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A man whose now-wife completely lost her memory during childbirth has written a book to help her remember their love story.
Steve and Camre Curto had a normal relationship full of memories together. Until one day, without warning, those memories were taken away.
“Memories are everything to us and most people take them for granted,” Steve, now 38, told Good Morning America. “I know I did. That’s one reason I’m sharing the story.”
Seven years ago, Camre was pregnant with their son, Gavin. Until her third trimester, the mom-to-be was showing all the signs of a healthy, normal pregnancy. But beneath the surface, she was fighting for her life — and Gavin’s.
Steve Curto told WTVT that Camre started to feel sick, experiencing extreme vomiting for weeks.
“She couldn’t even make her own baby shower,” he said. “Camre was taking Zofran for weeks to combat the nausea.”
One day Camre’s throat began to swell, and Steve rushed her to the hospital. There, she went into a grand mal seizure, and it was later discovered that she had undiagnosed preeclampsia and went into the seizure due to eclampsia.
Preeclampsia, a dangerous pregnancy complication, is characterized by “high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys,” according to the Mayo Clinic, which can prove fatal for both moms and babies.
Thankfully, doctors were able to perform an emergency C-section to successfully deliver Gavin. But in order to save them both, the young mother’s physicians placed her into a medically induced coma, according to Good Morning America.
At first, the new dad was just thankful his fianceé was alive. But the moment she came out of the coma, Steve knew something was seriously wrong.
“When they brought her out of the coma, and she started to wake up, something wasn’t right. She had no idea who she was or that she had just given birth. She didn’t know who I was or who her parents were,” he told Good Morning America.
Soon, it became clear that Camre had suffered a stroke in addition to the seizure. She was confused and disoriented, unaware of the years she and Steve had spent together before Gavin’s birth.
“She couldn’t recall memories prior to her brain injury and she can’t remember short-term memories now,” Camre’s occupational therapist, Jessica Smith, told Good Morning America. “What happened to her is extremely rare.”
The family stayed at the hospital for an entire month after the birth, with Steve filling in with parenting duties while Camre began her long and difficult recovery.
As she started healing, Steve was left to raise Gavin almost entirely on his own.
“I basically lived at the hospital,” he told Good Morning America. “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.”
However, Steve wasn’t about to give up on his fianceé.
“When I met Camre, she made me want to be a better person and that’s what I loved about her,” he said. “Then this happened and I just wasn’t going to give up hope that we could regain what we had.”
Unable to fulfill all her roles as a new mom, Camre stayed with her parents in the months following her stroke, though she would visit her fiancé and son.
According to WTVT, one day during her recovery, Camre told Steve, “I don’t know where I am. I don’t know who you are. I don’t know why I am here, but I know I love you.”
Every day, he held on to those words and decided to fight for her.
“This girl, she has no idea who I am but she loves me and we’re going to make this work,” he told himself, according to Good Morning America.
“That has always stuck with me. That has been the driving force behind everything.”
She had to re-learn simple tasks, such as how to dress and brush her teeth and feed herself. As she learned, she began developing tricks and short-cuts, writing little notes and repeating tasks in order to help herself remember.
Every moment continues to be a new challenge.
To help her, Steve began writing their story — all the years of memories they shared together prior to their son’s birth, from their first date to the final weeks before her seizure — everything that led them to fall in love.
He wanted give her a way of knowing their history, and to also share their story with the world.
“I hope it brings awareness to the dangers of preeclampsia,” Steve told WTVT of the book. “I also hope it shows people to not take life for granted. Tomorrow is never promised so live in the moment, hug your loved one and never give up on yourself or others you love.”
The book has allowed Camre to learn about her past in order to move forward into a better future.
“Sometimes it’s hard for me because it shows me everything that we have been through and that I don’t have inside of me,” she told Good Morning America.
However, even though she can’t make new memories, Camre lives each day to the fullest with Steve and Gavin’s help.
“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,” Steve said. “The little things are adding up and to me and to her too, the little things are huge.”
Camre agreed, expressing how much she treasures the little moments with her two boys.
“With my husband and son with me, that is what is getting me through all this,” she said. “The love of family is what means the most and what is getting me through every day.”
As her health slowly improved, Camre, now 31, worked steadily to be involved in Steve and Gavin’s lives, just as they worked to be in hers. Steve said Gavin understands that his mother different than other moms, and “doesn’t have a memory like other people.”
But despite this challenge, the two have a wonderful relationship.
Her now-husband told WTVT, “She inspires me everyday. She is an awesome mom to our son and a loving wife.”
Though she still suffers from epilepsy as a result of her condition, Camre is continually moving forward, always hoping for more healing.
“She lives her life in the moment basically but shows the true meaning of determination by getting up everyday and always moving forward,” Steve added.
Steve and Camre Curto self-published their book, “But I Know I Love You,” in September on the couple’s fourth wedding anniversary.
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