At the end of my third pregnancy, I began to have shortness of breath and a little heart pain. At one of my routine visits, I mentioned this to the doctor. Before I knew it, I was seeing a specialist and going through a series of tests. Thinking it was all just precautionary, I was floored when a Cardiologist with a thick accent came into the sterile white room with a "not so good" look on his face.
He began to explain what "pregnancy related cardiomyopathy" was, even though I barely heard a word that he spoke. It was hard to understand anything after he calmly stated, "There's a chance that you might not make it through the end of your pregnancy. If you do, your heart may fail during the delivery or shortly thereafter". He went on with terms such as "ejection fraction" and other foreign things, as my throat closed trying to fight back the tears.
A few weeks later, Preston was born and everything with my heart went well. It wasn't until eleven months later when we found out that I was pregnant again though, when it became a different story.
Going back to the cardiologist, he immediately said that we had to "terminate" the pregnancy. My OB/GYN became worried and said that if I refused to terminate, I would have to go to a high-risk OB/GYN. I agreed to switch doctors but the new physician said that I needed to terminate the pregnancy as well. I was sent to yet another heart specialist and a physician's assistant which both said to terminate. When I continued to refuse, I was finally sent to a cardiologist who specialized in pregnancies. She was wonderful. The more she checked my heart, the more confident I was that everything would be alright. She stayed on me like a hawk and monitored everything to a T.
In March of 2009, our fourth and final baby was born. After three boys, we had a baby girl that we covered from head to toe in pink. The delivery was planned and carefully orchestrated with monitors from here to the moon. As luck would have it, it was the easiest pregnancy and delivery of the four. No issues whatsoever.
It was a risk and I'd never recommend that anyone not listen to their doctor, but in this case, I had to listen to my heart (no pun intended).
I hadn't thought about this much lately until Christmas. I was carrying presents up the stairs and by the time I reached the top, I had shortness of breath and mild pain in my heart. Feeling scared, I made an appointment for a checkup and have been waiting for the results. They just came in and it turned out that everything is completely fine, with the ejection fraction being within normal limits. It was a nice reminder that I just need to get into better shape, which stinks, but it's important.
So for 2014, I will try to eat better and exercise more. I'm awful about making New Year's resolutions so I won't call it that. I'm also awful about eating better and exercising but I'll try nonetheless. One scare is quite enough for a lifetime and Lord knows I need all the strength I can get, just to keep up.
So Happy heart to you! Take care of yourself and your loved ones and listen to your heart too. You never know what amazing things are yet to come.
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