Fragments, Part Two

Part One

Tahd came home the day after the ultrasound.  I use the term “came home” loosely, though, because if the airline had anything to do with it he wouldn’t have arrived.  On his way home from Montana, he discovered at his layover in Denver that his flight was canceled and he was unable to get home va his original route until the next day.  Keep in mind it was May with beautiful weather, so it wasn’t like the airline was desperate and traumatized by events beyond their control.  Luckily, we live relatively near to several airports, and after much coercion he was able to convince the airline to reroute him into O’Hare.  Gabe and I puttered down to the airport to get Tahd, and although it took them something like an hour to allow him to deplane due to an inept jetway driver and a broken exit door, the three of us eventually left the airport and stopped at a TGIFridays to pick up some dinner.

I don’t remember much about about the next day or two.  There was nothing outstanding, a testimony to the fact that our life had finally begun to pick and and move forward from the shock we initially felt at getting pregnant and dealing with the spotting.  We were beginning to exhale, to enjoy life as it came, to start adjusting our plans to include another child in six months.  Life was becoming regular and mundane, in a very welcome way.  A daily constant in my life was the “thump-thump-thump” of my doppler ritual as I dug out my fetal doppler several times a day to check the heartbeat.  Galloping steadily, I could pick it up quite easily in the lower right quadrant of my abdomen, almost always within the first sixty seconds.  It was one of Gabe’s favorite things to do, listening to the baby’s heartbeat, and it was one of my favorites, too.  I intended to figure out how to hook up the recording feature so I’d have some audio of the heartbeat, but I never seemed to get around to it.

We spent Saturday readying the house for a party.  At Christmas, I had given Tahd a certificate for a pay-per-view UFC fight, and he had decided to cash it in for the Machita vs. Rua fight that evening.  I paused around lunch to use the doppler and found the heartbeat instantly. I recall Tahd walking by the bedroom door and smiling in at me while we listened to the rhythm.  It was a good sound, a sweet sound – a sound that gave us much hope and relief.

In typical fashion, we just couldn’t get it all together, however, before it was time to leave for church.  So I dropped the boys off at church and ran to the store to pick up a few last minute things.  At the gas station, I grabbed two cases of soda, paid, and took them to the car, rushing to get back to church before the message began.  As I tossed the soda into the front seat I felt a strange “hot” sensation in my abdomen – not painful, but noticeable.  I resolved to move a little bit slower and take it a little bit easier since the fight was by no means more important to me than my pregnancy.  I arrived back at the church just as the sermon began, but the burning sensation continued – albeit weaker and less constant – during the message.

Back at our house after church, my family joined us for some pizza – leftovers of which ended up sitting out on our counter for three days.  My sister and I did a little crafting and talked about my pregnancy.  I joked that some little feng shui things I had done had been responsible for getting me pregnant, even though I knew my feng shui tips had really just served to irritate Tahd.  Meanwhile, I snuck out a time or two to attempt to use the doppler and attempt to listen for the heartbeat.


There was Nothing.

At first I thought my surreptitiousness in keeping the volume low had caused my difficulty, but after three failed attempts my mind started racing.  Where was the heartbeat?  Why couldn’t I hear it?  Tahd’s UFC fight ended around 11:00 and my sister and her husband left.  As Tahd closed the door behind them and turned to look at me, panic filled the distance between us when I told him I couldn’t find the heartbeat.

Ever unflappable, Tahd assured me that I should relax and suggested we try one more time.  Settling myself onto the couch, he sat beside me with his hand on my leg while I squeezed the cold jelly onto my stomach and spread it around with the wand.




I looked at Tahd for reassurance, but nervousness filled his heart and I could feel the fear behind his eyes.  We discussed our options.  Did I want to wait and have a good sleep that night and check again in the morning?  Or did I want to go to the emergency room immediately to make sure things were okay?  Although I didn’t want to go to the emergency room in the middle of the night, I also knew I wouldn’t sleep at all if I had to wait until morning.  Not wanting to spoil my Mother’s Day, we eventually decided to go to the emergency room immediately since we were “sure” everything would be okay and we’d be able to move on and have a wonderful Sunday.

It was 11:30 when we left our house, and because we figured we were probably overreacting, we decided to bundle Gabe up and bring him with us under the assumption that he’d continue to sleep.  How wrong we were!  He woke up in the car and didn’t go back to sleep until 6:30 the next morning.  Knowing what we know now I’m certain we would have done something different in his regard that evening, but knowing how rare later miscarriages are, we expected a quick, embarrassing trip in which we were told we were crazy anxious parents, and we didn’t want to disturb my parents in the middle of the night to watch Gabe for what would certainly turn out to be a false alarm.

I don’t know how to start the next part. I want to make it “pretty,” but it wasn’t.  It felt like the day I was 11 and was thrust into a new school mid-year with kids who looked at me strangely and thought I was weird.  It felt fragile.  Embarrassing.  Long.  Heartbreaking.  I felt insecure and hoped that the doctors and nurses wouldn’t be dismissive of me.  The intake personnel did look at me a little bit curiously.  I mean, who hears a heartbeat at noon and freaks out by midnight even though there’s no bleeding?  I couldn’t blame them, really, but I appreciated that they were friendly and never rolled their eyes.  The nurse assigned to my care was more than kind, constantly reassuring me that with my history of infertility and early losses I did the right thing.  She listened for the heartbeat with her own doppler, attempting to reassure me that ER staff wasn’t highly familiar with the use of a doppler and I shouldn’t panic over that.  A physician’s assistant joined us and did a pelvic exam.  My cervix was closed and they confirmed – I as already knew – that there was no bleeding.  Eventually, the ultrasound tech – called in from his cozy, warm bed – arrived to give me what amounted to the most lengthy, thorough ultrasound of my life.

By the time of his arrival we had been there for hours, which felt like days. While it was nice to be taken serious initially, laying in the hospital bed I couldn’t help but wish they had laughed me all the way out the door and back to my home.  To say we were exhausted was an understatement, but our fear had only grown and the adrenaline continued to surge.  Before the ultrasound began,I prepped Tahd by telling him that I needed him to give his full attention to the ultrasound screen because I was quite certain the tech would tell us nothing.  I needed him to look for movement, even the tiniest flicker.  Before the tech began the ultrasound Tahd ran to the car to get Gabe’s Leapster and headphones so he’d have a distraction and we’d have a modicum of privacy.  Throughout the entire ultrasound Gabe stared intently at the action on his Leapster screen, and Tahd and I stared intently at the lack of action on the ultrasound screen.

It’s funny that even though I’d had an ultrasound just a few days earlier I could hardly remember what I had seen.  How obvious had the heartbeat been?  How fast was it beating?  When this tech placed the wand on my belly, we saw a perfectly formed, perfectly still baby.  Maybe it’s just sleeping, I thought.  Occasionally, Tahd and I both thought we might have seen a flicker in the chest cavity.  But nothing was sustained, and I tried to convince myself that there was probably just some difference in the ultrasound machines or the baby’s position.  My worst fears couldn’t be coming true.  When the tech eventually left (after about 30 minutes, I think), Tahd and I talked.  “Did you see anything?” I asked.

“I don’t know.  I think so, but I’m not sure,” he answered.

And that’s how we spent the next hour – quietly wondering and occasionally speaking while we waited for someone to come give us the results.

I’m not exaggerating when I say it was an hour.  Unbeknownst to us, the hospital computer system reboots at about the same time my ultrasound was concluding.  The hospital does not keep a radiologist in the hospital 24 hours a day.  Rather, they have an on-call radiologist who receives the reports via network transmission.  He reviews them and issues his reports from the comfort of his own home, never setting foot into the hospital.  Because of the reboot, it took longer to send the report and have it processed.  Afraid of the results, however, I don’t think we ever once asked for a status update, even though it was clearly taking far longer than normal.  No news must be good news, we hoped.  And hoped.

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  1. Heidi, I wish there was a way to go back to that night and erase all this for you and make everything okay again.


  2. This is just so terribly hard; I still ache that you had to go through this.

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