How Pregnancy Kept This Woman’s At-Risk Heart Pumping

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Only eleven days after welcoming her daughter into the world, Brittany Locker discovered a mass in her chest. The mass was pushing on her heart, preventing it from beating properly.

“As soon as I found out about the mass, I was in complete shock and denial,” Brittany tells Love What Matters. “I then had an MRI and met with the cardiothoracic surgeon and he showed me that it was completely compressing the right side of my heart. All I wanted was for it to come out so that I could feel better and live a happy healthy life with my babies.”

MRI of cancerous mass next to woman's heart
Courtesy of Brittany Locker

Each doctor has told her that being pregnant saved her life. Pregnant women carry an extra two liters of blood which allowed her heart to pump properly. However, once she had given birth, it was necessary to have open heart surgery to ensure her safety.

“I had my baby girl on August 4 and I walked into the hospital at 5:15am on August 31 to have open heart surgery,” Brittany says.

Luckily, the mass was benign, but recovering from open heart surgery with two young children was difficult emotionally and physically. Despite the difficulties, Brittany believes she has been changed for the better by the experience.

Woman in hospital bed giving thumbs up post open heart surgery
Courtesy of Brittany Locker

“I feel like my outlook on life has changed. I was very high strung and very high anxiety before the surgery,” she says. “This whole experience has definitely taught me that nothing really truly matters besides your family and your health.”

She is also thankful for the people in her life who supported her and her family during this time. From family to close friends, Brittany was amazed at the way her community came to her side immediately.

“My best friend set up a meal train for us and found us 1000oz of donor milk for my daughter, my husband of course never left my side, my mom flew into town and stayed with us for the last six weeks and helped with all the heavy lifting,” she tells Love What Matters. “It really is so amazing how our community has come together for our family.”

Woman holding baby daughter post open heart surgery
Courtesy of Brittany Locker

Now six weeks into an eight week recovery, Brittany is thankful she can hold her baby girl and that she is healing well. Due to doctors who listened to her and believed her, she will be able to go back to a healthy life.

She encourages others to make sure they listen to themselves and trust their intuition. If she had not done so, she would not be able to make the same recovery.

“If you ever have an inkling that something is wrong and your intuition and your gut is telling you something isn’t right, definitely listen to it. In a normal situation I would not have gone to the ER just for being lightheaded and dizzy and nauseous,” Brittany says.

“I had my daughter without an epidural so I wasn’t sure if what I was feeling was part of recovery or not,” she continues. “I’m so glad that I listened and went in. I kept telling my husband ‘something is off.’ I truly believe my daughter did save my life.”

Family smiling on white couch with toddler and newborn
Courtesy of Brittany Locker

This article was written for Love What Matters by Anna Steingruber. You can follow our contributor, Brittany Locker, on Instagram Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.

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