Mother’s Day takes on a special meaning this year for Ashley Zimmerman.
It’s her first as a mom, and it nearly didn’t happen.
“Click, click, click.”
That click is Ashley Zimmerman’s mechanical heart valve. It’s helped keep her alive since she was 24 years old. At one point, it meant sacrificing a family.
“Originally they told me I couldn’t have a child,” Zimmerman said.
For about five years she focused on her health, her husband and their pets. That is until she found Dr. Sabrina Philips of Mayo Clinic -- a cardiologist with a sub-specialty in maternal concerns.
“Mothers who have a mechanical valve are among the highest risk of the patients with a heart disease to go through pregnancy,” Dr. Philips said.
Zimmerman got the all clear in 2018. She became pregnant with a boy. But there are still concerns over medication that extend her life but could be harmful to a developing one -- a science she and her doctor had to perfect.
“I was very on top of everything," Zimmerman said. "I had a marker on my bathroom mirror and I would write how much medication I needed to take, when I needed to take it.”
Philips adds symptoms can be exacerbated during pregnancy.
“So they may have swelling, may become more fatigued, they may not be able to maintain blood pressure,” Dr. Philips said.
But without complication, William Zimmerman was born in late 2018.
He is healthy, strong and has a special day to celebrate this year with his mom.
“I didn’t know I was able to have a child and now I have a child, and it’s my first Mother’s Day, so it’s surreal but exciting at the same time,” Zimmerman said.