Finding Out: Where the Heartbeat Would Normally Be
Monday September 29th, 2008. Ain't it funny the difference a day makes. I run across this date sometimes, usually at work, and I ALWAYS stop dead in my tracks.
It was just another Monday. I felt a little funny but I was getting further along and it seemed like pregnancy was affecting my body more everyday. I wish I could say that I didn't feel Caleb move around as much or that something just felt wrong, but that's not true. So much for maternal instinct, huh?
The last "normal" thing that happened that day was the electric company calling me to tell me our electric was shut off temporarily because someone had stolen copper wire from a sub-station. I remember laughing and joking with the customer service rep about the sheer stupidity of someone risking their life to make some quick cash. What a stupid memory. This would be the last time I laughed in that care-free kind of way for a long time. I called my Grandma to tell her about the electric incident and just to chat on my commute home. I didn't feel sick, I felt fine- energetic even.
This all changed when I got home. My right side started hurting and nothing I could do would make the sharp pain go away. I called my doctor's answering service and asked him to call me. I called my Grandma again- this time in pain. She told me to try laying down and wait for the doctor to call back. My doctor's partner called me back and asked me some basic questions. He told me it sounded like nothing but to go get checked out at the maternity ward anyway. I KNEW something was wrong. Brandon almost didn't go to the hospital with me. He was working nights at the time and was trying to get some rest before he had to go in. I remember standing at the front door being so irritated at him looking for shoes to put on. Internally, I knew the baby was in trouble but no one else did. This sounds awful but for a few seconds I was so angry with my husband. I was angry with him for taking time trying to find shoes, I was angry him for not knowing what I knew. My whole body was shaking but nobody else knew what I did.
We got to the hospital and got registered. I can remember the woman in registration asking me about some bill that I had just paid. I wanted to scream at her. I was sitting there in a panic with my husband who was clueless and this woman that wanted to discuss an $80 bill I had paid earlier that day. How could the whole world be so blind to what was happening?
Finally, I went back to the exam room. I had to give a urine sample and then the nurse tried to find the heartbeat. She couldn't. Another nurse came in and tried. She told me that they can be hard to find this early. Early? I was 26 weeks. I had heard the heartbeat very clearly at 12 weeks. One of the nurses said she thought she could hear something in the background. I'm sure it was my heartbeat. I begged for an ultra-sound. They paged the doctor and told me she would be right up. It seemed like it took hours for the doctor to get there. I said probably 100 Hail Mary's- just over and over again:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen
Brandon held my hand and told me not to worry. I was crying and told him it was bad. The baby was gone. He told me that I didn't know that and the doctor would be there soon. But I did know that. I knew that while the nurse was checking for the heartbeat, I knew that when woman in registration questioned me about a bill, I knew it when Brandon was searching for shoes and socks.
The doctor came and started the ultra-sound. I asked where the heartbeat was and in a rather stern voice she told me she was looking. I said "He's gone, huh?". She pointed to the screen and said "Well, this is where the heartbeat would normally be." Not a very direct answer and certainly not the one I wanted to hear. I started screaming- real screams- blood curdling, heart wrenching screams. They wheeled me into a private room and sent a nurse and chaplain in to talk to us. Brandon called my Grandma. What a call that must have been. A few hours before I was laughing about people stealing copper. Now she was hearing that her great-grandson was dead.
Eventually, I calmed down. The nurse offered me sedatives but I refused. Brandon told me I should take them. I couldn't- what if they were wrong? What if the baby was still alive? What if this was all just a huge mistake. The reason I love my husband so much is because he is logical but he is also very patient when I am not so logical. He took my hand, looked me in the eye and just said "No. Baby, there's no mistake."
We stayed in the hospital for a while. Eventually, my mom, grandma, and sister came up. My husband's mom also came up. The nurse told me I could be admitted that night or I could wait and see my doctor the next day and come back. We selected the latter option. I needed out of that hospital- but I knew I couldn't go home. There was baby stuff EVERYWHERE. We decided to get a hotel room that night.
I will never forget that night as long as I live. Brandon and I laid awake all night talking about everything. We talked about our son, our future, religion, death and everything else. It was a talk that reminded me of our early days together when we would stay on the phone with each other all night discussing everything and nothing at all. Brandon was SO strong for me during this time. He just seemed to have this way of putting everything into perspective. I've heard losing a child can drive some couples apart but in our case I think it made us love and respect each other even more.
And that is our story. That is how we found out that our son, our baby boy, would be born but would never have life.