When I went into labor on May 31, I didn’t think it would last 36 hours because my baby got stuck on my hip.
I didn’t think I would have a rare complication where my placenta had attached too deeply to my uterus, so the doctor had to manually rip it out.
I didn’t think that this would lead to instant hemorrhaging that drained almost 2/3 of my body’s blood in about 20 minutes causing my organs to start failing.
I didn’t think I would spend a week at the hospital getting blood transfusions.
I didn’t think anything would happen beyond giving birth and going home with my new child. Just like every person who goes into labor, we don’t see the complications coming. But the reality is that I only survived due to a few very lucky, random circumstances:
- I chose a hospital an hour away from me because they were more accustomed to unmedicated birth than my local hospital.
- Because my labor had lasted so long and baby was stuck, we had to take a few medical steps to get her out, and to prepare for that, we had several doctors in the room when I began hemorrhaging. They were experts in their field, and not the sort of doctors you have at an average hospital.
- Covid wasn’t as bad in May/June as it is now, so when I was in the ICU, there was enough staff to tend to me.
- I was at a large, well-equipped hospital that had the necessary blood on hand. Believe it or not, that isn’t the norm.
None of these things should be something that would kill a new mom, and yet my primary doctor told me a few days after everything, while I was in the ICU still, that I would have died if I had gone to the hospital near my house.
It isn’t easy for me to write about this. I have PTSD that wakes me up every night at the same time with panic attacks. I have nightmares about the hospital. I can’t see hospitals or near death of any kind on TV or read about them in books. I also missed the first two days of my daughter’s life, and though I had a good excuse (lol), I can’t stop fixating on that.
She is perfect, by the way. Because she got stuck on my hip, she had a smooshed, crooked nose when she was born. And so much hair on her head! The hair is still there, though blond now, but the nose is no longer smooshed or crooked. And right now she is sitting on my lap trying to grab literally anything that might be within reach. Coffee, keyboard, mouse, phone…
When I tell people I almost died in childbirth, I don’t think they understand just how close it really was for me. It sounds so dramatic, you know? And really, who dies in childbirth in 2020?
The reality is a lot.
So many people don’t make it. I am crying now as I write this, grieving for them. For the children who will never know their mothers. For the partners and families who have lost someone. We have such advanced technology, and yet mothers still die everyday in childbirth. All over the world.
A mother in the United States today is twice as likely to die from complications in childbirth than her own mother. How is that possible? How is that acceptable?
It isn’t, which is why Every Mother Counts fights against it. It’s why you and I and all the Mighty Pens and all our incredible donors fought this year against it.
Thank you for supporting something so personal to me. Thank you for helping childbearing people around the world get better access to healthcare and support. As I write this, we are only $128 away from our fundraising goal, and I am so proud, so pleased, so humbled that we did it.
Thank you, my friends. I am glad I am alive to have done this with you.
I am glad I am alive to keep writing books.
I am glad I am alive to be Cricket’s mother and swat her hand away (again) from the keyboard.
And I am glad to simply be alive.
Thank you. We wrote a lot of words this year, and we did it.