Hi my name is Kirstin, I’m 26 years old and I live in England.
Before I tell you my story I just want to say how very very brave you women are. Each one of your bios brought I tear to my eye. I can’t say how much better it made me feel just to know that I wasn’t the only one suffering from this terrible illness.
My daughter was born at the end of September 2001, she is my first baby. At 36 weeks gestation as I wasn’t feeling well, I noticed that I had ankle odema and that after taking my Bp I had discovered it was 130/100 (usual Bp for me is 100/60) I took myself to the hospital. I told the midwife at the hospital that I thought I had preeclampsia (and to this day I am convinced that I had) she monitored my Bp for about 40 minutes and performed a urine test. My Bp came down to 130/90 and she said I could go home - even though I told her that was still very high for me.
At 40/41 weeks gestation I went for my regular postnatal check. The Doctor took my Bp, which was 120/100, did a urine test and told me that I had preeclampsia and would need to stay in over night and be induced the next day. The next morning I was vomiting and I couldn't urinate. I didn't’t feel well at all. During labour my Bp rose to 180/120 and my leg was twitching, after 24 hours I was given an emergency section as my baby’s heart rate dropped dangerously low. My little girl was born completely healthy weighing 7lbs 10 oz.
Afterwards my Bp stayed high at about 160/100. I had that much protein in my urine that it looked like slush. After 5 days in hospital we went home. My Bp was still about 160/100 and I hadn’t been given any medications. The next night my fiancé had to call the doctor as I had a terrible headache. The Doctor took my Bp and found it was 170/115. He sent me back to the hospital were they gave me blood pressure tablets and monitored me over night. I didn’t feel well at all, I felt really weak and a little breathless. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, I begged the doctor to listen to my heart and told her that I was afraid I was going to get heart failure from the high blood pressure but she informed me that I didn't seem breathless to her and that preeclampsia couldn’t lead to heart failure!
The next day they discharged me. About a week later I went for a walk with my fiancé and my daughter. I collapsed and was taken to hospital by ambulance. They kept saying its probably just low blood sugar but I knew it was something much worse. The next day they performed an ECG and an echo. The doctor informed me that my heart wasn’t working probably and that it would probably get better and told me to go home! He also said that the Blood pressure tablets that I had been given had made the condition worse and not to take them any more. Luckily my Bp had gone back to normal any way!
Of course when I got home I researched heart conditions due to pregnancy and found out that I had PPCM. I was terrified I just kept thinking this is it I am going to die and leave my beautiful daughter without a mummy. I referred myself to the best cardiology clinic within the area that I live and got an appointment 6 weeks later. The cardiologist told me that my cardiomyopathy wasn’t that bad. My ejection fraction was 54% and my LV was enlarged to 6cm. He told me that it would either completely resolve, stabilise or get worse. He also said that I didn’t need any medications at this point.
I went home, I hoped, I prayed, I visited a healer, I drank gallons of hawthorn tea, took Co enzyme 10, selenium and a number of other vitamins and minerals. 3 weeks ago at 4 ½ months post partum I had another ECG and echo. My cardiologist was away on holiday but his registrar informed me that my LV was under 5cm and that my ejection fraction was above 60%. He said that as far as he was concerned my heart was recovered and that it should be as healthy as it was before I was pregnant. I just stared at him and cried! All the way home I kept saying to my mum and fiancé - What if he’s wrong? Do you think I should see the consultant cardiologist when he’s back and make sure? They tried to convince me to believe him and I’m sure he is right, I just want to here it from the consultant - but I’m not seeing him till August!
I still have a fast heart rate when I stand up. So as I type this I have a 24 hour heart monitor strapped to my body, just to make sure I don’t have any irregular heart rhythms. The cardiologist is quite sure that I won’t have though.
So that’s my story! I never had to take any conventional heart medications. I feel both extremely lucky and extremely unlucky - lucky to have recovered but so so sad when I think I may not have any more children. I always wanted 2 or 3. I’m going to do a lot of research and get many opinions before I decide to give up on having more children completely though. Reading the experiences of other women who have recovered and gone on to have more children without reccurace gives me hope! I feel that as long as I didn’t get preeclampsia again then I wouldn’t get PPCM again. Any way I shall keep you posted!
Lots of love everyone. I hope you all get better.
PS. *Hawthorn is a herb that strengthens the heart muscle. It is best taken as a tea. It is completely safe and won’t interact with any of your heart medications. It does stimulate blood flow slightly though so if you are taking warfarin please consult your cardiologist before taking.
Always check with your cardiologist before taking an herbal supplement of any form, many have reactions and side effects when mixed with heart meds, though Hawthorn and CoQ10 are both widely used, it is still better to check :) Thanks Kirstin for bringing that to our attention:)