So I’m that guy, sitting in the room with an ultrasound tech and his wife, anxiously looking for a heartbeat.
This was our second pregnancy. Our daughter was 2 ½ years old. We had been trying for about 6 months to get pregnant, so we were excited when we found out we had become pregnant again. My wife was dealing with worse morning sickness than she had experienced before but there were really no other worries at that point. In the past everything had always gone perfectly normal throughout the pregnancy and we had no reason to expect anything different.
At about 11 weeks we went in for the first prenatal visit with our OBGYN. She was unable to locate a heartbeat with the Doppler so she scheduled for my wife to have an ultrasound the next day to measure the development of the baby. We went to the ultrasound appointment really feeling like everything was fine. As the tech took more and more time, and we did not hear that tell-tale rhythmical beating of a baby’s heartbeat, we were more and more concerned.
The ultrasound tech, not knowing how to handle the situation, excused herself and went to get her supervisor. He came in and spent some time trying to find the heartbeat with no success. At this point we knew that something was wrong, but we were still not prepared for what came next. He said to us, “I am sorry, but there is no heartbeat.” He continued to explain that the baby had stopped developing at about 6-7 weeks into the pregnancy. I don’t remember anything that was said after that, as he left the room, I tried to process the situation we were in.
Taken by surprise, we really did not know how to react to this news. Time stopped for a moment with my wife still on the exam table and I was standing next to her. She sat up, we hugged, and tears flowed as we realized our hopes for this new pregnancy were over. We knew these things happen, but we never expected it to happen to us.
The rest of the day is a blur. We went to the doctor again and she advised us to have a D&C rather than waiting for the pregnancy to end on its own. We spent the rest of that day in the hospital and at home as my wife recovered from the surgery.
This was one of those experiences that kicks you in the teeth and makes you realize bad things really can happen, just that easily. I struggled with at the time, and still have the “what if” thoughts that naturally occur with such a loss. It was probably the first real tragic event that had occurred in my life and it took me time to work through it.
As hard as it was for me, I think it was probably 10 times worse for my wife to deal with. When my wife finds out she is pregnant, she immediately plans the next year of her life. I think a mother has an instant bond to the baby as soon as the test comes out positive. That is what kept her going as she suffered through two months of morning sickness, and all the other difficulties associated with the first trimester of the pregnancy.
What hurt me most was watching that bond taken from her. It seemed like there were reminders every day. Someone was always announcing they were pregnant. There were friends and family members who were pregnant and had babies when ours should have been born. Even to this day there are reminders of that horrible day when everything fell apart. If I had the power to take that pain from her, I would do it in a heartbeat.
It was impossible to understand at the time, but looking back at that tragedy in our lives, we can see that it was a pivotal turning point in our lives. It was not the end of the struggles and difficulty. In fact it was the beginning of an ongoing battle with infertility that has not allowed us to have any more biological children. But had it not been for that first step, we never would have started down the path to adopt the three beautiful children that have filled our home since that day.