I woke up with a tube down my throat. Someone – my husband? – told me to stay calm, and to bite down on the tube if I needed to. I gritted my teeth and tried not to panic. The last thing I remembered was having my baby girl placed on my stomach, and then the next moment blood was gushing out of me and my vision was growing dim at the edges. I told my husband to tell our boys that I loved them and then…now.

Since I couldn’t talk, I gestured that I wanted a pen and paper. What happened? was the first question I asked as I did my best not to bite through the tube. A nurse came in, promising me that they’d get that tube out of my throat in a matter of minutes.

Gritting my teeth, I tried to focus. My husband and the nurse were talking in turns, trying to give me a narrative of what had happened to me, but all I could focus on was the memory of my daughter. I scrawled another note. Where is Adelaide?

The nurse glanced at my note, patted my arm, and said, “In the nursery, hon. I’ll see what I can do to bring her in just as soon as we get the tube out.”

Carefully I nodded, every movement jarring the tube. I forced my lips into an approximation of a smile, trying to convey to the nurse that I was on board with her plan. When she left the room again, my husband tried to tell me yet again what had happened.

After I gave birth I started to bleed out, and I’d been rushed into surgery where I had been for four hours before I was moved to the ICU. I nodded along, but I didn’t comprehend any of what he said. My husband turned on the television so that I would have something to distract me while we waited for them to un-intubate me.

When the nurse came back in with a second nurse, I was both excited and terrified. “You’ll need to cough as we pull the tube out,” nurse two said.

I did as I was told, and even though I complied exactly, it still felt like someone was using sand paper to rip my esophagus out. “You won’t be able to talk normally for a while,” nurse one told me.

“Okay,” I whispered, so relieved that I was able to speak again that tears welled up in my eyes.

“Your daughter will be in shortly,” nurse one said, patting me on the arm again.

All the questions that I hadn’t known that I wanted to ask started to pour out of me in whispered bursts, and my husband did his best to answer them for me. I tried not to stare at the door, but I couldn’t help it.

I was still whispering when the door cracked open, and the nurse came in wheeling a bassinet. My heart leapt in my chest as I caught sight of my little girl. She was just as beautiful as I had remembered, and now that she was here again I realized that everything I had gone through was worth it just to have this moment.