birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Birth, Re-Birth

When Clara was born I almost died. I don’t mean I almost died because labor was so painful or anything like that, I mean I quite literally almost bled to death. 80% of my blood puddled on the OR floor, while the dream team at Cedars-Sinai performed a life-saving miracle. When I woke up in the ICU six hours after giving birth, a doctor explained, apologetically, “We tried to save your uterus.” A dozen staples anchored my bruised, swollen belly where my uterus had been. I didn’t have to look to know how ghastly it was underneath my hospital gown. Thankfully, I didn’t need that organ anymore. Somehow, I’d made it back from the precipice with my cervix and ovaries, our two healthy daughters and, well, my life itself. In context, it was more than enough.

My second pregnancy had looked normal and healthy to such an extent that I became a certified prenatal yoga instructor in my second trimester, a prenatal fitness model in my third. My diet was exemplary. An amphibian couldn’t have been more hydrated. I felt, and by every medical assessment checked out as, very well; sanguine. Pregnancy agreed with me, old ladies at the supermarket sometimes told me. But no ultrasound ever caught that my placenta was burrowing deeper and deeper into my uterine wall; no one had any idea that my innermost circumstances were dire* until after I had given birth. Then it was almost too late.

Only some scar stories have a happy ending. Of all the things I know, I know that mine is the happiest. It sounds like yoga bullshit to say that we can feel gratitude because every day is a gift, but I understand this now to be true as fact. The scar above my pubic bone, the ghostlike, impossibly faint line, means I am alive. I touch it as though it is holy. To me, it is. My scar represents that I almost lost everything, but instead got to keep it all. When I rest a hand on my heart and another on my lowest belly I can still hear the words of one of the nurses, in her thick Indian accent, “Your story tells me that you are one of God’s favorites.” Thank God(dess) for letting me know how lucky I am. I'll never forget.

*Now people know more about Placenta Accreta thanks to Kim Kardashian—it’s what she had (or has…I confess that I don’t keep up). A woman’s placenta grows so deeply into her uterine wall that it becomes embedded. She will not survive childbirth since her heart will continue to pump blood to her retained placenta after her baby is born. Unless the surrounding uterus is removed (what doctors call a “Cesarean hysterectomy”), as mine was, she will die from postpartum hemorrhage. Postpartum hemorrhage is the number one cause of maternal death.


Line of Fear