Last night I woke up shortly after I fell asleep. Every time that I wake up, I realize that my baby is dead. This is my "new normal" (a common saying among members of this club that I was forced to join). When I wake up like this, finding sleep again usually takes a couple hours.
As I tried to snuggle back to sleep, I started thinking about the last time I interrobanged, the last time I was excited. It's a vivid memory of a beautiful black and white image on a screen. I was at my last prenatal appointment.
After my doctor commented on how much my belly had grown, she tried to find the baby's heartbeat. This should have been the first time the Doppler worked. That rhythm I had heard through the ultrasound just three weeks prior should have filled the exam room. As the minutes passed and I joked about this stubborn little baby who was sure to be more of a handful than both older brothers combined, my doctor's attempts became less gentle. She pressed the machine harder into my belly, searching and trying to get my baby to turn. I wasn't worried.
She left for a minute to see if the clinic's ultrasound was available, and I texted Brandon to let him know our baby was hiding out again. A few minutes later I chatted with the nurse as we walked down the hall. We went into the dark room. After more jelly was squeezed onto my baby bump, my doctor placed the ultrasound wand and turned the screen, "There's your baby...baby's back...and legs..." My heart warmed. I was excited to see my beautiful little one again, Should I ask them to guess the baby's sex?! She moved the wand and clicked around on the buttons apologizing because she doesn't use the ultrasound often. She left to get help. I wasn't worried.
A second doctor came in and looked at the screen, whispering to my doctor for a few minutes. I watched my baby's perfect form as they moved the wand around and talked about the colors from the blood flow. My baby was the black and white body floating in the center of the screen. My baby was surrounded by the red and blue flashes that appeared around my womb. Too far away. Come on, baby. Light up. As the second doctor left, I realized that I didn't like him. He clearly didn't know how to use the machine. I was a little worried.
My kind and wonderful doctor turned to me. I noticed the nurse's worried face. My doctor said something like, "Sami, we can't find baby's heartbeat, and the baby isn't moving." I was a little worried.
"Ok." That second doctor clearly didn't know anything.
"We're going to send you to the hospital for another ultrasound. Do you want me to call your husband?"
I was already leaning over the side of the table to grab my phone from my coat on the floor. I made the call for Brandon to come pick me up right away. I was a little worried, but since that second incompetent doctor had been involved, I was sure the ultrasound tech would find our baby's heartbeat right away. Just like three weeks before. The hospital's machines were better than that second doctor's machines. I was worried.
Brandon drove around the block and parked at the hospital. He held my hand as we walked over the icy parking lot and checked in. He waited as I went to the bathroom to confirm that everything was fine (instead I stared into the mirror at a face I had never seen before). He brought me tissues and held me as we waited to be registered. I was worried.
He stood at the foot of the table in the ultrasound room and watched the screen that was turned away from me this time. Why didn't I make them turn the screen toward me? He stood there by my feet and listened to my doctor talk to the tech. He watched as my doctor turned to me and said with compassion, "Sami, we don't know why, but your baby didn't survive." I was numb.
Brandon held me as I sobbed at the thought that I would soon be induced and deliver our dead baby. He held me as I imagined whether it would be anything like the dead lamb that I saw my step-dad deliver years ago. He held me as I dreamed of holding our tiny baby. I was terrified.
An essential note: I need to be clear that the second doctor I wrote about above is not incompetent. How I wish he had been a fumbling idiot who got it all wrong on that first ultrasound. He didn't get anything wrong. He is another compassionate and wonderful doctor who was a source of comfort when my induction failed. He was the doctor who delivered our angel. We are thankful for his care.