During the delivery of my third child, I had the very unexpected experience of talking with God.
During this delivery, I was given an inhaled anesthetic through a mask. (To skeptics who'd discount drug-influenced experiences, I assure you that I was completely lucid and clear-minded throughout. The inhalant was self-administered, and when the doctor expressed concern from time to time that I was losing consciousness, I removed the mask and reassured him that I was doing well.)
A being, whom I understood to be God, told me that He needed to converse with me. He indicated that this was a rare opportunity to have my full attention.
It occurred to me at one point during our conversation that I was in grave physical danger -- in fact; I later learned that my blood pressure dropped through the floor. I could hear the doctor panicking in the background, but God assured me I wouldn't die, so I stopped worrying, and with brief exceptions (when I had to say something to alleviate the doctor's concerns), I could no longer hear the doctor.
During this conversation, I was told many things about my life and religion, and was given the opportunity to ask, and receive answers to, many questions. But then I was told that after I returned to consciousness, I'd forget everything I had just heard. 'Let me remember one thing,' I pleaded. 'You'll remember that this conversation took place, but you won't remember what you learned until the time is right,' I was told.
As I came back into full consciousness, I was very aware that my new knowledge was being veiled, much to my disappointment. But I was so overwhelmed at the idea that God had spoken to me, and that He knew me as an individual, that the disappointment didn't last.
Until this moment, I've never told anyone about this experience. I wasn't given any messages to share, and I wasn't given any responsibility to tell other people, so other than recording it in my journal, I've kept it to myself since the event took place.
The most interesting part of this story occurred several weeks later, however. When my baby was born, my friend K. L. was eight months pregnant -- her first baby. She was seeing the same obstetrician/ gynecologist, but she was in a cold panic. She wanted to hear every detail about my birth experience, and no matter what I told her, she'd flip out. She was white with fear over the prospect of childbirth. Everything about the process terrified her. And I didn't know how to reassure her -- in fact, I was still afflicted with a painful, slow-healing episiotomy, and an even more painful nursing problem, so I probably wasn't much comfort.
Though my son was a pretty good baby, for the first few months he had nightly crying jags. So when I could snatch some sleep, I'd drop like a stone. Dead to the world. But one night, when the baby was about four weeks old, I woke up with a start at about 3:00 am, for no apparent reason. I was suddenly wide awake, with my heart racing. And then I experienced the most agonizing pain, as though I were in the middle of having contractions. Instinctively, I began breathing through the pain as I'd been taught in a Lamaze class several years earlier. The thought occurred to me: K.'s having her baby. I cannot say why, but I knew, absolutely knew, that the pain was too much for K. and I was taking on some of it so that she could bear it. Which I was happy to do.* This experience lasted about ten or fifteen minutes, and then it was over, and I went back to sleep.
The next morning, K.'s husband called and said 'Hey! K. had her baby last night.' I laughed, and told him the precise time it happened. He was surprised, of course, but I never did tell him how I knew.
*This isn't pride speaking. In fact, I actually felt happy to help. It's a reaction that, upon reflection, still surprises me. I'm generally more selfish than that.
Date NDE Occurred: Feb. 1988
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Childbirth Other ChildbirthI don't know that an objective observer would agree that my life was in danger. I heard the doctor express concern, repeatedly, that I was unresponsive, and that my blood pressure was dangerously low, but I was able to respond sufficiently, during the out-of-body experience, to reassure the doctor that I wasn't dying.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes 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 It was much more lucid, and much faster. It feels now as though my thoughts are comparatively lethargic.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I was much more alert -- in fact, I was 'multitasking' -- during the period of communication than I am under normal circumstances. It was almost as though my body was drugged, but my soul was free and capable of communicating. When it was necessary to perform some specific physical action -- such as removing the mask and pushing to deliver the baby -- I reluctantly went back into my physical body, performed the action, and left again to continue the conversation.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning I was communicating at a much faster rate of speed than what was occurring around me physically. And upon my 'return' I thought briefly that I had returned to the moment when I delivered my previous child (same room, same bed, same doctor...so the momentary confusion wasn't entirely inexplicable).
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Did your hearing differ in any way from normal? Physically hearing my surroundings was a distraction from the conversation with God -- I could hear my physical surroundings, but I was reluctant to do so.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Uncertain There was a spinning sensation, which I think was probably related to the anesthetic. This part of the experience was not particularly lucid, nor was it as completely clear, pure, and unambiguous as the part where I was communicating with God.
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Uncertain This was a pure communication between God and me. I didn't see God. I only heard Him -- or more precisely, understood Him. The communication was much too rapid to be properly called 'talking.'
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin
Did you see an unearthly light? No
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Awe. Peace. A bit of concern that I wouldn't get everything in before I returned to physical consciousness.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Relief or calmness
Did you have a feeling of joy? Happiness
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
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future But the details were veiled from my conscious memory. I cannot recall them.
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
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? Moderate LDS
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I've become more convinced that God is real, and that He loves every one of his sons and daughters, regardless of their errors, mistakes and sins. I'm likewise convinced that He feels real agony at cruelty and unkindness. So I've made a concerted effort to be more kind and more generous -- though I'm still far from perfect. Overall, my behavior toward others is much more compassionate than it was prior to this experience.
What is your religion now? Conservative/fundamentalist LDS
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I've become more convinced that God is real, and that He loves every one of his sons and daughters, regardless of their errors, mistakes and sins. I'm likewise convinced that He feels real agony at cruelty and unkindness. So I've made a concerted effort to be more kind and more generous -- though I'm still far from perfect. Overall, my behavior toward others is much more compassionate than it was prior to this experience.
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
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Uncertain Wish I could. But that wasn't permitted.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No I figure that spiritual experiences are confirmation that one is generally on the right path. I've had other, less dramatic, confirmations since that time, so I'm probably not living a terribly wayward life.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes See details from narrative. Had the one-time experience of taking on the pain of a friend during her delivery, a few weeks following my own.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Confirmed for me the existence and compassion of God. But I was already living a fairly faithful existence, and so it wasn't entirely out of line with my previous knowledge.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? No
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Uncertain In a vague way. Didn't make a connection between that and my own experience until much later.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real.
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? Uncertain I've been reminded at rare times of a few of the many things I was taught during the experience. Slowly, over time and as occasion arises, small portions of the experience are 'reproduced.' (Perhaps 'revealed' or 'reminded' or 'remembered' or 'recovered' would be more accurate descriptions.)
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I am certain there's nothing unique about me that entitled me to have this experience. I am likewise certain that every thinking person is entitled to revelation from God, in one form or another, as part of the experience of mortality. Finally, I am certain that when one exercises faith (which requires a modicum of humility), one is 'rewarded' in ways that far exceed what the effort merits.