In the spring of 2000, I was finishing up the last few months of my PA training. Becoming a Physician Assistant (PA) was a long-time goal of mine, and I'd spent years of dedication and sacrifice working toward it. My husband and I had married in the fall of my first semester, and one year later, we were expecting a baby. Graduating from PA school and becoming a mother at the same time were far greater gifts than I could have imagined for myself. While I focused on finishing up my clinical rotations, and studying for my board exams, I'd daydream about all the things to which we had to look forward.
My husband and I had moved from New York to Florida in January of 2000, and in February, I went for my twenty-week ultrasound. As the physician ran the probe over my belly, he showed us our baby's skull and femur, all the while taking measurements. 'The baby is right where it should be developmentally,' he said, looking pleased. As he continued to move the probe, we caught a glimpse of our baby's foot. I pointed out one of the toes to my husband. 'That's your child, no doubt about it!' Our baby's second toe was crooked, just like my husband's toe.
We were laughing about this when the doctor's demeanor changed, 'I want to show you something.' Positioning the probe to view our baby's kidney, he showed how there was a build-up of fluid inside of it. For some reason, it wasn't draining properly. He couldn't tell us for sure, but it could have been caused by anything from a benign malformation of the organ, to a potentially life-shortening genetic disease. 'I wish I could tell you more.' This was on a Friday. In the practice of medicine, when forming what is called a 'differential diagnosis,' all things that may be the cause a person's illness must be considered, until ruled out. The term 'think horses, not zebras' serves as a reminder that the most common cause is most likely the cause. As we waited through the weekend for our OB appointment on Monday, I researched the differential diagnosis of Hydronephrosis, (or excess fluid in the kidney), and tried to be positive about its root cause, telling myself it was something simple that she would grow out of it. Although I tried to think horses, my thoughts kept leading me back to zebras.
While my husband and I worried, my mother-in-law mentioned she'd had a problem with her kidney when she was younger, and underwent a corrective surgery for it as an adult. We determined her surgery must have been for an ureter pelvic junction (UPJ) stricture, (or narrowing, of the tube draining urine from the kidney to the bladder). With this newfound knowledge, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Our baby's problem must be hereditary! It fit with what the ultrasound showed, and was fixable. My thoughts quickly turned to horses, and remained there through the rest of that long, emotional weekend. Monday morning my husband and I met with my OB (obstetrician), who agreed that our baby's problem was most likely due to a congenital malformation of the ureter, and we made the decision not to undergo any further testing. We dodged bullet number one.
Four months later, in the last month of my pregnancy, my OB brought up the option of early delivery. I could be induced at thirty-five weeks, and a Pediatric Urologist could evaluate our baby's kidney function sooner, rather than later. It wasn't imperative that she be delivered early, but the option was there. While I tried not to be, I was afraid if I didn't go along with this plan, I might be jeopardizing my baby's long-term health, though I still hesitated in giving an answer. Delivering her early would require for me to be induced into labor, and I knew the possibility of a c'sarian-section was greater with induction. I wanted to have the experience of childbirth so badly, but couldn't hold on to that desire. One week could potentially make a difference, so I decided to go ahead with the induction.
On the evening of July 16, 2000, I was admitted to the hospital's Labor and Delivery floor to begin the process. I was a carrier of the bacteria Group B Streptococcus, which would put my baby at risk of developing an infection while moving through the birth canal. I required pre-treatment with antibiotics before the induction started. The Penicillin had been running through the IV for only a few minutes, when I noticed a strange feeling in my chest. It felt like my heart was racing and beating irregularly. I told the nurse what was happening right away, she stopped the IV.
Seconds later, the feeling in my chest disappeared. Another antibiotic had to be given, and as the nurse flushed the IV to push through the medication still in it, the feeling in my chest briefly returned. The only explanation was that it must have been some sort of an allergic reaction. This surprised me, for as far as I knew, I wasn't allergic to anything, but could have developed an allergy during the course of my pregnancy. Another antibiotic was chosen and administered without the return of that strange feeling.
As my husband, mother and I settled into the hospital room for a long evening, Pitocin, (the medication that would tell my uterus to begin contracting), was started. Although I have no real memory of it, I was told the night was rather uneventful. That was fine, because what followed the next morning would more than make up for it. The next morning, my contractions were strong, but irregular. By eight o'clock, I had dilated only 3 cm. The nurse midwife broke the amniotic fluid sac to further my labor along. It had already been thirteen hours, and I was progressing too slowly. (Prolonged labor in a patient who was a Group B strep carrier increased the risk of infection in the baby with every passing hour, even with the administration of the antibiotic.) Although I wanted to resist the thought of it with all my might, I knew a c'sarian-section was in my near future.
Pitocin causes unusually strong contractions, and even though I had dilated only three centimeters, I was in a lot of pain. Figuring I'd need it anyway for a c'sarian-section, I asked for an epidural anesthetic. [Editor's Note: A method of pain relief that blocks pain in a certain area.] After this was placed, I lay there watching the monitor next to the bed. I knew what to look for on the screen, and noticed when I was having contractions; my baby's heart rate would occasionally drop into the sixties. This was dangerously low, and I anticipated the arrival of the midwife into the room to deliver the news. Sure enough, less than a minute later she was there, telling me what needed to be done.
Although I knew a cesarean would most likely be the outcome, internally I still had a brief, but strong emotional resistance to it, much like the way I'd resisted the thought of having our baby early. Between now and the surgery, constant and close monitoring of my baby's heart rate was needed, so an internal monitor would have to be placed into my baby's scalp. I'd placed them before myself, yet cringed at the thought of something being screwed into my own child's head. As these thoughts ran through my mind, I felt the same fluttering feeling in my chest that I'd had the night before, only now, it was much more severe.
'I'm having a hard time breathing.' No sooner had the words left my lips that I went from being a little short of breath, to gasping for air. A huge commotion broke out in the room, and I was yanked onto my left side, as this would make it easier for my heart to pump blood to my unborn baby. Someone slapped an oxygen mask over my face. My husband and mother were quickly moved out of the room and into one down the hall. I couldn't seem to get enough air, and had to work harder and harder to breathe. In a matter of seconds, I was being wheeled out of the room and through an open hallway. Within only a few feet from the Operating Room suite, the noise that had surrounded me became distant. As I faded away, the last thing I recall was the sound I made: it was one of desperately trying to breathe. My heart stopped at 9:18 am.
There is no such thing as 'the moment of death': The point at which there are no signs of life, and when our consciousness leaves our body, is more of a continuum. From an awareness standpoint, some time had passed between being in the hallway, and the view I had from above. What happened to my consciousness during this interval, I do not know. Perhaps my energy coalesced into a singularity before exploding outward in a cloud of tiny black-grey particulate matter. Maybe it leaked from the confines of my solid-self, little by little, rapidly accumulating into a loose conglomerate of static-like matter that was now floating above my body. The distance between my conscious self and my body below seemed to be stretched out, as if space-time had elongated, and my now nearly immaterial self was simultaneously both near and far away from my material body. There was no sound, no pain, and no fear. I could still 'see', and glanced around the room. The ceiling had taken on a fluid transparency with some flowing, solid features that still remained.
I could see someone lying on a bed. Was it a person? I recall asking myself this question, as I wasn't quite sure what 'people' were, but seemed to have recognition of them, nonetheless. The event unfolding below me no longer involved 'Krista' in the physical sense, as she was now beyond the transparent ceiling. As I lingered above, I didn't identify, in any way, with the body or the people in the room. I was instead, a detached observer, although still 'Krista' within the fine static of my consciousness. I had retained my earthly identity, and felt more alive than ever. There were several people around my body now.
A person in blue was on the left. At first, I noticed him bent over my body at the level of my abdomen. He then, very quickly, stood upright and handed a bundle to someone at my right shoulder. They took this bundle, and quickly turned their back so I couldn't see, and I wanted to see! A person was near my head, placing something on my chest. Another person, in blue, walked into the room and stood there, as if assessing what was happening, then moved to my right side, joining in on the barrage of activity around me. 'What's going on down there?' I felt so compelled to stay. What was in the bundle? What was happening to the person on the bed? As I continued to watch, I slowly became more and more attached to what I was watching.
Suddenly, an invisible force began pulling me to the left. I resisted it for a brief second, but this force was much stronger than my desire to stay. It wanted me, and I knew whatever it wanted me for was important: more important than my desire to remain fixed in this place. With this understanding, I then made a conscious choice to let go. The instant this decision was made, I was moving at a terrific speed through, what I can only describe as, a loosely confined space of static and fluid-like matter. It was infinitely large, yet immeasurably small. I felt, at any moment, it would either burst wide open, or collapse in on me.
No definition existed between my consciousness and that of its 'walls,' which were made of this fluid, static-like continuum of energy. As I sped along, I became intermixed with this energy, and the further on I went, the more I felt permeated with its indefinable, irrefutable, unbounded love. This love and I were wholly immersed in one another; no point of separation existed; I was it, and it was I. Oh, what bliss! I felt no pain, no anxiety, and no fear. The only feelings were that of love, and peaceful contentment. I wished for nothing, as there was nothing for which to wish. Within this space, I was simultaneously given the answers to all the questions I'd ever had in my earthly life, with the exception of one. There would be one question that I would not yet be given the answer. It was at this point that I veered off to my right, toward a thick, foggy-dense, whitish-gray atmosphere.
As I rapidly approached it, I could make out dark, ill-defined figures. They were huddled close together, just on the other side of the entrance. They had a human-like form, but could only be seen as shadows of this form. I recognized one of the figures in the front to be a little boy. He was the first to come into view, and had the appearance of a shadowy little Tom Sawyer, with a wide brimmed hat and overalls. He wanted to be at the front, and desired for me to take him back into the physical realm. The others who gathered around wanted him to be there as well. They sensed my desire to help, and were using him in which to draw me.
I felt discomfort upon entering this realm. It didn't feel as loving a place as the one I just left. I could have left, but wanted to help the little boy so badly! As I moved further into the space, the others wished to take advantage of my desire to help, and came at me all at once: their need and want pulling at me from every direction. They were so sorrowful and had such yearning to leave! Initially, I wanted to save them all, but knew it was far too great a task for me to take. Overwhelmed, I then wished to leave that place, and the instant the wish presented itself, I was moving away from the dark grey figures, away from the little boy, and didn't look back. I had changed my experience through my own intention, and was once again intermixed within the space of boundless, divine love, but was only briefly in this space. When I again, through my own intention, traveled through a sort of gate, or passageway, where I emerged into what I call my Eden. I carried this love with me through the gate; with pure, conscious awareness of this love, and with all I witnessed around me.
Upon traveling through this gate, I felt instantaneous immersion with all I witnessed around me. I was 'one' with the vibrant yellow flowers spanning out on the ground in front of me. I was 'one' with the sparkling waterfall cascading down huge rocks into a pure, crystal pool. I was 'one' with the distant, rolling green hills, and tranquil blue sky above it. I was 'one' with the deep, dark evergreens edging the field of flowers to my right. What joy it was to be in this place! I felt every bit of the landscape was a unique expression of the Divine that was chosen for, and by, me. The dense forest contrasted with the striking scene of vibrant yellow flowers and cascading waterfall. Intuitively, I knew what lay within these trees was neither good nor bad, and that I was a part of it, as well as all the other things in my beautiful Eden. I had the choice to venture into this dark place, but felt a sense of already knowing what my experience would be there. Instead, I chose to stay where I was. I didn't need or want to experience anything other than beauty, although the forest also held its own kind of beauty. Then, from the love that was both within and around me, it was communicated to me that I had one of three choices to make.
First, was to move forward, into the woods. However, I'd already rejected that. The second choice was to continue onward to what lay beyond my present reality, and the third was to return to my body, and resume the life I had left behind. However, if I chose this, I was to share my experience through being of service to others. I looked at the beauty around me, once again feeling the enormity of it: the love, peace and oneness of it all. My pulse returned at 9:26 am. I later learned that my doctor, who had just returned from his honeymoon, was the first to respond to the 'Code Blue'.
He had just arrived in his office that was housed in the building next door to the hospital. He was sifting through his mail when someone told him he was needed in Labor and Delivery. 'Ok, I'll be right there.' He later told me the person said, 'No, they need you NOW.' Dropping his mail, he ran across the breezeway between his office and the hospital. He arrived at the delivery room, and was shocked at what he saw. There was nothing in my medical history, or in the course of my pregnancy, to indicate I was at risk for complications of delivery, yet there I was, dead on the table with my baby still inside of me. He told my husband and me that the next few minutes were a rapid succession of steps taken to deliver our baby as quickly as possible.
Chest compressions were stopped and a quick incision made to deliver my baby. I lost a significant amount of blood during this, and would continue to bleed for hours afterward. So much so, I required a transfusion. A cardiologist, who happened to be in the hospital seeing patients that morning, responded to the Code. He'd later told me that was not his usual routine, and under normal circumstances, at 9:30 on a Monday morning, he was in his office seeing patients. A cardio-thoracic surgeon was also there and came to my aid, as well as another obstetrician. These were the people who, in a seemingly random course of events, together saved my life and the life of my daughter. Following this event, I spent three days in the Intensive Care Unit, in a drug-induced coma. I'd gone into DIC (or Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation), which is a possible sequel of AFE (or Amniotic Fluid Embolism), where there is uncontrolled bleeding. I was transfused and eventually the bleeding stopped. There is a very high mortality rate with AFE as well as DIC. After this, I was taken off the ventilator and put into a private room.
My daughter had been taken to another hospital where there was a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), and she was brought in to meet me. I felt like I'd already met her, but had no recollection of this. I was discharged on day #6, and was still quite out of it. I had significant memory loss. I had NO FEAR about anything. I was a Type A: an anxious, driven person before my NDE, and now I was someone completely different. Feeling this way was amazing. I felt free for the first time in my life. I recalled my NDE in a dream about 3 weeks after the event. It was more vivid than real 3-D life. I tried to share the enormity of it with those around me, but didn't feel like they 'got' me at all.
I reached out to Dr. Jeffery Long online, who emailed me back. I'd told him I recalled my NDE but still felt like there was something I didn't recall. He told me to pay attention to my dreams. I hadn't mentioned in the email that this was how my NDE memory came to me. I spent the months following, taking care of my daughter, and after 3 months had to start my new job as a Physician Assistant. I was still struggling with memory (and have since), and worked very hard to learn everything again. I knew very fine details during my medical training: but not now. At the same time, I only wanted to be with my daughter. During the months and years following her birth, I struggled between believing what had happened to me and not believing it. It felt like an internal battle was going on all the time. I was changed, but everyone else expected me to be the same person I was before.
I tried to meet these expectations just to get by each day. In the 13 years since my NDE, I've changed medical specialties 8 times. As a PA, I can do that, and couldn't ever really find work that I felt I should be doing. The most satisfaction I got was when I knew I'd helped someone. I denied myself the beauty of my NDE and the knowledge I'd gained from it. In a nutshell, it was we are all here to love and express it in all we do. I didn't feel like I could be that way so I buried by experience, and was discontent, unhappy and unfulfilled as a result. I've done a lot of inner work over the last 3 years, and have come to a place where I am not afraid of being myself, who is a loving person that expresses this love in the world. My life's purpose is to do this and to inspire others to live from their true nature as well.
Date NDE Occurred: 7/17/2000
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Childbirth. CPR given. Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function)
Mine was what is believed to have been caused by an amniotic fluid embolism.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Entirely pleasant
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes I saw myself below my body, only didn't know it was me at the time. There were people around it. This was not verified, but I know it was real.
I clearly left my body and existed outside it
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal Things were FELT to a greater degree, especially love. I had no thoughts, only feelings.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? The entire time.
Were your thoughts speeded up? No
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
It was just that. There was a sequence to it, but time had no meaning. It didn't exist. It all felt instantaneous.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I did have vision, but not as acute.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. There was no sound.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes There were the shadowy beings, but I didn't know them personally.
The experience included: Unearthly light
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? No
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes It was a grey/white light.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm A beautiful landscape, prior to this, a misty, gray/white space.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? At first I felt, confusion, curiosity and love. When I experienced the beings, I felt obligation and then overwhelmed, then relieved, for a brief moment.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? incredible joy
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world
The experience included: Special knowledge or purpose
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe All the questions I'd had in my life were answered simultaneously.
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Yes The landscape.
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will The landscape was my barrier. If I wanted to, I could continue.
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Not important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Secular unaffiliated I was raised and confirmed Catholic but not practicing. I had a belief in a "Higher Power" but not a personal God.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? No
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Secular unaffiliated
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was both consistent and not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience I had no real interest or knowledge of NDE's other than hearing others talk about it, but didn't believe in this or not. I tended to feel they were not real, but wasn't sure. I judged others who said they had them. I sometimes wished I had the experience too. I wondered sometimes what it was like when we died.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I know we are all here to love. I now know how to live from this knowledge.
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin The beings who were in the gray/white light were shadowy, but once human.
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)? No
During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? Yes We all existed before, and will exist after we die. We choose these lifetimes.
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? Yes We are all the same energy, just different manifestations of it. This energy is the same energy that is the universe.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? I was uncertain if God exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? No
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? I am uncertain if God exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Yes Just that everything is love, and we are meant to become aware of this and live from love.
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are probably meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? Yes We are here to become aware of our energetic connection to all that is, and to use this awareness to direct ourselves in our lives in conjunction with the greater, universal energy that guides and informs us.
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? I was uncertain if an afterlife exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Yes At the boundary of the landscape that was at the very end of my recall of my experience.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I moderately feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I do not fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Moderately fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are probably meaningful and significant
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant after your experience? Are meaningful and significant
Did you gain information about how to live our lives? Yes We are here to ascend. We are here to become aware that we are all "god" and have the ability to experience this on earth, but must become aware of this purpose. We become aware through our inner individual experiences and those we have with others.
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? Yes These are created by us. There really are no difficulties, challenges or hardships. We create them. It is a choice to do so, only many are not aware of this.
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes love is everything there is. All is love.
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Large changes in my life Large changes in my life. Once I began to live from my experience, life took on a whole new energy. I feel I can live out my purpose now and am doing so as I write this. I create and co-create my life, and am deeply aware of this.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Yes They have become more loving because I am more loving.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes
How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience? I remember the experience more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of the experience The recall was vivid and more clear than any of my earthly experiences ever were.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes I am able to read people and 'know' what their motives are for things, I am more connected to others, in this way.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? All of it is meaningful.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes At first recollection of it, I shared it with my family and close friends. They didn't know how to respond, most just listened, politely. I was looking for support, but they 'couldn't' give it to me. I tried to reach out to other NDErs, but still felt isolated. I decided it was only for me, and kept it to myself for years. I am now willing to share it with others who are curious about it, but don't push it on people. I don't advertise it. I still work in the medical field and it's my feeling most don't really believe in the afterlife, or think NDE's are created by chemical reactions in the brain.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I watched a few talk shows with others telling about theirs. I thought it was interesting. My NDE fit their stories in that: the love is indescribable.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I wholly believed it. Intuitively, I knew it happened. Then, I began to doubt it. Then, I realized I couldn't doubt it, as I knew it was real. Then, I was torn between living from this knowledge and reintegrating into my life. To cope, I shoved my experience to the back of my mind, but it was always there. Then, I realized I had to change my life because I was miserable. I heard about Eben Alexander sharing his, then Anita Moorjani's miracle. I felt validated and began to talk about it a little. I have written a book proposal and am writing the book about my experience and life afterward.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? No.