The happiest day of a woman’s life is often the birth of her firstborn child.
But for Camre Curto, 31, of Tyrone Township, this milestone is one she has no memory of — along with a lifetime of memories erased, when her son Gavin was born Oct. 9, 2012.
Camre suffered from pre-eclampsia, a rare complication of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure and often resulting in a series of seizures. An emergency C-section was necessary to save both mother and baby, so Gavin arrived healthy but small, a month early.
Now 7 years old, Gavin has no health issues from his premature birth, but his mom has had to adjust from a life-threatening brain injury to a new reality of a life with no memories.
After her son’s birth, Camre didn’t recognize her then-fiancé, Steve Curto, even though they had been together for years. Nor did she know her parents, who had been her constant bedside companions while she was fighting for her life. Camre didn’t even remember giving birth to Gavin or any of the medical emergencies that led up to his birth.
“It’s basically like a stroke, she lost all of her long- and short-term memory,” said Steve, whom Camre married four years ago.
When Camre and Gavin were both eventually released after a month-long hospitalization, a new normal settled in for the Curto family.
Camre needed occupational therapy to re-learn the skills of daily living that were lost — from tying her shoes to applying makeup, using a stove, grocery shopping and personal hygiene skills like brushing her teeth.
“It’s everyday things that we take for granted,” said Steve, who was able to change his job in the auto glass industry to work from home.
Most important were the parenting skills she needed to care for Gavin, with Steve by her side. It took about a thousand diaper changes for Camre to be able to transition into her new role as a mother, which she had to learn — one diaper at a time.
Steve is amazed at the progress Camre has made in the past seven years.
“Early on, I sat on the couch with Camre, and I’ll never forget the words she said to me,” Steve said. “She said, ‘I have no idea who you are. But I know I love you.’”
Those prophetic words became the title of a book Steve wrote about his and Camre’s experiences with childbirth and brain injury.
“I started the book one-and-a-half years ago and I just released it on our fourth anniversary,” he said. “It was very therapeutic for me to write, but it was also my goal to share our story of hope and faith, and to tell people not to give up.”
The book, “But I know I love you,” is available at Fenton’s Open Book and online.