Expecting Hearts

Cynthia's PPCM Journey


My name is Cynthia and I am a PPCM heart failure survivor. My journey began with my 5th full term pregnancy but 4th live birth. My first pregnancy ended with a stillborn. I felt like nothing could take me by surprise anymore. We knew to expect high blood pressure as after my last 3 babies my blood pressure sky rocketed. But nothing could prepare us for what happened. 

It started off with my water breaking, but instead of fluid I was greeted with massive amounts of blood. It was placental abruption and an emergency C-section was needed to save both baby and me. After that I thought I was in the clear when my blood pressure started spiking over the next two weeks. Nothing was bringing it down.

Thankfully I have a blood pressure monitor at home and was very good about checking it. Two weeks after birth, I was back in the hospital with my blood pressure at 215/127. Again, nothing was working. Even their most potent meds weren't bringing it down. I was admitted to ICU. After 2 days and 4 packs of blood (I became anemic from the abruption) I was allowed to go home for Easter with the promise of going to see my Cardiologist the next day.

That night I couldn't breathe. Every time I lay down I felt as though I was drowning. I tried not to worry since I was going to see my dr. At his office he did an echo and came back looking very grave. My heart was enlarged, leaking, and only had an Ejection Fraction of 25%. I had to be readmitted to the hospital. He wanted to do a heart catheter and put me in a life vest. He swore I would be home the following day. 

He couldn't do the heart catheter because my lungs were too full of fluid. I was transferred to Providence hospital in Sc they have a heart care floor. I was taken there from my local hospital in an ambulance. Blood was drawn from me multiple times a day. I was put on Lasix to keep fluid from my lungs. I lost 11lbs in the hospital with the fluid removal. I was given Benazepril to lower my blood pressure and Metoprolol to regulate my heart rate and rhythm. After a week, I left the hospital in a life vest with the knowledge my chances for survival were a mere 50%. The life vest is a defibrillator that I wore against my skin under my clothes. I was only allowed to take it off for showers. It monitors your heart and sends reports to the doctors. If it senses a heart attack, stroke, or arrhythmia it will sound a loud warning. If you are awake and alert you must hit the button to stop it. If you are not and your heart stops, it will shock you to restart it while alerting people nearby to call 911. Thankfully this never happened to me. Needless to say, I was scared leaving the hospital and not knowing what my future would look like. What about my babies? They need their Mom.  

I continued on therapeutic doses of medications and regular visits with my doctors. Then after three months, I had made a complete recovery. My Ejection Fraction showed 60% and my heart showed no signs of what it had been through. Unfortunately, now I am not allowed to have any more children. My doctor told me that with another pregnancy, I probably wouldn’t make it. I have been pregnant once since. I have always been against abortion. Even though I hate myself for it, I aborted the baby early in the pregnancy. It wouldn't be fair to attempt to have it and possibly die leaving all my kids without a mom. Since then my boyfriend has had a vasectomy and I think about my last child delivery and post-partum often. I think of the child I had to sacrifice to be here and I wish there was more awareness. I am sharing my story in hopes to help bring about this awareness.