Cambridge mother celebrates first Mother's Day after facing heart failure, medical battles

NOW: Cambridge mother celebrates first Mother’s Day after facing heart failure, medical battles

CAMBRIDGE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Mothers are some of the world's hardest workers, and one Cambridge woman is a testament to that sentiment.

Susan Siegenthaler was seven-and-a-half months pregnant with her first child, when things took a sudden turn.

"They told me I was in heart failure, and I just didn't believe it," Siegenthaler said.

It was a startling diagnosis for the otherwise healthy 38-year-old, whose family had no history of heart disease.

"I just could not comprehend what that meant. I didn't know if heart failure meant I was dying," Siegenthaler said.

She was taken to the hospital where after multiple tests, doctors ultimately determined her diagnosis.

A C-section was scheduled for the day after Christmas, but Siegenthaler naturally went into labor the night before.

"Before we had her, it was really scary," Siegenthaler said. "I didn't know if she was going to make it through the labor, and it was scarier than wondering if I was going to make it through the labor."

Baby Stevie was born healthy but prematurely and spent her first few weeks of life in the NICU.

Doctors were tasked with keeping her stable, while keeping Siegenthaler alive.

"Every time they mentioned worst-case scenario, it ended up happening," Siegenthaler said.

UW Health professionals said what she went through is unusual.

"Certainly, heart failure that progresses to the point of needing a heart transplant in the immediate post-partum period is an exquisitely rare thing," said Michael Beninati, a maternal-fetal medicine and critical care doctor.

Siegenthaler ended up on a heart transplant list.

It took 11 days for her to get the call.

"As happy as we are, somebody had to lose a loved one," Siegenthaler said. "That thought crosses my mind a lot. Especially on Mother's Day because you know it's very possible, we wouldn't have had a Mother's Day without them."

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