By: Lindsey Dell
My husband and I laughed and joked with each other on the way to our doctor’s appointment. It was February 18, 2020. I was teasing him about some pictures he had hung up recently. They were in a formation that I, personally, would not have chosen. But I asked him to hang the pictures and he hung them. So there’s that.
We had just had an anatomy scan 2 weeks prior, but our baby girl (like her mama) was being stubborn and did not want her picture taken that day. We were asked to come back just so we could get some more pictures of her face, which I was anxious to see.
I was under the care of my regular OB, along with a high-risk OB. I was 37 weeks at the time, and had some kind of blood clotting “thing,” which required daily shots of a blood thinner into my stomach. I did it happily each day because, after all, it was for the baby. That particular day we happened to have a regular OB appointment at 8:00, and then a follow up to our anatomy scan at 10:00.
It’s important to note that all of our tests/scans/genetic testing up to this point had all come back perfectly normal. Baby girl’s heartbeat was always right where it should be, and there was nothing else of concern to either doctor.
That day, with my regular OB, she asked if we wanted to hear the heartbeat (even though we were about to get a more in-depth scan shortly after this appointment). Did we want to hear the heartbeat??? Of course we did! We never turned down a chance to see/hear our sweet girl. The doctor pulled out the little travel-sized machine and put it against my stomach. She moved it around awhile before suggesting maybe we try a portable ultrasound machine. Having no success with that (but not being concerned,) she sent us over to the ultrasound tech. The doctor mentioned she thought the way the baby was facing was making it difficult to find the heartbeat on the machines she was using but a “real” ultrasound would help. Then, everything changed. I got undressed from the waist down, as I did every 2 weeks. My anxiety was “normal,” for someone who is high anxiety all the time. After all, we had nothing to worry about. Everything had been fine so far.
My mom had joined us for this appointment, as she usually did. This was her first grandchild! In the room it was me, my husband, my mother, and the ultrasound tech.
What seemed to be out of nowhere, I heard the words that would literally change me forever. “There’s no heartbeat.”
What??? Check again. I couldn’t say that, because I remember my hand going up to cover my mouth and the tears just started flowing. The ultrasound tech left to tell the doctor, who we met with shortly after. Most of that conversation was a blur but I remember the look of shock on her face when she came in the room.
The rest of the day was spent crying, sending texts that I didn’t want a response to, and basically not knowing what else to do. We had already sold all of our furniture in the guest room because it would be her room. I was 21 weeks pregnant and we had already gotten tons of gifts and items people had given us. Her room was full of stuff already. 21 weeks. Nearly 5 months. Babies are born and survive at 5 months, right???
The next thing I knew, it was 2 days later, and I was at another hospital with another doctor. She explained the procedure they would be doing, and then had to “prep” me for it. That’s ridiculous. How do you ever prep someone to lose their child? Physically, she had to make sure my body was ready to deliver my baby. The prep was physically one of the most painful things I’ve ever dealt with. Mentally, I couldn’t even compare it to anything else. The next day, I went in for my procedure. It wasn’t until 1:00 pm. I was already angry about that. I was hungry and thirsty, not to mention the fact that I was going to the hospital to have my baby taken from me.
The weeks following the procedure were painful, both physically and emotionally. People would ask “how are you?” How do you even answer that? “Eh, ok,” is what I would normally respond.
Fast forward to the present. It’s 6 months later. I am still here, I am still grieving.
Our due date, 6/29/2020, came and went. My therapist recommended that I write a letter to my baby. I decided to wait until that day to do it. It was a Monday and I took off work. It was the first time I would really allow myself to feel my feelings. I lit a candle, went into her room and sat down. I finally looked for the first time at her tiny footprints, in purple ink. They were perfect. I wrote until I had nothing left to say. I thanked her for blessing us for those 5 months. I thanked her for making me realize how much I really did want to be a mother. Until I met my husband, I never wanted to have kids. Kids are annoying, right? I apologized to her for things my body did, knowing full well they weren’t my fault. But I told her everything.
What some people didn’t realize is that we had originally gotten pregnant in late August. We found out about the baby on a Tuesday, and by Friday, I was miscarrying at 5 weeks. The doctor had no reason to think anything was wrong with me. We should be able to have a normal, healthy pregnancy. And luckily for us, we got pregnant again in no time. In October, we found out about our rainbow baby. I knew right away I was pregnant. I just felt it.
So what am I left with? What now?
I’m left with about 15 pounds of “baby weight” from a baby I didn’t get to take home with me. I’m left with her footprints on a piece of paper. I’m left with all the grief and questions and “why me?” We found out a few weeks after our loss that our baby girl had a chromosomal issue that was considered “mosaic,” therefore it was only in 30% of her cells. This would explain why it didn’t show up in any of the testing we did.
I wish I had advice for other grieving mothers. I am not a writer, a blogger, or anything else. I am just someone who went through something tragic. I had many people reach out to me with their advice, so I write this in the hopes that it will even let ONE person know that their feelings are valid. I have gotten tons of advice and I listen to all of it and take it to heart. I don’t have anything to offer, other than to say you are not alone.
After all the gifts and flowers and everything else we received after the fact (which were beautiful and much appreciated), it feels now like the whole world kept moving and I am stuck on February 18, 2020. I am still stuck in long pants and boots and jackets because it’s still February. And our baby was still with us.
If you feel like the whole world has moved on without you, you’re not alone. I am with you, where you are. Whatever date you are stuck in. I am with you.
So, what now? Anxiety over getting pregnant again, anxiety over trying to get pregnant again but not being pregnant yet. Anxiety over everything. My husband and I have much to be thankful for, but our hearts will never be 100% full. There will always be a missing piece. So again, I say if this is where you are, I am with you.
About Lindsey Dell
Lindsey is am a soon-to-be 38 year old, born and raised in the St. Louis area. She lives in Cottleville with her husband and their wheaten terrier puppy. They are both healing and still hopeful that one day they will get their double rainbow baby.