my why

I am SEEKING STRONG to improve heart health.

In my younger years, I was a healthy person.  I was active.  I enjoyed activities such as hiking, biking, swimming and working out.  I was able to eat whatever I wanted and I never seemed to gain weight.  Then I turned 30.  There's just something about turning 30 that makes health and fitness a little more challenging.  I put on about 20 pounds in a matter of months.  That was also about the time that I learned I had thyroid trouble.

Throughout my teen years I had difficulties with what I would describe to my mom as a racing heart.  I would also get chest pains that felt as if a bubble was moving through my heart.  These chest pains would take my breath away.   Doctors would discount my complaints about these incidents and they would tell my mom that they were caused by panic attacks (even though I don't recall panicking about anything when they occurred).  After I was diagnosed with Graves Disease doctors believed the thyroid disease may have been the cause of the racing heart.  People with Graves Disease are typically very thin and can't gain weight.  That described me perfectly up to the point when I was actually diagnosed with it.  The confusing part about my diagnosis was I was diagnosed during a period of time when I was gaining weight.  And rapidly.

In 2001, my husband and I learned I was pregnant with our first child.  We we excited.  We were older parents, in our 30s, and looking forward to finally starting our family.  The pregnancy went well through most of it.  I had trouble with nausea, but that was the majority of my challenges.  I was working as a developer of Microsoft Flight Sim and Combat Flight Sim and was truly enjoying my career and had high hopes for a bright future.

September 11, 2001.  Our country changed.  Life became uncertain.  Careers became uncertain.  We learned the terrorists had used Microsoft Flight Sim to learn how to fly.  That news was devastating.  As the confusion and fear unraveled throughout the country, concern for my unborn child's future became something I began to hold in my heart.

My son was due to be born late in December, 2001.  My doctor induced me on December 4 due to a concern for pre-eclampsia.  Our son was not ready to be born, and he had not even dropped in the womb.  She referred to him as being at a station 4.  I described him as being stuck up in my ribs.  After he was born, he struggled to learn to nurse, but we were still released from the hospital.  I took some breastfeeding classes because my son continued to struggle.  I wanted to try to bottle feed him, but, I was surrounded by nursing staff who insisted "breast is best" and told me bottle feeding would ruin his chances of learning to breastfeed.  When he was 5 days old, he began to turn blue.  I called our Pediatrician and he told me to rush him to a children's hospital that was about an hour away.  We had only been driving for 15 minutes when I told my husband I thought he stopped breathing.  We called 911 and an ambulance met us on Interstate-5.  They revived him and told us we would not make it to the hospital that we had been sent to and diverted us to a different children's hospital that was a little bit closer.  The hospital put us up in an apartment and we were blessed to be able to stay by our newborn son's side a majority of his NICU stay.  One night, after a few hours of rest at the apartment, we walked back over to the hospital.  It was around 3:00 a.m.  We went in and learned they had to resuscitate him while we slept.  Our son recovered, was released from the hospital, and went home to be attached to an apnea monitor for the first two months of his life.  I did not return to my job at Microsoft as planned and I began life as a stay-at-home mom.

During the stress of all of this, I began to not feel well.  I wasn't sleeping.  I was too afraid my son would stop breathing.  I was in and out of doctors.  At one point, I visited my cardiologist and, after a stress test and echocardiogram, he told me he thought I had suffered from Postpartum Cardiomyopathy.  We were warned to not get pregnant again.  But, it turned out I was already pregnant when he told us that.

Concerned about my being pregnant, my cardiologist sent me to see an Obstetrician right away.  The Obstetrician told me that he was unwilling to see me with the heart condition and referred me to a Perinatologist (an Obstetrician who deals with complicated, high-risk pregnancies).    I saw the Perinatologist at 12 weeks pregnant.  To make a high-risk pregnancy even more complicated, we found out we were pregnant with twins.

I was terrified out of my mind.

- to be continued...