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How learning to speak out saved my life

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 chil...

Speaking up about my pregnancy concerns brought me back to life

#STFU: Shut the F up is what most would say when they see this hashtag. I do not see it that way, because to me, it symbolizes a louder, more life-altering acronym:

Speak the F UP!

Two years ago I gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby boy. Months before I gave birth, I knew he would be healthy, but I also knew I would need blood transfusions. I would have an emergency hysterectomy. I would need to be put under general anesthesia, and I would die. It didn't matter how I received those premonitions, I just knew that I couldn't shut up about seeing them. So I didn't.

I spoke about them to everyone, and everyone thought I was crazy. I spoke to my friends, family and my doctors about them. At one point, one doctor was so annoyed at hearing the same thing come out of my mouth every time I spoke to the medical team that he asked, "Have you been on the Internet?"

I said, "Yes, but this is what I believe is going to happen to me."

More tests were ordered and the tests, like the rest, came back negative.

I was running out of people to continue to tell about my foreboding visions.

At some point someone said, “Aren’t you worried people will judge you and think you are falling off the deep end?” 

I couldn’t even fathom that was what people were thinking, because even if they were, and it was likely they were, what could I do about it? The only thing I could focus on was what I needed to do to be heard. I was relentless. I posted my fears on Facebook, I wrote “goodbye letters.” I sent out letters. I told people I had just met that I was going to die. I could not stop. Even though every single person I spoke to, including my husband, doubted the possibility of what was going to happen, I did not. And lucky for me, one other person believed me.

Speaking up about my pregnancy concerns brought me back to life
Image: Stephanie Arnold/SheKnows

I’m grateful for the way I spoke up, because the day I gave birth, I died. For 37 seconds. Every naysayer present that day, every single one of them, was in shock. I ended up having an amniotic fluid embolism — a rare, 1 in 40,000 risk in which amniotic cells get into the mother’s bloodstream, and if the mother happens to be allergic to it, she goes into anaphylactic shock. In most cases, women die. The only reason I did not stay dead was because I spoke up.

In one of my last consultations, a young anesthesiologist, based on nothing more but her own intuition, and unbeknownst to me, flagged my file and incorporated extra life-saving measures in the operating room at the time of delivery. That is 100% why I am alive today... sort of. The doctors say the reason I am alive is because they were prepared, but I prepared them. I was finally heard.

You can learn more about the details of my story in the book, 37 Seconds, released a few weeks ago. In it, you will see just how many times I voiced my concerns, how many people I begged to listen to me and what everyone’s reactions were when they realized I was right.

The doctors on my case have changed the way they practice medicine. My friends have changed the way they listen to their own intuition. I have changed the way I react to everything. If I sense something, I say something. My thinking is: The worst-case scenario is you could be wrong and people will think that you are irrational for a moment. You can deal with that. What you can’t deal with is the possibility you could be right. It isn’t worth shutting up if it could make a difference between you living or dying. So I now say #STFU or #SPEAKtheFUp.

If I did shut down, as many do in intimidating situations, I can't even tell you what my family's future would look like. The only thing of which I am certain is, I would not be in it.

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