What Was Lost

“…60% of your blood volume.”

“…not clotting…”

“…buckets of blood.”

“You really scared us.”

“We almost lost you.”

But I wasn’t there in the first place.

I’m so confused. I knew it was an emergency situation. When the paramedics wheeled me out of my front door, down the front lawn and into the ambulance, I knew it was an emergency. I knew what happened with retained placentas: postpartum hemorrhage. And postpartum hemorrhage can kill a mother. I knew that. It’s why, as they prepared to wheel me out of the house, I looked my partner in the eye and said, with as much strength and conviction as I possess: “I love you.” I didn’t know when I would see him again.

I didn’t think I was going to die, but I knew it was a possibility. In the same way that I know that I’m perfectly healthy on paper, but one of these days my heart could junk out on me, just throw up its hands and say, “I’m done.” And that would be the end of my life.

I’ve always been more than a little morbid. I gravitate toward narratives that examine the darkness. Between a long, drawn out miscarriage and a complicated third pregnancy, I became fascinated by horror stories—both fictional and real. The bloodbath following my daughter’s birth seems fitting.

The bloodbath: I’ve only heard about it, but it can still paralyze me when I think about it. I freeze when I try to wrap my mind around the fact that I almost died.

“We almost lost you.”

And then, in the mind-wrapping, I get angry. Rage floods me: How dare you?

How dare you come into my recovery room and parade your horror story around, for me, the patient. The girl who lived, despite leaving buckets of blood behind in the operating room. What the fuck!?

I can imagine the horror of that scene: a new mother on the table, bleeding and bleeding and bleeding. I can only imagine the feelings of helplessness and inadequacy. To “lose” a patient who’s right there in front of you…

But I didn’t need to hear about it. I didn’t need to know. If the goal was to impress upon me the severity of the situation, a simple, “You lost a lot of of blood in the OR, and you’ll need at least two units of blood before you can go home, though I recommend three” would have been just fine.

Instead, I’ve been carrying this thing that I don’t know how to manage, because it happened to me while I was unconscious and I didn’t fucking do it on purpose! I didn’t want to die. I was bummed about not being home, tucked in bed with my sweet little girl, I was worried about my partner. I was angry about missing out on that lovely post-birth glow, with the biggest surge of oxytocin of my life coursing through me. Instead, my body failed.

That was five and a half years ago, and I still haven’t put the story down completely, because I don’t know how to let it go. It’s all over me, like a greasy film I can’t wipe off.

This is not my bloodbath. This is not my trauma. How dare you try to make what was lost about me?

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