Amy Hadsock thought life was crazy enough as it was with a new marriage, a big move, and an expected pregnancy with twins. Shortly after the birth of her girls, however, her heart began to fail due to peripartum cardiomyopathy. Here is Amy’s story.
Where do I begin? 2019 was the start of a crazy ride, one that would change me and my life forever. After getting married in December 2018, my two beautiful kids, Pax and Piper, and I moved to a new town. When we arrived, we joined my new husband and his two daughters from a previous marriage. Our newly blended family was a major adjustment for everyone. A new life with four kids under one roof, new schools, new friends, and, the biggest step, being away from my family.
As spring rolled into summer, we settled in and we were doing great. When it seemed as if we finally got into the swing of this new life, an expected surprise popped into our lives. In June of 2019, I woke up and had the feeling that I needed to take a pregnancy test. The next thing I know, it’s 6 a.m. and I’m screaming at my husband with a pregnancy test in his face. His response? Calm down and take another. Five tests later, we finally accepted the fact that we were going to be adding a 5th child to our “Brady Bunch” crew.
I was so sick with all my pregnancies but this one was on a different level. I was throwing up daily, all day long, and had a lot of pain. Something was different, I felt like something was wrong.
Life rolled on and a few weeks later we headed out on a vacation. Our destination was Stone Mountain to camp which took a nice, long RV ride to get there. This ride felt like the longest ride of my life. Sick, sick, sick! My pain and sickness did not subside once we arrived, however, so my doctor told me to go to the local ER.
I arrived at the hospital feeling horrid because I was ruining our vacation but those concerns dashed away as soon as I saw the ultrasound. While laying on my back in the ultrasound room, I hear the technicians saying “Do you see what I see?”. A third person comes into the room shortly after confirming what they had seen. At this point I’m getting a little frustrated and ask what exactly they are talking about. Their response made my heart drop. There was not just one but two babies safe and sound on the ultrasound screen.
I thought I was prepared for life with a newborn but two? Talk about a major life change! I was in shock coming to the realization that we were about to have six kids. When we shared the news, everyone was ecstatic, except me. I was so scared. Would my body be able to physically handle a twin pregnancy?
Fast forward through my pregnancy and I had your typical complaints in the later months. There was some small swelling in my ankles that I attributed to working on my feet all day as a hairstylist. What was more concerning, however is how fatigued beyond belief I felt and how I could no longer lay flat. The inability to lay flat was really weird but I had never been pregnant with twins, maybe this was normal. When I brought my concerns to my doctor, they told me I shouldn’t be concerned, that I was small and the babies were taking up all of the room. My problems were written off in the blink of an eye. Even at times during my ultrasounds when I almost passed out because I was on my back, the symptoms still remained ignored.
My medical team made to feel like I was making something out of nothing so I pushed through.
On February 16, 2020, I had a safe, successful vaginal delivery. Ireland and Hollyn were born at almost 36 weeks and 9 minutes apart. They were perfection. Healthy as can be and no problems. I thought, since the babies were doing so well, I wouldn’t have anything else I needed worry about. Unfortunately, this is when it all started going down hill for me.
After delivery I kept telling them I was having chest pains. Every time they checked, my blood pressure and heart rate were consistently high. Over and over again, they told me it was normal and that my body was just adjusting after delivering two babies. I was so dizzy and just felt like something was wrong. Since all of the doctors and nurses were telling me I was fine, however, I just went along with it and assumed I would feel better in time.
After we got home from the hospital, I pushed through for the next six days struggling to convince myself that my symptoms were normal. Nothing about this, however, felt normal. When I would bend down to change their diapers I would nearly faint and I couldn’t catch my breath while just sitting down. Nightly, I would awake on my back gasping for air. The final straw was when I started coughing up a foam that was tinged orange. I knew it was blood. This was wrong and, fearing for my life, kissed my babies goodbye before my dad rushed me to the hospital. I felt like I was dying and I wasn’t sure I would see them again.
I arrived at the ER and explained my symptoms through my breathlessness. Immediately I was taken back and had my vitals taken. My blood pressure was 140/110 and my oxygen level was in the 80s. In a flash, I had oxygen strapped to my face, heart leads placed, and an IV.
I knew something was majorly wrong but the next words out of the ER doctor’s mouth changed my life forever – peripartum cardiomyopathy. These words meant nothing to me so I asked him to explain. His words cut me like a knife as he explained that I was in a pregnancy-induced heart failure. My head was spinning.
Following my peripartum cardiomyopathy diagnosis, an ambulance took me to a bigger hospital that could handle my condition. I was beyond devastated having to leave my children behind including my 6-day old twins. I didn’t know if I would ever see them again. Scared and angry, I had no idea what was happening to me.
My ejection fraction (heart function) was at 15% when I arrived at the hospital. I went through many tests while at the hospital and luckily my heart had no lasting damage. My heart was very weak, however, so I was fitted for a LifeVest. A LifeVest is a wearable defibrillator that monitors your heart 24/7 and can shock it back into rhythm if it is not working correctly.
For four months I wore the LifeVest and took an extension regimen of heart medications. It ws the hardest thing I had ever experienced in my life but I had to be okay. I had to live. My tiny kids needed me. My children were the force behind my fight for life. Them and my faith in God helped me keep my head high and push to get better.
My ejection fraction is now 55-65% and I am considered recovered from peripartum cardiomyopathy. I am healthy and stable but have to remain on medications. I am so thankful for my quick recovery but the mental scars that have been left behind will never truly be gone.
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