The morning of our second ultrasound was almost like any other. To begin, I was a bit nervous because we had been told our baby’s date of conception had been miscalculated by 11 days. Our first ultrasound appointment didn’t go as we expected.
Instead of learning our baby’s heart rate, and leaving with a picture, we left knowing that our baby was in the right spot and that the baby was just “small” in comparison to the size of a typical 8 week old baby in the womb. We didn’t know there was a heartbeat. I had two choices: fixate and worry myself sick for ten days; or try to take my mind off the situation.
There was no way I was going to let myself fixate and worry, I’d never forgive myself if something happened to the baby. I’d always wonder if my intense worry had in some way caused it. So, I tried to keep busy. I applied for jobs, interviewed, cleaned the house, and spent time with our furbabies. The time passed with as little worry as possible.
On the morning of our second ultrasound, I took care of our dogs and played with them for a bit. I couldn’t focus enough to work on a craft, so I watched TV and spent time playing and letting them in and out numerous times. The last time I let them in, something was different. My oldest furbaby, the princess of our house, came through the door with something in her mouth. I thought perhaps she had gotten into the trash and had found something disgusting like a chicken bone. I wish it had been something so banal.
As I approached Princess, I noticed something was sticking out of her mouth, and it wasn’t a chicken bone. It was a thin black tail! At that point I turned into a 7 year old girl, and screamed! She didn’t quite understand this, because mommy screaming is something that doesn’t happen in our house. She misinterpreted my screams of terror as signs of joy. Her response was to jump up at me with the tail still hanging out of her mouth, providing me with an even closer look at the disgusting, vile, thing!
There was a lot of commotion, more of mommy’s screaming, and finally she spit it out. At that point I really lost it, because laying there on the floor in front of me was a dead black wet rodent! I am not someone who stays quiet in the presence of rodents. Simply put, I do not like them nor do I tolerate them. When I was a teenager and the child I was babysitting brought his hamster out, I suggested he put it away before I taught it to swim. I do not do rodents. And there was one…dead…in my house!
I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to scoop up the rodent using our long handled dustpan and carry it out to the trash. It took almost an hour before I could calm down. On the bright side, I wasn’t freaking out about the ultrasound during that hour. Just about the time I stopped freaking out, my husband came home from work, and we got ready to make the trip up to Dr. C’s office.
We made small talk on the way up. We talked about whether the baby would be a boy or a girl, and how relieved we’d be to hear our baby’s heartbeat. We agreed that we had each been on edge a bit over the last ten days, so hearing the heartbeat would bring us both much needed relief. I didn’t mention the rodent, I couldn’t bear to relive those moments. Besides my husband wouldn’t have been able to drive with all the laughing he would have done.
After arriving at the hospital, we checked in at the radiology department and waited our turn. The technician showed us to the ultrasound room and we got ready for the procedure. We were so excited, and couldn’t help but ask about our baby. She told us that before she looked for a heartbeat, she had to measure my uterus and ovaries. After time had passed, we asked about the heartbeat again. She explained that she wasn’t allowed to say anything. Out of desperation, I asked for a picture, okay I didn’t ask, I begged in between the tears I was trying to hold back. I needed to have a picture of our baby. I needed to feel like a normal mom, I needed to leave with a picture of our baby.
We took our picture and headed up to Dr. C’s office with a copy of the radiologist’s notes. We waited for our appointment and held hands hoping that the ultrasound would show signs that our baby was healthy.
After a few minutes we were led to the exam room and waited to meet with Dr. C. The nurse who checked my chart and asked how I was feeling inquired about the baby’s heartbeat. She reacted neutrally when we told her that we didn’t yet know. The nurse excused herself and took the radiologist’s notes to Dr. C.
When Dr. C. entered the room, he told us he had just gotten off the phone with radiology, and that things were not as we had hoped. Instead of getting bigger, the baby had gotten smaller. The radiologist was unable to detect a heartbeat. We should have seen a fetal pole, the beginning of the spinal column, but that had not developed. At some point over the last ten days, our baby passed away.
I listened politely and felt my body go numb. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak, this couldn’t be happening to us. I felt so numb that it didn’t hit me at first, but after a few minutes, I started to cry. These were the most painful tears I had ever cried in my life. Our baby, the one we had dreamed of, the one we had charted for, planned for, and spent almost three years longing for, our miracle baby, had passed away.
Words cannot describe the pain I felt at that moment, or the pain that would hit me during the coming week.
Always the patient caring practitioner, Dr. C explained what would happen over the next few weeks. He explained that I needed to stop taking the progesterone suppositories, and that in a few days I would begin to bleed. It would be like a double period, and should end within a few weeks. He excused himself, so that we could have some time alone to process all this.
I don’t remember much about that time, I remember being delirious with tears, I remember Frank holding me and expressing his sadness. I remember us trying to compose ourselves for Dr. C’s return. We didn’t know what to say or do and we really needed to know what would happen over the coming days.
Dr. C was amazing. He spent over an hour with us, sharing in our sorrow, sharing a story of his loss of a child, and confirming that our baby was already with God so that we didn’t have to worry.
After spending more than an hour with Dr. C, reviewing the options that were available to us, and making an appointment with a local surgeon in case I needed a D&C if the bleeding got too bad, we composed ourselves enough to go home.
I don’t remember much about that night. I know we cried more than we ever had in our lives, I know that we called our parents to share the sad news with them. They took the news as hard as we did. They expected we’d call to give them the heartbeat and tell them everything would be okay. None of them had ever been through a loss like this before and other than “let us know if there’s anything we can do” there really wasn’t much to say.
All I could do was ask for their prayers as we went through the process of losing our baby. There wasn’t anything we or anyone else could do, we just had to let the miscarriage happen, and make sure that I stayed as healthy as possible during the process.