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Flesh of Flesh, Bone of Bone

May 8, 2007

by HP

The day before the day before the night my wife almost died, she gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby girl. She had a natural childbirth, attended by a nurse midwife in a birthing suite in Maryland. When our daughter was out, she was laid on my wife’s chest. It was a beautiful picture. We gloried in her hard work, in the new little life, in our love. We held our new baby daughter as long as we could and then I had to go. I went home and told our son that he had a sister, and then I prepared for upcoming finals.

That night, after a series of arguments with a head nurse who thought she better understood my wife’s conditions than my wife did, a nurse wandered into the recovery room to find my wife sprawled out on the floor, passed out. Her vitals were weak and fluctuating. When I got there the next morning, I went to the recovery room that I had been told would be hers. No-one was there. Initially, none of the nurses even knew who I was talking about.

I was sent two floors up in the hospital. There I found my wife sleeping, drugged and in pain. No one knew what was happening and no one would tell me what their guesses were. I blew off school and sat with her all day, alternating between anxiously awaiting answers and feeding our newborn with a cup so that she would have an easier time nursing when my wife got better. My wife couldn’t hold her at all, being too weak and dealing with a serious septic infection. One of the nurses or One of the instruments used in the pregnancy had not been properly cleaned.

She was moved to intensive care. I was told to watch her blood pressure and to call if it reached a certain low. I watched it slowly drop. She insisted on pumping, so that she would have milk when she was ready to nurse. We had our daughter rolled in, so I could feed her. That night I stayed all night and I didn’t really sleep. Once in the middle of the night, the intensive care unit turned into a scene from ER, with a half-dozen people standing around the bed in a chaos of intensity that meant little to me and a lot to them. All I knew was that my wife was in terrible pain and danger. I held her hand.

Earlier that evening, a friend and I had given my wife a blessing. In it, I said that she would raise our daughter as she was raising our son. I said that she would live to see her grandchildren. I said that she would live. In the middle of the night, I never stopped to question that blessing (although I did when I was giving it). In the middle of the night, I just watched my wife for signs of pain and asked the doctor to give her more anesthetic.

The doctor proposed an unusual procedure and, I am sure, saved my wife’s life. I don’t remember her name, though I am sure I have it in a journal somewhere, but I remember her calm, her determination, and her confidence. I think she saved my life, too.

After the worst, after I later found out that they all expected my wife to die in the middle of that night, my wife had several surgeries, first to remove the infection and then to repair the damage done by the surgeries. We can’t have more children of our own. But we do have a beautiful boy and a beautiful girl.

My wife was worried that she wouldn’t be as close to our daughter as she is to our son. She laid in the hospital for weeks, unable to hold and nurse our girl. She pumped throughout, dumping the milk but keeping it flowing. She went through hell and back for this baby girl and she was worried that she would resent it. When we brought Mom and Daughter home, my wife just held her. They love each other very much.

I am of the belief that there is no other act that so closely approximates the act of the Atonement than the act of childbirth. That anyone is willing and able to do it, regardless of the risks involved, is a miracle of love and selfless sacrifice. My wife is a Mom because she has loved her children more than anything else from the moment of their conception. Foremost in her mind is their shelter, nourishment, education, and protection. From the start, lying crippled by infection in a hospital bed, she cared for this daughter just as she cared for our son.

I love my wife.

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11 comments

  1. There is so much symbolism in mortal birth: blood and water. Motherhood is periless. So many women thoughout the ages gave their lives trying to bring new life into the world. In our day, we take it for grated because so many complications that would have taken a life years ago are now no big deal. Your wife went through an unusual and horrific ordeal. I’m glad the story has a happy ending, and that you have two beautiful children.


  2. It is kind of you to share such a sweet and personal story.


  3. well, well…I haven’t been brought to tears by this blog in a really, really long time. What a special, special story. Thank you for sharing.

    How brave and wonderful your wife must be…


  4. That was beautiful, thank you. You’re a tough act to follow, HP.


  5. I think there is nothing more powerful than a mother’s bond to her children. Also like the idea of the atonement.


  6. Beautiful story, well wriiten. I was am wife and mother who almost lost my life to septic shock a few years back so this story was especially poignant for me (shock not related to childbirth but it did happen when our third child was three months old)
    How is your wife doing now? The power of the priesthood amazing.


  7. Sorry about the typos. Typing one handed because one of our six month old twins is on my lap. I assume your wife feels as I do-that this brush with death helps put our true purpose in this mortal life into perspective. Mothering is a gift, an honor, a choice, a duty and an extremely sacred calling. God bless you both.


  8. She is doing well and we both look forward to my getting a real job so that we can adopt.

    I am sorry that you went through this, Krista. It was hell for us.


  9. I know. 🙂 About how hellish it is/was (’cause even when its over it ‘aint over)

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed and your family in our prayers.


  10. I remember the blessing.


  11. I’m glad this was sidebarred. What a beautiful post. Thank you.



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