Nick and I were planning to go on vacation after our first baby shower, which was planned for Sunday, July 26… but life had other ideas. We drove down to my parents’ on Friday, July 24. We often drove down after work, but this trip started even later because we had a celebration to attend with friends back home. Despite the late night, our baby was very active the whole drive down. LL always was. LL was always always moving.
That next morning I was 33 weeks pregnant and feeling fine. I woke up and stretched on the patio, had breakfast, then we went to a county fair with my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, and their little one. I didn’t notice anything unusual, as I often didn’t feel our baby move when I was up and around.
Later in the day I must have noticed something was off; I tried to nap and drink water, and I ate a candy bar, but I had no idea. We went to a potluck for dinner and people told me I was “glowing” and shared in our excitement of a coming baby and the shower the next day.
By Saturday evening, however, I was not feeling the baby move. My family was sitting out by the fire pit, admiring a stunning sunset, the sunset this blog is named for, but all I could think about was my baby. Normally our little one would push back if I gave a little nudge on my belly, and that wasn’t happening. I was googling on my phone about “not feeling the baby move” and reading a lot of mixed answers. My heart was pounding. Even though we were out of town, we gave our midwives back home a call. They thought it was “probably nothing” (which statistically is true) but knew we would feel better if we went to get checked out. So, we decided to go to the hospital near my parents’ just to check.
At the hospital, our nurse did a Doppler and came up with nothing. She called in her supervisor, who brought an ultrasound with her and also came up with nothing. I remember our nurse asking if we knew if we were having a boy or a girl, and I said, “We weren’t going to find out… I mean aren’t.” Something in my mommy heart must have known our baby was gone. They then called in the doctor, who did the ultrasound and zoomed in on the four chambers of the baby’s heart. He said, “Do you see the four chambers of the heart…?” And I said, through tears, “They aren’t moving.” I had seen the two ultrasounds of our living baby, and knew what this meant.
Nick and I both started crying. I was apologizing, as though it were my fault or I could have fixed what was wrong. “I’m so sorry; I’m so sorry.” I couldn’t have fixed anything. I’m still learning that. I’m still apologizing, still blaming myself for not noticing or calling sooner. Could I have saved our baby?
We were blessed to have so much family nearby for support; my parents arrived late Saturday night, and my sister and her husband came as well. We were all in shock. We all cried. We debated returning home for the delivery, or going to a hospital in a bigger city nearby. It was so hard to know what to do, to make a decision, amidst our shock and deep grief. However, even in our grief we weren’t alone, and knew God was with us. The on-call OB we spoke with on the phone from back home grew up in my hometown, which was a great comfort, an unexpected connection. The doctor and his spouse also experienced late-term infant loss, and he was very supportive and understanding in a way almost no one else could have been.
Eventually my family left, everyone trickled out except our night nurse, and Nick and I were given the opportunity to try to sleep. I cried myself to sleep, saying “No, no, no, no, no, no,” all night. I cried that cry for weeks. Nick also cried, and we cuddled and loved each other in our sadness. There was a rain and wind storm that night, which woke me up, and I’m not sure I slept after that, while Nick thinks he finally fell asleep during the storm.
When morning finally came, we decided to stay where we were. I work at the hospital back home we might have gone to, and my Dad made a good point that I don’t need to associate a hospital room at my work place with the death of my own baby. We also felt an unbelievable amount of support right where we were: the doctor with his personal and professional experience, the kindness of the nursing staff, the presence of my family, and so much more.