[Trigger warning: This essay describes one woman's emotional journey with pregnancy loss.]
The room was cold and the thin brown cotton hospital skirt wasn't helping. I rubbed my legs a bit trying to warm up. It was just me this time. We had done this twice before and it was hard for my husband to take off work so I told him not to worry about it. I would record it.
I was giddy with anticipation, so excited to see our latest little babe, the one who would complete our family. We had barely even gotten on board with the idea of having another but here I was, full of excitement for this new life.
The OB walked in, we introduced ourselves since I had changed OBs and this was the first time I met her. She greeted me with a big smile and we had a bit of small talk before I gave her a quick medical history: Two other pregnancies, both super easy with no complications.
She asked me to lay back and put my feet in the stirrups. "Hold on," I said, "Let me grab my phone so I can record this for my husband." I grabbed my phone, settled into the stirrups and hit the record button.
I knew pretty quickly that something was off. As she started the sonogram she was making some small talk, exchanging common get to know you facts, and then suddenly she stopped and got quiet. For some reason, I instinctively turned off the recording.
"I can't find a heartbeat. I can see the baby but I can't find a heartbeat," she said. I could feel her prodding around more and more, almost desperately trying to find that little flutter on the screen, hoping alongside me that this baby was still with us. "I'm sorry, I'm not finding the heartbeat. I'm so sorry."
She then told me that she wanted me to go down the hall and see the ultrasound tech on the better machine. Maybe my dates were off and we could find it with a better machine.
I could feel the tennis ball size lump rising in my throat, I couldn't get my words to come out right away. Eventually, I was able to force out a quiet "okay."
I made my way down the hall to the sonogram room. I would have to wait a few minutes for the tech to be available. My hands were shaking, my palms were sweaty, I could barely manage to send my husband a quick text message. "The doctor couldn't find a heartbeat. Going to look with a better machine." That is all I wrote. The facts were all I could express at that moment.
"It's okay," I told myself. "The baby is just smaller than they thought, my dates are off, the tech would find the heartbeat. It's okay. Breathe. It's going to be okay."
The technician took more pictures with the sonogram but didn't say anything. They aren't allowed to tell you anything, only the doctors can report the findings. So I laid there for what felt like an eternity in a room full of tense silence while she got all the images she needed.
I made my way back down the hall to the patient room again. More waiting.
"Breathe. Remember to breathe. It's okay, it's going to be okay." I repeated this mantra over and over as I waited.
The door opened and my OB came in. She placed her hand on my leg with a very soft touch and told me gently that our baby was gone. Nine weeks. That is all I would have with this sweet life.
Miscarriage never crossed my mind. I never thought about it for a millisecond. But here I was, alone in a room trying to make sense of what had just happened. The tears didn't come right away. I had a lump in my throat but no tears. I was in shock.
How? This has to be wrong. They had to have missed something. No, this isn't happening. I texted my best friend who knew I was at the doctor and was awaiting a post-appointment update: "They couldn't find a heartbeat. I lost the baby."
She called me immediately. I explained what had happened in factual sentences but still, the tears didn't come.
I paid the parking attendant in the hospital parking garage and pulled out into the sunny day, I squinted my eyes at the brightness. "Wow, it's so beautiful outside," I thought to myself. And that's when I lost it.
The lump in my throat made its way out in the form of a loud moan and the tears just started pouring. I pulled over to the side of the road and I let myself go. The pain and sadness suddenly consumed every inch of me. I couldn't hold it back anymore.
Could we just go back to yesterday, when my baby was still alive? Back to yesterday when I was still pregnant with a new life? I kept thinking, I can't do this. This isn't happening.
A week later I had to have a D&C. My baby was officially gone. In order to fully honor this life that I carried and wanted so badly we decided to name her.
I think about her every single day. I love that baby and am still so sad that I will never get to hold her earthside.
Some days I think of her and it passes quickly, but there are other days where the sadness takes me over and knocks me down all over again. But I know where she is. I know she is happy. And most importantly, I know that this pain and sadness are only temporary and I will be so excited to wrap my arms around her when we meet.
Nine weeks. Nine weeks is all I had with her. But she will be forever in our lives.