Hello, my name is Gerie. I have a
wonderful husband, Tony, whom I've been married to for almost 11 years
now, and a beautiful daughter, Kyla who will be 2 years old on April 22,
2005... and a new son, Anthony due on July 22, 2005.
INFERTILITY: My husband and I struggled with infertility for 8 years due
to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). On the last year of the 8 years
of trying to have a baby, we were seeking professional help from the
fertility specialists at the Jones Institute at EVMS. Through fate, we
were referred to the wrong department- The Department of Maternal Fetal
Medicine of EVMS. My husband was very upset because we had to wait
almost a month for our appointment, and the Jones Institute said that we
had to wait another 2 weeks. At Maternal Fetal Medicine, we met the most
wonderful doctor, Dr. Dattel. She could tell that we were very upset, so
she said that she was going to see us to see if she could also help with
our problem. She decided to check me for diabetes- I was a little
overweight at the time and she said that most of the time, even being a
little overweight can cause you to have diabetes and prevent you from
ovulating properly causing the PCOS. My cycles at the time were very
irregular. The intervals could vary between cycles- between 1-6 months,
so we went through A LOT of false alarms and false hope. After a lot of
bloodwork and that nasty Glucose Tolerance Test, I was diagnosed with
diabetes. I began seeing the Jones institute, and they started from
square one- with Clomid which failed, then infertility injections. After
6 months of controlling my blood sugars through diet, exercise, and
Glucophage, and 2 failed injection cycles, we got pregnant! We were so
DIABETES: Due to the diabetes, we went back to see Dr. Dattel- a high
risk OB- for the rest of my prenatal care. The pregnancy was smooth
sailing... blood sugars were fine, I was feeling healthy... I wasn't
even gaining very much weight due to how heavy I was when I started the
pregnancy... very uneventful... until January when I started
experiencing some heart palpitations. At one of the scheduled OB visits
in January, Dr. Dattel was scheduled to be at a conference, so I opted
to see another doctor and mentioned the palpitations. She said that it
was normal during pregnancy, and it was dismissed. At the next visit,
Dr. Dattel was present. I mentioned the continuing palpitations, and she
scheduled me for an EKG, which was normal.
PERIPARTUM CARDIOMYOPATHY: I was diagnosed with Peripartum
Cardiomyopathy in April 2003, when had my first child. I was not due
until June 2, 2003, but due to my borderline high blood pressure and my
borderline decreased amount of amniotic fluid, my doctor put me out of
work and on bed rest on April 9, 2003. I am a pediatric registered
nurse, so the fact of putting me on bed rest- and out of work, was very
difficult for me. I love working with children.
The night of Easter, April 20, 2003, I tossed and turned and couldn't
get any sleep. I found it difficult to lay flat on my bed. By morning,
when my husband was getting ready for work, we decided to call the
doctor. The doctor on call told me to come in. My blood pressure was
elevated (150s/90s) and my pulse while resting was in the 120-150s. I
was also a little swollen in my face and extremities. They decided to
admit me with the anticipation of getting my blood pressure and pulse
under control and sending me home.
I was put on strict bed rest and supplemental oxygen at the hospital for
fear of a pulmonary embolus. As my blood pressure and heart rate
stabilized, we all decided that it would probably be best if I was
induced and deliver the baby. I was 34 weeks along. Part of my job
description as a registered nurse at the time was working in the NICU
Stepdown, so I knew the risks of having a preterm infant. I was nervous
and scared for my new baby... were her organs going to be mature enough
to live outside of my womb?
They administered a vaginal pill to help my cervix dilate and started me
on Pitocin. By morning, my regular doctor came in to see me (thank
goodness it was her hospital day). I was on 4 liters of O2, in painful
labor, and had still had difficulty breathing. My oxygen saturations
were hanging in the lower 90s while on the O2. Dr. Dattel kicked out all
of my visitors except my husband (I had 4 friends in the room with me-
the hospital I worked at was connected to the hospital where I was
having my baby). She ordered a STAT ECHO, which showed an ejection
fraction of 10%. I was told that this baby would not be delivered
vaginally... that my heart wouldn't handle it. We were told that Tony
would be able to attend the C-section. While waiting for the
cardiologist and the delivery room to be ready, I started to go
downhill. An arterial line was inserted in my wrist, and I was put on a
BiPap machine which forced oxygen into my lungs. By the time I reached
the delivery room, I couldn't tolerate the mask of the BiPap, and I was
coughing up blood. I was coughing so much, I couldn't keep the mask on.
Tony couldn't stay for the C-section because I had to be intubated.
I consciously woke up in the Critical Care Unit the following Friday- 3
days later. One of the OB doctors came in to explain what had happened
to me and told me that my baby was fine in the NICU- who at birth was 4
lb 8 oz and 17 inches long. I then asked her what day it was, then
became upset because I had missed Tony's and my wedding anniversary.
I looked around me and noticed that I had 2 lines in my neck and one in
my upper chest- a yellow monsterous looking tube, which I found out
later checked my internal blood pressure (I'm not and was not born to be
a CCU nurse- LOL), and arterial lines in each wrist. Taped to my bed
were 2 pictures of me holding Kyla with tubes in my nose and mouth. To
this day, I don't remember having that picture taken. When my husband
came in, I found out that I also had a nasogastric tube to feed me and
an endotracheal tube connected to a ventilator to breathe for me- which
were already discontinued the day before. He said I was "someone else"
when they were trying to wean me off of the sedative medications!
On Sunday, April 27, I was transferred to the cardiac stepdown unit,
where I stayed until May 1st. I was very happy with even the littlest
gains I made- especially being able to take a shower. I had a telemetry
monitor on 24/7 and the NICU tried to bring my baby up as often as they
could because I couldn't leave the unit. The first time I saw my baby, I
was in awe. Here it is 5 days later- and her feet were so long (That was
the first thing I noticed)! My tired and busy Tony, would go from one
unit to the next to take care of me and feed our new daughter who was
still in the incubator. I planned on breastfeeding, so to get my breasts
conditioned, they gave me a breast pump to use on the floor to pump my
milk and toss (I was still on a lot of meds).
On Wednesday, April 30th, I was able to be taken off of my monitor
briefly to visit my daughter in the NICU. What an experience it was to
actually leave the unit I had been on for 3 days. I actually got to feed
her, rock her, cuddle with her. What an experience it was! This was my
baby, after 8 years of trying. I was really sad to leave her there when
I had to go back to my own unit- but first a pit stop outside to get
some fresh air. I felt like I had never breathed before. The air felt so
good going into my lungs that I didn't want to leave.
The doctors saw that I was doing so well, that the next day they
transferred me to the mother-baby unit. I was closer to my baby. We
walked over to the NICU for each feeding time, which also consisted of
cuddle time. That night, she remained in the NICU, but the following
night, they brought her to stay in the room with us. By this time, she
was in a bassinet. Her nurse would come in to take her back to the NICU
to do her assessment and check vitals, but we would feed her when it was
time. What a nerve-racking experience! Tony and I took different shifts
to sleep. It is so different with your own baby! I take care of these
kinds of babies all the time when I work, and now I feel like an idiot
with my own baby! It's funny how life works.
On Saturday, May 3rd, both Kyla and I were discharged from the hospital.
It was a long ride home. Tony was so nervous driving with me and our
precious treasure in the back seat.
The doctors and both Tony and I thought it best if I stayed out of work
for a year to re-coop. I learned I had been on a heart transplant list.
I left the hospital with a 25% ejection fraction, and the following
meds- Captopril, Aldactone, Digoxin, Toprol XL, and Glucophage. I was
assured that it would be safe to breastfeed, and was told that we should
not have anymore children, which broke my already broken heart. 7 months
later in November, I had a follow up ECHO which again showed a 25%
ejection fraction, but I was feeling good. There would be a few times
when I would tire easily, but Kyla was still on a 2x a day nap schedule,
so I would rest with her.
GOING BACK TO WORK: I was cleared to go back to work in April 2004. Kyla
was almost a year old. I started off doing one 8 hour day a week in the
office as a RN Discharge Planner, then 7 months later, increased to 16
hours a week with 8 hours working on the nursing unit, which I missed so
much. December 2004, I was able to increase my hours to 20 hours a week,
with 8 hours still in the office and 12 hours on the unit. I had a
follow up ECHO scheduled for the beginning of January 2005. Prior to
doing that, I noticed some increased heart palpitations. My heart
normally palpitated occasionally, but for some reason it was palpitating
up to 15x per day. Once I noticed 7 in a period of 20 minutes. My
cardiologist put me on an event monitor for a month. I did my ECHO, and
surprisingly my ejection fraction had gone up! It was now 55%! We were
PREGNANT AGAIN: The end of January, the nursing unit I worked on had a
Chili Pot Luck. It made me so sick, I had diarrhea for 5 days! By the
5th day of loose stool, I decided it was time to see my PCP. I also
happened to mention that I hadn't had my cycle since Halloween, but I
wasn't worried about being pregnant. The cycle I had before that was in
August, and the one prior to that in April, but we both wanted to make
sure, so we did a urine pregnancy test. POSITIVE! I remembered 2x Tony
and I having intercourse without protection- in 21 months! We weren't
worried... it took us 8 years and infertility drugs to have our last
baby! We couldn't believe it! I was excited, but most of all very
scared. Tony came home from work right away, and we called the
Cardiology Nurse Practitioner. She took me off of the Aldactone and
Lisinopril, and I was to see Dr. Herre, the cardiologist in 6 days. We
also called Dr. Dattel and she scheduled an immediate US in 2 days.
Everything was going so fast!
The ultrasound showed we were 16 weeks along. It was so incredible that
we couldn't believe that the baby we were seeing on the screen was ours!
Everything was shaped perfectly. Kyla's first ultrasound was just a
round sac (7 weeks). Tony even said to the tech, "That's not our baby!
That baby belongs to the woman you did before us!" But it was definitely
our baby. We saw Dr. Herre the following Tuesday and got some disturbing
news. He said that even though my ejection fraction was currently 55%
(which he couldn't believe- he had another doctor reread it, who
concurred), I most likely will have the cardiomyopathy again, and that
we need to make a decision about keeping the baby soon because I was so
far along. I didn't want my daughter to lose a mom, and Tony expressed
that he was not going to lose me, but I also wanted to keep our new
baby. GOD had blessed us with another chance to have a baby. This baby
was meant to be here.
We had an appointment with Dr. Dattel the next day. She said that she
has seen this before, and that she's seen other women going into the
pregnancy worse off than me, and coming out great. She was going to
monitor me closely throughout the pregnancy and do a scheduled C-section
between 32-36 weeks, which would put me between May 27-June 24, 2005. I
am 21 weeks now, and the palpitations have stopped. I can count 1 in the
past 2-3 weeks.
I am so honored and blessed that GOD has given us this chance to have
another child. At the last ultrasound, everything about his anatomy was
where it should be. He is absolutely fine, and I am absolutely fine. I
am currently on Toprol XL, Digoxin, Glucophage, and my prenatal vitamin.