Back to Life


It is a strange feeling to look into your child eyes without knowing if you will see them again. 

I am heading to the operating room with an internal bleeding. Everything is ready for my emergency surgery. I can already feel the cold air coming from the surgical unit. I look at my daughter who is following me in the arms of her father. Her eyes are filled with worry but she doesn’t cry. She says « Bye bye, maman » when they push my bed into the operating room. I start crying. Will I ever see her again? If something happens to me during the surgery or afterwards, how her life will look like without me? Who is going to nurse her, hold her, be with her?

I realize that the nurse and the anesthetist are talking to me. In German. « Wie alt ist Ihre Tochter? » My brain is stuck. I can’t think in German right now. How old is she? Yes, that was the question. I barely articulate « Zwei... Zweiundzwanzig Monaten … Sie ist 22 Monaten alt ». I cry even harder. She is too little to be without her mommy. I want to see her again. They try to cheer me up and keep asking questions in German. I find it hard to answer. A part of my brain thinks in French and Romanian at the same tine, the other one has shut up. I hear my self talking as if I was someone else. «Haben Sie Kinder? » (Do you have children? ) I ask the anesthetist. « Ja, ich habe drei. Drei kinder: neun, sieben und fünf Jahren alt »,  (Yes, I have three children. They are nine, seven and five years old ). « Wie schön… » (How nice...) I reply back.

We can still die from having children. Even in 2016, even now, even in this country, even in this hospital with a high level of technology and brilliant doctors. Maybe even in this operating room. Having children is so natural and yet so vulnerable. According to the World Health Organisation, "in 2015, an estimated 303 000 women will die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth". How many of us in 2016? Am I one of them?

« Tief einatmen » (Breath deeply) I hear the voice of the anesthetist. I can only look at the ceiling and this huge bright light in front of my eyes. I see it now through the plastic mask they put on my face to breath through. « Drei Mal » he says. I breath. One, two, three times. Then nothing.

Waking up from a general anesthesia is a powerful experience. The drugs are still in your body so you still feel a bit dizzy and high. 

I open my eyes and I hear my doctor’s voice who speaks a bit French « Tout c’est bien passé » (Everything went well). I want to say something to her but I can’t talk yet. They take me to the recovery room. Slowly, slowly my mind is here again. I can’t feel any pain yet and I can’t move either. I have been here before. Waking up from a general anesthesia in an recovery room. In Yogyakarta. In Singapore. And now here. They are all the same. The white wall in front of me. The huge clock on the wall. The sound of the machines. The heart beat.

My body hurts suddenly. But they can’t give me a strong pain killer because I’m breastfeeding. I think of her. She and her daddy are waiting for me. I’m back. 

The morning after a life threatening experience is different from all the other mornings. The colors are more intense. The sun rises brighter. I can see it through the window of my hospital room. This sun is as beautiful now as the one I watched rising over the Merapi mountain in Yogyakarta. Three years ago. I was in a hospital too. My heart was sad that my pregnancy didn’t went well. I didn’t lost a baby- there was none- but I lost a dream and dreams can feel very real too. My body and soul were happy to be back to life again. 

I didn’t have children back then. I have her now. I could have another one growing in my body right now too, but that would have cost me my life. It almost has.

Now I’m here. Here and now. Looking at the sun rising. Looking at the light in my daughter’s eyes. Grateful. Thinking that life is so vulnerable and precious.