Navigating the Tenuous Line between Life & Death

Oct 18, 2014 | Musings From A Conscious Parenting


  One of the sweetest, most powerful moments during our hospital stay this past week, was right after we found out all of Arayla’s bloodwork showed enough improvement for us to get to go home. After the doctor left the room I climbed up into Arayla’s hospital bed with her and buried my face in my sweet girl’s warm neck, kissing her face and her radiant heart.

I felt like together we had just survived a 2 week-long journey through a very hot fire and initiation of motherhood/childhood. She kissed me back, smiling, her beautiful eyes shimmering. I looked into her eyes, this light of her spirit I have loved from the beginning of time, and said, tearfully: “Oh Baby, thank you.” She looked piercingly into my eyes, and said:  “For what? Staying alive?”

I felt shy about her naming it. It had been such a scary passage, and at a few points along the way I really wasn’t sure which direction it was going. I returned her piercing gaze, saying: “Well, yes, my love. Thank you so much for staying alive.” She looked at me kindly, hugged me close and said quietly into my ear: “Oh Mama, I was never going to die.”

I was surprised and relieved to hear her state this so assuredly. I asked her: “You weren’t?“ then added, “How did you know?” She replied, matter-of-factly: “Because you’re here, Mom.” Then added, with a humorous tone:  “I would never leave you, Lady.“ This made me laugh. I don’t think she’s ever called me “Lady” before. Moved, I kissed her heart again, and said: “I love you.”

What a wild path it is, parenting our beloved babies. How we call them in, from Spirit, and then they arrive, making that glorious, mysterious transition from pure light into matter. And then their souls are here, embodied, and we love them so immensely. And we form deep, vulnerable attachment to these gorgeous, temporary forms their souls inhabit.

That first night, last Saturday, one week ago today, after we were transferred via ambulance to the ICU of California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, being told that Arayla’s kidneys were shutting down, and they got her all hooked up to the machines, and she began to doze off, the doctors took me outside the door of her room. They circled around me and told me they would do everything they could for my daughter, but I needed to be prepared that sometimes with HUS patients it doesn’t turn out alright. What had started as a seeming violent stomach flu a week prior, (actually an E.coli infection) had evolved into a life-threatening secondary infection, called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a.k.a. HUS. HUS causes the red blood cells to rapidly destroy themselves and toxify the kidneys often to the point of failure.

I didn’t sleep at all that first night. They drew her blood every hour to check how her kidneys were doing, the machines beeped wildly every time her blood pressure dropped or her respiration even slightly altered from course. Most of the night I sat up on the foot of her bed with my thumbs pressing into her Kidney 1 points on the soles of her feet, anchoring her to our world, pulling her roots down, praying fiercely to the Great Mother to please, please have mercy and let me keep my sweet, sweet girl. Praying to Arayla’s huge, amazing spirit please to stay with us here, praying into her little girl body to please find the strength and wisdom with which to navigate this complex challenge.

Life can be so overwhelmingly intense.  I asked everyone to generate no fear nor worry in her direction; to only see her well, thriving once again in wholeness. But in my own heart, those first few days, (and actually, the last few days before I took her to the hospital) there were moments I faced sheer panic coursing through me. I cycled from shock, to deep, centered, grounded faith, to panic. Many times. I could feel the tenuous edge; how fine the line truly is between life and death for a body. I had met that edge inside my own body several times in this life. I had also held a grief-stricken mother in my arms only hours after she had laid the body of her child into the Earth. I knew intimately the many different paths which might unfold from this one.

Today, one week later, watching my daughter drawing with her brother at their art table, watching the two of them together again, giggling, squabbling; I bow, humbled by the grace of her health returning so rapidly. We certainly have work ahead of us, to ascertain the best ways to support Arayla’s body and health following this ordeal, but I trust we are through the acute phase of intensity.

Last night as I cuddled her to sleep, she kept saying, repeatedly: “I love you so much Mama. I just love you so much.” She’s been expressing deep appreciation and love in a way I’ve never heard before. Finally I asked her: “Why do you love me so much?” She turned in bed, looking astounded I could ask such a question. She said: “You didn’t leave my side once, the whole time we were in the hospital. You pushed me out of your body 9 ½ years ago. You nursed me for 2 ½ years. You work so hard to create a beautiful life for me and Ezra. What’s not to love?”

Yes. Motherhood is a path of radically showing up and vulnerably giving everything for love. This past week has worked me deeply and truthfully I am exhausted and my nerves are pretty fried. Tomorrow I will take a long hike up into the headlands above our glorious Pacific ocean and pray for restoration of my own nervous system. And then, blessedly, I will receive a long, deep, healing massage.

Crisis comes and goes again. We find a way to integrate and allow the trauma to wisen us, hobbling and honing our intention to cherish it all. Life simply moves on, carrying our strong, earnestly beating hearts along with it. <3

*(photo taken on Day 2 in the ICU) 

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