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  • At The Tip of The Quill

Thank You for Saving my Son's Life (and My Sanity)

Updated: May 9, 2022

The wings of a Messenger Angel wrapped around the body of the nurse to my right and extended out in a tent around us, which muffled all sounds except her voice. I couldn't see her, yet I could suddenly hear her voice through the din which encompassed us without any further effort. "I spoke with your husband. He wants you to know he's up-to-date on what's going on. He wants you to know he's confident you're in good hands and he's in agreement with what needs to happen."

My craving to know what in the world was happening to me and my unborn baby faded in an

instant. My Rock knew and believed. That was all that mattered.

When I needed My Love the most, he anchored me with his Hope. This love, respect, mutual trust, and constant care is why I now bare his son.

"Thank you. And please tell him thank you."

"I will."

Her wings vanished. The menagerie of voices and bright lights merged into a cacophony of sound once more. (I later learned her name was Victoria, goddess of Victory. She also gives great hugs.)

Part of me had a vague out-of-time thought which observed all the operating rooms I'd seen on TV or in the movies weren't anywhere near as bright as the real thing. Nor had they contained anywhere near as many people.

The rest of me couldn't figure out how to breathe, despite the calm male voice directly above me issuing clear instructions. "I'm your anesthesiologist today and I'm going to be putting you to sleep very soon, so I need you to please take very deep breaths."

The best I could manage was a terrified nod and a shallow gulp.

It seemed my lungs defiantly claimed only short, shallow breaths, even as I tried otherwise. I started to hyperventilate. A different nurse leaned close. Told me to breathe with her. That out-of-time part of me smiled. I'd done the same with Sweets when she was terrified. I could do this. I would do this.

I took a slow, ragged breath.

The room continued to fill with sounds of people I couldn't see for tasks I couldn't understand. A blue curtain was hung to obstruct my view of my own body. Someone started to scrub my abdomen. I felt tape stretch various parts of me out of the way to create a more workable space.

I heard various voices ask each other questions. The answer was almost always the same, "We've no time. We're going for it now!"

I didn't know what that meant, but the mass of people who swirled around me sure did. They didn't sound afraid. They did sound very much on high alert and on task.

Someone said to me, "We've brought your baby's heartbeat back up, but we have to operate right -now-, okay?" I nodded yes as another stab of fear impaled my chest. I willed the tears in the corners of my eyes not to fall. This was not the time to react. This was the time to be still. To breathe.

I whispered to my unborn son, "We're going to make it. We're going to cross the finish line. Daddy said so and he's already there waiting for us."

I forced myself to take a deep breath despite my fears.

The group moved with confidence, united as one entity trained for urgent action. They were as a symphony assembling for the performance of a lifetime.

Another deep breath.

Their conductor arrived. At first, I felt more than saw her. A -presence- of power and total self-control. Her ebony skin shone with soft yet radiant light, a crown of silver set on her brow seemed a beacon even in the bright lights of the operating room, and the crystal coal at the end of the conductor's baton in her hand shined like the sun.

This time, the deep breath came easy.

The swirl of people seemed to flow around me like a river current - blue scrubs and silver tools a torrent of motion.

The Seraphim in the center of the room raised her baton as the confidence in her voice wrapped around the staff present (as well as her two patients) in a warm, near-palpable wave of calm.

"Alright People, I'm calling a time-out in Three... Two... One!"

The silence of a group's mindful moment to breathe together gave me the courage for my deepest breath yet.

Each team calmly reported in their agreements to both her fact and ready checks as she called on each group in turn. (Later I learned her name was Joyce. Latin for lord and tied closely to 'one who brings forth joy.')

My final breath.

Then all went dark save for a flash of radiant light from the conductor's baton; the surgeon's arms moved and the symphony began.


Minutes Prior...

The Midwife and I laughed. She confessed in all her decades of experience, she'd never had a

client who expressed they were experiencing anywhere near the level of ecstasy I had now that my water broke.

Ecstasy was the best word I could come up with to describe the release of incredible tension which had occupied my body the last few weeks. To say I understood how a near-to-bursting

water balloon felt, seemed entirely accurate to me. Especially now that I had, quite literally, popped. As I joked to my husband who sat nearby, the relief wasn't quite orgasmic, but it sure was close!

As bio-water continued to gush from my body I thought for a moment of the water slides and pools from our trip to Great Wolf Lodge and how we didn't know at the time our baby got to come with us on our first family vacation! I thought too of how curious he is going to be when we return.

I smiled at the nurses. They smiled back. The room was as it had been all morning: relaxed and on schedule. The midwife made to leave with a reminder my contractions would continue to increase and to let them know if I wanted an epidural at some point later in the afternoon. It was shortly after 1 pm. Our son was 'on track' to arrive by mid to late evening.

I remember making a joke. Something about her having good timing as the next contraction was starting right at her reminder....and then...that's when the room turned upside-down.

Turns out, it wasn't actually the room which had been flipped.

It was me.

An alarm sounded not so far off and I was coached through how to turn over and lay on a plastic... something... which had suddenly been used to improvise a ramp in order to tilt me farther forward as my bed descended, my inglorious arse now high in the air. My ears heard, "I see a hand after the cord!" while a much larger hand reached between my legs to try and hold said tiny hand and cord inside my body. (Someday I'll be able to make a joke about the time mommy mooned the entire hospital.)

My stomach churned. In an eyeblink I'd gone from euphoria to ice-cold fear. What had happened?

Someone reminded me to breathe. Someone else handed my husband full body scrubs so he could come with us.

Seconds later I was wheeled out of my room. I heard my husband ask where he should go. They changed their minds and told him to stay in the room. He called to me he loved me. I croaked, "I love you!" back.

In another blink we were in the operating room. A half-blink later the room filled with people. All professionals on a singular, serious mission.


An Hour Later...

Time is a funny construct of a thing. We've made it up, put labels on it, and measure it according to devices we all agree to use to enforce the construct.

Yet the reality of the thing called time is experienced far more by perception than device. Time crawls when you're not occupied. Time speeds up when you're engaged.

For me, time simply stopped.

I've visited Oblivion a few times now. Once to have my wisdom teeth removed. Another for a colonoscopy. Each time I woke up with the sense I didn't know how to measure time, had no clue where I was, but was more or less the same person. Possibly in pain, but most certainly myself.

This time, I returned from Oblivion empty.


Ironically, my life has literally been in mortal peril at the hands of a man who once tried to kill me and who threatened to finish the job more times than I care to admit. I've watched my own head hit the wall of a house I once owned (yet was never a home) and taken more blows to my body and mind than should ever be experienced (yet rarely to the face. People might see.)

I've felt fear.

Or so I thought.

Then I woke up Empty.

I'm still processing this new level of terror. That's all I can say about it right now. (Other than I can officially and quite viscerally comprehend why The Bride was so single-minded in her resolve to Kill Bill. Way to go, Tarantino.)

My brain also resumed its last recalled order to my lungs.... which was to breathe.

Instead, I coughed. Then those tears I had been holding for infinity fell and I cried out, "Is he okay? Is my son okay?"

It took the nurse kindly and oh-so-patiently repeating herself at least 20 times - "All is well. Your

son is with his Daddy and he's doing great. They can't wait to see you!" - before I could convince my emptiness to accept itself as a natural void and not a diabolically raped cavern.

In the meantime, someone else pointed out I was hyperventilating and my breath coach appeared to help give my lungs permission to breathe without trying to return me to Oblivion.

With her help I discovered I could, in fact, breathe, despite my repeated claims otherwise. They also fixed the perception I was freezing to death.

It took forever and a day plus another lifetime to experience the three minutes it took for the debrief staff to fill me in on what had happened: for some reason, once my water broke, my body tried to birth my baby's umbilical cord first, rather than my son, and so, with each contraction, my body literally squeezed off his oxygen supply and blood flow and dangerously lowered his heartbeat.

His curious self had also moved at the last second from headfirst to shoulder-first as he reached out to touch 'the next new thing' (because of course he did. I had told them in advance how interactive of a baby he was and how often we played tag with our fingers. It was much later before I could chuckle at the irony.)


Hour Two...

Post-surgery recovery took a while, and yet, took nearly no time at all from my perspective. I'd been so occupied by questions asked and answered (both ways), vital statistics, and working to meet transition milestones, it seemed I was wheeled back to my new room in nearly the same amount of time as I had been removed.

And there?

There I crossed the finish line of Victory and found my Joy had indeed been brought forth into the arms of my family...and not only was our son with his father, but so was our daughter, in full delight at being a big sister and the unexpected ability to be able to come see us days early.

I took another breath - I would not mourn the death of a third child after all - and smiled.

Our family was together. Whole. Complete.

Yesterday I received a generic email. It was a reminder to say or do something nice for nurses & healthcare professionals appreciation week.

There's only one problem: A single thank you seems entirely inadequate. As such, in addition to responding to their email to tick the boxes on their generic survey, I'll fangirl my medical team the rest of my life! Even if I never learn everyone's names.

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