This I Believe

Kathleen - Newtown, Pennsylvania
Entered on December 26, 2007

This I believe…

My will is strong. And when I make a decision, no one can stop me. I got sick hours after my second c-section. My new son was healthy—my daughter was home—they were at the forefront of my mind at all times.

Day five of his life, still in the hospital, I was told I needed another procedure to debride necrotic tissue from my infected incision. But first, a triple lumen port was inserted into my artery, because my veins kept collapsing, preventing the antibiotic from doing its job. The Residents came to my room for the procedure nervously joking that I was their first maternity ward patient.

About an hour later, a priest came to my room to administer Last Rites. I treated that man, who was only doing his job, as though he stole all the balloons at my son’s birthday party. I cursed at him; I ignored him by calling my girlfriend as he rubbed chrism on my forehead.

Later that day my uterus ruptured its secret infection throughout my bloodstream. I say secret because the doctor thought the only infection I had was in my incision. I got blood poisoning, yet I kept focusing on was my four-year-old daughter’s confrontation: You said you’d be home in a few days.

My doctor was patient. I asked several times a day when I could leave. Like a parent plays a broken record to his child, he repeated, “48 hours after your last fever.” Despite the morphine, lack of sleep, postpartum depression and fear, I figured out the nurses’ schedule. They took my temperature twice a shift. There were three shifts.

I had Tylenol in my purse. I started to take it 30 minutes before the expected reading times. The fever went under 100 degrees—the magic number. I wrote down the time: Midnight. Two days later, I demanded to go home. The nurses begged me to wait until morning, but I wanted to be with my daughter at breakfast. I left.

The next morning the visiting nurse came to see me. She looked shocked at my pallor. “You aren’t ready to be home. I’m calling the doctor.”

“You can call, but I won’t go back. Give me until this afternoon.” The nurse shook her head in frustration. Maybe disgust as well. That afternoon when she returned, I had my daughter on my right and my son on my lap. I had color in my face.

I had willed myself better. Not out of danger, but better enough. The nurse and I became friends during the next few months. She said she worried about losing her job that morning when the thermometer read 102, but that she believed in me.

I learned my will is so strong that I can do almost anything. I believe in empowering others to feel the same by telling them: Want something so fiercely that nothing can stop you. Then everyone around you will believe too.