A journey of hope and healing after a decade of infertility and two maternal near-misses.

Buckle Up!

I just had a sinking feeling and wasn’t sure what it was. We took a much-needed impromptu stroll by the river tonight. I just needed to clear my head and breathe in the fresh air a little deeper.

Earlier today, I attended a maternal health meeting and met with a woman who works at my delivering hospital, and truth be told, it kind of threw me a little. She knows the characters in my story by their real names. There is no Dr. Fields* or Dr. Benson* for her. She sees my former physicians and knows them by first name. Talking with her also peeled back a layer in some ways, “I’m sorry this happened to you”, she said. I don’t know why hearing this acknowledgement is important, especially now. Talking with her helped me to compartmentalize better than I have been previously, to clearly see it’s not the hospital system that affected my outcome per se, it was literally one doctor. That fact should be a stark reminder to healthcare professionals everywhere: all it takes is one for a bad outcome. 

Even after our walk, I was still feeling unsettled… and it didn’t hit me until I was in the shower later on. It’s weird how the body knows. For me, it’s always just known.

Today is the day it all started, the day the first of three calls were made.

Today is the day I sat in my bed and pushed my dinner around on the plate with my fork because I couldn’t eat. 

Today is the day I handed our newborn to my husband and told him I couldn’t physically care for him anymore.

Today is the day I lay dying on my bathroom floor with my newborn and husband in the next room.

Today leads up to the day I kissed my baby goodbye for good, just in case I didn’t come back home.

It’s the culmination of what I call “PTSD Season”.

I’ve always sort of earmarked October 11th and 12th as the beginning. October 11th was the day I presented in the ER as a crashing postpartum patient. October 12th was surgery day. But it started before that, and once again, my body knew and my mind just needed to catch up. Buckle up, because it’s coming whether you like it or not. Push it aside and try to ignore it, but it’s futile. Deal with it, or it will deal with you on its own terms instead of yours. It’s already past midnight and that is exactly what I’m doing. Instead of sleeping, I’m writing. I’m getting all this angst out. I’m giving it the space it demands.

Reflecting on our journey so far, I’d be lying if I said I'm over the losses. I'm not sure I ever will be. The “what if’s” still gut me. I carry them differently now, but they are still very much a part of me. This little boy scooting down the path… who would be doing this with him right now if I wasn’t here? Who would scoop him up and point to the rising moon behind the trees? Who would whisper “I love you to infinity and beyond, because the moon isn't far enough” in his ear as he giggles and turns to kiss my eyes, and then in true preschooler fashion, licks the side of my face? (This is true love, am I right?)

Goodness, how I am grateful for life! I am grateful for my loves, modern medicine, the medical professionals who held my barely pulsing organs in their hands and fought off death with everything they had… the precious blood donors, you don’t even know how amazing you are.

I stood watching the sunset and moon rise, and I just breathed deep. "Thank you, God, that I am still here to see this."  I am just overcome by the gratefulness. So many moms have been lost. I know some of them. How am I lucky-blessed-fortunate enough to actually be standing here soaking up this mundane moment of golden autumn beauty with my scooting four-year-old son?

Four years of big and little things like this. But these little things, they aren’t little.

Four years later, I’m pretty certain everything glistens more than it used to.

I'll sit right here, till you start talking
I'll wait it out till you come 'round
It pays to look up in the big city
Everything moves so fast
It pays to look up
'Cause you don't know what you might see
When you look around

Oh, you're the shape of all my days
Oh, you're my holy place
And I know

Everything's good
Everything's just as it should be
When you're alone with me
Everything's good
Everything's just as it should be
When we're alone 
When I fall, I'm fine
All I wanted was your time
Everything's good
Everything's just as it should be
When you're alone, alone with me

Here I am, saying things to you
I never thought that I'd I would say outside my head
Oh, and here we are
I'm doing things with you I never thought we'd do
I'm seeing into you

Mood: Overwhelmed with gratitude and grief
Music: Vance Joy- Alone With Me

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About the Author: Casey Cattell struggled with infertility for more than a decade before giving birth to her son in 2015. She is a two time Maternal Near Miss Survivor writing to give hope to women in the midst of these hardships. She is a Patient Advocate, Heroes For Moms Ambassador, survivor support group leader and has shared her story with many organizations and media outlets, including the Empowered Health Podcast, the National Blood Clot Alliance and co-authored Nobody Told Me About That-The First Six Weeks. Casey and her husband live in the Northeast, USA and in their downtime like to hike with their young son. If you liked this post or were encouraged by it, please consider passing it on. Find Casey on Instagram and Twitter.

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