After months of waiting, the day to have Sophia had finally come. As we checked into the hospital early in the morning on April 24, I felt as ready as I could be. While the day certainly wasn’t a walk in the park, I was pleasantly surprised that my contractions never felt too strong (bless the person who discovered the epidural) and late in the afternoon when I was sure that we still had hours to go, the nurse told me I was 10 cm dilated!
Less than an hour later, Sophia was born. She surprised everyone in the room by how fast she came and how much she weighed (9 lbs., 11 oz.). Nine months of knowing, theoretically, that I had a baby girl inside of me, could not prepare me for the moment I saw her for the first time and heard her first cry. Every pregnancy discomfort and the struggle to move comfortably in the weeks before her birth and anxious thought about labor suddenly seemed shallow and selfish. Of course it had all been worth it. She was perfect, and holding her on my chest for the first time, I felt good and strong and energetic. Let’s have more kids! I thought.
A few minutes later, though, I started to feel nauseous. I had felt nauseous a couple of other times throughout the day, so I didn’t really think anything of it. I just hated that I had to miss the first precious moments with my daughter because I needed to throw up.
I did throw up, multiple times, each time leaving me more lethargic. Eventually, I was barely able to lift any of my limbs. I heard my nurse, who had calmly guided me through labor and delivery since early that morning, frantically calling for back-up as my blood pressure plummeted. At its lowest, it dropped to 54/30. She called for an anesthesiologist and my OB. But since I had been doing fine after delivery, my doctor had already left. The doctor on duty, Dr. Harrison, came instead. At some point I realized that the main problem was that I was losing a lot of blood. Dr. Harrison didn’t know why. Every attempt she made to stop the bleeding was extremely uncomfortable, much more uncomfortable than anything I experienced during labor and delivery. Even in my dazed state, I was writhing in pain on the bed. I heard that I needed a blood transfusion, and I saw the nurses rush to start pumping two units of blood into me. I was sweating profusely, yet freezing.
I kept looking at Carlos, who was smiling and mouthing for me to be strong, through the opening of the railing on my bed. I wished he would come and hold my hand but I was unable to form any words. At the same time, I knew he didn’t come because there were too many people around my bed, their motions too frantic and rushed.
I realized that my situation was serious, and there was a chance I could die.
The only prayer I could muster was “help” and the image that kept flashing through my head was Carlos holding Sophia, minutes after she was born, and how I didn’t want to leave him to raise her alone.
Soon, Dr. Harrison was telling me that I needed surgery and Carlos wouldn’t be able to come. They were going to try a couple of procedures to get my bleeding to stop, but that if nothing worked, they would need to do a hysterectomy. Just two hours earlier, I had been been holding beautiful Sophia and thinking I wanted more kids, and now my womb might be taken away forever? I squeezed Carlos’ hand and told him that I loved him, and hoped he knew how much.
They quickly started to wheel my bed toward the OR, and in a horror I realized that I was going to pass through the lobby, where all of my family had been waiting to meet Sophia. I knew they were going to be scared when they saw me. As soon as the doors opened, my mom saw me on the bed. She rushed over in a panic, but the nurses kept moving my bed and told her they would let her know later what was going on. I started to cry when I knew she couldn’t go with me, that I was going to the OR completely alone.
Soon, they were moving me onto an operating table and I was convulsing I was so cold. They put a mask on me, and I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was still freezing and I couldn’t breathe well with the mask still on. They told me that they hadn’t had to perform a hysterectomy, thank God. They started wheeling my bed toward my room and I was confused when I overheard the nurses saying I was going to room 6, because we had been in room 5 all day. When we got there, I realized I was in ICU. It took a few minutes and a few blankets to warm me up, and later, I was able to take the mask off also.
I spent the first night in ICU while Sophia slept in the nursery on another floor of the hospital. Carlos stayed with me in ICU. When two of the nursery nurses wheeled her into my room the next morning in her bassinet and asked if I wanted to hold her, I teared up. The first time I had held her yesterday, seconds after her birth, could have also been the last time, but it wasn’t.
Instead, I’ve spent the past 2 weeks feeding Sophia, changing her diaper, and rocking her at night when she won’t stop crying. It’s been hard, but I’ve loved it. I love her. To think that it was her who used to be the size of a grain of rice in my stomach is incredible. Being with Sophia and seeing Carlos as a dad has made my heart swell. But on the other hand, I’m still struggling to process what happened. That the same day our family grew from two to three, it almost went back down to two. And then I wonder if it’s even worth processing, because, after all, I didn’t die. There’s been a lot going through my mind and I don’t know exactly what to make of it all. Maybe it will take a while.
In the meantime, I am praising God for sparing my life. He didn’t have to, but he did. But you know what? Just because I could have died on that night in the hospital doesn’t mean I now deserve 100 years on this earth. The truth is, I’m not promised to make it to my 29th birthday in September, and I’m not even promised tomorrow. All I have is right now. There are people all around me to love, and that’s what I want to do. Love my family and Carlos’ family, and Carlos, who feels like he’s closer to me than ever because of what happened and how he took care of me. And love Sophia, because after a long wait, she’s finally here.
P.S. Thank you to everyone who was praying for me, for everyone who was at the hospital to support my parents and Carlos while I was in surgery, and for everyone who has visited us.