Let me start by apologizing. I am sorry for the sadness that you are about to feel. Though I feel that the details of this moment are very important.
Even for the routine visits, Sarah always wanted me there, for every appointment. Yes, Sarah can worry a bit, but what made her so cautious? Why did she think I needed to be there? She basically explained that I needed to be there just in case something bad happened. Is that some sort of intuition? I presume that most women probably feel this way during pregnancy. I guess it is heightened senses. Whatever the case, she wanted me there and I never questioned it.
Each visit always started the same. First, we have a brief conversation with the nurse, a few questions, and then a quick listen to the baby’s heartbeat with a small handheld device. At this point, we knew the routine. With only one week left, this was our last appointment. If she did not go into labor before then, we would induce. It was the exact same thing we did with our first child. Nowhere in my mind did I think this would not be a normal visit. Previously, there were times the nurse could not find the heartbeat immediately, but after a couple of tries, it would appear. So when this occurred, I did not think anything of it and remained calm. The nurse went out to get a more experienced nurse. This woman was full of confidence as she walked in. “Let me find this real quick,” she said. She gave no signs of doubt, so I did not either. However, I could tell Sarah had doubts. I maintained my optimistic look, as the second nurse tried for a few minutes and decided we should try the ultrasound machine. So we went to that room and, again, we were met with the positive and optimistic approach of the ultrasound tech. She made us feel like this was not anything to worry about. We would get to the bottom of this and she would prove that everything was fine. The doctor was with us now. He tried with the hand held device, but also had no luck. I should have known something was not right, but I would not allow myself to believe the worst. I remained optimistic up until the words came out the doctor’s mouth. The moment can only be described as a wrecking ball suddenly crashing through our souls. As soon as the ultrasound showed a clear picture of Brad, the doctor knew. He wasted no time. He was as professional and considerate as you could be in a situation like this. He looked at Sarah and said, “I’m sorry. He has passed.”
I did not see this coming. I was not prepared. The wrecking ball came crashing in and our souls laid in ruins. It immediately caused tremendous damage, taking a part from each of us. I wish I could remember everything the doctor said after that. I had a million thoughts rushing through my mind as he explained the process of how we would deliver Brad’s lifeless body into the world. He made it quick. He said we could take as much time as we needed, then stepped out of the room. Obviously, we were both crying. As the door shut, my first thought was, “If I am hurting this bad, Sarah must be hurting 10 times worse.” Some sort of switch went off inside of me and I went straight to her. I repeatedly told her that this was not her fault. We did not know at the time what caused his passing, but I knew she would immediately start thinking the worst. It was the only thing I could think about: Just make her understand that she was not the cause of this. Truthfully, in that moment, the cause did not matter. The reality was that he was gone and we were hurting. We held each other tight for what seemed like an hour. At that moment, we let go of each other and faced the inevitable. It was the beginning of something that was about to change our lives forever.
The process of inducing labor and delivery would take about six to seven hours. It is the exact the same way you would induce and deliver any baby. It was the same way we were supposed to do it in just one week. We were assigned a specific nurse by the doctor. He explained that she was a cut above the rest. He assigned her to us specifically and we were to utilize her as much as we needed. She came in with the utmost confidence and told us the details. Upon some of our initial questions, she did not have the answers. She told us that she too was going through this for the first time. She knew this was not a normal child delivery, but she was willing to go through it with us. We could tell she was fully committed. Her lack of experience in still births (a term we hate to use) was not going to hinder her support. She maintained the upmost professionalism, poise, and confidence. I am sure behind the scenes she had other emotions, but she did not let us know that. She was a small rock of stability, not a mountain, but a small rock. Nonetheless, in that moment, she was our only support.
Family came in and the questions began. The most difficult question was why it happened. No one had that answer. Then, it was time. This is supposed to go so much differently. This is when the excitement is supposed to occur, when you should have tears of joy upon seeing your new baby. I could not look. I just stayed as close to Sarah as I possibly could. Our faces’ were side by side, mine looking away. The doctor gave the command for the final push and I heard him gasp. He was the first to see the cause of death. The doctor asked me to look down at Brad. I hesitated, but my curiosity took over. I trusted our doctor and I knew he would not ask me to look if it was not a good reason. I looked down and saw the doctor holding him. Brad’s umbilical cord was entangled in his legs. The reason was clear now. A small sense of relief was present, but it was short lived. The emptiness inside of us only grew larger. He was now here in our presence, but he was lifeless. We knew this was going to be the reality, but now we were facing it. How was this fair? I became angry. I am still angry. I cannot explain our pain. We were somewhat lifeless too. We physically felt pain inside of us. It makes no sense, but it is the only way to describe it. Sarah was hurting. I was hurting. As I saw her pain increase, I felt more and more useless.
I wish I could end this post with some sort of positive takeaway, but there is no way to do that. However, this moment is important. This moment is the base of the story. This is where we were mentally. We were empty. It seemed like there was a dark cloud hovering over us.