Thursday, 5 October 2017

WHY?? by Diann

When I was 19, I discovered I had a narrowed heart valve which would require surgery somewhere in the future.  I had our son 2 years later and had no problems at all throughout the pregnancy, but was advised not to have any more babies in case it put too much strain on my heart.  I had my mitral valve replaced in 2005, and now have to take warfarin daily for the rest of my life. My surgeon warned us of the dangers if I ever fell pregnant, so in 2006 my husband had a vasectomy. We were happy with the family  we had.

Very surprisingly, I found out in February 2009 that I was pregnant, however the following day, I was rushed into hospital with pancreatitis. During my 2 week stay in 
hospital, I miscarried (I was 9 weeks pregnant). We then discovered that my husband’s vasectomy had reversed! My raging hormones and subsequent long talks with my husband, led us to a meeting with my cardiologist to discuss having a baby. When we were given the green light, we started trying, and fell pregnant almost immediately in January 2010.  My warfarin was stopped, and I had to self-administer 2 x heparin injections a day. Unfortunately, communication between my GP and cardiologist had broken down, and at 7 weeks pregnant I was admitted to hospital with a blood clot in my mechanical heart valve, as my body was not absorbing the heparin being injected into my thigh. I was given 2 options - I could have a clot busting drug (which was not guaranteed to be successful) or I could have my valve replaced again. We opted for the latter, as if the first option failed, I would need surgery anyway which would be more dangerous after taking the drug.

My mother rushed the 30 miles to the hospital with our son, to see me before going to theatre. My surgeon advised it would be highly unlikely that our baby would survive as  my blood pressure would drop too low.

The surgery was a success, and 2 days later we got to see our miracle baby's heartbeat on the ultrasound screen. I was in hospital for 7 weeks, until I could go back on warfarin safely. Everything went well for the next 14 weeks, and we found out we were having a little girl.

When I was 28 weeks pregnant, I noticed I hadn't felt our little girl move very much. I went to my local maternity unit and heard her heart beating - such a relief! I had to go back later that day to have a trace done, then on the journey home I received a call to go through to the main maternity hospital as a precaution. When we got there we realised everything was not okay. The on-call obstetrician advised our little girl was in distress and had to be delivered ASAP. I was taken to theatre, not knowing the
 heartbreak awaiting me when I awoke....

What I was not aware of was that warfarin can cross the placenta. This had caused a bleed on our daughters brain.... nothing could be done to save her.  I was taken to see her for the very first time, in the neo-natal unit. The tiniest baby I've ever seen, so very perfect! We were taken to an office where we were asked to give permission to withdraw treatment.

We were taken to the private unit where we had our own family room. The hospital chaplain came to baptise Maia Jane, our very immediate family there to share this precious time. Maia never woke up in the 18 hours she was in this world. She passed away very gently in my arms.  I have never experienced pain like the pain I felt in those first few weeks, the feeling of helplessness, blame, anger, and the deepest sadness.

It's been just over 7 years since our angel died. We now have our rainbow Sophia who was born 9 days before Maia's first birthday. I had 2 x daily heparin injections, weekly blood tests and fortnightly heart scans throughout my entire pregnancy.

I felt that we had gone through so much to eventually have Maia, to lose her was the cruellest part of life ever! We always felt it was meant to be - fate!  But I cried to 
God, asking "WHY"!

I would like to spread the word to any woman on warfarin, warning of the dangers as my obstetrician merely said to me "there was always a chance this could happen"!!!  

If you require support after reading this blog, please contact Sands on 13000 72637


Hi, my name is Diann, and I live in Perth, Western Australia, but originally from Scotland.  I am a married mother of 2 children here on earth (age 20 and 6) and 2 in heaven (1 miscarriage and 1 neo-natal death).  Aside from my day-to-day work, I am a Parent Supporter with Sands on the 1300 line.  Sands were a huge support to me, and now I want to be there for others.  My hope is that by sharing my story, it will bring awareness, and save others from the same fate as our family

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