Steve Curto wrote a book recounting his and his wife, Camre’s love story to remind her of their history after she lost her memory due to a rare pregnancy complication
Camre Curto has no memory of one of the biggest milestones in many people’s lives: the birth of her son.
The 31-year-old from Fenton, Michigan, suffered a seizure and a stroke while pregnant with her son, Gavin, according to ABC.
When she came to, she was surrounded by strangers, including one she was married to.
The catastrophic injuries to Camre’s brain left her without either a long-term or short-term memory, so she had no recollection of how she’d met Steve and couldn’t remember that she had a son long enough to care for him.
Steve, now 38, was left a single parent for months as Camre recovered at her parents home and worked with therapists to try to repair the damage done to both hemispheres of her brain by her rare complication of pregnancy-related high blood sugar.
As Camre slowly returned to herself, she told Steve that she knew she loved him but couldn’t recall why or how they’d fallen in love.
He was inspired to pen and self-publish a heart-warming book recounting their romance and life together, called ‘But I Know I Love You’ to help Camre remember him and their life together.
It started with nausea that progressed to vomiting.
Then the vomiting became more and more frequent.
By the time she was 33 weeks into her pregnancy, Camre’s throat became so swollen it was hard for her to breathe. Steve drove his wife to the emergency room.
Camre, now 31, suffered eclampsia, a rare condition from high blood pressure during pregnancy, while carrying her son, Gavin (center), now seven. When She awoke, Camre had no memory of giving birth, who Gavin was or even who her husband, Steve (right) was
Not long after they arrived, Camre started to seize.
It wasn’t clear yet what might be happening to Camre, but doctors knew they had to deliver her baby, or the stress and shock her body was going through might kill him.
An emergency c-section was performed on Camre, and her son, Gavin was born, weighing just four lbs, Steve told ABC.
But his mother was far from out of the woods.
During the rush to diagnose her and deliver Gavin, Camre suffered a stroke. Oxygen was cut off from both sides of her brain.
To minimize the shock to her system, doctors placed Camre in a medically-induced coma. When she awoke, she had no idea she had become a mother.
She had no idea who Steve was. She had no idea who she was.
Camre’s pregnancy up until that fateful 33rd week had seemed normal, healthy and uncomplicated.
But somehow her high blood pressure had gone unnoticed and unchecked.
It’s a condition called preeclampsia: pregnancy-related high blood pressure.
The stroke and seizure damaged both parts of her brain, leaving Camre with lost long- and short-term memory. She spent a month in the hospital after an emergency C-section
Preeclampsia is one of the most common pregnancy complications, affecting about on in every 20 pregnancies.
But if it isn’t diagnosed and managed properly, it can progress to eclampsia and cause blood pressure spikes so high they trigger seizures.
It’s very rare, but exactly what happened to Camre.
However not everyone who develops eclampsia an seizures has memory loss, and certainly not such extensive memory loss as Camre suffered.
They didn’t yet know the damage her brain had sustained but as soon as she resurfaced from the medically-induced coma, Steve could see his wife had changed.
‘When they brought her out of the coma and she started to wake up, something wasn’t right,’ Steve told ABC.
‘She had no idea who she was or that she had just given birth. She didn’t know who I was or her parents were.’
Camre couldn’t remember major life events like her wedding day (left). She tried to hide behind humor but was often scared by the realization she didn’t possess memories (right)
For a month, Camre was kept in the hospital, where she could be closely monitored and occupational therapists could come up with ways to work around her memory loss.
Steve was the only parent with a functional memory and therefore took took on all the tasks he and his wife would normally have shared.
‘I basically lived at the hospital,’ he said.
‘They want the child to bond with the mom after birth but Camre wasn’t able to bet there, so I did skin-to-skin with him and did all the feedings.’
When she was released, a few days before Gavin was, Steve would bring Camre back to the hospital to visit her newborn son.
But she didn’t remember where she was or who Gavin was.
Eventually, Gavin came home, and Camre started to return to herself, with the help of an occupational therapist who worked with her for years.
As her personality started to reemerge, so did vestiges of memories, like loving Steve.
Each time he visited the hospital, Steve had to remind his wife who he was and that they had a new infant son
‘We were sitting on the couch and she told me, “I don’t who you are but I know I love you,”‘ Steve recalled.
‘That has always stuck with me. That has been the driving force behind everything.’
So he wrote a book to tell her his wife who he is, who she is and how they came to love one another.
It’s taken years and setbacks, but the Curtos have learned to function as a family
Despite setbacks – like Camre’s sudden realization that she had lost her memory and the existential consequences of that, or the epilepsy she’s suffered ever since that first seizure – Camre, Steve and Gavin have been able to become a family.
‘I enjoy [reading] it very much, but right now with everything it’s kind of mixed feelings,’ Camre told Good Morning America.
‘Sometimes it’s hard for me because it shows me everything we’ve been through and that I don’t have inside of me.’
But with Steve and Gavin guiding her, she’s rebuilt a new life and they’ve become a slightly different kind of family than the couple in the book thought they’d be.
Gavin, now seven, has grown up learning that his mother’s memory doesn’t work like other people’s and Steve and Camre share a calendar to help her keep track of family life.
‘There are little things in life that I’m beside myself that she can do, like going to a mother and son flag football game’ Steven said.
‘The little things are adding up and to me and to her too, the little things are huge.’
Camre, too, plods on, collecting these details and holding onto them as motivation to push through even the most frustrating days.
‘No matter how hard things are or have been and can be, you just have to give yourself hope and keep going, taking each day at a time,’ she said.
‘I just tell myself everything is going to be okay.’