I don’t even know how to start writing this – most of what I’m about to say I haven’t even re-lived in my mind yet. I’m terrified if I write and terrified if I don’t. I’m scared it will not be perfect enough, dignified enough to honour my baby. I’m scared if I don’t, that he will have no legacy. He needs a legacy, a footprint on this earth that’s more than just an ache in our hearts. So I’m just going to start and see where it leads me.
March 19th was date to remember. I had it booked for months and even my son’s kindergarten teacher knew it. It was the date of my ultrasound. It was when at least SOMEONE would know the sex of my baby even though I had to wait for my midwife to tell me (just the rules where I live). I was going to see my little love bug bumping around in my tummy and I would try to sneak a peek between the legs. I couldn’t wait for March 19th.
The weekend before I took a trip to Washington to see my mom and Grandparents. I was busy but I remember thinking the baby wasn’t moving around as much. I couldn’t tell because I was so busy chatting and holding my little second cousin twice removed. I was holding him and just dying for it to finally be August so I could hold mine too. I do remember that the moment I crossed the border back into Canada, I felt the baby flipping around. I laughed thinking that it was so cute – happy to be back in Canada.
That was the last time I remember really feeling him move.
The next day (march 18th) I was snuggling with Ikey and I guess I felt a gas bubble – perhaps a faint kick. I don’t know. But Ikey held his hand there trying to feel the next kick. Then he began yelling into my belly “WAKE UP BABY!!! WAKE UP!!”.
Wake up baby.
When bed-time rolled around I got out the doppler I had borrowed from my friend. I wanted to hear the heart because I was a bit worried about the lack of movement. It took me forever but I swear I found it. 167 bmp. I heard it loud and clear. I drifted off to sleep – completely satisfied that my baby was OK.
The next morning we got ready and packed up the kids. Time to see the baby!! I told Brent about my horrible dreams. I dreamed the baby’s lungs had turned black and it wasn’t forming properly. I figured we all have crazy pregnant dreams all the time. Oh well. I’m the calm pregnant lady, the one who refuses to freak out and worry. I tell myself my body is made for this and accidents and losses are so rare at this point. So. Rare. Why worry when worrying won’t help a problem anyway?
The ultrasound tech was ready for me right away. I went, excited, and laid down. Brent and the kids had to wait in the waiting room for this part. I told her about my dream and she laughed at me saying “because that would be weird for a pregnant woman to have THAT dream before her ultrasound”. She got to work, taking pictures and measurements. We chatting a bit but I didn’t want to distract her. I wanted to ask if the baby was moving but I felt scared to for some reason. I wanted to tell her how we had two boys and were hoping for a girl but something stopped me. I looked at her eyes and they looked so sad, like she was looking at something really precious and heartbreaking all at the same time. I brushed it off and decided that was her focused face. Nothing to worry about Leah.
She left the room and went to get Brent and the kids. She was gone for so long. Every second that passed made me more worried. Where is she? I sat up and had a peek at all the photos she took. I spoke to the baby, saying how cute it was and how I couldn’t wait to snuggle it. How everything is ok, someone was probably just needing her for something. The baby is fine. It looked so perfect. I laid back and listened for the sound of little feet coming to the door. She was taking SO long. Deep breaths. Everything is OK.
She came back in – alone. She said she was sorry she took so long. She said she had to call my doctor and that he was ok with her talking to me. That she found a few things wrong. She said that she could tell me herself or I could wait for my doctor to tell me. Expecting that she was about to tell me my baby was missing a limb or she detected a heart defect, I told her I wanted to know now! Bracing myself for life-changing news, oh man – another special needs child, I heard something I didn’t ever expect.
“Your baby has no heart beat”
“What!? Are you sure?”…….
And then I just wailed. I sat up and I wailed. I was so worried I would scare the other mom’s in the building but I couldn’t hold it in. It felt so surreal, like she had made a mistake. That was the most horrifying news anyone could hear at their ultrasound appointment. I told her I had JUST heard the heart. She didn’t believe me. I cried and I cried and I cried. My baby is dead. What the hell!? It’s dead? This cannot be real, this can’t be happening. I just felt it kick. How is this real? Is she not seeing things right? Oh the agony….oh it hurt. so. bad. She offered to show me the heart but I refused. I did not want to see my child’s still heart. I could not bare the pain.
It was so hard to compose myself for Brent and the boys to come in. They were still waiting to see the baby. I wished I hadn’t brought the kids that day but there was nothing I could do now. I had to break this news to all three of them.
My poor husband came in to his wife sitting up with tears streaming down her face. I told the boys to sit on the floor against the wall and I looked Brent in the eye and just shook my head. “The baby is gone”. I don’t even really remember this exchange very well. We spoke quickly and quietly – I think. I remember Brent telling the boys, kind of. I remember Silas putting his face in his hands and crying. I remember Ikey saying he was dizzy. Everything else I really have no clue. We just had to compose ourselves enough to get to the doctor. We had this massive journey to take now, one I had never imagined for us.
We did make it to the doctor. I called my mom over and over and over until she picked up and begged her to come. NOW. I needed her. I knew I had to deliver this baby and I don’t deliver babies without my mom – I couldn’t bare the thought of being in this agony without her beside me. Unfortunately the rest of my birth team was far away. Juliet 8 hours away, Jennie was vacationing in Arizona and Jill was in JAPAN! Could they BE further away!?
The doctor was weird. He had forgotten what a 19 week old fetus was like. He told me to go home and wait until it passed and to flush the “specimen or tissue” down the toilet. I told him it was already a baby – he was so confused. I was so scared to deliver this at home. He couldn’t be right.
We went home and again I have no memory really. I remember being in the hot bath. I kind of remember telling a few people. I remember calling the midwives hoping they would treat my baby as a BABY and wouldn’t make me flush its body down a toilet. I remember my doctor calling back and telling me he was sorry and he was wrong. That it was actually really dangerous for me to deliver at home. I could take a few days but within 2-3 days I had to go to the hospital, get induced and deliver this baby.
I always ached for women who had to do that. To labour and deliver a baby knowing it was already dead. I thought it had to be one of the worst things a mother could go through…and now I had to do it.
I need to stop here. It’s getting long and the delivery story is even longer. I shall begin again tomorrow.