Throughout her pregnancy last year, housewife Jenny Lim (not her real name) and her baby battled for their lives.
Madam Lim, 27, has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a genetic condition where her heart muscles are thickened, making it harder for blood to be pumped from the heart.
Her father had the same disease.
As a child, she would get breathless, have chest pains and frequent fainting spells, while her classmates could run around freely.
She had to rely on medication to keep her blood pressure down and blood vessels open so that blood could flow freely.
She got married in 2008 and her gynaecologist advised her not to become pregnant. She was told that she could suffer heart failure and that her baby would have a one in two chance of developing heart defects.
A situation might arise in which her husband would have to choose between saving her and their child. “But we wanted kids,” said Madam Lim, who was overjoyed when she became pregnant last year.
However, with her elation came pregnancy complications. She suffered heart palpitations, breathlessness and giddy spells, which got worse as her pregnancy progressed and she had to be put on bed rest from her second trimester.
She was unable to take medication for her condition because it could have put her baby’s development in danger.
At the end of eight months, her condition took a turn for the worst.
Her feet swelled on Christmas eve, a worrying sign for someone with her disease. Her breathlessness became so bad that she had to force herself to yawn constantly so that she could get oxygen.
Her contractions had also started and her cervix was dilated. Doctors wanted to stop the dilation because the baby was still premature.
A scan revealed she had water in her lungs and doctors ordered an emergency Caesarean operation. The baby had to be delivered to save both his and her lives.
Madam Lim’s baby boy, prematurely delivered and not breathing, was rushed to neonatal intensive care.
However, things got better from then on and now, more than three months later, mum and baby are back home.
Madam Lim said that her son now cries so loudly the whole neighbourhood can hear him.
He has to be checked by a paediatrician every month and it is still too early to tell if he has inherited any of his mother and grandfather’s heart problems.
Madam Lim, who is back on medication for her condition, hopes to have three children eventually. “I feel very lucky that both of us are alive. Being able to have a kid is a gift to me.”