Surviving peripartum cardiomyopathy and experiencing a near-death experience has inspired Jessica Grib to become an advocate for all pregnant women. She is a strong supporter of heart health awareness and hopes to prevent other women from enduring the trauma she faced. Here is Jessica’s story.
My name is Jessica Grib and I am a survivor of heart failure in childbirth. At age 32, during my second pregnancy, I began experiencing extreme fatigue. I attributed my exhaustion to normal pregnancy symptoms, coupled with chasing after my two-and-a-half-year-old son, Noah. With my blood pressure high, my team moved forward with inducing labor. At 37 weeks I delivered my daughter, Amelia, via C-section.
Post-delivery, I went into cardiogenic shock from post-partum cardiomyopathy (PPCM). Unknown at the time, I had a paraganglioma tumor which caused my heart to fail. In the recovery room, I crashed and coded. I received CPR en route to the cardiac cath lab. I was placed on a ventilator and the Impella heart pump was inserted into my heart. Next, I was transferred to another hospital and placed on ECMO support. My physicians did not expect me to survive.
After days of maximal life support, physicians explanted the Impella and removed my ECMO machine. I do not remember anything from weeks prior to delivery. At two weeks old, I finally got to meet my daughter. Getting home to my family fueled my determination to keep pushing. I began physical therapy to learn to walk again and regain my fine motor skills. I was working to be able to hold my daughter on my own and put a pacifier in her mouth. These two tasks I was unable to do for weeks after Amelia was born. I had the tumor removed when Amelia was 2 months old and have made a full recovery.
Since my heart failure, I have made it my mission to educate, advocate, and spread awareness about peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM). I promote testing to help women discern pregnancy symptoms from those of PPCM through a self-test from Save The Mommies.
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