For most women I think becoming a mother and having a child is something we dream of from a young age, So you can imagine my delight when 8 months ago we found out we were expecting our delightful bundle of joy!
But here’s where my story differs, I knew it wasn’t going to be plain sailing or as easy as some pregnancies, as about 3 years ago I was diagnosed with an inherited heart condition. A type of cardiomyopathy (ARVC). Cardiomyopathy had taken my own mothers life when I was just 3 months old. Before getting pregnant I was seen regularly by cardiologists explaining how to live with my condition and obviously pregnancy had crept into conversation. I had been told that having a baby was a possibility and something I could do, but like any health issue came with a higher risk.
It came down to the decision and the doctors would want to monitor me before we started trying and during to check my condition was stable enough for my heart to take on beating for not one, but two bodies! For any women with a heart condition who hears this, let me be honest, it will scare you, it will make you second think if you should take that risk, it will make you think you are silly for thinking the worst. To re assure you, you’re not! All these thoughts and more crossed my mind, but remember doctors are there to look after you and help you through decisions like this, so talk to them, ask them the 100 questions that run through your head, don’t shy away!
So after thinking all this through I knew I wanted to be young when I got pregnant, I wanted to be a prime age to improve my chances of safety and good health during this journey, and low and behold 8 months ago at 23 I found I was pregnant. Overjoyed is an understatement we were ecstatic! Through the roof with happiness! All that mattered to me from that moment was my little baby and the family I was about to begin, this went on until my first cardiology appointment being pregnant.
When I saw my doctor he explained that it was a shock to him to learn I was pregnant as we had talked about it being a decision he needed to be involved in. He explained that now I was carrying this little life, hospital appointments would become a lot more regular, being seen at high risk pregnancy clinics, not being midwife led but being consultant led. I became petrified, I don’t know why exactly? If I look back now I still don’t know why, but I was. The thought of not being like normal women who were just gonna sail through this broke my heart. I wanted to do it like every other mother to be did it. I cried, I got upset, I found it difficult to come to terms with, I then realised I was being selfish, for it wasn’t just me anymore, it wasn’t just myself I had to look out for! It was my little boy! My beautiful, unborn, little baby!
So I gave my head a little shake and got on with it, and someone must of been looking out for me, because the first 7 months of my pregnancy went swimmingly! Apart from the morning sickness, and the back ache, the food aversions, the strange amount of weight that somehow had crept up on me (nothing to do with all the cake and biscuits I was eating) the bad skin and constant tiredness! Who knew suffering from a heart condition was actually a lot easier than pregnancy!
I had been told that as baby and heart were both doing so well I could look forward to a natural delivery, which I can not even begin to explain how excited this made me! There was worry that due to my increase in beta blocker tablets, babies growth may be stunted, but let me assure you this has never been the case (my Mr long legs) so everything was on the up!
Until my 28 week appointment at the high risk pregnancy clinic, prior to this I had been fitted with a 24 hour heart monitor, just one of the routine things you go through! At my appointment they explained to me that this had shown my heart beat was becoming more and more irregular, skipping beats and adding beats, something called arrhythmia. The strain of growing my little boy was just starting to prove slightly more than what my heart could handle. They decided that as this could lead to cardiac arrest, they were going to fit me with a ICD, a type of pacemaker that would shock my heart if it was to stop at any point.
Thoughts bombarded my mind! Tears flooded my eyes, and a slight feeling of failure hit my chest. I had been given the opportunity to care for and protect this little baby and he wasn’t even out of my body and I had already failed to do so! If I could go back to that moment and slap myself I would! There’s no shame in needing help, pregnancy is tough on most women, even more so when you know your body may not be up to the challenge, just remember you’ve done an amazing thing getting this far on your own, you’ve done an amazing thing creating and carrying this life! So you need an extra helping hand, who cares! So I shook myself down and held my head high, was taken straight to hospital to have my ICD fitted that week and within 7 days I became bionic women. Then I could start thinking of all the cool things I could tell my son about the metal box in his mothers chest! What child would misbehave thinking his mummy is a robot!
So I’m writing this 3 weeks on, from my surgery, now being 33 weeks pregnant and impatiently awaiting the arrival of my brave little boy as he has been put through just as much as me! Who is also now being delivered by c-section which did not come easy news as this was the last thing I wanted! But something I have learnt this past few months is when you become a mother, you swallow your pride, you stop caring about what you want and do everything in your nature to make things easier for your child.
I know there are still difficult things I need to approach, the fact there’s a 1 in 2 chance my son will have this condition, but this is something I will deal with when the time comes, because I know we will protect him, I know he will have so much love and care that he will be unstoppable, definitely getting that from me!!
So from a mother to be with a heart condition, a few words of advice, It’s going to be hard, your going to have days and nights where you question if you’ve done the right thing, or feel like your failing before you have even begun, but let me stop you right there, because you are amazing. The things your body is doing is amazing, the choice you have made is amazing, and although it’s going to be tough to come to terms with, you will come to terms with it and your about to get the greatest gift life could ever bestow upon you!
So keep smiling and keep positive because your doing great! Below is my blog page if you would like to follow my ongoing journey…