November 14, 2004

Dear Mr. Bush,

Thirty years ago today, I almost died. My mom had been staying in the hospital for months, confined to her bed due to high blood pressure. It had been a long pregnancy by any standard, and on the morning of November 14, 1974 they decided to induce her--two weeks away from my due date, but far enough along that everything should have been fine. It wasn't.

The drug they use to induce labor, Pitocin, is supposed to be administered slowly and carefully so that contractions build organically. In my mom's case, the IV drip started full blast, and it resulted in an almost instantaneous 10-minute contraction that, once complete, meant that her uterine muscles were totally shot, and I had been pushed further up in her uterus instead of down. Even though my mother was now exhausted and in considerable pain, the doctors still expected her to deliver me naturally.

That expectation proved false when, hours later, my heartbeat suddenly became erratic. It would beat quickly, then stop entirely, and then restart again. It was a rhythm more conducive to freestyle jazz than sustaining a fragile, tiny life. Worried they were going to lose me, the doctors performed a crash C-section to yank me out of there.

And so, three decades ago, I emerged: bloody and crying and glad to be alive.

Happy Birthday to me,


PS. Sorry about the letter last night. It was dictated while lying face down on my bed, one foot reaching down to the floor to stop the room from spinning.


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