My whole fifth pregnancy had been normal and healthy. I had an early ultrasound at about 6 weeks that showed a healthy heartbeat and baby. Two more ultrasounds followed, one at about 11 weeks and one at 15 weeks. Our little one was active and fun to watch on the screen, and I was feeling good with minimal morning sickness.
Before bedtime on the night before my routine 20 week ultrasound, I decided to get out my home Doppler and listen to the baby. I had done this several times, but hadn’t in at least a couple weeks because all pregnancy worry had pretty much disappeared now that I was well into my second trimester. My four older children were up on my bed with me, and we found the heartbeat right away like usual, beating in the 150s. We talked about how excited we were for the next morning, June 8, to find out if we were having a girl or a boy.
Monday morning. The ultrasound tech called us back, and asked all the fun questions about our family and baby plans as she got me ready for the scan. She looked at the placenta first. I remember thinking to myself, wow she is really taking her time to look at the placenta. She moved on to the baby’s bladder and then brain. She started asking me questions. Do I feel baby move a lot? When was my last prenatal appointment? When was I supposed to see my doctor again? I started to feel heat rushing through me and my body tingle, as these questions had a concerned tone to them. Suddenly she pulled off the ultrasound probe, and told me to use the bathroom quick and then we would finish up the ultrasound. I felt so weird. Something didn’t feel right. I came back to the room and she wasn’t in there. I said to my husband, “I feel like something is wrong. Why do I feel like something is wrong?” Joe said, “So do I.”
The door opened and the tech came in with a doctor. I said, “Something’s wrong.” And they both nodded slowly the doctor saying, “Yes, we think so.” She started up the ultrasound again. This time she went straight to the baby’s heart and zoomed in on it. She turned on the sound, and I saw the white line running flat on the bottom of the screen. We listened. No sound of a beating heart. She moved and got another angle of the baby’s heart and again, we saw no movement and no tones.
The doctor started talking, but I interrupted, “I JUST heard the baby last night at home.” I kept asking, “Is this for real? Is this really real?” and I was told, yes, this really is real and happening. They had already contacted my doctor and she was expecting me when we made our way over to the clinic. I felt like they were talking to someone else. Did this really just happen? Is this really me laying on this bed? This can’t be me they are talking to. I felt so disconnected from reality right then.
The doctor stepped out and just the tech was in there with us. She wanted to take more pictures for us, if we were ok with it. I still was in shock. Really, this couldn’t be true. The heart will be beating now when we see it again. But it was not. We saw again, the stillness of the heart. No movements from the baby’s little legs and arms. We wanted to know if it was a boy or girl, and we saw he was a boy. Before leaving for the clinic to see my doctor, we sat in the empty room. Joe prayed. I couldn’t talk with the tears. How could my baby have died just like that? He was just alive.
My doctor came in right away, and put her arms on me. I can’t remember all that she said; it’s not fair. You’re going to feel lots of emotions, and grieve your baby, and that’s all good. He is your baby, your child. It is painful and it hurts so bad. We don’t understand why these things have to happen. I asked her about what would happen. I’d be induced and give birth to my baby. We decided to wait until Wednesday for the induction. I think I was still in shock, so my doctor made the decision for us. She said it might help to wait and process things before the birth.
When we got home, our kids were so excited, “Is it a girl? Is it a boy?” We explained that during the ultrasound we found out the baby’s heart was no longer beating. The baby had died and was in heaven with Jesus now. Jesus was going to be holding and taking care of our little baby. We told them the baby was a boy, and that we had named him. Nathan Samuel. Nathan was going to be born, but we weren’t going to take him home with us. He would not be able to live with us, because he was now in heaven with Jesus. We also told them we would all be able to hold him and love on him after he was born, and that he will always be their little brother and a very special member of our family. There were lots of tears, but they were also excited for Nathan who got to go straight to heaven and be with Jesus. I started to feel a gentle peace.
My daughter then announced that we must go and build Nathan a Build-a-Bear and get him his baby blanket. This has been a tradition for all our kids when we find out their gender. I thought Yes, of course! I felt so sad, but at the same time I wanted to make the time we had with him special. I wanted our kids to have a part in preparing for the arrival of their baby brother.
We went and built Nathan his very own bear, and got him a special baby blanket. Their little brother was getting so much love. One more thing we wanted to get Nathan was an outfit. He needed something made just for him. I knew I wouldn’t find anything tiny enough in a store, but a good friend of mine sewed and she had the idea of getting a preemie outfit that she could alter to make tiny.
People were praying hard for me as the word of my baby’s passing got around, and I could already feel their prayers at work. I didn’t feel how I thought I would feel. I was so incredibly sad and I missed my baby beyond words. My heart felt broken. But I had this peace that passes understanding. I knew Jesus was holding Nathan for me even though it broke my heart to know I wasn’t going to be the one to take care of my baby. I wasn’t going to change his diaper, wipe his face or clean off spit-up. I wasn’t going to nurse him or comfort him when he was sad. I’m his mommy and that’s my job and I wasn’t going to be able to. I started to pray hard. I cried to Joe that Nathan wasn’t going to know me. How could he know his mommy if I wasn’t there for him? And Joe said, “Jesus knows you better than you know yourself, and he will tell Nathan everything about you. He will know exactly who his Mommy is.” I find comfort and joy in that even in the midst of my broken heartedness.
Tuesday night, we packed our bag for the hospital. I kept wishing it wasn’t happening. My friend Julie met us at the hospital at 7am, ready with oils, massagers, and other supplies to help me through the labor. I had planned to get an epidural early in the induction because I didn’t want to be so focused on managing the pain of contractions that I couldn’t focus on Nathan.
My nurse led us to the birthing suite. She said they had one for me that was at the end of the hall that would be quiet for us. On the door was a white rose, a sign that this was a demise birth and not a live birth. I was walking in that room about to do something that is every mother’s worse nightmare; give birth to death. Only I was awake and it was real and it wasn’t happening to someone else; it was happening to me.