Birth Trauma Survivor and Maternal Health Advocate

“Red is one of the strongest colors, it’s blood, it has a power with the eye. That’s why traffic lights are red I guess, and stop signs as well… In fact,I use red in all of my paintings.” -Keith Haring

There was blood everywhere.

Just hours before, I had been watching Seinfeld re-runs on the TV in the corner of my hospital room. The TV was turned off now and I was lying in bed, staring at my reflection in the TV. I could see my entire midsection down to my legs covered in red. My blood. Obviously, something was wrong. But, when you have a baby, especially for the first time, nothing feels right.  The entire birth process is full of moments that will excite you, humble you and scare the shit out of you.

Little Miss J was cooing in her bassinet a few feet away from me. I wanted to hold her again and feel her soft skin against my cheek, but the nurses were busy cleaning her up and taking her vitals.

They measured her height, weight and length.  They took her fingerprints and footprints. Every now and then, Miss J would pump her fists in the air, flex her muscles and scream. We couldn’t help but laugh. She was the boss lady and she was letting everyone know it–just like her Mama.  Bobby hovered over Miss J and the nurses watching their every move. He was born to be a father. He held her hand and she squeezed his fingers back. Bobby and Little Miss J were in their own little world.

I couldn’t take my eyes away from the reflection in the TV. Blood was gushing from my body. I don’t think Dr. B knew I could see how much blood there was, but I had a live broadcast.

Dr. B had his hand inside me and he was circling it around. As I watched his hands, I was worried and tensed up. But, I figured if there was cause for concern, surely someone would let me know.

Dr. B’s arm began to circle faster. I was uncomfortable, nervous and in pain.  For forty-five minutes, the circling continued. His arm was so far in me that I could no longer see his elbow. Sweat dripped from his brows. He was getting frustrated, at what, I didn’t know. He tried to remain calm, but I could tell that something was wrong.

I was dying inside from the pain. What the hell is going on? I wondered. I kept trying to brace myself for the next circle, but each one was more painful than the last.  Is this what it feels like to be raped? I thought. I know, such an awful, morbid thought to have at the time.

Dr.B finally explained that my uterus wouldn’t contract. He had been trying to massage the uterus to stimulate contractions, but it wasn’t working.

I was hemorrhaging.

“Am I going to die tonight?” I asked.

“No.” said Dr.B.

“Please don’t bullshit me. I need to know.”

“You are not going to die.”

I felt my life slipping away. I was weak. All I wanted to do was close my eyes. My body was sore and worn. I glanced down at the sheets.The entire bed was soaked with my blood.

I started to feel very weak and machines started to beep faster and faster. My blood pressure and heart rate began to drop rapidly. The nurses began yelling out codes and words I didn’t understand. I could barely keep my eyes open. All I wanted to do was sleep. I was so exhausted. After twenty-seven hours of labor, all I wanted to do was be alone with my family and rest. I wanted to hold Little Miss J in my arms and feel her next to me. I heard a voice say to me “Stay awake, Timoria.”

My body started to shake and then I vomited.  I was too weak to lean over and vomit on the floor and so the green bile came up from my stomach and oozed out the side of my mouth, covering the entire right side of my face and soaking through my hair and into my scalp. I was confused and scared. The room was full of people but I was alone, trapped in limbo–between this world and the next.

One of the nurses wiped the vomit from my face and Dr. B ordered everyone out of the room including Bobby. Bobby refused to leave me. Dr. B insisted he leave me or the baby because she had to go to the nursery. I told Bobby that I would be okay and to go with Miss J.

Dr. B began yelling in the hallway for more nurses, ASAP.

Dr. B barked out instructions to each person in the room and one by one, they ran out.

Dr. B and I were alone in the room. He knelt by my side to tell me that I was going to need an emergency surgery. I needed to have an emergency surgery. There was no other option. My uterus would not contract. The bleeding would not stop.  He smoothed back a few flyaway strands of hair from my face and held my hand.

The voice was still there.

“Don’t close your eyes, Timoria. Stay awake.”

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