29 August 2007

Things were not going all that well...

I almost died one day. I remember some of it quite clearly, but not all of it.

I was giving birth to my third child. I had gone overdue by almost three weeks and probably should have been induced a week or so earlier. I probably had gestational diabetes (I did with a later pregnancy); I will never know because my doctor did not have me tested. His was the most basic of care since he would not be delivering the baby. I had planned for a home-birth.

The baby weighed ten pounds, even. The birth took from Friday night until Tuesday morning - I was having late second-stage labor by the middle of the afternoon on Sunday.

The RN/midwife told me later that during those three-plus days, no one wanted to be the one to say "Take this woman to the hospital..." The hospital was over an hour away. I lived in a commune that was big on "natural" births (a decision/policy/divine fiat that was established by the men of the commune, men who never had to lay in a birthing bed waiting for a child to come out of their bodies). Anyway, it was a social faux pas to go to the hospital to give birth. I had already done that once and no one wanted to shame me that way again...

But most of all, no one wanted to be the one to say that things were not going all that well.

After a while, when your body is working that hard, you either totally lose it, or you get into a state of mind that is boundless and free - maybe that is zen (but I still do not know what I think zen is...).

It seemed that once there, once in that free place, it was easy to disconnect from the physical world, disconnect from the massive hemorrhaging that suddenly happened once the baby was born, disconnect from the fact that I was bleeding to death, that I was freezing cold , cold enough that my body was having violent seizures and thrashing about uncontrollably.

The peace of mind was amazing. I know that sounds trite and cliché, but there is a reason many people who have near-death experiences say that. There really was no fear, no noticeable discomfort. I found myself in two places at once - laying on the bed with my birthing team seething about in a panicked rout around me, and at the same time in this strange nowhere-place where it was soft and warm and calm. I think I remember laughing with delight. I think I do... I can tell you that I clearly remember the joyful feeling of being loosed from my body, the intense effervescent giddy feeling that seemed to come from both within and without.

I do not remember what they did to bring me back to my body. I think I have this vague memory of ice packs to stop the bleeding, but those memories could very well be distorted by the fact that bleeding to death was making me feel so cold - or at least making my body feel so cold... I really do not know if they used ice on me. I do remember, at one point waking up, coming to, or perhaps coming back, to find myself laying in a pool of blood that nearly stretched to both sides of the queen-sized bead and fully reached the foot of the bed.

Even that grisly awakening did not stop the peace of mind that I felt. I was outside of consequences, free and empty of concerns.

I can still call that feeling to me, sometimes.

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