A Brush With Death

Bryan hours old  As I lay in bed, I instinctively, lovingly, rested my hand on my pregnant belly.   Little did I know as I felt the kicking of my unborn baby that in just a few short minutes my life would be changed forever.

The time was getting nearer for our baby to be born. I had been having contractions all day. I figured our baby would be born that night or the next day when I went to my scheduled appointment.

I crawled out of bed to go use the bathroom-again. Anyone who has ever been pregnant knows that this is a ritual done virtually every night in the latter stages of pregnancy. Go to the bathroom, go to bed, wait ten minutes, get up again to use the bathroom, and the cycle continues until you finally fall asleep.

As I sat on the toilet, I began to get excited because I thought my water had broken. But the flow didn’t stop. I called for Steve to come in and turn on the light.

My fears were confirmed. I had been filling the toilet with blood. As Steve ran to get the phone to call 911, I fell on to the floor.

I knew at that moment, I was probably going to die. I even told Steve I was going to die. I was not fearful, just matter of fact. I don’t remember thinking about our children at that point, but I did not want to leave Steve.

I wish I could say it was like the movies where the world stands stil for a moment as a man cradles his wife’s body in his arms as she whispers her final words, “I love you” to him.

But this was not anything like the movies.There were arrangements that had to be made. Steve called a sitter to come stay with the children, and then he called my sister to pray.

By now the ambulance had arrived. The paramedics gave me oxygen, put an IV in my arm, and began pumping fluids through my veins. I began to feel better, but I was still pretty sure I was not going to make it. I was not frightened. In fact, I really felt quite peaceful.

A second ambulance came. The intention was to load me up,meet another ambulance, and switch me to it; however, the third ambulance was only six miles away, so we waited for it.

The big dilemma was how to get me down the stairs. Do paramedics only deal with people on ground floors? Their biggest fear was that I was going to deliver the baby. At one point, one of the ambulance crew put the pulse monitor on my finger.

“Ow!” I groaned.

The paramedic got a little panicky and asked, “Are you having the baby?”

“No, you pinched my finger.” We all chuckled.

I was worried my children would wake up, but none of them stirred from their rooms, so I assumed all the children were asleep. Little did I know, Ashley was wide-awake in her room. She knew that was the best place for her to stay. She watched from her window as I was placed into the back of the ambulance. She even took a picture of the ambulances in the driveway. She thought it was the last time she might ever see me. After we were gone, Ashley came out of her room and prayed with the sitter.

The ambulance ride seemed really fast. If I weren’t in the back, I would have thought it quite exciting to see three ambulances whizzing past with lights and sirens. Steve rode up front and prayed even more intensely when the attendant with me in the back told the driver, “Floor it!”

I was freezing. I couldn’t stop my teeth from chattering. My blood pressure was dangerously low.

Upon arriving at the hospital, I was greeted by more people than I could remember. Some guy started doing an ultrasound. They seemed unconcerned that my baby was going to die if they didn’t take it out.

But I was still peaceful. I later found out that I was in shock and taking me into the operating room at that time would have had dire consequences. After three ultrasounds, they finally prepped me for surgery.

Once in the operating room, I only remember a calmness. I felt like someone was praying for me. It was really quite a pleasant feeling. At one point I asked if anyone noticed from the ultrasound the sex of my baby.

Only the anesthesiologist responded. He kindly leaned over to me and said, “We weren’t looking.” I just wanted to know what sex my baby would be when I arrived in heaven with it.

Steve waited in the hallway while the surgery took place. As he watched through the window and could see only doctors, nurses, and a whole lot of blood, he felt an unusual peace, too. He was uncomfortable feeling so peaceful. He was sitting in a chair at the end of the hallway and would begin to think, I should be worried. Then he would start to worry. He would get up, walk to the operating room window, look in, and even with a view of lots of blood, he would again become peaceful. He could feel God’s presence with him.

The next thing I knew, several hours had passed. When I awoke, someone told me I had a boy. The doctors were worried the baby had inhaled blood into his lungs, so they were sending him to a children’s hospital an hour and a half away. A nurse wheeled the baby into my room. He had a ventilator tube in his mouth and a tube sticking out of his belly button. The doctor had sent a scope of some kind up through his umbilical cord to his heart.

As I looked at him I thought, That isn’t really my baby.

His fate was still unknown. The doctor said the baby probably had massive brain damage. The outlook for him was bleak, but I still had an incredible peace.

Over the course of the next several days, even weeks, the pieces began to fit together. I had a condition known as placenta accreta. My placenta was in full praevia position, but my placenta had grown through my uterine wall and attached to several of my organs. The doctor was unable to stop the bleeding. He had to perform a hysterectomy.

At one point during the surgery, my blood pressure bottomed out and my oxygen levels dropped below 50 percent. After they pumped twelve units of “new” blood into me, my condition began to improve. When I finally came out of the anesthesia, my chances had gone from slim to much improved.

Our son also improved gradually. While he rode in the ambulance to the other hospital, they told us his breathing improved; and he even opened his eyes for the first time. They were able to reduce the ventilator to 60 percent. Every report from then on was positive as God multiplied His blessings to us.

After five days I was able to go home, but home is not where I went. I went to the bedside of my son, Bryan. I had to wait an hour and a half before I could hold him. He nursed right away, and we were able to take him home the next day. It didn’t appear that he had any brain damage.

I believe that the Lord had been preparing me for this almost my entire pregnancy. It was a miserable pregnancy. It was the first time I was questioning if I really wanted to go through having another baby. But in my heart, I knew I could not do anything to prevent a pregnancy. Steve and I felt convicted that we should let God be in control of our family size. We knew God was the Creator of life. Children were blessings to be desired.

At one point during my pregnancy, I told the Lord in prayer that if I were not to have anymore children it would have to be by His hand, not by ours. I did not know when I went to bed on Feb 11, 1998 as I lovingly touched my round belly that that would be the last time I would ever feel a baby kick within my body. I was thirty-three when Bryan, my eighth child, was born. I figured I could possibly have another eight before I was through. It is so easy to take fertility for granted.

Since that night, my life has changed dramatically. The little things don’t seem to matter anymore. My children could have been without a mommy. My husband could have been without a wife. I would have been in heaven, so I probably wouldn’t have cared too much.

The Lord has given me a new life. I really thought when I came home from the hospital that I would be perfect. For some reason I felt that I had almost touched the hand of God, so somehow that would make me a perfect mommy. Right away, I blew it. So, I’m not going to get to be perfect-yet! But I won’t stop trying!

I’m enjoying my life more, enjoying my children more, and enjoying my husband more. So many things seem to get in the way of what is really important. I hope that I never get to a point again when I cannot marvel at God for saving the life of my son and myself. I hope that I will not forget to marvel at the blue sky, the snow-covered grass,the intoxicating smell of a newborn baby, a two-year-old singing “Jesus Wuvs Me,” and the sparkle in the eyes of a child when you throw all abandon to the wind and say, “Let’s have soda-pop for lunch!”

When God saved my life, He put a new beat in my heart, more spring in my step, joy in my soul, and a miracle in my arms.

In the mundane, there is life!

©2001-present Terri Camp “I’m Going to be the Greatest Mom Ever….Even if it Kills Me”

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4 thoughts on “A Brush With Death

  1. Our God is indeed an awesome God!
    Thank you for sharing this very personal and very inspirational story Terri. I cannot describe the feeling in my heart right now.
    Love and blessings,
    Anita
    a Knitting Junkie!

  2. Through my tears, I can only say that was such a beautiful, powerful reminder. A reminder to all of us to to not sweat the small stuff, and never, ever take for granted the many blessings we have. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Hi Teri,
    This is a great story of strength and God’s power. Would you like to share it on my parenting site? Hope to be in touch soon!

  4. So wonderfully written and such an inspirational story. We don’t need to be perfect we just need to be present and full of unconditional love and support! My two year old singing is one of the small pleasures in life!