Thursday, December 3, 2015
Book Review: 37 Seconds
Before you read this, close your eyes and count to 37. That is exactly how long Stephanie Arnold was dead.
As if dying for more than half a minute during childbirth was not disturbing enough, Arnold’s death fulfilled a premonition she had carried for months. Indeed, since the conception of her second child, Arnold knew she would die during childbirth.
Perhaps worst of all, almost no one believed her.
Thankfully, one doctor listened and believed and prepared. That doctor, an anesthesiologist named Grace, planned for the worst. Her belief in Arnold’s instincts saved Arnold’s life.
But now that life was filled with questions that haunted Arnold, questions she could not shake and could not easily answer. How had she known what would happen? What, if anything, did her premonition mean? Would her life ever again be the same? Stephanie Arnold set out on a journey to look for answers, to find peace, to understand the life-changing events she experienced during, before, and after the birth of her son, Jacob.
Arnold’s tale weaves its way through the medical, spiritual, and instinctual worlds. Her story compels; I read this book quickly and eagerly, wanting to know what happened next and looking for an explanation for that which seems simply inexplicable. This memoir is never overwrought, but instead reads straightforward and heartfelt. Arnold’s fear feels palpable, her search for answers sincere. I truly felt the constant presence of her premonition and the weight of her words when she wrote, “I saw myself on the operating table. I saw the doctors working feverishly on me. I saw Jonathan holding our newborn Jacob, who was fine. But I was not. I saw my mouth open and my bodily heavily placed on the operating table like a slab of meat. I was dead.” And I truly felt the horror when that image turned from a vision into reality.
Regardless of your beliefs in an afterlife, reading 37 Seconds likely will make you think. You will wonder how much we do not know: about our bodies, about our instincts, about our dreams, about our connections to each other – both during life and after.
Thanks to HarperOne Publishers for the book in exchange for an honest review.