I woke up in the middle of the night in the throws of a full-on panic attack…all because of this day. The memories of this day will, sadly, always haunt me.

November 21, 2017 will forever be etched in my mind as one of the worst days of my life.

Our entire family was in town to celebrate Thanksgiving and the baptism of our Aria Isabella who was born two months earlier. She was perfectly healthy…I was not.  I was going through a battle since her birth…I couldn’t quite stand up straight…it looked like a ball was popping out of my stomach…I would get debilitating pain that would shoot through my body. One time it got so bad, it knocked me to the ground while I was out shopping with my four children.  There I was in a ball on the ground in the middle of the store.  I went to see the doctor who performed my C-section several times…but I left with no answers.  I was told things like…”your nerves may be re-attaching…it could be a hernia…you’re a little older than when you had your other children…this is your first C-section.”

I was in constant pain and I was frustrated. And I was beginning to wonder if I would ever feel normal again.

Around 5:30pm on November 21st, my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and I were taking all of the big kids to a local trampoline park. I bent down to help my daughter take off her shoes and tears were coming down my face…the pain was so intense…it was a burning…stabbing and ripping sensation.

As I was standing there with my sister-in-law, I felt something weird.  I looked down and my pants were soaking wet. I’m talking from my waistband all the way down to my toes…soaking wet.

WHAT. THE. H***.

If I could have run I would have sprinted into the bathroom…but my body wouldn’t let me do more than a slow shuffle.  When I got into the bathroom, I realized my sweatshirt was also soaked. So I stood in front of the mirror and lifted up my shirt — liquid was gushing out of me.  I called my friend who was also my midwife throughout my entire pregnancy…”SOMETHING IS WRONG!!” She told me to get to the hospital immediately and to call the doctor who treated me.

My first thought was “I don’t want to wait in an ER…I need to get ready for Thanksgiving.”

When I called the doctor I was told that it was “good that it was leaking out…get a shower and put a pad over it…I will see you at 8am at the office.”

Ok then.

I got a ride back to my house where my mother-in-law, who is a doctor, was waiting for me. She quietly whispered to my husband in Spanish…next thing I knew my husband was nearly carrying me out the door to the car.

“What’s going on??”

He calmly said, “let’s get you to the hospital to get checked out.”

My husband was eerily quiet in the car…he looked scared…I’ve never seen him like that.

I went to one ER…then I was quickly put in an ambulance and rushed to another.

An amazing doctor walked into my room with ANSWERS. She said, “Amanda, you had an abscess that basically exploded…it was leaking inside of you. You were most likely hours away from septic shock.”

Wait, what?

I later learned that my mother-in-law told my husband, “Get her to the hospital now or she is not going to make it.”

I am crying while typing that.

I cry every time I think about that moment.

My mother-in-law saved my life that night. Had I stayed at home…to “shower and put a pad over it”…well, my anxiety kicks into full force just thinking about all of the what-ifs.

I was admitted to the hospital and later met another angel on earth…a vascular surgeon who heads up the wound clinic. “If you can deal with one minute of excruciating pain, I can keep you out of the operating room.” Excruciating pain was an understatement. He was cleaning out the rest of the infection with his hand…and it was by the far the most pain I have ever felt in my life. Ever.

I was hooked up to a wound vac for a few months…it was annoying and at times embarrassing…but I didn’t care. I was on the road to getting my NORMAL back.

I could bend over and tie my kids’ shoes…I could stand up straight…I could walk faster than a turtle…I didn’t cry in pain when I picked up one of my children…I could sleep without being awoken by debilitating pain.

I hated the date. I cringe thinking about it.

But then it finally hit me…maybe I am looking at it all wrong.

In my heart I now know that November 21, 2017 is the day that God decided that He needs me to continue His work here. He needs me here to help raise the four gifts He gave me. He needs me here to keep being an advocate for every child…a voice for the kids who are gone forever.

That day knocked me down and shook me…but it me realize that every moment should be celebrated. It sounds cliché but it’s true.

Drink wine on a Tuesday…use my Grandmother’s fine china for Mac n’ cheese night…build forts instead of doing laundry…’fess up to your parents about all of the house parties you threw…let the kids stay up late to watch a movie…wear the expensive perfume every day…order the nachos…roll up in your minivan blasting your favorite Tupac song…smile at someone who doesn’t like you…wear the maternity pants if they’re comfortable…reach out to the friend who you haven’t talked to in years…eat the whole damn pie…have living room dance parties.

All of the little things in our life…are actually the big things.

I was saved on that day…in more ways than one.