully my heart function is returning to  normal and the doctor has stated there is "nothing to be concerned with" at this point.  

And so it appears (although we had already made the decision due to the reoccuring hyperemesis and 25+ weeks with a PICC-line) that our family of 4 will stand solid, unchanging in number as our future unfolds.  I was adamant that we were done after this pregnancy as it was but the possibility of the myopathy coming back and causing irreversible damage, or possible heart failure, is certainly not worth tempting fate.


DD said...

What a totally scary event to take place after such a joyous one. Thank goodness you didn't wait to see what would happen or accepted it as the new "normal".

And thank God you will recover from this as well. Your daughter can save her heartbreaking until she reaches 16 (or 24 or better yet, 30).

lorem ipsum said...

Thanks for telling us 'the rest of the story.' I am very, very happy you are doing fine and here for your new little girl!

Kristen said...

I am just so glad that you are all okay. ((HUGS))

The Marecles said...

I am so sorry to hear it was such a scary time, but I am happy to hear that your are okay and doing well. I hope that you will continue to recover and enjoy your sweet family.

Sami said...

I wish this had all gone smoother for you. *hugs* I know that things did not go even remotely as planned. I am happy for you to have both your little girls and to be regaining your health. Sending lots of love and thoughts your way.

~Amy~ said...

I just recently gave birth to my son at a birth center, at the end of March. 5 days later I was admitted to the ER and later the ICU with Postpartum Cardiomyopathy. I also had the experience of not being able to nurse and was completely heart-broken. There is not much out there as far as support for those of us who have it. I have found that it is mostly diagnosed DURING pregnancy. I know you don't know me, but please feel free to e-mail me if you would like to talk about it or need to vent, discuss, etc. I hope to hear from you. :)