Nineteen years ago tonight I spent New Year's Eve in the operating room. Youngest son had been born shortly after 4 pm and by 6 pm I had gone into shock from blood loss. Just before that happened I had this surreal conversation with dearest one. We were alone in the birthing room and I told him I felt like I was going to faint. This was long before his own RN days so he looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and told me to faint then, it wasn't a big deal. I replied that if I fainted I wasn't coming back and then promptly fainted. This diamond like light up in the corner of the room had been trying to suck me into it for a while and I'd spent considerable energy not giving in. When I came to my bed was tipped so that all the remaining blood could feed my brain and heart. All those people surrounding my bed I learned later, had been the code team. The nurse at my head told them my blood pressure was 60/40. When they were scrambling to get a blood sample to cross match before whisking me off to surgery there was a discussion as to where to get it from. When someone mentioned the groin someone else said you couldn't do that to a pregnant woman. I had enough wits about me to remind them I wasn't pregnant any longer and we all chuckled. My feet felt like they were freezing and when dearest one touched them he said it was like touching a corpse because there wasn't any blood left in them.
When we'd arrived on L&D earlier that day our nurse looked so young and I thought to myself that she was going to be useless in our birthing experience. In the end it was her previous 8 years of experience in the ER that helped her get a vial and a half of blood before they ran me up to the OR. She was older than me, too.
Much of that experience, from the time I started hemorraging until I was on the operating table was spent in silence. I spent nearly all my time talking to God. Two thoughts reverberated in my head. Asking for forgiveness and telling God I didn't want to die but if that was God's will for me, so be it. I've never been able to adequately describe those diamond like lights in the corner of the ceiling.
My first memory of the New Year was after I was back on the ward and a nurse came to check my vital signs and the blood transfusion. She told me it was after 2 AM, whispered Happy New Year to me, then I asked her to bring me my baby. I hadn't held him very much before the hoopla began. He had an identifying mark of a tiny hole above his left ear and with that knowledge tucked in my brain I was able to go to sleep, reassured that no one could switch my baby on me.
His birth was the beginning of a new direction in my journey. Up to that point I had been seeking God but didn't have a relationship with Him. Coming that close to death made me realize that Christianity wasn't a game. You either were one or you weren't. I sobered up 3 months later - to the day - and 6 weeks later I surrendered to what the Big Book calls step 3:"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over the the care of God as we understood Him."
When I reflect back on this night I think about how I thought I was one place on my journey only to be so shaken up by life's circumstances in order to see I wasn't where I thought I was. This Christmas season has been one of internal shaking up for me. On my way to Mass today I was telling God I wasn't who I thought I was and to please help me become all He created me to be.
The journey continues.
Happy New Year! And happy birthday, youngest son.