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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Life, Near-Death, and Close Encounters with Deity

  I've had the blog on a bit of a hiatus as I've been dealing with some intense personal issues. The experiences themselves ranged from awe inspiring to terrifying and I've debated for the last week about how much to talk about here - in the end though I think its helpful to be open about what's been going on and share experiences that might benefit others.
  First for the awe inspiring; two weeks ago my youngest child was born. I knew going into this pregnancy that it would be my last, by choice, and I had tried throughout to make it special. Not that every one isn't special, but there is something bittersweet in knowing from the start that there would be no more. This one was my Beltane baby, and was originally due on Imbolc; I spent the past 9 months researching pregnancy folklore and traditions and trying to cherish each moment. Of course my goal was perhaps unrealistic and I didn't do everything I wanted or planned to do, but I never lost that need to make this one special, to honor my final expression of physical fertility in a way that it deserved. When he was born I was surprised by how sad I felt, knowing that I would never feel those little pregnancy things again. But I also felt relieved, after several weeks of pregnancy complications, that he was here and safe. I held him and I thought of all the experiences waiting for him.
   Now for the terrifying. Within 12 hours of being released from the hospital with the baby I was in the emergency room, unable to breathe. I had gone into congestive heart failure after the birth, a rare but not unheard of complication, and the edema in my lungs was making it impossible to draw a full breath. I can't really describe the feeling, the panic, of realizing how bad it really was. After arriving in the emergency room they placed me on a type of oxygen that uses continuous pressure; I hated it. It was like sticking your head out a car window on the highway. For the first time in a long time I had a panic attack and tried to get the thing off, because I literally thought that I could not bear it, but that only made the doctor decide to sedate me, which I did not want. In the midst of all of this I had what I consider a spiritual experience; I heard a woman's voice telling me to be still and just focus on breathing - when I closed my eyes I saw what I believe was the Goddess Flidais. Why Her I'm not entirely sure, especially since I was praying rather desperately to Odin, God of breath, at the time, but I had seen Her once before in a meditation and I was sure it was Flidais. I felt a wave of calm come over me in an almost surreal way, and I allowed the mask to be fastened on. Luckily for me the medications began taking effect and within an hour I was off of that mask and on a regular nasal cannula.
    Once I was in a less desperate way I was transferred to the local hospital, where I was admitted to the cardiology floor. Being as sick as I was didn't matter to me at that time, all I cared about was being separated from my 4 day old baby. It was agony, and I found myself thinking over and over of the story of Rhiannon and how she lost her son. I could not even say the word "baby" without crying. Finally, late that night I decided to be as pro-active as I could, under the circumstances, and make an offering to Flidais who is, after all, associated with healing and nurturing. I poured my offering out into the bathroom sink (my only option) and asked Her to help me regain my health and to reunite me with my child. I did not know how either would or could be accomplished, as things were looking rather grim at that point, but I needed the hope that prayer can give us when we have nothing left to look to.
   The answer to my prayer came the next day, on Imbolc, and in a way that I had never anticipated. I was still too sick to leave the hospital but through a series of inexplicable misunderstandings and a minor miracle the hospital arraigned for me to be transferred to the labor and delivery floor so that my child could join me. This was the only way we could be together, and only if both my obstetrician and the L&D charge nurse agreed to the re-admission because the hospital was on a visitor lockdown due to a flu and norovirus outbreak. Yet somehow everything aligned so that it could happen. And I spent the next 3 days of my hospital stay with my child, and my husband who had to stay as well to help care for the baby.
   I have since been released and am recovering at home. My baby is doing well, as are my older daughters, and life is taking on a new normality that accommodates my recovery. Eventually I should recover totally and be back to my usual feisty self; my blog should also return to its usual references and citations soon. The entire experience has definitely changed how I look at my health, and has also created a stronger connection to a deity I had previously only started to research. 
   As the motto of my Druid Order says: tada gan iarracht (nothing without effort).

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