One year ago, this was the worst day of my life.
I call the doctor’s office first thing in the morning telling them that I haven’t felt much movement. All the movement I’ve felt is reminiscent of the first trimester of “was that movement or not?” Not at all what has been her trademark since week 18. The nurse tells me to drink something sweet and lay on my left side for an hour and count how many twists, shrugs, kicks and punches I feel in that hour.
I try to watch TV while burping up Cranberry Sierra Mist for an hour. I count 9, but I’m not confident about any of them. When she calls me back and I tell her 9, she says, “Great!” She also says they were looking for 4. I figure if half of them are legitimate, then it is still better than 4.
I suffer through work, still doubtful. I text my nurse practitioner friend and ask if she can bring home her Doppler and if we can stop by later that evening. I have a doctor’s appointment two days later, but I am driving myself insane and need some sort of reassurance to get me through the next two days.
Brad, Chase and I go to dinner. We go to Lauren’s house. We’ve never been there before so she gives us a tour. Her son and Chase play downstairs. Finally, I lay down on the couch and she gets out the Doppler. She searches around for a while. She says, “Where are you Charlotte?” “Where are you hiding in there?” She can’t find anything, my ears are straining for something, anything that sounds like the familiar whoosh whoosh I hear in the office. Nothing. I ask her if I should be freaking out. She tells me that by this point in the pregnancy, it should be easier to find a heartbeat, but that she could be hanging out in a weird place. Tells me that if it were her, she would call the doctor on call at my office and see what they say.
I tell Lauren that it feels like she is laying low on my abdomen, show her where and she puts her hand there. Then she says, “You know, you don’t have to call the doctor on call, you can go straight to the hospital.” Now I really start worrying. She thinks I’m cramping. We leave and I call my doctor’s office, I have the option of leaving a message. I decide that since there isn’t an answering service during off hours, we are going to go to the hospital. I call my mom and ask if she can come over to watch Chase while we go to the hospital.
We get home, I pack a packet of tissues because I tell myself if I am prepared, then there will be nothing wrong. We are waiting for my mom to arrive and then we head to the hospital. On the way there, I repeat my mantra of the past four and half months, “If something is wrong, I’m out. I am never doing this again.”
As we are checking in and I am making jokes with the admitting nurse, and I smell the sterile smells of the hospital, I do a complete 180. I know that everything is fine. She is hiding inside my uterus, already causing drama, and everything is totally okay. Now I am wasting my time and the hospital’s time for nothing. They have a full house, so they put me in a recovery room because even their triage is full.
A nurse comes in looking for the heartbeat, she can’t find it. She says she will bring in a nurse practitioner to do an ultrasound. As is the norm in a hospital, it is a lot of waiting. When the NP comes in with the machine, the screen is turned so I can’t see it, but Brad can, which irritates me. He keeps saying over and over again, “It’s going to be ok. Everything is going to be fine.” But I saw something on his face and knew it wasn’t going to be. When I asked the nurse if she saw any movement, she slowly shook her head and said, “No, I don’t see any movement.” And I said kind of panicked, “What about a heartbeat, do you see a heartbeat?” And a minute (an hour) later she said, “I’m sorry, I don’t see a heartbeat.”
I look at Brad, he’s jumped up and is hugging me. He leaves me and the nurse comes back. Hugs me. She tells me she’s sorry and I snap back at her, “I’m not surprised. I knew she was gone. I already knew this.” Brad leaves me to text my mom, “Come now.” I lay on the bed wondering what the fuck is going on. At some point the nurse who hugged me tells me that she had a loss too, makes me promise her to go talk to a grief counselor. Brings me a warm blanket. Then she leaves me. Why is everyone leaving me?
Then the impossible questions start. Questions I am not prepared for because this hasn’t soaked in yet. How would you like to deliver? What would you like to do with the body? Would you like to hold the baby? Would you like pictures with the baby? Would you like pictures at all? All I can think is, I want this to be over with as soon as possible. I don’t want to ever remember being pregnant. I don’t want to remember Charlotte. I want to go home and continue on with my life like this never happened. I want out of this place. I want my life back. I want my baby girl back.
I’m not sure when the crying starts and when it ends. Actually, I know it takes weeks for it to end. But I can’t remember when it begins. It is probably when my mom arrives at the hospital.
I want to be able to tell you exactly what happened after that. I was stunned, but not surprised, DEVASTATED, not really thinking very clearly or logically, and most importantly, not wanting to remember a single second of what was going on, so I blocked a lot of what happened next out. I do remember a couple certain things.
I had to go to the bathroom a million times, the only bathroom we could use was the employee bathroom, and it was to the right down the hall. To the left was the nursery and that made me want to scream. As did the lullaby that would come on every now and then. Feeling the emptiest I have ever felt in my life and waiting. God the waiting was never ending. People kept telling us that it would be just a little bit longer, but we didn’t get moved into a room until almost 2am. They put us as far away from the nursery and other women as possible. It takes them close to five hours to get the room ready. By that point the doctor has come by, patted my arm to apologize (that’s all I get from Mr. Bedside Manner), and told me that they need to do an ultrasound to determine if I can deliver vaginally since it looks like my placenta may be wrapped up in the scar from my c-section.
I have never been so sad in my life.