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Monday, December 13, 2010

LifeBlood

Back in April of 2007 I headed to the hospital certain I was going to meet my daughter for the first time later that day. Contractions picked up and she was born a few hours later. But this story isn't about how she came into the world; it is about how I nearly left it bringing her into it.

You don't often hear of women dying in childbirth these days. It sounds like something that happened a hundred years ago or more, but not today. We have better medicine than that, right? Our technology is advanced far enough that mothers don't leave their children on they day of their birth anymore, right?

My story will tell you that is not always the case. Often, but not always. We have most certainly advanced our technology a great deal, otherwise, I would not be writing this story myself.

I had given birth three times previously and right before my daughter was introduced to the rude lights and sounds of this world in a hospital room full of nurses and doctors, I knew something was not right. I lost the ability to push her into this world. I was not on any pain medication and had all my faculties intact. I was suddenly in pain that was more stunningly gripping than my other unmedicated births and I looked my doctor in the eyes and told her to pull my daughter out immediately because I was unable to push and she needed to get out right away.

I knew something was wrong. And I knew my daughter would be in danger if she did not have help entering this world. My doctor did as I told her and she gently began pulling my daughter from me. After she was born, things seemed to settle down, but I felt myself entering a very strange calm.

Something in me clicked into clarity and when my doctor (I'll call her Barb) whispered the word hemorrhage, I merely looked down at her and said "Yes, I know." The room suddenly tripled in occupancy and fresh material was placed beneath me as two fists were thrust into my lower abdomen and held there with a tremendous weight. Barb apologized to me saying that she knew it hurt. I, again, merely looked at her and told her "It's okay. I understand it is necessary."

I felt another gush of my LifeBlood begin to build and I told Barb "There is more coming." She asked me what I meant as the sheets suddenly turned bright red. Again and again I was drained. I tried nursing my newborn daughter to help stop the hemorrhage, but she was still too early in this life to know how as mere minutes had passed.

That sixty seconds of holding her to my breast was the first and last time I saw her until she was three days old.

They tried placing a shot put on my abdomen to stop my life from rushing from me. They tried to find out what was causing it, by feeling inside my uterus which caused massively excruciating pain to thrash itself through every fiber of my being as I gripped the sides of the bed I was dying in with every last ounce of strength I still employed. That was only followed by a fresh drainage of my LifeBlood.

They walked out of the room and spoke in hushed voices just outside the door. My life began to spill onto the floor. They returned and I was told I would need to go into surgery. That in surgery, they might have to take my uterus. I told Barb, again with calm resolution "That's okay, I don't need it anymore."

She looked at me with deep concern and I said "Don't worry, I will be just fine." She answered only that she would see me in the operating room.

I had never in my life felt more calm, more at peace, than during the approximately thirty minutes before my operations. I had been drained of almost 80% of my LifeBlood but I felt that I had never been more lucid, more aware or more knowing of how peace and harmony can be palpable than in that short passage of time.

Is that the calm people who have had near death experiences speak of? I never saw a white light, but I felt amazing.

Once in the operating room, they explained I would be going under general anesthesia and that my daughter was just fine and a nurse was there taking care of her and her dad while I was being taken care of by these doctors. She was in the middle of telling me she would be by my side when I saw Barb walk in and the general took me under right then.

When I woke up, it was the next day and I was in the trauma center of a different hospital with a tube down my throat, hooked up to a breathing machine and tubes running all across my body connecting me to instruments of all kinds that beeped, hummed, wheezed and murmured.

I had undergone two surgeries. One to pack my uterus with gauze and another to sever and cauterize the artery that was feeding my uterus. I had lost so much of my own blood, I had received 8 units of donated blood via two separate transfusions.

Upon waking, I thought I was choking as I did not yet understand I had a tube in my mouth. I found my call button and my nurse walked in before I had a chance to push it.

The doctor who had done my second surgery walked in after my breathing tube had been removed and she told me who she was and to not worry if I didn't recognize her because I had been under general anesthesia when she walked in to do my surgery. The thing I still to this day do not understand is that I did recognize her. I knew exactly who she was.

I learned that my daughter was completely healthy and had been sent home with her dad where two of my older children and grandma were helping him. I missed her presence as I had carried her for nine months and it was at this point that I broke down and sobbed.

I finally got to see her when she was three days old and now she is three and a half years old. She almost entered this world without a Mother to care for her, but technology stepped in and saved my life.

And to those of you who donate blood. Thank you. You never know who will need it and I would not be here today if it weren't for your donations of your own LifeBlood.

Jessica In Seattle



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