Linda's Book: "Time To Believe: A Life and a Near-Death Experience Click Here
My story is very long but the events leading up to the near death experience are as important as are the events that took place after the experience. If you are only interested in the near death experience, then bypass the first part and go down to the middle. You decide.
This all took place in 1969
Wednesday - April 2nd
I was very pregnant and way past due to have the baby. I was at my doctor's appointment again. I had lost three pounds and was down to one hundred and thirty-seven pounds and the doctor was not happy with that. I told him that because of the pain I had been experiencing, for what seemed like forever, I could not sleep and I could not eat. I was hoping that he was going to tell me that I was truly in labor but he did not. He told me that I was dilated just one centimeter and after describing the location of the pain once again to him, he told me I was still experiencing nothing but false labor. It felt like real labor to me. It was real pain and I was sick of it.
He saw how depressed and tired I was. He tried to cheer me up. He told me that I was going to have this baby in two hours, two days or two weeks. I was not laughing.
When he got serious, he gave me news I really wanted to hear. The baby was in the correct position, weight about seven pounds and I would not have any more appointments for that week. My next appointment would be for Monday April 7th at 10:00am but he expected that the baby would be born by then and if not he was looking forward to inducing labor on Monday. That was of course if everything looked correct to him. He told me to go home, rest and to have a nice holiday since this was a three-day holiday for most families.
Thursday - April 3rd
I did not sleep Wednesday night. The pain that I experienced knocked me to my knees. After the pain subsided, I would not experience any more pain for an hour or more. Then, when the pain returned, it would be stabbing and troubling me every five minutes for another hour. I expected my water to break or to have the baby drop to the floor at any minute. I never stopped worrying and imagining the worst. Getting any sleep was out of the question. I told no one what I was going through or of my fears.
My mother-in-law saw that I was not myself. I tried to seem cheerful and involved but it was a struggle. My mother-in-law and I had our hands full because my sister-in-law and her young son had come to stay in the house with the rest of us and the boy was into everything. I did not want to be a burden to my mother-in-law I wanted to help but I was failing miserably.
When I did not eat the lunch my mother-in-law made she went to extra trouble and fixed me soup and toast. She tried to encourage me to eat it. I did very much want to eat but as soon as I sat down at the table the pains began accompanied by nausea. Eating was out of the question.
I was so very tired and I was having a hard time controlling my emotions. I was constantly on the verge of tears. I was truly disappointed at how this experience was progressing and I was miserable and anxious. Nothing was as I imagined it would be. This was supposed to be a time of happiness and joy. All I was feeling was dread and anxiety.
Rich, my husband, got off work Thursday night and he wanted to make the long drive home. He had three days off and wanted to enjoy them alone and not around the rest of his family. All I wanted to do was hide in a dark closet somewhere.
I explained that I was not feeling well (I did not tell him the entire truth) but Rich insisted that he was going home. I, not wanting to cause a big fuss agreed to go home with him.
After fixing some dinner, we watched television in silence and then we went to bed. I lay in bed watching the clock and counting the contractions. When they did not stop and they were just two minutes apart I woke Rich up and told him it was time for him to get me back to the city and to the hospital. Rich was upset. I of course was embarrassed and mortified to have to tell him that I was in pain.
Rich was not happy when I explained that I had been having labor pains for some time. He was upset that I had not told him this before we took the long windy trek home but then I had not been doing a lot of communicating. I had been a very non-contributing part of our relationship.
It had been raining and the trip back down the hill was wet, slow and dark. By the time, we got back into town the pains had stopped and now I feared that I was causing a fuss for no reason and would end up in the hospital only to be sent home with false labor. I told Rich this. He asked me what I wanted to do and I made the decision. I chose to head back to his parents' house. Rich went to bed and I chose to stay in the living room where I could continue my now too familiar pacing, sitting, and pacing some more.
It was not long before the pain returned in full force and my fear of the pain outweighed my fear of making a fuss. I called the hospital and talked to a nurse who told me the same old thing as the doctor had told me hours ago. She also thought that the pain I described was false labor. She explained that if I chose to come into the hospital and it was false labor I would be sent home. But she added that if I was scared, which she could most definitely hear in my voice, that I could come in.
I paced, and cried for a little while longer before I went into the room where Rich was sleeping and got the car key off the dresser. I had decided to drive my little red Volkswagen Beetle to the hospital. I figured if I drove myself to the hospital, I would not be causing anyone a fuss.
Rich woke up as I was leaving and insisted that he would drive me. I told him that I would drive myself and that it was probably nothing. I would call him from the hospital if it were the real thing. I did not want to make a fuss. Rich took the keys from my shaking hand and we drove in silence down the quiet rain soaked streets. I was being a fool and I did not know how to stop myself.
I took nothing with me except my purse, my fear, and my depression. I was feeling stupid, childish, embarrassed and alone. Everything I was feeling I chose to deal with alone.
* * *
Friday - April 4
Just after midnight, the doctor came in to check on me and, ho, ho I was dilated by four centimeters. I had never heard such wonderful words. I was not in false labor I was really, really in labor. I had only six centimeters to go and them I would have a baby to hold. Or so I thought.
The doctor and the nurses came in like clockwork to examine me and the answer was always the same after that, no change. The doctor had to break my water and was concerned because there was no water. I was anticipating so much out of this stage of the adventure. I was disappointed and the doctor was concerned.
The doctor quickly explained to me that the baby was no longer in the proper position for delivery but he said, 'Not to worry,' and I was turned over on my side to let gravity and 'nature' take its course. The real problem with that plan was that the proceeding days of labor at home with little sleep and almost no food or water had already taken their toll. 'Nature' had already pulled me into a dangerous state of weakness, exhaustion and fear. Telling me not to worry was like telling a startled bird not to fly. TOO LATE!
In no time at all, an IV was hooked up to my arm as the hospital nursing staff attempted to hydrate and feed me. These liquid 'meat and potatoes' as the doctor called them would hopefully give me the strength and stamina that I would need for the ordeal yet to come. The doctor's optimism lived on.
The doctor also explained that if the baby did not move back into the proper position that I should not worry. He would just have to bend the little tike and bruise him a little to be able to pull him out. I was not to worry the doctor said. I was worried!
My husband, Rich, was at my side in the beginning of this ordeal. He was the only non-medical person allowed into my room. The rest of my family was stationed in the waiting room to live out their ordeal.
It was not long before I was introduced to the real pain of full labor and beyond. The excruciating pain was constant with no relief in sight or promised and the doctor's heightened concerns could be plainly seen in his expressive eyes.
The doctor wanted me to rest as much as I could and conserve my strength but that had already gone beyond the realm of the possible. It was then that the doctor strongly suggested that he wanted to relieve all of my pain by giving me painkillers for a short period of time so that I could rest. Before I could speak I sensed a familiar presence close to me. I did not know what it was at that time but it was most definitely there.
My mother had lost her first baby in 1944 because the doctors had given her too much ether to slow the labor down. I did not want anything to get into this baby's blood stream or lungs that might interfere with its life. I wanted my baby to have the best fighting chance that it could. Something inside my head kept telling me this. I told the doctor that I would not take anything that would affect my baby! So, painkillers were out of the question.
I could hear in the doctor's voice that his concerns had just jumped up more than a few notches. The pain killing medication he had in mind would reach the baby's blood stream. So the idea was out of the question and off of the table for me. When I made that perfectly clear to the doctor it became his turn to start worrying.
Rich was very upset about the turn of events. Nothing was going as he had expected either. His MO [modus operandi] for dealing with stress was to joke with people in the hopes of changing the atmosphere from one of stress or unhappiness into one of relaxation and tranquility. A little laugh can go a long way in doing this and this is one of the things that I love about him. With all the stress floating in the room he began to try and work this magic on me. This time it was not working. Rich's joking around just stressed me out all the more.
Rich began to bring out of his funny bag all of the terrible jokes that usually got a reaction from me. He also began to talk about food and was teasing me that the food around the labor room was bad in fact it was non-existent. With just one word from me he was going to leave the hospital then sneak back into my room with a gourmet meal. This meal would consist of tacos and lemon meringue pie topped off with a chocolate malted. Now this meal normally would make me happy but under the circumstances just the thought of food make me sick. I whispered for him to stop with the jokes and taking about food but he continued to try and cheer me up.
I could not deal with upsetting Rich. I could not keep up a happy face in his presence. I felt that his joking around just made things worse for me and I did not know how to express myself so that I was understood without hurting his feelings. Somewhere down deep inside of me I knew that I was in real trouble and I was in for the fight of my life. Somehow I knew that this was a fight that I had to do alone. I needed to concentrate on me, myself and I could not do that with Rich trying to make me feel better, so I asked the doctor to keep him out of my room. The doctor understood completely and did as I asked with no questions asked. I was surprised at that and it made me worry and wonder all the more.
I would never kick Rich out of my room today, but at the time Rich and I were not very good at communication anything that was of a serious nature. I am ashamed of it now because this crisis would have been a good time for learning and growing but I chose to go it alone without any explanation to Rich. The doctor just told Rich that I needed to rest and to be alone and Rich did not question the doctor's authority or power to keep him out of my room. Rich would tell you today that now he would fight heaven and earth to stay in my room. Times do change and I am glad of it but back them I chose to go it alone and no one questioned it.
The doctor wanted me to rest but rest was not in my future, increased pain was. It was at this point when I was no nearer to childbirth than when I had first walked into the hospital and the pain had become intolerable that the doctor made his mind up. All of us had endured enough. My body could tolerate no more suffering, and I was exhausted. Enough was enough. Doing a cesarean section (C-section) did not sound so bad when the doctor decided on this course of action.
I was grateful to hear the idea of doing a C-section and happy to accept. I felt like I had already spent a week laying in the same bed in the same room in the same position when in fact I had spend just the better part of a day. I was ready for a change of scenery and more than willing to have the day end on an up note.
In the back of my mind I was afraid that the premonition I had had about dying in childbirth would come true on the operation table but I quickly put those fears aside. I just wanted the pain and the nightmare to be over.
Rich and I happily signed the papers, with all the disclaimers, giving the hospital permission to do the surgery. The nurses prepared me for surgery and I thought I would be heading for the operation room when 'nature' and gravity decided to change the rest of my life.
The baby turned. This was not a gentle turn but a 'no holds bared, all out, flag waving, stand up and move on down the road' kind of turn. This movement was so violent that I could see and feel the stretch marks as they formed across my swollen abdomen. This baby wanted out and wanted out now! The only real problem was that it had no safe passage to get out.
As the baby was attempting to push its head through the too small four-centimeter opening the blood flow to his brain was being cut off. His heart rate had shot up and was off the chart. His oxygen-starved brain forced the heart to beat faster and faster in an attempt to keep itself alive, but in fact, the baby was dying. And now so was I.
All at once, I could feel my body go into a pain and panic mode all on its own. My mind was telling my body to just slow down and stay calm, but my body was not listening. I could not stop my own body as it tried to switch into double-time, fighting to save the child that it had nourished and protected for over nine months to no avail. I was fighting to save my own body as well. My body had taken charge and my mind and will power had been left out of the loop. The resulting action was that my unborn child and I were dying and there was nothing I could do about it.
Everything that was happening around me became panic and confusion and everything was happening 'NOW'!
Instantly my room became a beehive of activity as an oxygen mask was placed over my face and I was instructed on how to breathe to avoid hyperventilating, of course I hyperventilated anyway. I was told that the added oxygen going into my system was for the baby because he was having trouble getting enough oxygen into his system.
I kept trying not to panic. There was no luck there. I kept telling myself to be calm, be calm, but apparently 'myself' was hard of hearing. On the verge of panic, it was as if I was in the middle of watching a horror film except that I was both observing and participating at the same time, only everything around was happening not in slow motion but in double-time.
I was rushed not into the operating room but into x-ray where the nightmare continued. The doctors (I now had more than one) told me that they had to see what was going on inside of me so the x-ray was extremely necessary. It was not long before it was discovered that there was no hope for me to have a normal delivery. In fact there never had been any hope.
The x-ray showed that I had been dilated twelve centimeters, for only God knew how long, but with a deformity. I was dilated only four centimeter in the center and twelve centimeters on each side like a figure eight. The doctor had never been able to feel that.
The doctors then informed me that my hope for a C-section was out of the question as well. The doctors were now engaged in a desperate fight to keep my exhausted body from going into shock. This was a shock from which there would be no recovery. The decision of the experts was unanimous. My prognosis had gone from bad to worse. There was no way that I could deliver my child in the normal, everyday, home grown fashion nor, they all agreed, could I survive an operation. I was now truly caught between a rock and a hard place.
It was the doctors' final opinion that my only hope to come out of this experience alive was to have my baby aborted. They explained this process in great and gruesome details. They were going to tranquilize me but not put me to sleep. It would be a kind of twilight sleep they explained. The unborn child would be tranquilized too by injecting him in the head. When we were both peaceful and calm they were going to cut the baby in sections and deliver the now dead child vaginally, in pieces, in the hope of convincing my body that I was having a normal delivery.
I could not figure out how they could be telling me all of this. Just the thought of doing such a thing should have put me into shock. But they had to give me all of the statistics so that I could sign the papers to do the procedure.
This procedure was not with out risks. If I went into shock with the death of the baby they assumed that I would not survive. My chance of surviving this abortion was only fifty-fifty but the life of the baby was forfeit. Not good odds for a woman who began this journey young, strong and healthy. There were zero odds for the once strong, healthy undelivered full term child who was also fighting for its life with ever increasing heartbeats.
The Specialist in charge began to explain to me (in percentages), the seriousness of the situation that I now found myself in. A C-section was now one hundred percent out of the question. I was too weak to survive the surgery. It was determined that there was more than a seventy-five percent chance of my body going into shock while on the operating table before they could remove the baby. If I went into shock I would die. I was still having strong contraction and this was problematic in some way that I did not understand. The baby's chance to live to completion of the surgery was five percent or less.
In the professional monotone voice that all doctors seem to assume when they feel helpless, they continued to solemnly explain other options available to me in the same form of percentages and statistics. Twenty-five percent chance for me, the baby zero percent or fifty percent for me, the baby zero percent. It was a blur of percentages but the one that constantly kept coming up was that the baby had pulled the short straw and had little or no chance at all.
Suddenly, it sounded to me as if everyone was now speaking in low tones and whispers, as if someone had already died. Actually, this was not far from the truth. Inside I was dying by bits and pieces with each syllable and percentage whispered. I was being forced to accept the possibility that my leaving the hospital alive was a mere fifty percent chance, and for that I had to agree to let them kill by baby.
The need for the procedure made me furious and terrified but it also sounded reasonable and well thought out under the circumstance. I did not like it but it sounded like there was just no other way. I wanted this whole nightmare to just be over. I wanted the pain to be over. I wanted my fear to go away. I wanted to live.
All of the doctors agreed that the abortion process just might work to save my life if and only if they started immediately and moved very quickly. Time was of the essence. I felt like I was being pushed over a cliff without anyone to turn to with a kind hand to pull me back. I had a full waiting room of people who loved me to turn to but I never even thought of them. This seems so strange to me now.
The doctors explained to me that the baby, while still alive at the present time, was in fact brain dead due to a lack of oxygen to the brain. For all intent and purpose, they said, 'The baby is already dead,' but even if they waited the short time it would take for the baby to in fact die, in all probability I would be dead as well. There was no time to wait. I had already guessed that possibility.
Documents were brought in for me to sign and preparations were being made. 'Speed' they said, 'is of the essence'. They had to start now and they had to move fast. One minute wasted was one more percentage point being shaved off of my already low survival score.
At that point in my life I had never been against abortion to save the life of a mother. What the doctors were suggesting was not unreasonable. I was racked with pain and to the point of almost uncontrollable fear and I was already grieving for my baby. My body was beyond exhaustion. I wanted to be safe. I wanted to go home. I just wanted it all to stop. I would do anything to just make it stop! I did not want to make this horrendous decision but I had to. Then the doctors would do the rest. All the doctors needed from me was a YES, or just a nod of my head and a little scribble on a piece of paper. It should have been so easy. It was not.
I wanted to say yes, just to stop this madness, but how could I make that kind of decision on such short notice? I wanted someone else to make the decision and take the burden off of me.
I began to pray. I wanted God to make the decision some how for me. But the hospital and the doctors needed to hear the answer come from my lips. 'Please God', was all the prayer that I could manage before I was being pressured to give an answer and sign the paper.
The decision was made. I would go along with the only answer that there was and let the procedure begin. The word came out from my lips so gently that it sounded to me (and to all of the others in the room) like the word 'NO'. Now that was strange. That was not the word that I had formed in my mind! I meant to say 'yes'.
I heard the word 'no' again form in my mind it was surrounded by the words wait, faith, fear not, pray… I had heard enough. I knew at once that my prayer had been heard, and answered! I was given the knowledge that the answer was 'No'. God had made the decision and God did not want them to kill my child. That set my stubbornness into place. God and my mind were made up and all was well. Or at least I thought all was well.
I could feel my panic and fear dissolve inside of me. I had not heard all the words clearly and my comprehension of everything I was being asked to do was not exactly crystal-clear but I knew that I was not alone in this horrendous decision. I knew that both the baby and myself would be safe somehow. What I did not know at the time was that to be safe I would have to die and in dying my life would be changed forever.
The tears that began to flow from my eyes came not from sorrow but from relief. Grief was removed from my heart. This 'No' that was spoken did not belong to me. It had come from someplace outside of this life but yet was spoken through my mouth and I felt joy. The decision was made and the decision making had been removed from me.
This presence lingered with me to give me courage as I answered with more strength and conviction. My answer was now no longer a weak whisper. My answer was a stubborn, tumultuous 'NO'!
That word 'NO', that had only a moment ago sounded so foreign to me came as a total shock to the doctors. They could not believe what I was saying. How could any sane person refute what they, as trained physicians had been saying so eloquently? 'No' was not an acceptable answer to them.
Overcoming their initial shock, they began to speak. This time they spoke with a bit less sympathy and a lot more authority. The expert doctors were convinced that I apparently did not understand that I was going to die if I did not agree to have this procedure performed immediately. 'Accept the facts' they said, 'The baby is a vegetable and there is nothing more anyone can do for the baby. Think of your own life.' I was told. I had to let the doctors save me. I could have more children if I lived through this ordeal. They wanted to save me, they had to save me, but they could do nothing unless I gave them permission to proceed. They then told me that my husband and family had already agreed with their decision. My husband knew what the right thing to do was and he had already signed the papers and now I must listen to reason and sign the papers too.
I was not convinced. I was not even moved. I was stubborn. The inner peace that had filled my whole being with warmth had given me my answer and it was the only answer that I could accept from that point on. The die had been cast and they were now talking to a stone.
At this point the doctors started speaking faster and faster about the baby repeating words 'vegetable' and 'brain dead' over and over. Then, as one specialist in particular, began to brow beat me I turned my head making eye contact with my personal O.B.G.Y.N. I silently pleaded with him for help. I was crying harder than ever. I was feeling a real panic that these doctors could cut my baby from me without my permission. Would they, could they? I was more afraid than ever before. I could again feel myself beginning to panic but this time for a completely different reason.
Surprising all in the room, including myself, I suddenly screamed out for everyone to get out and leave me alone! I had never been so rude in my life but it worked and everyone left, with great reluctance, but they left me alone. My personal doctor quietly returned to the labor room. He sat on the edge of my bed and in soft tones began to comfort me. 'No one,' he assured me, 'will do anything without your explicit permission.' Relieved that I had at least one doctor on my side I began to relax and very slowly the panic began to subside but my tears did not 'You won't let them kill my baby will you?' I tearfully asked. I still had concerns. I was afraid that they would go out and get some judge to quickly sign some court order to cut my baby out of me without my permission because they thought I was crazy or incompetent or something. (I watch too much television.)
'No, of course not,' my doctor repeated. He then, with his frustration not hidden very well, asked, 'What is it that you want me to do now?'
* * *
What did I want the doctor to do? What was I supposed to do? Now I had to think about that! I really did not know what to do about anything. I could not hear the voice in my head tell me anything about what I was supposed to do now. Just something about wait. If I just waited something would happen and the baby and I were going to come out of this just fine.
What was I to say to this young doctor on whose face helplessness seemed to be the primary expression now? God forgive me for asking but where was the voice now? 'Still nothing!' I could think of nothing else to say so I decided to speak the truth. I took a deep breath and said, 'I am just going to wait and see what happens.'
I did not want to tell the doctor that a voice told me to wait. I could not tell this doctor that the 'No' that was spoken the first time was not even my voice, could I? Of course I could not do that. He would think I was crazy. He would bring a totally different kind of doctor (psychiatrist) into my room and most likely the abortion would take place without my permission then. 'They do not ask crazy people what they want!' I thought.
I could tell by the pained expression on the doctor's face that he wanted a whole lot more than the answer that I had just given to him. Many jumbled thoughts were running through my mind. The least of which was what was going to happen or needed to happen in order for my life to go on. In truth, what came out of my mouth was both halting and confusing but simple. I had to say something logical so I said the most logical thing that I could think up at the time. 'If I should die first, then I want you to do whatever it takes to save my baby and if the baby dies first, then you can do whatever you must to save me. Understood?' I managed to tell the doctor.
Strangely as I spoke the words, this idea did not seem crazy or really so much to ask under the conditions, at least not to me. It sounded logical. Both in my mind and in my heart I knew that my baby and I both would survive this. I was sure that is what the voice had actually said, 'Everything will be okay,' even though I did not exactly hear it that way. In my heart I knew it. I was risking my life on it. I did not feel crazy! I just knew that we were going to survive. Each time I repeated this to myself my confidence improved and my will was getting stronger with every breath that I took.
My diligent doctor, having never taken his eyes from mine, quietly tried to explain to me what I was asking of him. My idea was not nearly as simple or logical to him as it sounded to me. As he went back into the now familiar rhetoric of explaining medical procedures, facts and figures, the more amused I found myself becoming. He was so worried about me. I wished that I could provide him with a reasonable enough explanation to remove his anxiety but I could not. I did not want to cause a lot of fuss but that is exactly what I was doing and I was now doing it big time.
In essence what he said (hidden in medical terminology) was that I was going to die. The doctor was admitting that he could not save the baby or me if I waited much longer to make the right decision. Waiting was not going to change anything. If the baby died first then I would die. At the death of my unborn baby my body would go into shock and I would die he told me. If I died first there was very little chance he could remove the baby before it was dead as well. When I died my blood that was keeping the baby now barely alive would quit flowing and the baby would suffocate before he could do anything about it.
Dropping this bomb he made a best effort at appeasing me by ending the conversation with, 'But I will do the best that I can.'
I told him that I expected no more or no less from him. The doctor's head was hanging in frustration or sorrow, I could not tell which. 'So we wait?' was the doctor's reply with the question mark at the end? With that he left the room.
* * *
The pain that I had been enduring for days was no longer sporadic but constant and increasing in intensity. This was not the time I wanted to learn that I had a high threshold for pain. Prior to this I had always thought that a human could only endure so much pain and then they would pass out. That is what I had seen in the movies. They were wrong! I waited to pass out. I prayed to pass out but all in vain.
From this point on it wasn't a great leap to start truly questioning my sanity. I was trusting in voices that I really did not hear very clearly. I was not accepting the pain killing medicines that the doctor, I should trust, was willing to give to relieve my torment. Was I crazy? Who was I to tell highly trained Medical Professionals that they were wrong? I must be out of my mind with the pain. These were my thoughts but the last thought was always that I had to wait.
I began to meditate. I began to take the pain and move it up and out of my body into the ceiling panel that I now was intimately accustomed to. I counted the dots and the water marks that broke up the monotonous white ceiling tiles.
Through all of this I could hear other women, in different stages of labor, some screaming out in pain, come and go in other labor rooms. I remained. I was becoming very discouraged and loosing some of my confidence and resolve.
My doctor must have conferred with someone else because a short time later he came in with a suggestion. There was an injection that he could give directly into my cervix that he promised would not get into the baby's system but could still take some of the sharpness off of the pain that I was experiencing. He did not guarantee anything but he said that it was worth a try. I agreed to try it. This was a small victory for the doctor. He went away looking happier than I had seen him in a while.
The doctor was hoping that he would keep me alive long enough to make a decision for the abortion and I was hoping it would relieve my pain a little while I waited.
As the doctor was helping me get into the awkward and uncomfortable position so that he could give me this injection I asked him if I was being a baby about all of this pain. I had been listening to a woman in the next labor room go through so much pain that she was screaming out in agony. I had to admit to the doctor that her screaming was driving me crazy. I asked the doctor if he could give the poor woman something to help her. He laughed and told me that the woman next door was in labor with her third child and she was always a screamer. He told me that I was not being a baby. That I was enduring many times the pain of normal childbirth. Somehow knowing that I was not being over dramatic or imagining the pain made me feel better. It made the pain some how easier to endure.
After the doctor had given me the injection I heard him go into the room of the screaming lady and not so nicely he loudly ask her to 'keep it down, there is a lady dying in the next room.' 'Oh, alright,' was the woman's reply. I heard no screaming after that.
I had to admit that the medication did in fact take some of the pain away. As the doctor worked every couple of hours to position the needle just right on my cervix there was little if any conversation. It seemed that we were both in a waiting mode. I was waiting for the baby to be born, somehow. The doctor was waiting to hear only one thing from me, that I was finished waiting and was ready to proceed with the abortion as the doctors had suggested. There was no room for any other conversation.
During this time of waiting and pain I found myself meditating on all aspects of the room. I counted the acoustical ceiling tiles over and over again as well as the holes that covered it. I listened to the noises and memorized the smells. I tried my own brand of untrained meditation. I focused on transferring my pain out of my body and onto those boring ceiling tiles over and over and over pushing myself almost into a trance. I was doing anything and everything I could not to concentrate on the pain. I began this process over and over again.
Keeping my mind so completely focused away from the pain left me no opening to think about anything else. I knew that the pain would kill me so I had to focus away from the pain and the fear. This was the same trick I used when I had to go to the dentist and get a tooth filled. I had to focus away from the pain and fear and put myself someplace else to persevere. All of those days at the dentist office were paying off here.
I did not think of my husband, family or friends. I did not think of the baby. I did not contemplate life or death. I did not pray or even consider God. I did nothing except lay in that rotten bed hour after hour concentrating on those gray/white acoustical ceiling tiles filling up all of their tiny holes with my pain.
This was my way of coping. This was my method of keeping sane. This was my hope of keeping alive until I was given the answer to some promised form of salvation. To concentrate and stay alive was my only goal until the next injection could give me a little relief from the nightmare of pain.
I had no sense of time. Nurses would come and go and I had little of nothing to say as they checked my vital signs. The doctor would come and go and check that the baby and I were still alive. I just stayed quiet with my eyes open and worked on staying alive.
I told my body that there was no pain because the pain all belonged to the ceiling and that is all the strength that I had in me. 'You have to wait just a little longer.' I kept telling myself. But in fact the pain had become so powerful and so constant that there were times when I felt like I could not even breathe. I felt that I would go insane. I now found myself having to add one more item to concentrate on. I added the simple act of breathing.
In the back of my mind I began to chant the words the voice had given me, 'Wait, faith, fear not, pray.' In the back of my mind I was beginning to know I was fighting a loosing battle but I could not give up or give in now that I had started the fight. Time passed so very slowly, or so it seemed, until time ran out. Aware that the Doctor had come into the room, I was more than ready for my next injection. I was waiting for the drug to be administered by the doctor yet again when I realized that he was taking far too long. I looked up and immediately noticed that the doctor could not meet my eyes. Something more was wrong and the thought made my stomach tighten with more stress. The doctor explained very simply that he could no longer give me the shots. I had reached the limit. To continue the medication would kill me and the hospital would no longer allow him to administer them to me.
The irony was not lost on me! I was dying and THEY did not want to do anything that might 'prematurely' kill me. They did not want my autopsy report to read 'death by overdose of improperly administered medication.'
The doctor sat on the edge of my bed and gave me the facts. He was not at all happy about giving me the information but he was short, frank and to the point. In his opinion, I had maybe two or three hours to live. At the very most I would not live through the night. Without the injections to ease the pain, he felt that I would soon begin to experience the full impact of the pain. This in and of itself would put my body into shock and that, quite simply, would kill me. There was nothing that he, or the hospital could do now. Nothing! I asked him if a C-section was out of the question. I was grasping at straws. The doctor said surgery was completely out of the question. If they cut into me the shock would kill me. The only thing left for me to do was to -- die!
* * *
I must admit, at this bit of news I could not think of anything to say. What could I say? 'OK, I hear what you are saying but this is not what is going to happen!' I was thinking this but there is no way that I could say it.
So far, what had happened was not exactly what I had expected. Until this point I really did not know what would happen but death was not even close to part of the bargain that I had brought into this. I was supposed to wait and work very hard to stay alive then something would happen to make everything all right. I just expected that the whole shebang would be resolved correctly and for the better. That was me. I was the Great Optimist to the end. My motto up until this point was to do what I was told, work very hard and to make as little fuss as I could. If I did all of that then everything would come out just right. Blah! Blah! Blah!
I was not ready to give up on living yet. I had not yet seen the writing on the wall but I could not tell the doctor that. Even though I was not ready to cry 'Uncle' and lay down and die there was a chink forming in my armor.
The room was very quiet and no one said anything. I felt as it every eye was on me and I was expected to give some brilliant death speech. I needed to break the silence. For sometime, a nurse had been keeping quiet vigil near the side of my bed. I turned to her asking, 'What does it look like outside, how is the weather?' Small talk is always a good icebreaker. I had wondered in the past what the weather would be like on the day I died so the question was not without merit.
I remembered how strange it was when President Kennedy died in 1963. For days after his death the weather turned rainy and gloomy just as if all the people in the world were crying and had filled the sky so the heavens were crying with us. I now was beginning to feel melodramatic. These could not be real I would wake up soon. I remembered thinking on those gloomy days in 1963 that I wanted the day of my death to be sunny and bright and warm if for no other reason than to make the day easier on my family. Now this day could be the one to discover if my wishful thinking had come true so many years later.
I asked the nurse about the weather. She answered sweetly. She said that when she had come in to start her shift it had been raining. ' So, I can't even die on a sunny day!' These were my feeble-minded thoughts. 'How wrong is it that I might die on a rainy day.'
I had never thought about the time of day I might die so that was the next question out of my mouth. I asked for the time. The nurse glancing at her watch, 'It is nine o'clock,' was her answer. I let that roll around in my mind a little. Then I realized that I did not know if it was day or night. 'But is it daytime or nighttime? This was my next thought. I had lost complete track of the days let alone the time.
The room was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop but I had to ask the question. ' Excuse me but can you tell me, is it nine in the morning or is it nine at night?'
For the first time in quite a while I looked away from my ceiling tiles and really looked at the nurse's face. It was then that I became aware that I was crying and that this patient Nightingale had been attempting to dry my tears with a tissue. I looked into the nurse's eyes filled with great sympathy as she softly gave me my answer.
'It is nine o'clock in the evening', she said. Quickly and deliberately the nurse took her eyes off of me but not soon enough. I heard a mournful noise pass from the nurse's lips as she quickly excused herself and in a rush vacated the room in tears. The doctor quickly apologized for the nurse telling me that her reaction was very unprofessional. I turned angry with him for his lack of sympathy.
My heart almost burst in pain for the nurse. I had made this poor professional nurse loose it in front of a patient, me. And this doctor had no compassion for her at all. It was all rules and regulations from him. 'How sad,' I thought. And now my heart was hurting for this doctor whom after all of this time I knew nothing about. Here I had just wanted to have a baby with no muss or fuss. Boy was I messing up this one.
In a flash the doctor was upset that the nurse had lost her professionalism by showing a patient tears and said so. I stopped his criticism by telling him that it was all right. I understood. But then I began to feel anger about this whole situation that had gone so seriously wrong.
I was a healthy woman who was going to die in childbirth in the United States of America. Up until that time I was naïve enough to believe that this kind of death just never happened any more. I continued to cry adding the tears of lost innocence to the growing collection of losses.
The doctor still could not look me in the face. I believed that if he had, his own tears would overwhelm him. He could not allow his tears to be seen by me. He could not look me in the face as he sat on my bed next to me. He did not speak but he did not leave the room either. The two of us were just locked in silence for the longest time.
I began to study this man who I had never really looked at closely until this moment. The doctor looked as tired as I felt. I had selfishly not thought of what this man was being put through. He was loosing a patient in childbirth. He appeared older and smaller than when we had first come together to share this long ordeal. This man of great strength of will was now struggling to get his own emotions under control before trusting himself to speak so I waited.
Finally the doctor under an unsteady façade of control delivered the speech that he had prepared. 'There are a lot of people in the waiting room that want to see you. Some of them have been here for quite a while. It is normally against hospital rules to let anyone other than the husband into the labor room but I am going to let all of your family and friends into your room so that they can be with you.'
The doctor did not say that he was bringing my family and friends into my room to watch me die but that is the lightning bolt that struck fear into my heart. I did not want anyone to see me in this kind of pain and suffering. I never liked anyone to see me cry let alone to sit and to watch me die. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I got goose-bumps all over my body. I felt the panic raising into my chest like a living thing.
I could not survive seeing others suffer because of me. ' NO!' I shouted, 'I do not want anyone coming into my room now!' The thought of all those people that I loved crying or trying not to cry while watching me try to control my crying would do more than just kill me. It would give me the worst pain and suffering of all.
I had tried all my life not to bring pain to other people and now, the thought of bringing so much agony was more than I could bear. I was not courageous enough to do that.
I had to face up to the fact that up to this point I had not thought of anyone else except myself. I had heard some whispered voice say 'wait' and I had gone down the road on my own crusade without even a word to them about what I was trying to do or why. I thought about that now and the pain forming in the middle of my chest was threatening to smother me. I had to swallow it down and get it under control so that I could think of what to do next and so I could see this event to its end.
I could not do it if I was surround by well meaning but suffering family and friends. Live or die for whatever the reason I knew I had to keep fighting this battle alone. One way or another the fight would be over soon. I had confidence in that.
I did not even try explaining this to the doctor. I just said that I did not want anyone in my room 'watching me die'. Thankfully I was able to sound forceful enough that the doctor did not argue with me. He just wanted to know what it was that I wanted him to do now.
'I want you to get all of this stuff off of me!' I said, looking at the mask, needles and devices hanging over and plugged into my body. After a long quiet stare he gave a slight nod and set about making me comfortable. The doctor removed all the technology from my body and helped me to settle more comfortable in the bed. It made me feel free again.
When the doctor had finished making me feel and look close to human again, he sat back down in the chair next to my bed, folded his hands and bowed his head as if in prayer. I waited for him to speak and then it dawned on me what he was doing but I needed to hear it from his lips so I asked him. His reply was simple. He was going to stay with me every minute until I was dead. End of story.
While that was a nice thought, it apparently wasn't part of the plan, because it enraged me. I began a lengthy speech that came from a part of myself that had been hidden for a long time. 'Tom,' I said, 'You're a good man but you're just that, a man! You are not God! You've done everything that you could for me and it is out of your hands now. I want you to go home and be with your family. Forget you ever met me. My life is in God's hands now. Please! -- Go home!'
The doctor did not move. He just looked at me as if I was a two-headed frog he had just discovered in a patient's bed. He looked like he was going to speak then thinking better of whatever he had in mind he just bowed his head again and remained silent.
I began a second tirade, 'Listen Tom, didn't you hear me? Go home! I want you to leave now. There is nothing more that you can do for me so go home.' I continued talking using more words that I delivered louder and faster. I was trying to persuade him to leave and I did not feel like I was going to have any luck. It was important that I was alone. I was not sure why I needed to be alone but in my heart being alone became my new battleground.
The doctor trying to regain some control of the situation said to me, 'I am going to stay with you! I am not going to let a patient die alone!' The words came out slowly from his shaking lips. I could see that he was frustrated and very angry with me. This was a hard experience for him to go through and I understood that. But I must have been meant to be alone because my stubbornness was strong and there was no turning back. I desperately felt the need to be totally alone.
Without letting my desperation show but showing how determined I was I simply said, 'I will not be alone Tom, I promise.' Hearing those words come from my own lips surprised me. This man was telling me the truth, I was going to die but should I believe him? Did I misinterpreted, or misunderstood something along the way? My own tears threatened to drown me. For the first time I understood that I was not going to be alone because I was going to be with God. I was going to die.
I now knew that I did need to talk to God. I would not go 'gently into the night.' I had a lot to say to God, words like 'unfair and trick.' These were things that I needed to say in private before I would except this death sentence.
'I want you to go home Tom. I want you to go now. And when you leave shut off the lights and close the door. I need time to prepare.' This is what I told the doctor in the strangest, strongest most determined voice that I could muster up through my tears. I hated my tears. To me they were a weakness and one that was completely opposed to what I was trying to do.
I was saying things I did not completely understanding. I just knew that those words were meant to convey that I wanted to be alone. It was obvious that the doctor didn't want to leave. He wanted to stay with me, or pray with me or do whatever I asked him to just so long as I let him stay. For some reason he was filled with a guilt that he never should have felt necessary to carry. Somehow I was able to convince the doctor to leave but not without a fight.
He made it clear that he would be right outside my door in the event that I changed my mind and wanted my family with me, (or anything else for that matter). I just kept telling him over and over to go home.
Before the doctor would leave he quietly removed the nurse's call button from its holder on the wall and placed it in the palm of my hand. He formed my fingers around it. 'Now you listen to me, all you need to do is push this button and I will be right back in here, okay? Well okay then! I'll be right outside this door. Remember if you need or want anything I will be here. Just push the call button.' The doctor repeated over and over again as he slowly and reluctantly made his way to the door.
Seeing that I was close to getting my wish of being left alone, I gratefully promised that 'I will do as you say,' I said. 'I will push the call button if I want or need anything, promise. Now please leave and turn out the lights. And don't forget to close the door behind you.' At long last, the room's overhead lights were turned out, and the door was slowly closed behind the troubled doctor. I was alone.
As the door closed the room was plunged into total darkness. The darkness was a shock at first. I could feel fear and panic flow over me like a living fog. Stop! I said, attempting to reason with myself. I had never been afraid of the dark before. In fact I had always found the darkness to be comforting and cool. The dark had been a peaceful friend to me. I had no intention of letting my mind turn the darkness into a fearful place for me now.
I slowly and methodically looked around the room that I had burned into my memory when the lights were on and I saw nothing but complete and total blackness. I glanced towards the closed door that led out into the hallway and found not even a small strip of light bleeding from under it until my eyes became completely adjusted.
I lifted my hand and held it right in front of my eyes and finally perceived the humor in the phrase; 'It was so dark you couldn't see your hand in front of your face.' My humor returned. I had no memory of ever being in such total darkness before. 'How funny that my last discovery before I died is my introduction of total darkness.' I thought.
As I calmed myself I turned my thoughts to dying. I could find no humor in that. The doctor had to be wrong. I was not dying. It was all a big mistake. Yet here I was. I tried to remember just how this had all started. Now what was it that the voice had said? It said' wait,' and something else. I had to remember and I had to hear it again so I would know what to do. There must be something I could still do even lying in this hospital bed?
'Pray', came the voice shouting in my head. My question was answered.
* * *
I never did feel that I was any good at praying. If the words did not sound like they had jumped off the pages of the King James Version of the Bible they just never seemed good enough to me. Even so, I was willing to make a stab at it. I began to pray.
'Dear Lord I pray to you; I am dying. I do not want to die. Come to me and heal me. I pray.' I prayed out loud and I heard my voice echo off the walls. The sound at first embarrassed me but then it gave me comfort. If I could open my mouth and hear sound come out them I was still alive. I needed to make noise because I wanted to concentrate on the sounds so that I could put my pain into them now instead of the ceiling.
Letting out a long, slow sigh of disappointment, I remember thinking, 'this is not going to work, I sound so stupid.' I felt uncomfortable with this kind of praying and it was simply not me. I decided to shelve the praying for the time being.
I began to sing. I sang up to those proverbial acoustical ceiling tiles that I had filled with so much pain. They were not visible in the dark but I knew they were still there waiting for me to fill them up now with sounds that were filled with pain. So I sang.
I had replaced my meditation and concentration on moving my pain into every sound. I then filled every hole in every shadow of the room. The words and notes of the songs then went up to the ceiling and out through the roof and up to the sky and to God's ears. I had to move the pain away from my exhausted, tormented body so I now sent it to God.
I had not spent a lot of Sundays at church in my life but I had learned a few songs (or at least that is what I thought). 'Jesus loves the little children of the world.' I sang.
It soon became evident that while I could start quite a few Sunday school songs, I was having real trouble remembering all the words, not to mention remembering the melody.
Concentrating on the songs was not relieving any of my pain. Singing was not helping! As the pain increased, my ability to remember anything beyond breathing in and out decreased. ' Keep breathing! Keep breathing! If you are still breathing, you are still alive,' I reminded myself.
I had graduated from Sunday school songs to Christmas songs yet my task wasn't coming any easier. Not being able to remember the simplest words of Christmas songs I had grown up with upset me and my crying was not helping me breath any easier. 'Lord, you know what is in my heart and mind even though I cannot say it. Please Lord, hear my prayer!' I spoke to the dark room.
It was more than obvious to me that I was dying now and some great white knight was not going to come into this dismal room and save me. Admitting the truth to myself was crushing. I was dying. I was having trouble breathing, thinking, speaking, remembering or even raising my hand to wipe the tears from my face.
The pain had become so great that it rolled in waves across the whole of my body, from my head to my feet. Each wave threatening to take me out of this life and deliver me into the hands of death, but I fought on, still hoping for some kind of miracle. A miracle that I though that we had been promised.
Through a fog of pain I became aware that I had stopped my singing completely. Still feeling that there was still something left for me to do I searched my mind in an effort to remember any bible verses that I had learned in Vacation Bible Camp. I began to recite Bible verses audibly into the silent darkness, but pain would not let me remember. Try as I did I just could not remember anything beyond a line or two.
I was forced to come face to face with a certainty. I could no longer live with the pain. Death was better than this suffering. Dying was no longer something to be feared. I now feared the pain more than death. I had fought off death for as long as I could; now I was almost ready to accept it. I was ready to pray.
'Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven …'
My mind went blank. The pain would not even let me say one last Lord's Prayer. I tried again, and again. For just a moment, the space of a heartbeat, the frustration and anger washing over me was so great that it even outweighed the horrible pain.
'How could you let this happen? I screamed at God. 'I am too young to die! My baby has not even been born yet! Why can't you let us live? What have we done wrong? Why are you doing this to me? Am I being punished for something?' I cried out into the empty room in a fiery of anger.
In desperation I tried to calm myself so that I could think long enough to make deals with God.
'God! You could let the baby live and take me! How about that, will that work? God! You could let me live and I would have more babies. I could spend my life doing service to you. Would that work? No, you can't make deals with God silly! I learned that in some Sunday school class somewhere haven't I? Is that right God, you don't make deals?' I pleaded to the empty room.
'God does what He does for whatever reasons. He and only He can know. It's not up to me to question what God does.' I kept talking in an attempt to convince myself and to loose my disappointment and anger.
Then, as some form of consolation or booby prize, I suddenly understood that peaceful voice whispering to me at the beginning of this long ordeal. It had said, 'You will die, but do not be afraid! Wait, have faith, fear not, pray -- die.'
Now I was hearing it all clearly. If I had heard it distinctly the first time things sure would have progressed differently. I theorized that they would have.
'Death is what this is all about?' I angrily spoke to the empty room. ' Is this my time to die whether I like it or not, God? All right, fine then I'll die! I tried to calm myself.
'Dear Lord, you know that I have always belonged to you, so I am, with great reluctance and sorrow, giving my soul back to you.' I began my final prayer with anger and grief. 'My soul belongs to you Lord. You can take it back now. I am sorry I have not been the best daughter that I should have been.' I cried. Dear Lord, I am also giving you my baby. I am ready, so do it quickly and stop this pain!'
I made myself as comfortable as I could on the hospital bed. I tried to stop my crying and I cleared my mind. When I felt that my body and mind were as quiet as they could be under the circumstances I began to concentrate on the pain. I let one hundred percent of the pain envelope me. I clenched my teeth and let the pain take everything that was left of me. I envisioned all the pain that I had forced into the ceiling tiles, into the sky and onto God raining back down into me. I fought to silence any scream that threatened to escape my lips.
Then, very quickly it was over. I died.
* * *
In an instant I was transported to a tunnel or hallway filled with pure, beautiful blue/white light. The light was so bright it should have hurt my eyes, but it did not.
I looked down at my body to discover that I was dressed in a long white robe. I was standing, staring at my bare feet searching my mind to see if I could remember how I had gotten from laying on my back in a hospital bed to standing in this new and beautiful place. I laughed at the sight of my bare feet.
I was not afraid. I was filled with joy and wonder. I had total recall of everything that had gone on before I had entered this place of light. I knew that this was definitely the first minute of a new and glorious day. I was laughing not crying.
I started doing a mental checklist. ' Am I pregnant'? I looked down at myself. 'No', I checked that off. 'Do I feel any fear, pain, grief, frustration, confusion, and anger? NO!' Check and check.
So what was I feeling? I was happy, warm, relaxed, confident, loved, cared for and extremely curious and expectant. I was happy just to stand where I had so genteelly and carefully been placed just soaking in the warmth and comfort that this light was providing. I had no pain and I loved this place. I was loved. Something wonderful was happening and more was to come. I could feel it.
My curiosity kicked into over drive. 'Am I alive, or dead? What is this place, heaven?' I kept asking myself questions and getting no answers. I wracked my brain, trying to remember any Sunday school lessons that I had learned as a child that had ever touched on the subject of death or of heaven. The thought of this marvelous place being Hell never ever crossed my mind and I had never done any study on purgatory so I really at this point was not sure what it was supposed to be.
'Let me see now, Pearly gates? Nope!' I thought as I began another checklist. I looked as far as I could through the light and I did not see anything remotely resembling the outline or shadow of any gates. 'Angels?' I thought. 'No, none of those either'.
I could not see anything but light from where I was standing. All that I knew, as fact up to this point was that I was being cared for, caressed and surrounded by this awesome, radiant light. I did not feel lonely or tired. I felt love and protected. I was comfortable and serene. I felt alive really alive but I remembered just seconds ago gritting my teeth against the pain knowing that I was going to die. I had prayed that death would take pity on me and finish its task quickly.
I remembered everything that had gone on before so I was convinced. 'I am dead,' I thought to myself. And this is not so bad. In fact I thought it was pretty good.
Now the only mystery was, what was going to happen next? I was ready, willing and able to find out.
I remembered hearing stories that said when you die family members, who have died before you, would all come to greet you. Would they come and walk me to heaven? I did not know. So, I just waited.
I waited for someone to meet me and show me the way to heaven. 'Who will it be?' I thought. I could not remember a single-family member that had died that I would recognize and who would recognize me. 'So, who will come for me?' I continued to ponder.
'An angel perhaps?' I considered the possibility that without a family member to guide me to heaven an angel would. My questions began. 'Would the angel be male or female? Would it have wings? Would the angel come flying in? Would the angel call my name?' So many question and so few answers. The thought of seeing an angel excited me. This place excited and energized me. But no angel came.
I was ready to go on to the next step. Whatever that step was. My mind kept racing, asking myself questions then trying to answer them. What Religious theology will be revealed as truth in heaven? What Sunday school stories should I remember? Should I stand here and continue to wait for directions or should I strike out on my own and see what happens? I had a lot more questions but still no answers. The fact that I had so many questions amused me and made me smile. I was like an exuberant child getting ready to go on her first trip to the candy shop and raring to go.
I waited. I quieted my thoughts and just spent time listening to the quiet. There was absolutely no sound. I was enveloped by incredible silence. I realized then that never in my life had I lived without any sound. In this place the silence was absolute.
While I was alive, even in the quietest place that I could find, there were sounds. There was the sound of my own breathing and the beating of my heart. There were little ringing sounds inside my own ears or the rumblings of my digestive system that gave the quietest of places noise. But in this place there was nothing except peaceful silence. I loved it!
Just as there was no sound in this place of light there was no movement. From where I stood the tunnel looked endless. I could see no doors, windows, ceiling, or fixtures of any kind. There were no shadows or movement that came to my attention. But this place did not feel empty by any means. The place was full of life so I decided to stop playing the ' $64,000 question' game with myself and set out on this new adventure and find some answers. I had always questioned everything in life so why should death be any different? Right? I did not know what to expect but I was not afraid to find out.
I decided to begin my search by walking straight across towards the center of the tunnel so I could get a better idea of how big and long the tunnel really was. I kept my eyes open and my ears listening as I happily walked towards the center of the tunnel calling out, 'Hello, is anyone there?' At any moment I expected for someone to come and introduce themselves. Saint Peter, perhaps?
I walked for a while until I felt that I should be near the middle of this tunnel. Of course there was no way for me to know for sure but I was satisfied. I stopped, turned and began looking down the length of the tunnel to see if anything stood out against the brilliant light. Nothing yet, so I decided to just walk down the center to see what I could see.
Before my foot could finish its first footfall I was levitated into the air. I felt as if I had a gigantic rubber band circling my waist and with that one forward stretching motion of my foot I had reached the end of the elastic tether. I was picked up off of my feet and so quickly pulled in a backward motion that I was folded in half and my fingers could almost touch my toes. I could feel myself being whisked backwards at great speed.
I had no time at all to question where I was going or why when I found that I had returned to the hospital and been delivered to the labor room hanging horizontal and weightlessly over my own body.
I closed my eyes as my body began a back and forth floating motion like that of a feather gently settling down to earth. At first I had no feeling of being placed back into my body at all but slowly all sensations returned. First I felt my hands then my feet then the entire weight of my flesh and bones resting back onto the hospital bed. I did not know how long I had been away from my body. I knew that it could not have been for very long but in that time I had lost the sense of weight and bulk. My body now felt extremely heavy and uncomfortable. I could hear myself breathing and feel my lungs expand in my chest. I could hear noise entering the room from the hallway, from under the closed door.
I had returned to my body. And the noisy world assaulted my ears. I was not all that thrilled about it and I started my question game again. 'Am I alive? Am I back in the hospital?' I could feel my body but I was not in any pain. So the big number one question was, 'What in the heck have I just experienced'? I thought.
Through closed eyes I could see light, bright light. Answer number one.
'I am alive! I must have just fallen asleep. I was dreaming'. I laughed inwardly at myself.
'The doctor must have come back into the room and turned on the lights. When he turned on the lights it woke me up from my wonderful dream. I really needed that sleep. I feel a thousand times better! The doctor must be back in the room checking up on me to see if I am dead yet.' I thought with a smiled.
I waited. I listened for the doctor. I felt for the touch of his hands. I checked to see if my fear of this reality or of death had returned. Absolutely nothing yet. The joy and peace that I had experienced in the dream were still lingering even now that I had been wide-awake for minutes.
I felt for the exhaustion and I searched for any pain and I found none so I opened my eyes so that I could see and speak to the doctor.
I looked up at the ceiling that I had spent hours memorizing and filling the little holes in the acoustical tiles with pain and discovered that the lights were not on. It surprised me. I was not supposed to live to see a new day but I had. 'It must be morning,' I thought
The room was completely aglow in a pleasant white light. I told myself that it must be a new morning and the bright sun was causing the light to pour through the room's windows. 'What a pleasant way to wake up and start a new day,' I thought.
Adrenaline rushed though my veins, as the realization came to me that it could not possible be morning sun light brightening my room. I sat straight up in bed.
I took notice of the facts. 'I am fully awake. I am not dreaming. I am still pregnant.' I looked to see if the door to my room was still shut. It was. I was still in the hospital in a labor room located in the center of the fifth floor. There were no windows in the room for the sun to shine through. No, not even one.
The lights were not on but I could count every tiny hole and defect on the floor, walls and ceiling. I slowly surveyed the entire room. Everything was there. The sink, cabinets, the metal pole that held my bag of liquid 'meat and potatoes' atop dangling clear tubs that had once been attached to my arm. I now noticed the pain in my hand and arm where the needles had stayed for far too long. I examined my swollen hand. I could see everything perfectly in this bright, white glow.
The only difference in the room was that it was no longer a cold, unfriendly, and frightening space. The brilliant white light that filled the room had brought with it this transformation. This was the same white light from my dream. The light filled the room so bright that it should have hurt my eyes but did not and -- I was not alone.
* * *
'YOU CANNOT GIVE HIM TO ME FOR HE IS ALREADY MINE!' I heard and felt the booming voice. The words vibrated through my head and my ears. The noise rattled my teeth. The words jolted my body up to sitting even straighter in bed. I had no doubt, no doubt at all about whom I was, where I was and that I was wide-awake and alive. I was giving this disembodied voice my complete attention. The voice was emanating from the brilliant light that filled my room and covered my bed.
Before I could open my mouth and ask the most obvious questions the impact and complete meaning of those booming words began to flood my brain faster than I could comprehend all of their meanings. I was the computer and I was enjoying a complete new download.
Questions that I had not yet formed into my thoughts were being answered freely without me having to ask. I was not going to die. (At least not this day.) My baby was a boy and he was not only not going to die he would not be born brain damaged. This baby that I still carried within my body was going to be born alive, whole and healthy. The baby would be delivered by C-section.
I had heard the message correctly, I was to 'wait, have faith, fear not, pray and to die.' I had done most of that. I had done it begrudgingly of course but that didn't count. It was an incredible message.
I liked what I was hearing and was ready to hear more and the tears of joy flowed freely down my face. I did not even try to stop them. I drank in all the information that I could hold and the information continued.
God gives children to us but they never belong to us. They belong to God. We have been given the privilege to raise, teach and love them for only a short time, and then we must let them experience the world. We must give our children into God's hands whether their lives exist in this world for just one short breath or for as long as a hundred years.
Each life comes into this world with a purpose, a plan, and a reason to be born. We may never know completely what the plan for our lives is but God knows.
Angels are sent to each and every person born on this planet to deliver the message that God is with us. Angels speak to us and try to help us complete our purpose in this life. We need to learn to listen and to be able to do that we need to find silence within ourselves.
Death, even the meanest most cruel and horrendous path we take prior to the moment of death has purpose. The death of one can save many. (This has many multiple meanings that I was shown.) Death of any kind is not a punishment. Death is never a punishment. Death is a shutting of the eyes and walking over into life again. Death is going home to the beginning. Death IS the beginning not the end. God does not cause our deaths, we accept death. We excepted it a long, long time ago when we were first created as Spiritual beings. God acknowledges that we have chosen to leave this life. It is rare when God does not allow us to die at the time of our choosing. We have the gift (or the curse) of freewill and that does not change when we make the decision to die. It is our job to stay alive as long as we can. I understood that on a spiritual level and I had fought for that life.
I was ecstatic. My miracle had come and more, much more. So many of my questions were being answered and I was getting answers to question I had not even thought of yet. But I still wanted more. I felt the presence of beings standing around my bed close enough to touch. I had so many questions. I could not see a face or figure just the exquisite light and the voices became crystal clear.
Another voice began to distinguish itself. The voice was very familiar. I had been hearing that voice all of my life. The voice I heard had I thought the same sound as my own. As I heard the words I was filled with vivid past memories. Was my past life passing before my eyes like cartoons I had seen? It was remarkably close. I could see, smell, hear and experience the past but completely as an observer, without fear.
One example of what I re-experienced happened when I was a child except this time I could see the angel standing behind me with its hand resting on my right shoulder. The angel, my angel, was softly speaking to me.
'Do you see the little blond girl over there across the play ground?' The voice whispered.
'Yes, I see her,' I answered in my mind. 'I have never seen her at school before. She must be new here.' I believed that I was speaking back to my own thoughts, my own voice. ' She looks funny'. I remembered wondering if she was sick. She had black circles under her eyes.
The angel continued, speaking to my mind sounding like my own voice. 'Why don't you go and talk to her? She looks so afraid and lonely, doesn't she?'
'Talk to her, why? She is not in my class. I am afraid. I don't like taking to people I don't know. I don't know what to say.' I continued what I thought was a conversation with myself. Children can be fearful and cruel and I was no different. But the angel persisted.
'Just walk up to her, stick out your hand and say hello. Tell her your name. Ask her for her name. It will not hurt you. She needs a smile. Have no fear, she will not hurt you.' The angel spoke gently then gave me a little push in the girl's direction.
I listened and I moved slowly but finally made it across the schoolyard to the blond girl. I put out my hand and with great embarrassment I introduced myself. We talked for just a short time during recess and she told me how she had been out of school for a long time because she had had polio. Just like the angel had said, she had been feeling alone and frightened and I could see in her eyes that just standing and jabbering with me was giving her strength and calming her fears. Seeing that she was just as afraid of unfamiliar situations as I was made me feel more comfortable and less awkward. It also made me feel brave and important.
As I walked into my classroom and she into hers I remember puffing myself up and patting myself on the back for overcoming my fear this time and talking myself into doing something I would normally not do. It had felt good and I hoped that in the future I could overcome my fears again. I had given myself all the credit. What a joke I was.
Standing with this new perspective I saw that the angel had had a hand on me all the time I was having this encounter. The angel was helping me feel brave and helping me feel an inner strength. I was meant to learn a lesson and to grow in love towards others.
I was then shown other times when I had been prompted by the presence of celestial spirits to speak to or help someone in small ways but I had ignored the gentle, soft voice and touch on those occasions. Such simple things, I was told, can make a moment, a day or a lifetime of change for the one refusing to act and the one that was to receive the action. So often in this life we refuse to give of ourselves even the smallest amount of time and effort it would take for rewards that would be so great. I could feel my face blush with shame. I could remember those many times that I had refused to listen, move and act. All of the precious times that fear or busyness had caused me to turn my back to the possibilities of doing a simple act of kindness that would touch someone else's life as well as my own. I had regrets.
I could then see the times I was warned by this gentle being to walk or run away from people who later proved to be evil and could have done extreme harm to me with lasting ill effects. With great sadness, I saw the times when the angel tried repeatedly to guide me back onto the proper path but with great stubbornness I refused and walked freely into harms way. How stubborn humans are. How stubborn and thoughtless I was.
I saw all of these things and more in an instant. The angel was with me when I was hurt, sad, lonely, and confused. The angel was with me when I was good or bad. Whether I chose to listen or ignored the angel, he remained always right behind me. I saw all of these things and more. The angel stayed with me no matter if I listened or not. The angel loved me. The love of the angel was only a pale reflection to the love of the One that had sent the angel to me, the love of God.
How different my life could have been if I would have listened when the angel was there trying to guide me and I told the angel just that. 'Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't I know?'
'You did know,' came the answer. I knew the answer before it was even given. My spirit knew, it had always known. It knew that throughout my entire life this presence had been with me. I now acknowledged the truth to the lights and to myself. It was so important that I understand and accepted the truth.
This being of light that had brought me to understanding and acceptance that he was God's messenger and my messenger to God that I called my Guardian Angel. He had always been with me. He had always been loving, helping and mentoring. I had never accepted what I had sensed. He revealed to me those times when as a child I more than sensed his presence. As a child I knew! When and how and more importantly 'why' did I loose that ability?
Before I could ask my thousand questions I heard another voice. This voice sounded the same, yet somehow I sensed a difference. I knew without asking that this was also the voice of an Angel, a messenger from God.
Instead of taking me to the past, this angel showed me the future. It took a while for me to comprehend just exactly what it was that I was being shown. Everything was on fast forward and I was watching myself of the future. It was too fast for me to comprehend completely until much later in my life as events that I saw finally did occur.
At the time I did not feel what this other woman, the future me, was feeling but I could sense that she was struggling and had fear. I was told just to observe and to remember.
I felt pretty smug at first. I thought I understood the fundamental facts of what I was being shown. So life is not easy and at times it can be a downright drag.
I felt that today's events had changed all of that for me now because I had heard the voice of God. I was in the presence of angels. I could not see how anything that the world could throw at me after this day could ever get me down. Why would I ever have a reason to feel fear or disappointment or sadness again? I would discover that those thoughts were intensely wrong as well.
Such pride and arrogance I have! What a young fool I was. I am a member of the human race that is filled with arrogance and ego. In the Bible, the Isr'lites were freed from bondage out of Egypt. God opened the Red Sea so that they could escape. And what did the Isr'lites do? They made a golden calf to worship when Moses left them alone for a few days.
The Isr'lites feared that they would starve in the wilderness and cried out to God almost everyday. God gave them manna in the wilderness. They then tired of manna and complained about that. 'Woe is me. Poor little me. 'What! Manna again!'
Nothing has changed. It would take me sometime to realize that I was no different than the Isr'lites of old. You gave me a miracle once Lord but what have you done for me lately! This is a large pit that all humans fall into and I am no different. It is important that we work everyday to avoid this pit. It is even more important that we are not the one doing the digging. The world is good enough at digging pits for us to fall into. We do not need to help the world along the way. The old saying is 'When you are in a hole learn to stop digging.' I never understood that until now.
I arrogantly announced to the lights that I would not fall into the traps that the world would set up for me in the future. I would not dig my own holes. I told them that I could never be anything but happy and that I would never loose faith again. Then I was shown myself crying sometime in the future.
I could see myself sitting alone on a wooden bench in what looked like a church crying uncontrollably as if my best friend had just died. I could hear my own thoughts. I was angry with God. I was shouting at God! 'You did this!' I shouted. 'I will not listen to you! I will not do what you want! You gave me free will now let me use it. I have a right to do what I want and you are not supposed to stop me or to interfere.' I cried out in my thoughts.
I was in shock seeing myself in the future showing such anger and disobedience towards God. This could not be me. I could never, after my day of miracles, do anything like that no matter what had happened or who had died. This could not be me. I am sure the angels were amused.
I continued to scream at God then a voice just like the one I was hearing gently told me that the path I was asking to choose would be littered with pain and suffering. That made me cry even more and show more anger.
'How do you think I am feeling now? What I want to do could not cause me any more pain or suffering than I am in right now. Let me go,' in my mind I spoke to the voice.
No more voices spoke to me and that seemed to make me even madder than I already was. But I could sense that I could feel something. 'Alright, alright you want me to go that way well then I will but there is a price to pay. After today I will never step foot in this church again!' With these angry words and more my futures self's crying was so loud and fierce I heard no more conversation. But I could feel the total sense of hopelessness, helplessness, stubbornness and resolve. Boy, is that a killer combination?
Then I saw an angel standing behind my future angry self with his hand on my right shoulder. Then another angel appeared with his hand on my left shoulder. Then one by one angels appeared sitting, kneeling, and standing all around me. They were not there to criticize, scold, or to punish. They were there to give me strength, comfort and guidance. The angels were there to show me God's love. They were there to bring me God's comfort, understanding and love.
What a surprise it was for me to be shown that angels and God take such a big role in our lives. How could I ever be afraid, sad, or lonely? How could I ever say no to anything that God asked of me again? How could I ever lose faith? How could I ever sin? But the angels had shown me that I could do and feel these things and that I would do all of those things. But God and His angels would be there with me always to help.
I could feel the love, understanding and merriment that the angels were feeling as I babbled on about how I could never be that person and that I would change. I began to spend more time defending myself than I was listening.
After experiencing all of the miracles of this day, I would still find my future playing out just as I had seen. And as it progressed I would know fear, sadness, and lack of faith just as they had predicted. I would sin and more. The angels knew this but it took me years to fully understand everything that they had showed me and wanted me to understand. They knew all of the time that I would not turn into the perfect saint. They loved me just the way I was. God loves me always not just when I am obedient and perfect. What a wonderful feeling that is. I just have to remind myself that He is here and learn to stop talking long enough to listen for His voice.
I felt that I had just been through the Christmas play of Scrooge. I had seen some of the past and I had seen some of the future so what was next?
I had thousands of questions but before I could even ask one the second voice finished talking and the male voice emanating from the light began to speak again. This voice did not sound like the angels. This was the sound of the first voice that had brought me to attention. This was the voice that had told me that my baby belonged to Him. The voice no longer rattled my teeth. This voice was full of love, kindness and understanding. I was ready to listen. 'I have given you a name from your birth. When you hear this name spoken, you will know that I am with you.' I had no idea what He was talking about at the time but I listened.
He spoke this special name, not unusual by any means, but when I heard it the name flowed straight into my heart like a living thing. Love and joy filled me. I had never experienced anything before or since that was so fulfilling or powerful. Tears continued to flow out of my eyes and threaten to consume me. I kept my eyes and my ears open so that I could hear each and every word that His voice was saying to me. His voice alone was mighty powerful.
I knew what was being said was extremely important. As He spoke, it was not just His words that I heard; I received impressions and understanding beyond what I could comprehend at the time. I tried to soak it all in as best I could. I for once in my life was speechless as He spoke to me.
'You have been searching for the truth. There is no sin in the search. Searching is part of your purpose. Search for My face. Search for My truth. You will not find the entire truth on this earth in your lifetimes. Continue to search all the days of your life, never stop questioning. When you become comfortable with a philosophy stay with it for a time. If you later find it to be false them move on. Have no fear. Truths can come from unusual places. Learn all that you can from all things, places, people and events. Listen with your heart, mind and ears. You will know when you find a truth. I will help you. You are my…' (He called me His special name.) He spoke, I listened from the inside because that is where He was touching me and His touch was warm and loving.
Total comprehension was beyond me. I understood less than ten percent of what was being given to me at the time more than thirty years ago. I learn more of its meaning everyday. I will be learning all the days of my life and beyond.
I continued to listen to the voice and focus with all of my senses until the words, visions, and impressions abruptly stopped. I was expecting even more. What I saw was the bright white light that had filled the darkness it was slowly fading. I was extremely disappointed. I wanted this experience, these feelings to continue for my entire lifetime. I did not want the warmth, love, and serenity that enveloped me to leave, ever! I was enjoying such peace. I never wanted that to leave. I wanted the light to surround me for the rest of my life.
'Wait, wait.' I shouted to the light. I was laughing and crying and tears of joy were streaming down my face. 'I have so many questions.'
With cheerful amusement I was directed to pick up the nurse's call button that was no longer in my hand but now lay on the bed at my side.
At first I was confused, I did not want to call anyone into the room. I wanted to stay in the light. I found the call button and picked it up just as the room became dark. 'Don't leave yet, stay.' I pleaded to the light.
Even when the room reverted back to pitch darkness I continued to feel great joy, love and peace. The light was gone but I knew that I was not alone and I would never be alone again. Even though I could not see him I knew that my angel was there and that God loved me no matter what. And the most important thing of all that I had learned was that GOD IS REAL! But the miracle did not stop there.
* * *
It was time for me to press that call button as I had been instructed to do and press it I did. I pressed down on it with my thumb and did not let up. I waited in the total darkness. Then I waited some more. Long minutes passed as I thought about everything that had transpired in this labor room in this hospital bed. I also wondered what was taking everyone so long to respond to the ringing of the call button. How surprised was the doctor or nurse going to be seeing me sitting up in bed, alive and laughing? I wondered.
The door to the labor room came flying open. Standing, silhouetted against the hallway lights was a man. He just stood in the doorway unmoving. I could hear him breathing. I knew it was my doctor. I could feel what he was feeling. He was grieving! The doctor was thinking I was dead and the rigor-mortis stiff hand of a dead woman was activating the nurse's call button. He was reluctant to come into the room. 'Come in, come in!' I gleefully shouted. 'I'm not dead. Come in and see.'
The doctor almost jumped out of his skin at the sound of my voice. He turned on the room lights and I was blinded by their brightness. He rushed into the room and the first thing he did was to pry the nurse's call button from my hand. I was still pressing it.
The doctor began his examination and I just kept up my encouraging words. 'Don't worry. Everything is going to alright now.' The doctor moved his stethoscope to listen to the baby's heart. 'Believe me the baby is alright too. See! See! You can still hear his heart beating. I am alive and he is alive.' I just kept bouncing around. 'See! See! You have to do the C-section now and don't worry about anything. Everything is going to be all right. I promise.' I was crying, laughing, and speaking out all my words in a rush. I must have sounded like a crazy woman. What I was, was an extremely happy woman.
The doctor kept looking into my eyes as I prattled on. He was confused and concerned. The doctor looked up and spoke for the first time since entering the room. 'Are you sure about this, Linda? The C-section will kill you.' He spoke these words slowing to me as if I was retarded or deaf and I needed to read his lips.
He wanted to make sure I understood exactly what he was saying. He was starring into my eyes as he spoke as if he was looking for confirmation that I understood the exact consequences of the actions I wanted him to take. All I knew is that somehow I had to convince this doctor to do the surgery and quickly. The doctor was still looking at me with confusion and concern written all over his face.
'I am sure, absolutely, positively sure, please believe me.' I pleaded. 'Look at me, I am fine and look, look the pain is all gone there are no contractions.' I was now feeling fear that the doctor would not believe me. I had to convince him to do the C-section just like the voices had told me to do. I gathered up my nerve for the next onset of words.
'I am fine, the baby is fine everything is going to be alright but you have to listen to me and do the C-section -- now! Look, look at me, look at me! I am great and I want you to do the C-section. Please believe me. Everything is going to be okay, I promise.' I had raised my voice a few decibels with each word I spoke in an attempt to persuade. I was now shouting and I was ready to get out of bed and march around the room if that was what was needed to convince the doctor of what I was saying.
I could see the thinking process going on in the doctor's brain by the expression on this face. He was weighing the pros and the cons of doing this surgery and thinking about the words spoken by a laughing, crying, dying patient. He must have thought me demented but I knew when the doctor had made his decision because the expression in his eyes changed radically.
The doctor, having made a decision, just nodded his head in the affirmative then went rushing out of the room and into the hallway. I could hear him shouting as he went about calling people and giving instructions. The operation was a go!
The next thing I knew people came pouring into my hospital room. They were strangers to me. They began to stick needles back into my hand and arm. It all hurt but that was alright by me. I had little pains, but with that I really knew that I was alive.
I knew that I had somehow convinced the doctor that the operation was necessary and that it was important to start now. I had convinced the doctor that I was not going to die. I could relax and breathe a sigh of relief.
I was convinced that even with the C-section to come the greatest pain was behind me. The small pain of the surgery was going to be of little concern to me. I had no anxiety.
The oxygen mask went back over my face. I did not hyperventilate this time. I was completely naked on the bed with people all round me each doing what was necessary to prepare me for what they thought was emergency surgery. I did not have a care in the world. I was content.
I was shaved almost from my chin to my knees. A young man with great concentration was between my thighs and knees trying with little luck to catheterize me. He kept warning me that this was going to cause a great deal of pain. I laughed. I knew what pain was and what he was doing was nothing in comparison. The young man looked at me like I was demented which made me laugh even more.
Everyone who came into my room looked so young to me. I had suffered monumental pain. I had died then returned to life. I had communicated with heavenly beings. I felt that I was a hundred years older than anyone in the room was. I was changed.
A young man in a perfectly pressed three-piece suit entered the room and was showing signs of confusion. He looked like he had been woken from a sound sleep then pushed out of the door before he was quite ready. His messed up hair and sleepy eyes were in complete contrasted to his neat attire. 'I need for you and your husband to sign this document. You do understand that neither your doctor nor this hospital is recommending this surgery. This hospital has advised you that this surgery can lead to your death and or the death of your…' The young man continued in his monotone fashion.
'Yes, yes I have been advised, thank you, thank you. Now, where do I sign?' I smiled.
The papers, fastened on a neat and organized clipboard were given over to me just as my husband was ushered into the room. Rich was so tired, so sad, so young, looked at the total confusion of the room. He looked frightened and confused. I called him to my side and tried to assure him with a smile. 'Everything is alright now. Sign the papers. They are going to do a C- section. Trust me.' I handed over the papers. Rich was unsure but he signed the papers because I asked him too. He also looked at me with questioning eyes. He was afraid and confused as he watched the activity swirl around the room.
This was the second set of papers that we had signed. The first sets of papers were obsolete because a new day had arrived since we had signed the last set. The new papers were advising us that I did not have a good chance of living through this operation. I was not worried.
'Don't worry. Everything is going to be alright now,' I told everyone in the room. I wanted to reassure everyone including Rich. I had no words of explanation to Rich about the events of the past night before my doctor reentered the room.
The doctor was noticeably upset to see that all the preparation for surgery had not yet been completed. The young doctor that had tried several times to catheterize me had failed. My doctor moved in to complete the procedure. He smiled up at me and prepared me. 'Linda, this is really going to hurt. I am sorry.' Again I just smiled.
'They know so little about pain,' I thought. I felt very little of what I now considered pain during the procedure.
With all the preparations complete the doctor positioned everyone, including Rich, around my bed to begin the procession of pushing me, along with all of the equipment, out the door and towards the operating room. The doctor asked Rich to help move me to the operating room and I was glad of it.
It was at this moment, looking into the worried eyes of my husband, that I remembered the rest of my family. They had been in the waiting room for more than two days now. I wanted to assure them that I was just fine and that everything was going to be okay. I told the doctor that I wanted to take him up on his offer now to let my family and friends into the labor room. The doctor was not amused; in fact he was irritated at my suggestion. The doctor was surer than ever that I had lost a few marbles during the night.
The doctor was in a panic mode to get me into surgery and I was suggesting that I wanted to socialize first. I could understand his frustration but he quickly changed gears to please the patient. He had learned that I could be very stubborn.
The decision was quickly made to not bring family and friends into the labor room but to take me on my mobile bed to the door of the waiting room. I had big plans on what I was going to say but when I saw my father's face I lost it. He seemed so small. He was worn-out with worry and the lack of sleep. I felt horrible that I had done this to my parents. I began to cry.
Conclusion: Before I could compose myself enough to speak my father spoke through his flood of tears. He smiled and said; 'Don't you worry now. Everything is going to be alright. You just hang in there. We love you.' He gave me a big smile of encouragement and he put his thumb in the air. 'A thumbs up sign', This was my father's way of telling me to stay tough and he was right there with me hoping for the best.
I could say nothing after that. I cried even more into my oxygen mask. The doctor said that it was time to go so I just put my thumb in the air as a sign of agreement to my father and without a word of encouragement spoken to my father coming from my own lips I was ushered toward the operating room.
I thought that all of the excitement was over. I thought the rest of the night would be boring. I thought my feelings of fear were past. I thought my miracle was over. I thought wrong! The night had just begun.
I was removed off of the bed and leaned over the operating table to expose my naked back. I remained perfectly still as needles were inserted into my back. They said it would hurt but it did not. I felt cold pricks and nothing more.
I was placed on an operating table and they began to wrap me in sheets. I expected everything and everyone to be dressed in white. Again I was wrong. So much for television's reflection of real life. The colors were cheerful blues, greens and purple. This was a wonderful surprise.
I was introduced to a doctor who was going to do the surgery. My doctor would assist. It was not mentioned but I assumed that my doctor was just too tired. I had no problem with this arrangement.
I teased by doctor and told him that I wanted to watch the operation. He began to move what I thought were mirrors suspended from the ceiling and told me 'Not this time little lady. You can watch the operation the next time not now.'
When the operation began I was awake and interested in what was going on around me but I soon tired. I saw a spattering of blood hit the cloth that I guessed was placed in front of my face to keep blood from hitting me. It made me feel a little queasy so I fixed my head to one side as comfortable as I could get it under the circumstances and promptly went to sleep. I woke myself up by the horrible sounds of my own snoring.
My doctors were just making amusing comment between themselves about my snoring. I heard the comments and smiled. Everyone was happy and so was I. I relaxed and felt no pain so I quickly went back to sleep.
I woke the second time not to the sound of my snoring but to the sounds of shouting, sadness and confusion. I heard raised voices, screaming and cursing. I was confused as to what was going on so I kept my eyes closed and just listened.
My tired, long-suffering doctor was doing the screaming. He was the one cursing. 'Hurry up, hurry up! Get that baby out of there!' My doctor's shouting persisted along with his more colorful language. Then he would shout again this time with an added prayer. 'Please God, give us just a little more time, a little more time. She has been through so much. Hurry, hurry, read me the numbers! #&^+##@%**@@. ' My doctor ended his ranting with cursing.
I was confused and concerned. ' What is all the shouting about? Why is my doctor so upset? ' I thought. A male voice standing to the right of me began shouting out numbers just as my doctor had screamed the request. This number reading voice was trying to be heard over the other noises in the operation room. I tried to make some sense of the numbers and the noise and why they were important. It did not take long for the light bulb to go on in my head.
The numbers were my blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate. When I realized what the numbers represented I was shocked at how low they were. ' My blood pressure should be no lower than one hundred and ten over what?' I thought to myself trying to remember what the normal amounts were supposed to be. I had never cared before.
'How many breaths should I be taking and how many times does a heart beat in a minute?' I thought.
As the voice reading the numbers continued to shout, the numbers continued to move lower and lower. As the numbers moved lower the voice of my doctor grew louder and louder. He continued his cursing mixed in with his prayers. 'Please God, give us more time. She has been through so much already. All we ask is just a little more time. God, can't you give us just a little more time? Damn it! Damn it, can't you move any faster!' He prayed, swore and shouted instructions all at the same time.
I wanted to dispel everyone's fears. Everything was going to be just fine. Of course I knew that but I needed to tell all the upset people in the operation room about this too. Regardless of what the numbers were, everything was going to be just fine. I did not want to be the cause of all of the distress and fuss.
I tried to move my head from a side position to center. My head did not respond to my command. 'What is this? No, now Linda, it is not panic time.' I told myself. The numbers just kept getting lower.
I could not feel myself breathing. I needed to take a deep breath and speak to these people. I tried to take in a cleansing breath. I could not pull in a tiny little breath let alone a big deep purifying one. I tried to open my eyes but I could not. I needed someone to look at me. I needed to see someone, anyone. I needed to move, breathe, and talk. I needed to open my eyes. Nothing was happening. I had no control over any part of my body. All I could feel was cold. I was so cold and growing colder. My whole body was like an ice cube. Now it was time to panic and I did just that, as the numbers were reaching zero.
I could hear what I thought was the clanking wheels of a cart being brought over to the side of the operating table. I had seen plenty of doctor television shows. 'Are they bringing a crash cart? Is my heart stopping? Are they going to shock me? They can't do that, can they? They wouldn't shock me while the baby is still inside of me? The baby will be shocked. I can't let them do that, I can't! I was talking myself into a state of panic the more my doctor screamed. Then he began to repeat the word. 'NO, NO, NO, please God NO!'
I panicked. I began to scream inside my head and repeat over and over. 'I am not going to die. I am not going to die. I am not dying. I am not dying! Jesus said I am not going to die. I will not die! I am not dying. I am going to jump off of this table. Let me off of this table. I am not going to die. Somebody come over here and touch me. Come here! I am not dying. Hear me, somebody hear me,' I screamed inside of my head.
I struggled to open my eyes, take a breath, move my body anything that would let the people in the room know that I was still alive and I had no intention of dying.
I do not know how long I struggled and cried to no one but myself. The voice that was shouting numbers was quieter and the numbers were almost all zero's. My doctor's voice sounded full of despair and when it sounded like he had given up the fight that was when I won mine.
My lungs filled with air and I screamed out loud. I rattled the room I screamed so loud. I heard the in rushing of air as people caught their breath and jumped at the sound of my screaming voice. I was hearing my own voice louder than I had ever heard it before but I did not stop screaming because I was screaming for my life!
'I am not going to die! I am not going to die!' I screamed so loud that they should have heard me all over the hospital. 'Someone come over here and touch me. Look at me. I am not dead. I am not dead. I will not die! Jesus said I would not die. Let me see a face. Look at me. LOOK AT ME! I'm telling you I WILL NOT DIE.' I screamed louder and louder tears streaming down my face.
'Keep screaming Linda. Just keep screaming.' Now it was the doctor's turn to scream to me. I was full of fear. I was in a panic. It did not take much prompting to get me to continue screaming. My throat was raw from screaming. I am sure the nerves of everyone in the room were to.
I fought to calm myself down but I desperately wanted to see a human face. I wanted to feel the touch of a human hand. I needed someone near me so that I could feel secure in the fact that I was still alive. I continued to cry. 'Somebody, come here. Let me see you. Touch me, touch me, somebody touch me! See, I am not dead.' I was making a fuss and I was embarrassing myself but I did not care.
My doctor ordered a nurse to move to the head of the operating table so that I could see her face. She was dressed all in blue. She stood to my left, just shoulders and a head taller than the operating table it seemed. She spoke softly to me. I was having difficulty hearing her voice I was crying so hard. She was wearing gloves as she blotted the tears streaming down my face. She continued to speak to me softly. I continued to ask to see her face and for her to touch me. I felt so cold. She was wearing a surgical mask and I wanted to see her face. I wanted human contact skin to skin to reassure me so that I could assure everyone else in the room that I was not dead or dying. I began to cry and make demands as I was nearing panic.
My doctor screamed at the nurse. 'Take off your mask touch her, go ahead, it is alright, go ahead.' The nurse seemed reluctant to follow the doctor's orders but she removed her gloves and the surgical mask hiding her face.
I saw her face and it shocked me into total silence. She was beautiful and to my ice-cold face her hands were like life-giving heat. She looked to me like the angels that I had envisioned as a child. I could see what looked like pale white hair under her blue cap. She had perfect blue eyes, red lips, soft pale skin and a gentle voice to match.
'Everything is alright now. I have you,' she said. She continued to touch my face with her ungloved hands. She kissed me on my cheek with her lips and it removed my fear and panic. She softly whispered reassuring words into my ear and I immediately calmed down. I told her that I was alright now. I told her that everything was going to be just fine and that I was not going to die. She assured me that I was correct. She encouraged me to continue talking to her but then I could not think of a word to say. But she continued to talk to me.
I remembered that the voices had told me how important people are to each other. How right they are. The touch of this woman was priceless to me.
I was ashamed that I had been filled with so much fear. Just a short time ago I had been in the presence of the Lord and angels who told me that the baby and I would live, but yet I had been filled with fear and panic for my life and the life of the baby. How soon I had forgotten. Now my fear and panic completely left me once again.
My doctor excitedly announced that the baby was being delivered. I could feel the weight of the baby leave my body. I could hear the moist sound of the baby's body being moved through the incision in my abdomen.
Dr. Peterson, along with his neonatology team, was taking charge of the newly born baby. I could hear but not understand many of the sounds and voices far to my right. Dr. Peterson, in an irritated voice began to speak. 'You got me out of bed for this! Look at this big beautiful boy!' I could hear the amusement and smile of relief in his voice.
'What?' was my doctor's angry response. I heard his footsteps quickly move away from the operation table. 'My God, will you look at this? Linda, this baby is beautiful. He weights nine pounds six ounces. He has bullets in his butt.'
The operating room filled with little snickers at what the doctor had said. My doctor's voice was filled with laughter, joy and relief. 'He is perfect.' The doctor's voice was hushed and full of unanswered questions. My baby boy was perfect and this was a phenomenal surprise to my doctor. He was holding a perfect, living child in his hands that just yesterday had been sentenced to death.
The doctor became professional again as he announced 'Baby boy Ballasch, born (I could hear the doctors voice change as he moved his head to look at the clock, and or the calendar, on the wall April 6th, 2 AM…'
I heard an unidentified voice interrupt. 'Easter Sunday.'
My doctor's voice was filled with reverence and tears as he repeated, 'Yes, Easter Sunday.'
I was smiling. I was happy. But I was feeling beyond tired. 'How much longer do I need to stay awake. I am very tired.' I spoke to no one in particular in the room. I was ready to go to sleep now that the emergency was past and I knew that we were all out of any danger. My doctor answered me. 'It will take Dr. Goldstein another twenty minutes to close but you can go to sleep now. Everything is fine. You can go to sleep.' He assured me. The words of thanks were barely out of my mouth when I closed my eyes and was fast asleep.
* * *
I woke up eight hours later in recovery. There was someone behind the curtains next to me that was moaning and sounded like she was in great pain and in need of help. I tried to turn my body and see who was there but I was pretty much strapped down to my bed with an IV filled with blood still filling my swollen arm. I called for a nurse.
I was greeted by a cheerful young lady 'Hi! Sleeping beauty. How are you feeling?' She pulled the curtains away from my bed that had been separating me from the rest of the world and I discovered that it was daytime.
I was still very tired and I was extremely thirsty. I was alive and back to normal. Or was I? I really was not sure. I had thought so much and I had a very lot of information that I had not yet absorbed nor understood yet. 'Maybe I am not back to normal. I am changed. The world is changed. What do I do and where am I going from here.' I thought.
The nurse explained that the women in recovery next to me was coming out of anesthesia and she was going to be just fine. The nurse walked around the curtains and spoke with the women telling her that it was time to wake up and the moaning stopped.
I told the nurse that I was thirsty and she brought me water in a glass with a straw and helped me hold the glass in my shaky hands. She encouraged me to drink. I drank the water but it threatened to come up on me.
The nurse said to me that she knew that I had had a rough night but I was perfectly all right now and I had nothing to worry about from here on out. All I could manage to say was, 'Thank you.' And I asked her what time it was. I seemed to have grown fanatic about knowing what time it was because I had lost so much time. I wanted to stay 'Time' oriented.
She smiled and told me it was 10:00 am. I was pleased. I had been sleeping in recovery for eight hours. I felt like I had been run over by a truck but I was alive. I began to do inventory and check out my body and see what if anything was hurting. The only thing I could find was the hand and arm that was strapped down and had blood being forced into it. Other than that I was just tired.
The nurse then told me that there was a young man that had been waiting outside all night long and if I felt up to it she would let him in to see me for just a short time. I agreed.
A young man walked into my room. I knew that he was Rich, my husband but I almost did not recognize him. He looked so young and so tired. He also looked changed.
Rich brought in flowers and toys (one was a bunny rabbit) and a heart shaped box of candy. He asked if I knew what was different about him. I was not sure what he was getting at so I said no. He explained that I had been such a good girl that he had shaved off his mustache. I am ashamed to say that I did not notice but I did not say so.
Rich, during his ordeal that he suffered separately from me, had not had much sleep nor had he had much to eat or drink. He not only had shaved off his mustache he had also lost thirteen pounds. I began to think about the suffering that he and the rest of my family must have endured during this ordeal and I felt ashamed that I had not thought more about them until that very moment.
Rich handed me the beautiful box of chocolates and was ready to open them. But I stopped him. I am a chocolate fiend but at that moment the mere though of chocolate turned my stomach. I was remembering the nurse in the operating room who had so wonderfully touched me and spoke to me. 'My Angel' I called her. I asked Rich if he would find her and give the candy to her. He said he would. But after a search the woman I had described was never found so the candy was taken to the nurses' station for everyone to enjoy.
I asked about the nurse in the operation room many times during my confinement in the hospital because I wanted to thank her but no one could ever tell me who she was. My description must have been way off. I am not telling anyone that she was a real angel because she was in fact a real person. I just want to say here that nurses can be the saving grace of a patient while still doing their jobs and I want to thank all of them.
Rich did not stay very long because I was very tired and so was he. He told me about my parents and the baby who I had not seen yet.
It was strange but I knew that everything was all right and I knew that it was perfectly safe for me to go back to sleep. I had fought sleep for fear that I would never wake up just the night before. Now all I wanted to do was sleep.
I was moved to a room in the middle of the night. I woke up long enough to see that they were putting me into an elevator then I went back to sleep. I was making up for all of the sleep that I had missed in the last week.
Doctor Goldstein came into my room to check my stitches with a group of medical students. He removed my bandage and found that I was healed and there was no blood. He was surprised. He covered that surprise by saying what a wonderful job he had done. I thanked him and he and his students left.
I was told that I would remain in the hospital for two weeks or more to assure a complete recovery but on Friday, just five days from leaving surgery I had recovered enough to go home.
I was the one that pushed to go home. I did not like the hospital life or the hospital food. Rich visited me every night and I tried to get him to smuggle in those tacos, lemon meringue pie and chocolate malt but he was afraid that if he got caught they would kick him out. I was disappointed.
Stephan is what we named the baby. I named him after the 1st Christian martyr. It is also his uncle's name.
Stephan also made a remarkable recovery. He was placed in an incubator for twenty-four-hour observation but removed in far less time because he was in wonderful health. Dr. Peterson jokingly said that the baby had to be removed from the incubator because he kept pushing the lid off. Stephan looked so big in the incubator next to the tiny premature babies. He had large hands and was immediately nick named 'The Moose' by my father. He slept most of his five-day stay in the hospital, as did I.
Dr. Peterson's report on the baby was that Stephan was normal or above normal on all tests that could be given a new born baby but the doctor wanted to do tests at six weeks, six months and one year to verify that there was no brain damage. Dr. Peterson said he was not concerned at all and neither was I.
I went into the hospital weighing one hundred and thirty-seven pounds and returned home weighing ninety-eight pounds. I do not recommend near death as a good form of dieting.
Two days after leaving the hospital my sister, her daughter, my newborn son, and myself were walking on the beach enjoying the warmth of the spring sun.
After leaving the hospital I was perplexed. Was I to climb the highest mountain and shout to the world about the miracle that had taken place? Was I to change jobs and go into some kind of service to God? Was I to keep it to myself and never whisper a word? I asked and I listened but I received no answer. The voices were not telling me what to do or how to live my life.
I approached Rich and began to discuss what had happened to me at the hospital that he had not been privy to. Before I could go into a lot of detail he offered his theory. Rich, in short, suggested that my experience was a drug-induced dream or hallucination. He suggested that maybe I had not been given enough oxygen.
He was not going to listen to, accept, or believe that any miracle happened or that there was any heavenly intervention involved in the birth of his son.
I tried to tell my parents about what had happened. Before I could get more than a sentence out of my mouth my dad began to cry. With tears rolling down his cheeks he said, 'I don't want to know anything. The miracle is that you are here and alive. That is all the miracle that I need.' I never spoke to my father about my near death experience again. He died in 1976 less than seven years later. It was thirty-two years after the event that my mother asked me to tell her about the experience, and it was a joy to tell her.
Near death experiences were known in 1969 but I had not heard a great deal about them. After my experience of trying to bring up the subject with my husband and parents I was convinced that what had happened to me was for me alone. I decided not to tell friends or bring it up for pubic discussion. The voices told me nothing different.
* * *
I returned to the hospital in six weeks. Stephan was pronounced to be a normal, healthy bouncing baby boy by Dr. Peterson I went to a post operative follow up appointment with my own doctor. After my examination my doctor brought me into his office and asked permission to examine Stephan. I agreed and the doctor left me alone in his office waiting. That was not part of a normal postoperative routine.
When the doctor returned he continued to hold the baby in his lap. He was quiet, reserved and all business. I was not prepared for this. I was used to a smile and a joke to keep the moment light.
I expected that this doctor and I would remain on first name bases after the crisis that we had shared together just six weeks before. But what I received was a man acting cold and impersonal towards me. I was extremely confused and disappointed.
After the doctor, in a sterile, impersonal, professional manner, told me all was well and how healthy Stephan was, I was going to just let it pass and walk out of his office never to see him again but before I could leave I received a burst of bravado.
'So what happened that night. I would like to know? You act like you don't even remember me!' I raised my voice ready for a fight. This put the doctor on the defensive. My question sounded all wrong even to me. I was sorry that I had opened my mouth and I was leaving the office when the doctor decided to speak. He said he did not know exactly what I was talking about. He explained that the weekend that Stephan was born had been a long one for him. There had been fifteen births and several of them had been by C-section of which mine was only one. I knew he was lying about the C-sections because there were only two C-sections done during that whole week I was in the hospital and one of those was mine.
I was embarrassed and I was angry. How could something so emotional and profound as watching a patient die inch by inch not leave any impression? How could he not remember me screaming in the operating room? How could he not remember himself loosing it and screaming in the operating room? I confronted him. 'Why were you so upset, screaming and swearing in the operating room? Didn't you know that I could hear every word you said?'
His answer was immediate and angry. 'You did not hear anything! You were unconscious!'
'So! The doctor did remember.' I thought to myself.
'I heard every word and more.' I said. I then began to repeat what he had said and the strange sounds that I had heard. The more I said the bigger his eyes became and the madder I thought that he was getting. But before the doctor spoke a word I saw a softness fall over his eyes and his demeanor change. He began to relax. He put his feet up on his desk and leaned his chair back.
'You were right Linda when you said to me that doctors are not God,' he said. 'He had been listening,' I thought to myself. 'I have seen a five year old boy die from shock having done nothing more than stub his toe. I have seen a sixty-five year old man with a very bad heart revived with CPR after falling out of his boat and drowning. He lived. It does not make any since, ' he continued:
'You said that a doctor is just a man. You are right. I was so frustrated and tired and angry in that operating room that I just started screaming when we were losing you. It was either scream or cry. You were dying and there was not a damned thing that I could do to stop it. I will have to rethink what I say to an unconscious patient from now on, won't I?' the doctor said, now relaxed and in a much better mood.
'You were dying on the table and there was not a damn thing that I could do about it. But look at you now and look at this beautiful healthy baby. Doctors are not gods and we do make mistakes.' He held the baby to his chest and stroked his silky head.
I was not sure if the doctor or I was going to cry first but when he handed Stephan back to me I could sense his mood had changed once again. He had become tense and sterile. It was this doctor's method to contain any tears that threatened to show through that professional façade that he constructed around what he considered as weakness. The conversation was over.
I had wanted to tell the doctor the whole story of what had gone on in my hospital labor room between him leaving the room and returning at the sound of the nurse's call button but there was a wall stopping me. That became my answer as to whether it was my responsibility to go public and tell the world about my near death experience. That was the last time I ever saw that doctor.
Now I am being prompted to tell the story and so I have done it.
Date NDE Occurred: April 5 and 6 1969
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Childbirth Clinical death I was dying in the hospital unable to deliver a baby and unwilling to have an abortion. Read story.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Positive
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes Only when I returned to my body.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? Total.
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning I lost time not sure how much.
Did your hearing differ in any way from normal? Not until after I returned. Then the spiritual being, as you may call it, spoke to me.
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No I went straight in.
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes Read the story.
The experience included: Light
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes Read the story. Wonderful bright light.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
The experience included: Special Knowledge
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe I continue to receive special knowledge today.
The experience included: Life review
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control I had a past life review then and saw about fifteen years into the future, I learn more every day; the experience helps me live life today.
The experience included: Vision of the future
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future All were complete and accurate.
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 I was told that I needed to go back and it took me back.
God, Spiritual and Religion:
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes Much too much to tell.
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes Every time I talk about it I cry, even today
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes I continue to have the voices speak to me and give me special information. Not world shattering but important to me and those around me or others that I come in contact with.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Best was the personal relationship with God. Worst was never knowing when I was to speak of it and how far I was to go in speaking of it.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Some even today think that I need medical attention. Others, strangers, have needed what I tell them and then I never see them again.
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? I have waited a long time to tell the whole story at one time. Thanks.