“The baby passed away.” I heard the words and felt the small curtained room closing in on me. Dr. Eiche stood there, saying these words, and even before he confirmed it, I knew what he would say. The Doppler hadn’t found Hannah’s heartbeat, and I had seen enough ultrasounds by this point to know there was no movement, no fluttering heart. I knew the truth before he said it, but I couldn’t keep myself from screaming. The only words that came out – “I don’t understand. I don’t understand.”
Because how can you understand? I knew what he was saying, and yet all I could do was lie there and think, “I’m not supposed to be here; I can’t be here. This isn’t happening.” I wanted to go home and erase this entire hospital visit – like it never happened. I thought of all the preparations we had been making; all the clothes I had bought months ago, all the items that had been delivered that week and ones that had yet to be delivered. I thought of having to tell Danny, who had stayed at home with our tw-year-old son, Derek.
These thoughts raced through my mind in an instant, and then I broke. I sobbed, I screamed, I flung things off the hospital bed. Dr. Eiche looked like he wanted to run, like he wanted to be anywhere but in that tiny curtained cubicle with me. I understood how he felt. I didn’t want to be there, either.
The nurses tried to comfort me, but there is no comfort to be given to a mother who has lost her precious baby. I was cradling a dead baby inside of me. My dreams and plans for her had been ripped away. My body felt heavy in a very concrete way, but my mind floated away, out of the room, out of the hospital. My baby had died, and I felt dead, too.
Then I realized: I still had to give birth. My baby’s life was gone, but her body was still inside of mine. She had to be born, and I had to go through the labor to get her here.
I had already called Danny and told him to get to the hospital. He didn’t even have time to drop off Derek at a friend’s house. When I saw him walk through the curtain, I just cried. I had to tell him, and my heart broke all over again. Hannah wasn’t just mine; she was ours. We had planned and waited and battled through a difficult pregnancy to get her in our arms. It seemed as if all our hope had died with her.
We didn’t have very much time to absorb the news. Immediately, there were decisions we had to make. Danny called my parents. They left their house for the hospital as soon as they hung up the phone, but they were still two and a half hours away. The nurses moved us to a private delivery room. We were given the option of returning home to have some quiet time as a family before they induced labor. We decided to stay in the hospital and begin the labor process early the next morning after my parents arrived. The doctor I had been seeing regularly during my pregnancy, Dr. Swarup, would be on call the next day, and I believed that was a minor blessing. He knew how difficult the pregnancy had been and his straightforward, sympathetic manner was exactly what we needed at the time.
In our private room, I went through so many emotions. I was confused, I was angry, I was numb. I sobbed and I stared into empty spaces on the wall. I felt too much, and I felt nothing at all. I thought about our baby daughter and hoped with all my heart that I could just fall asleep and wake up as though nothing had happened. I wanted to believe I could go back in time, and every time I realized that I couldn’t, I started crying again. My heart literally ached, my body hurt, my eyes couldn’t comprehend what they were seeing, my ears knew people were speaking but the words fell empty. And yet, I hadn’t even gone through the most difficult part: giving birth to a silent baby.