It should have been a day this new mom would never forget. But 38-year-old Camre Curto has no memory of bringing her first baby into the world.
After becoming a first-time mom, Curto suddenly couldn’t remember her fiance's name or even that she just had a baby boy in the first place. “She didn’t know who she was, didn’t know who I was, didn’t know she even just gave birth to Gavin,” Steve, who is now her husband, told InsideEdition.com.
“It was like the eraser just came out,” Camre added, describing her memory being wiped clean.
Doctors would later discover she had suffered brain damage during childbirth, which is what caused her to lose her long-term memory, short-term memory and ability to create new ones.
“This is a really, really rare case,” her occupational therapist, Jessica Smith, told InsideEdition.com. “Every case is unique, right? But in the context of really having a baby and then this is what happens, Camre is the only case I’ve had in 10 years.”
It all started in 2012, when Camre was seven months pregnant. She and Steve had been together for three years at that point and were engaged to be married.
“She developed some nausea and stuff, and one day her throat was swelling,” Steve recalled. “Her mom took her down to the hospital real quick and she ended up having a grand mal seizure," which involves a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions.
Medical officials then discovered Camre had undiagnosed preeclampsia, a common but serious condition pregnant women can develop that causes high blood pressure and swelling in the legs and feet. But Camre's untreated preeclampsia progressed into the rare eclampsia, when the high blood pressure causes seizures.
After an emergency C-section, Camre was put into a medically induced coma.
As she began coming to, it became clear that something had gone wrong. Despite having all of her speech and motor functions, she couldn’t seem to recognize anyone, nor remember who or where she was.
It turned out that the swelling in her throat prevented oxygen from reaching her brain, Steve said, and that along with the eclampsia seizures, the complications caused Camre to suffer serious brain damage.
“You have all these different parts of your brain and when there’s injury, we don’t know specifically what is exactly injured,” Smith said. “In Camry’s case, both sides of her brain are affected and both places where memories are stored, created, all of that is affected.”
Even though Camre seemed otherwise healthy and newborn Gavin, who spent several days in the NICU, was thriving, their first several moments together as a family were incredibly difficult.
“The woman you love, you just had a child with, doesn't know who you are. So that's obviously devastating, heartbreaking and you're just trying to kind of figure it all out,” Steve recalled. “I became mom and dad. I did all the skin-to-skin contact. The NICU nurses really helped me out — showed me how to burp him, feed him, bathe him. They really gave me this tutorial of how to be a dad really quick.”
Camre, unaware who Steve was or that she had just given birth, moved back in with her parents. Though she had also forgotten the two people who brought her into the world, they were instrumental in her first several weeks of recovery.
“I've heard plenty of stories of her mom would sleep next to her, because Camre would wake up in the middle of the night and start just ripping her stitches out from her C-section because she didn't know why she had them in her stomach. She had no clue she was just recently pregnant,” Smith said. “Her mom was amazing at reorienting her. So, she would have this book and she'd say, ’Camre, you just had a son, and his name is Gavin, and that's why you have that mark in your stomach.’ But, it was like minute to minute.”
Slowly but surely, Camre began learning her husband’s and son’s names, even if she had to guess it one letter at a time.
“She’d say, ‘OK, I know his name. What’s his name again? Just give me the first letter,’” Steve recalled. “And I’m like, ‘It’s G.’ And she would think about it and she would say, ‘Is it Gavin?’ It’s like these baby steps over the seven year progress.”
After slowly spending more time with Steve, she eventually moved back in with him and their son. And that's when Steve decided to write a book based on their unbelievable journey.
The book was appropriately named it after something Camre said to Steve in the early days after Gavin was born, something that gave him the hope to continue rebuilding the life they had made together.
“I was heartbroken, really. And we’re sitting on the couch one day and she’s like, ‘I don’t know where I’m at. I don’t know who you are. But I know I love you,’” Steve recalled. “I was blown away. It always stuck with me.”
Camre’s battle to regain her memory continues today. She works with her occupational therapist at Galaxy Brain and Therapy Center several days a week and they work on memory tricks, like writing things down and repeating them, and how to deal with day-to-day scenarios. “When I go to the grocery store, I’ll run into people and they’ll look familiar but I’ll have no idea who they are or anything,’” Camre explained.
“Her biggest fear is, 'What do I say if people start asking me specific questions?’” Smith said. “Camre is a very intelligent lady. She’s hilarious, she uses humor to get through every day, so really, we’re working on building her confidence to do more of these mother-son things and family outings.”
For now, Camre said she’s taking every day in stride and getting through each challenge with a positive attitude. “If you sit there and focus on all the negative and everything that’s been taken away, you’re not going to be going anywhere,” Camre said.
Steve and Camre finished writing "But I Know I Love You" together, and it was released in September.