Is there a Sixth Sense?

Some call it a gut instinct. Some say it is coincidence. Some refer to it as déjà vu. Whatever you call it, it is very real. And I know this, because it saved my life.

When we were pregnant with our second child, Jacob, I started to have premonitions that I would deliver a healthy baby and, at the same time, I would die. It was different than a passing thought one might have that a tow truck would spontaneously release the car it was towing. They were visions I actually felt, viscerally. When I had a thought I was going to hemorrhage, I actually felt blood loss in my body. When I had a vision that I would need a hysterectomy, I felt the organs melt into one another inside of my body. I told EVERYONE. My husband, a PhD economist from University of Chicago and a very analytical thinker had no idea what to make of my “intuition,” especially given every test was negative for what I was seeing. I knew what he thought. I knew what everyone thought. I was a hormonal, pregnant lady. I posted on Facebook, “Does anyone have my blood type?” I wrote “goodbye” letters. And I realized, if I was going to get through this, I was the only one who could save my life. Or so I thought.

Unbeknownst to me, one consultation with an anesthesiologist, changed the course of my outcome. It wasn’t the tests that she relied on. It was her own “instinct” that told her something was wrong. And she flagged my file, incorporating extra blood, monitors and a crash cart in the operating room at the time of delivery, and that is 100 percent what saved my life.

D-Day (delivery) arrived and my husband was on a plane from New York as I went into labor in Chicago. As I skype-chatted the last words I felt he would ever see from me, I hugged our then-two-year-old daughter and cried my eyes out on the way to the delivery room. I entered the room where I was being prepared to give life to my son and lose mine.

Jacob was born happy and healthy shortly after. And seconds later, I died.

I was clinically dead for 37 Seconds before being resuscitated. I was suffering from an Amniotic Fluid Embolism. It is an extremely rare condition where amniotic cells get into the mother’s bloodstream and, if you happen to be allergic to it, you go into anaphylactic shock and in most cases, women die. After a heart attack, kidney failure, 60 units of blood and blood product transferred, lungs collapsing, a hysterectomy, and a six-day medically induced coma, I came back to life.

How could I know this would happen months before it happened? Was a question everyone was now asking me. Yeah, couldn’t help but say “I TOLD YOU SO!” And I continue to tell everyone, “If you SENSE something, SAY something.” If your intuition, or gut instinct or déjà vu is telling you something, it is telling you this for a reason. You need to speak up. It could save your life, it saved mine.

You can purchase 37 Seconds anywhere books are sold or click HERE!

A significant amount of the proceeds go to help fund AFE research and education.

Stephanie Arnold was a producer, creating and directing TV shows, music videos, and documentaries until she met the love of her life, from which point the only thing she wanted to produce was a family. During the birth of her second child, Stephanie suffered a rare, and often fatal, condition called an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE). Everything she does now is a direct result of her survival. Stephanie currently serves on the board of directors for the AFE Foundation, speaks on patient advocacy to organizations like the American Society of Anesthesiologists, and has raised money for Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Prentice Women’s Hospital. Her experiences led her to be named one of Today’s Chicago Woman’s “100 Women of Inspiration.” Stephanie lives in Chicago with her husband Jonathan and is the loving mother of Adina, Jacob, and stepdaughter Valentina.