Jaime Zeluck Hindlin’s pregnancy resulted in heart failure that was almost diagnosed too late. The entertainment mogul is Go Red for Women’s 2021 Real Women co-class lead.
A longtime entertainment industry insider and subject of a profile in Rolling Stone magazine, Jaime Zeluck Hindlin acts as a mother hen of sorts to musicians and songwriters, spearheading tunes from concept to chart-topper.
“It’s cool hearing the first version of a song in its baby stage,” said Jaime, 35. “I just love putting creative people together that go on to do great things.”
While she has excelled in her career, until recently, she had one unfulfilled personal goal: motherhood. Growing up, she was obsessed with the idea of being a mom, envisioning as many as five kids.
“I was more focused on having a baby than I had been on having a wedding,” she said. “It’s all I ever wanted.”
In 2015, Jaime and her husband, Jacob, learned they were expecting their first child. Tragically, when she was six months pregnant, she miscarried. “It was a trauma,” she said, noting she had lost her father just four years earlier. “Trying to get pregnant after that wasn’t easy.”
With the help of in vitro fertilization (IVF), however, Jaime soon learned she was pregnant again. And things seemed to go along smoothly until the seventh month, when she started feeling extreme fatigue.
Simply walking across the room would leave her out of breath, and her feet swelled up so large she couldn’t fit into normal shoes, “like elephant feet,” she recalled. Later, she found out they had actually fractured from the fluid buildup.
Increasingly concerned, Jaime asked repeatedly if something was wrong, but her OB-GYN assured her that she was having a normal pregnancy. “I had a feeling in my gut that something was wrong,” she said.
Three weeks before Jaime’s due date, her doctor detected protein in her urine and informed her that her blood pressure was dangerously high. Both are symptoms of preeclampsia, a complication of pregnancy that can lead to organ failure.
While a later blood pressure test ruled out the condition, Jaime insisted she needed to give birth, and her doctor induced labor.
“I couldn’t go another three weeks,” she said. “It got real dark, real quick.”
During the delivery, Jaime could barely breathe and had trouble pushing, but 17 hours later, she gave birth to a girl, Kate.
A few minutes later, however, the nurse noticed the baby was breathing too fast and rushed her to the NICU.
“She had so much fluid in her lungs from me,” Jaime explained. “I went into panic mode. We had already been through so much.”
Then, Jaime, too, began having shortness of breath. Soon, an echocardiogram revealed her heart and lungs were surrounded by fluid. Over the next 30 minutes, the nurse drained between 25 and 40 pounds of fluid from her body – nearly half the weight she gained during pregnancy. Finally, she could breathe again.
Afterward, a team of 10 doctors confirmed Jaime’s gut feeling that something was wrong. She had an uncommon form of heart failure called peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM), which typically starts in the final month of pregnancy or up to five months after giving birth.
They told Jaime she likely wouldn’t survive another pregnancy. “It was hard to take in, but just tell me I’m going to live,” she said. “I was convinced at one point that I wouldn’t make it.”
Worried sick about his wife and daughter, Jacob practically ran grooves into the floor walking back and forth between the two ICUs, which were located on opposite sides of the hospital. Jaime could only see her daughter through a phone screen, both of them hooked up to machines.
“All I wanted to do was hold her and tell her that we were going to be OK, but I couldn’t give either of us that reassurance,” she said.
The day before Jaime’s 32nd birthday, she was finally released from the hospital – just two days after Kate went home.
“I can't even describe the feeling I had when I walked into my front door,” she said. “It was the best day ever, but the road to recovery wasn’t complete.”
Barely able to walk, let alone care for Kate the way she wanted to, Jaime threw herself into cardiac rehab for three months, slowly increasing her strength and stamina. But despite her progress, she struggles with paralyzing anxiety and is still scared to be alone with Kate, who is now a healthy 4-year-old.
“I’m afraid I’m not strong enough and need someone with me at all times,” she said. “My mind is stuck.”
And while Jaime is grateful to have a healthy child, she can’t let go of the anger she feels about the entire situation.
“If I can get involved in making people more aware of maternal health, then I can hopefully change not one, but many people’s lives,” she said.
After she recovered, in late 2017, Jaime launched her own company, a longtime goal, and has scored a string of successes, collaborating with songwriters for hit bands like Maroon 5.
“It’s been a really good year, and there’s so much to come,” she said, noting that another child just might be in the cards as well. “I’m not ready emotionally yet, but when the time is right, we’ll consider all our options."