Not an equation. There is no equal sign. No answer that will come out neatly on the other end, telling you you’ve done everything right. Or wrong, for that matter. Systolic. Diastolic. The nagging menaces of this pregnancy. Oh how ironic that we spent nine months wondering how high it might climb, and never once thought to question how low it could get.
But 66/30 was my blood pressure. The last time the blood running through my veins actually belonged to me. I am alive based n the kindness of six strangers who donated their pints of AB positive blood. Perhaps at some workplace blood drive. Perhaps in their high school gym. More irony. I stopped donating my blood years ago, because as the “universal recipient,” I thought that mine was worthless.
What I can’t understand now, what my mind refuses to comprehend, is my complete lack of fear. I know how afraid everyone was for me. Of me? “Scary stuff,” my doctor said. As did the nurse. And the anesthesiologist. And that other nurse…
But, I was subdued. I felt safe and secure. My daughter’s still-wet body lying on my chest. Her aggrieved little face rasping out puppy sounds, questioning what the hell had just happened to her. I felt my doctor still working on me. I wasn’t in pain, though I hadn’t received any pain medication. I could hear him directing the nurse. I could sense her energy becoming frantic. I knew something wasn’t right, but I was calm.
He told me we were going to the operating room. He suspected a cervical tear. “No big deal,” I thought. “The labor was fast,” he said, “It may have resulted in damage t the cervix.” I said, “Okay.” I told Garrett not to worry. Everything is going to be fine. I was seeing spots. My blood pressure was 66/30. Everything was not fine. I wasn’t afraid, but I should have been.
In the OR people were moving everywhere. Suddenly, there were at lest twenty people in the room. Lifting and pulling on me. They inserted needles and shouted orders at each other. They slid me down on the operating table. I felt fluid pouring from inside of me. Everything is going to be fine. Someone said, “She’s crashing.” Someone else told me I was going to feel a sting in my arm…
I awoke in intensive care. There was a tube down my throat, forcing air into my lungs. A picture of my husband cradling a child I had barely seen before was standing on a bedside table. Machines pumped blood and other fluids into my veins. For the first time, I felt fear.
In a blur of sedation, I remember being surrounded by at least a dozen doctors. It felt like an alien abduction, as though I were observing myself from outside. I was flying on a distant ship, exposed on a table,taken to a galaxy far, far away.
I heard, “The baby’s fine” and “hysterectomy.” I didn’t know who they were talking about. I sensed it was me.
It would be hours before my breathing tube would be removed and I could finally use my own voice to ask what had happened to me. At which point I would learn that reward for my vaginal sutures would be an accompanying set of staples from my pelvis to my navel.
After a perfect, natural childbirth, I had been gutted. Though she had been patiently doing her work every month for twenty years, my uterus refused to stop bleeding after the birth. Now, she’s gone. She’s sliced up and being analyzed by pathologists. No one knows what went wrong. But everything about her disappearance feels wrong to me right now.