Heartbeat.

Today is Mother's Day, and it also happens to be an anniversary of sorts. Except, this is the kind you never ask for, never plan for, and you don't celebrate. You see, today marks two months since discovering that the teeny, tiny heart beating inside of me was no longer beating. Today marks two  months since losing our baby.

We found out the morning of February 7th. TJ was overjoyed, my initial reaction was a mix of happiness and anxiety. I wanted another baby but I wasn't quite prepared for it to happen so quickly. Regardless, I was pregnant, about 6 weeks so.

Almost exactly a week later, I threw up. A normal occurrence for most pregnant women, but not so with me. I had thrown up maybe once during each of my previous two pregnancies. I had experienced some strong food aversions, gag reflex, and mild nausea with each of the boys. This time was different. I was so sick for about 2-3 days, when I finally got a handle on it and was able to get out of the house. Googling had taught me to eat frequent, bland snacks to keep the nausea at bay and to stay hydrated. I began carrying peppermints and saltines in my purse. We didn't tell anyone because it was so early and we wanted to wait, but I wasn't sure how long I could keep it to myself with how gross I felt and how poorly I could keep up with the boys. I couldn't even stand to walk through the kitchen, because my hyper-sensitive nose picked up smells that caused gagging.

About two weeks later, I had a relapse with the throwing up. After being confined to the bed/couch for the evening before, I told my mom and sister, who I had called upon to shuttle Jake to preschool. I was 9 weeks along at this point. They were excited and smugly pronounced that it must be a girl since I was so sick. Again, after a day or two I got a handle on the nausea. By March 5th, we had told all of our immediate family.
(I took this "to remember how sick I felt" and wishing it would stop.)

The next day was my first prenatal appointment. TJ and I went together, knowing we would get a glimpse of our baby on ultrasound since it was too early to hear a heartbeat with the doppler. During the routine testing, the doctor found that my pH level was more acidic than it should be, which could later cause early labor. I would be put on an antibiotic later in the pregnancy, but it wasn't going to cause miscarriage now. After my other tests, we did get to see the little peanut-shaped embryo and blinking heartbeat and "perfect" yolk sack. Dr. Holmes loves to put funny little sayings on ultrasound pictures, and he printed off two for us to take home. We left the appointment excited for the next one in four weeks.

I actually did go in for that appointment four weeks later, but for a post-operation check-up instead of a routine prenatal appointment.

Two days after that first visit, on International Women's Day, I started cramping while grocery shopping. I thought I would rest and it would go away. And it seemed to, a little. I thought it was fine because there wasn't any blood. Later that night, however, I found a little blood when I went to the bathroom. I texted my mom, and then I called TJ's mom who I knew had experienced miscarriage. She told me to lay down on my side, use heat for the cramping, and take some Tylenol. I passed a couple more small blood clots during the night, and prayed for my baby. The next morning, I called my doctor's office as soon as they opened and they squeezed me in, in between other patients that morning.

The nurse, Alejandra, gave me a hug and tried to give me reassurance that everything was fine. She told me that she had a similar experience and her baby was fine and that I should think positively. When the doctor came in and put the ultrasound wand on my belly, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief at that little, blinking heartbeat. The peanut-shaped embryo was still there, along with the perfect yolk sack still attached. This time, Dr. Holmes took lots of pictures, including two adhesions on the uterine wall, which explained the bleeding. He put me on bed rest for the next 2+ weeks. After I'd gone 2 weeks without bleeding, I could ease off the bed rest.

I left that day feeling so relieved. I called to tell TJ the good news, and we told our families. We gave gratitude to God for this miracle. TJ's mom insisted that we let our Relief Society (church women's organization) president know so that meals could be brought in. I was as obedient as I could be, though it was hard to feel so helpless and useless. I tried to remind myself that the baby was most important, but it was difficult to allow others to carry so much of my burdens for me. I was so humbled by all who reached out and silently picked up my slack. I remember feeling simultaneously grateful and discouraged. It was difficult to stay down when I didn't feel completely horrible.

After five days of bed rest, I was sleeping when I woke up and a gush of fluid left my body. I immediately rushed to the bathroom, fearing that my water had broken. I shakily woke TJ and told him what had happened. Then the cramps started again. Google tentatively confirmed what I feared, and after 30 minutes of contemplation, I called the on-call service for my doctor at 1:00am. A groggy Dr. Holmes returned my call and told me to time the contractions for a while and call him in a few hours.

I timed the contractions for almost an hour, then finallyfell asleep. In the morning, I called the doctor, who told me he was supposed to leave for a vacation that day, but had decided not to go due to a number of circumstances. His office was technically closed, but he told me to meet him there after he ran a couple of errands. As I drove to his office, the floodgates opened and I let the tears flow and sobs escape. TJ met me at the office, and together we walked in, with Dr. Holmes right behind us. He strode in to a very surprised staff and rushed us into the ultrasound room. Alejandra, in jeans and a t-shirt, quickly got me ready.

When the picture popped up, there was our peanut-shaped embryo, floating in all of the necessary amniotic fluid, with the perfect yolk sack still attached to the uterine wall. Everything still looked perfect and as it should...except for the glaringly absent blink of the heartbeat.

Dr. Holmes shook the probe, pressing harder on my abdomen, "Come on, come on," he muttered.

March 14th, no heartbeat.


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