Like many first-time mothers, I was in severe labor when my daughter Ava was born. It lasted 28 hours, receiving gas and air and an epidural, and ended with a Ventous delivery. My husband Ian, 52, and I were overjoyed when Ava finally arrived safely.
My placenta was delivered and Ian, then 36, went back to our house to shower. When we returned a few hours later, it was panic wards. I had started bleeding and my blood pressure was falling rapidly. I was rushed to the surgery for dilation and curettage.
Part of the placenta had been left inside and was causing the bleeding. One of the nurses later told me the surgeon was “up to my elbows in me” to stop the bleeding – not a picture I wanted to imagine.
I was shattered, emotionally and physically. I was a personal trainer specializing in working with new moms. Still, I felt like my own body had let me down.
Ava was born in October 2005 and shortly thereafter we moved from Guildford to Cornwall which was a conscious change in lifestyle. We got pregnant again quickly – there are only 20 months between our two children.
This time I was determined to “do it right”. I made sure I was as fit and strong as possible, reread the baby books, and had a positive attitude. I was told there was no reason to expect bleeding again.
I started labor at home with two midwives from the local hospital in Truro by my side. Everything went according to plan until the baby was born.
I had given birth naturally, without painkillers, and Stanley, now 14, instinctively started feeding. There was the joy of being born alive and well – then the mood in the room immediately darkened. A burning sensation filled my whole body. It was so vicious and I said, “My back, my back” as I felt this incredible pain in my uterus.
The previous bleeding had been life-threatening, but had gradually set in. This time it was instant. I felt like I was fading away. My husband’s face was right in front of mine and I said, “Take him.” I didn’t know much at the moment, but I knew I didn’t have the strength to hold our newborn baby.
Within minutes, the ambulance landed in a field behind the house. It was rush hour, around 5pm, and while I was being helicoptered to the hospital in Treliske, across town, Ian strapped our newborn into a car seat and ran over there, terrified of not knowing if I was alive or not dead.
My memories from that moment are like snapshots, but they are so vivid even now. I was strapped in before the helicopter took off and I can still see the paramedic’s face so clearly – he was wearing a helmet and sweat was pouring down his face as he urged me, “Don’t close your eyes, Wendy, stay.” with us. Open your eyes, open your eyes.” That was the first time I felt like I was out of my body.
I watched him from above as if I had walked away and been separated from my physical form. People who have had near-death experiences sometimes talk about seeing their lives flash before their eyes, but for me it was the exact opposite. There were no hallucinations or even a sense of darkness. There was no sense of rush or urgency. Just this feeling that everything is fading away.
My only thought was, “Just shut up so I can go and it won’t hurt.” It was as if the paramedic was interrupting my fading process.
I don’t remember feeling the pain anymore. A calm had returned, but it was certainly not peaceful. It was more like part of me accepted that this was easier. I didn’t think, “I’m going to die.” It was more, “Everything just… goes here.”
I had the same out of body feeling after the ambulance landed at the hospital. I could see myself being dragged into the theater on the stretcher, panic all around me.
I heard people shouting instructions but the sound seemed far away like I was underwater. I wanted it to stop so I could be quiet. And then they put me up. When I came to, there was no debriefing with a surgeon. I still don’t know why my body was bleeding. But a nurse explained that my body would not stop bleeding and that my back pain was the weight of the blood-filled uterus.
She stopped by before finishing her shift and said, “We really thought we lost you there, so I had to see you.”
I’ll never know exactly how close I was to death in minutes, but her words shook me. Even though I wasn’t afraid during my out of body experience, afterwards I felt pure horror at what had happened. For months I had flashbacks to those moments in the helicopter and in the hospital. The recovery took a long time, mentally and physically. I felt weak, fragile and vulnerable – but thankful that I had survived thanks to the quick help of the midwives, paramedics and hospital staff. I had one more chance.
Coming so close to death gave me a real sense of clarity about my future and
a deeper sense of purpose. Being a PT was a great job, but I wanted to go much deeper than the basic understanding of pregnancy fitness.
I didn’t want other women to feel as broken as I did. I have studied biomechanics, spoken to physical therapists, sex therapists, midwives and pelvic floor specialists and developed the MUTU system – a special core and pelvic floor program.
It is now used by 75,000 women in 150 countries and is approved by the NHS Digital Apps Library. I don’t think I could have changed the outcome of my work, but if something like MUTU existed, I would have been more comfortable with it.
Women often describe themselves as feeling broken or failed when something went wrong during labor or when they had a cesarean. I’m here to change that.
Wendy is the founder of the digital training and support program MUTU System for pregnancy and postpartum – a clinically proven prenatal and postnatal program approved by NHS Digital for the NHS Apps Library and addressing the symptoms of urinary incontinence, diastasis recti, pelvic organ prolapse and pain improves traffic. It costs £99 for 12 months access. Visit mutusystem.co.uk
science and near-death experiences
Around 17% of people near death report experiences like being pulled into a tunnel or seeing their life flash before their eyes – while OBEs account for 45% of cases.
The question of what happens to us when we die has long intrigued scientists, but evidence has remained elusive. However, a recent study suggests that there may well be some scientific basis for accounts of our lives flashing before our eyes.
In a case documented in the diary Frontiers in aging neuroscience As was widely reported in the press recently, an 87-year-old man suffered a fatal heart attack during a brain scan – meaning medics in Vancouver, Canada were recording the activity of a dying human brain.
They found that before and after the heart stopped, there were changes in brain waves similar to those involved in dreaming or memory retrieval.
dr Ajmal Zemmar, who was working at the hospital at the time, said: “The brain may play a final memory of important life events just before we die, similar to near-death experiences.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/i-out-body-experience-giving-26649632 "I had an out-of-body experience giving birth — and watched medics fight to save me."