Exactly three years ago, I finally became cognizant of how thin the line between life and death really is when I nearly lost one of my daughters as she struggled to give birth. During labour, she almost bled out when she lost a litre of blood in mere seconds after an emergency C-section, the result of a series of unforeseen complications, a one-in-ten-thousand chance.
Life is Precarious
Of course, in a large teaching hospital with an excellent Maternity Ward, an emergency team of no less than ten people descended on her in the recovery room, whipped off the sheets and even her nightgown which upset her husband. He had to be dragged out of the room and told why she was being treated like a piece of meat, naked with doors and curtains around her bed left wide open on a public corridor. It took ten minutes to restrain him and keep him out of the room. Life comes before propriety. No one stops to close a door when a life is at stake.
An hour later, I gazed down at my daughter’s limp form, as a tear trickled down her pale face. She whispered, “I felt myself slipping away.” The veil separating life from death is thin, indeed. My daughter knew she was dying. Years ago she would have died. Even today, in the third world, she would have most certainly died. She was so weak after this near-death experience that her husband had to carry her to the washroom, and the nurse supported her new son’s weight as he nursed.
Life is precarious. Life is fragile.
The process of birthing is similar to the process of dying because in both cases, a person must give up control completely and allow a force of nature stronger than themselves take over. I admit, every time I gave birth, there was a moment of panic, terror really, during the transition period when I had to completely surrender even though I was in excruciating pain. Giving birth and dying are not that different.
Life and death are not as far apart as I had once presumed.