My mother almost bled to death while giving birth to me. The placenta kept trying to come out first and my head was too big to fit through the birth canal. The doctors couldn’t get my heartbeat, so we both almost died in childbirth. It was the most blood they’d ever seen and the nurses left my mother lying drenched and delirious in a pool of it so the doctors would know how much she’d lost. “It was like turning on a faucet,” my mother said to me when I was grown. “I could feel the blood gushing out.” With little time and few options, they had to do a Cesarean section to get me out and save my mother.
The nurses lined out a stockpile of sterile instruments that looked like alien torturing devices, polished steal with shimmering sharp edges. Frantic and delirious, my mother knew there was no turning back. There are a few times in your life when the decisions you’ve made are irreversible and you must go forward no matter what happens. I had to be born if either of us were to live.
They pasted one special blanket on my mother’s stomach as they prepped her for surgery. The doctor had to slice through the walls of the abdomen and the uterus before reaching me. Babies weren’t supposed to be delivered like this. They were supposed to be squeezed out with the life-giving embryonic fluids, not cut out through inches of vascular tissues.
The surgery progressed quite rapidly - It had to. It was touch and go for some time during the operation and no one really knew if we would live, but we both pulled through. At eight and a half pounds, I was the biggest premature baby the nurses had ever seen, and they commented on my large well-proportioned head. It hadn’t been squashed going through the pelvic bones like some heads get.