While I was pregnant with my son I had done some mediation work where the Goddess Flidais appeared to me. I saw a stately woman in a white dress emerge from the woods with a doe walking on one side and a heifer on the other. She didn't speak but held out her hands and I felt this overwhelming sense of comfort and reassurance. Somehow I just knew who she was. It lasted for what felt like several minutes, and then I snapped out of the meditation suddenly. But the feeling stayed with me.
Months later I had been discharged from the hospital three days after my son's birth and the first day home went well, except that I was very tired. Not that unusual, so not worth worrying about, but I was still struggling with severe edema in my legs. The doctors had told me that would slowly go away though, so I tried not to think too much about it. Then the night came. I could not sleep. I could not lie back, even a little, or I could not breath. As the night wore on I began to feel a growing sense of panic, as my breathing worsened, and I started having a hard time getting a breath even sitting up. By morning I faced the reality that I could barely get enough breath to speak and there was no choice but to go to urgent care. My mother in law, a former EMT, drove me, and the entire ride was an agony of sucking air in and pushing it out again. I focused on each inhalation and exhalation, each moment, and thought of nothing else.
When we arrived we were rushed back to a room and I was put on oxygen, which did not help very much. My blood pressure and pulse were very high. A CT scan was ordered and because I'm allergic to the contrast dye I was given Benedryl, so that now I was exhausted, couldn't breath, and was struggling to stay awake. I wondered, if I fell asleep, if I would ever wake up again and hated the Benedryl. I prayed desperately to Odin, God of breath, but felt no response, no presence. As I waited in the room for the CT scan results, gasping for breath, I wondered if I would die. I thought of my children. I thought of my husband. I looked at the hives on my hands from the contrast dye and thought that maybe the Benedryl was a good idea after all. And then the doctor came in and said my results looked exactly like someone in congestive heart failure; I had what he thought was a large amount of fluid in my lungs and around my heart. He wanted me transferred as soon as possible to the hospital I'd just been discharged from, he wanted me on a high dose of Lasix, to force the fluid out, and he wanted me on a mask that forces oxygen exchange because its been shown to push fluid out.
They brought in the oxygen mask and tried putting it on my face; it was like sticking my head out a car window going 60 miles an hour. I panicked, thrashing my head away. I wept and begged the nurses not to make me wear it. They talked about sedation and I cried harder, because nursing my son was very important to me. And then, in that moment of pure desperation a wave of calm washed over me and I heard the voice of Flidais telling me "Be still. Be calm. Breathe." My whole body relaxed, and the mask was lowered on and fastened. Claustrophobia rose up again and I reached out to that ephemeral presence; it was like a gentle hand on my shoulder, reassuring, radiating calm. The voice said "Focus on each breath. In. Out. Nothing else." I did exactly what the voice said and somehow it was bearable.
As soon as an ambulance could be found I was transferred to the hospital. I did not know how long I would have to stay but I knew that I was desperately ill. Being as sick as I was didn't matter to me; 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, and who had been with me earlier. I had nothing to offer, but I had been pumping and saving breastmilk for my son. I took all that I had and hobbled into the bathroom. I poured my offering, more precious than any other I'd ever made, out into the bathroom sink, thinking of it eventually finding its way to the sea, 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.
When I was finally released I had lost almost 40 pounds of fluid in the course of 4 days. My lungs were clear. My heart was not permanently damaged. I had my little son with me, and I was still nursing him despite all the challenges. And I have a relationship with Flidais forged in tears and love, pain and joy, that will always be important to me. She saved me when I had no hope of living or seeing my children again; she brought my son to me when it should have been impossible.
Beannachtai Flidais duit