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A World of Peace in Pool

My husband, three sons and I lived in Saudi Arabia. We were living there for my husband's work. At 9:30 a.m. on June 16, 1996 (Father's Day) at the hospital I had my fourth child and fourth C-section. My third child had been delivered there 17 months earlier. Since I was an older mother and I had started having premature labor with this pregancy, I had been in and out of the hospital for months. I was too sick to travel back to the States. During all of this an ultra sound showed that I was having a girl. My Egyptian husband named her Maha, which means beautiful eyes in Arabic; we had seen her face on the ultra sound and her eyes were beautiful then and now. I had been put on bed rest for the last three months of this pregnancy. I was 35 weeks into the pregancy when June 16 was decided for delivery. The doctor who was Saudi but trained in Canada, said that I was dilated to four and contracting too much to go any further with the pregnancy.

I remember being put to sleep and then I experienced swimming in a pool. I was on the bottom of the pool and looked up to see blue sky and the sun shining. It is similar to when you are at the bottom of a pool and you look up on a sunny summer afternoon. There was very soft, beautiful music with lots of violins. I have the song in my head, but I have never heard it before or since. I had the sensation of having to get to the top of the pool to get some air. It was a struggle to get to the top of the water; I struggled and struggled and fought my way up. I would look down and see a white stone path with people waving; I had a feeling that I knew them. It's like they were waving hello. The path was very light, white and bright. I could see Jesus at what looked like the end, and the path was lined with a huge crowd of people waving. I wanted to keep looking down and go in that direction, but I also felt I should go to the top of the water. I would try to swim to the top, but I would look down and see all those people. They looked so welcoming and inviting. I was torn about which way to go. The last time I looked down I heard my grandmother's voice telling me, "Honey you have to go back now, we aren't ready for you. Maha needs you." I didn't see her, only heard her; she died in 1981.

I felt a push, broke through the surface of the water and took in a big gulp of air (just like you would after you have been under water too long). It was like seeing something on TV. I was looking at myself in a swimsuit from childhood. I could see myself breaking through the water. I could see rather than feel the water splash out of the pool and around my face. When I broke through the surface I could hear monitors going off and so much noise from people talking and yelling. (Remember this was Saudi Arabia with many languages spoken by medical staff.) I was trying to focus on what was being said to me and couldn't. It was way too confusing and noisy. I wanted to go back to the peacefulness of the pool. Someone brought my husband in to see me. He leaned over and said, "Don't leave me, come back. Just breathe sweetheart." I asked him about the baby and if she was okay since I could still hear montiors going off. He said the monitors were for me. I don't remember much from the rest of that day, except I am told I was in ICU. Sometime during the day I was told that I had respiratory arrest and I was dead for three minutes. 

Back in the States a few years later, an anesthesiologist told me that I had been overdosed. During a C-section paralyzing meds are given then backed off before administering pain meds. The anesthesiologist felt that the paralyzing meds weren't backed off enough. I have had three surgeries since with no ill effects, but these were in the USA.

Two important things happened that day. My two older sons who were 12 and 14 at the time didn't speak much Arabic. They were in the waiting room with their father when the doctor came out and told my husband that I had died. This was being said in rapid Arabic. My two sons said they were thrown to their knees by a very powerful force and started praying that their mother would not die. They were told that God was in control. Both sons came to me individually afterward with the same description--the exact words said, the exact answer they received and how they had understood the Arabic. During their praying, my husband and the doctor received word that I was breathing again. My husband was brought back in to see me. And how my grandmother would know to call my daughter Maha is amazing. Maha is not a name she would have known.

To this day when I get stressed over life, I just remember back to the music and the peace I felt while in that pool. I am not afraid of dying. I have been there. The hard part of that whole day was coming back. It was like being in two worlds, one peaceful and the other chaotic.

While I was still in the hospital, my husband told me that we had promised to stay married "til death do us part," and we were no longer married since I had died. That is when I learned to go back to the bottom of the pool world to find peace. In the years since, I am not as quick mentally as I use to be. It takes longer to process and retain information. I have no idea how much of it is from the birth experience, an aging brain or being a single mother to four. This is the first time I have put in writing what happened to me. It took me a long time to come to terms with this experience. Only people who are very close to me know what happened that day.

After my children and I came back to the States in 1997, I was treated for PTS after telling a psychologist what had happened on that day. I was afraid of being thought of as insane. That was the first time I could put it into words. I was told that I wasn't crazy. I wonder now if the PTS was correct or not though.


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