One Week Ago Today

A creative writing teacher told me once that you should wait at least 5 years before writing about a personal traumatic experience. As a rule of thumb. I’m hoping that doesn’t apply to blogging because I need a place to process what I’m going through. David and Lily are relying on me to navigate a way through this nightmare and I’m determined not to let them down.

Last Wednesday, back when everything was normal, Lily went to the gym with Memaw, David was on his way to Alabama to pick up his brother for Thanksgiving, I was working on something called the Territory Planner at work, but Olivia was quieter than usual.

I had just been to a regular check up that Monday – just a day and a half earlier – but she wasn’t rolling around in my tummy, telling me good morning with her feet, twirling around as carefree and anxious as most mornings.

Truth is, I’d noticed possibly as early as Monday night the lack of kicking, but I felt (or I thought I felt) her presence so I pushed any worries out of my mind. What could be wrong, afterall? I’d just been checked and everything was fine. We’d just heard her little heart beating. I’d lost a pound and a half, though – was that strange? My blood pressure was slightly higher than normal – was that odd? According to my doctor, no big deal. I was good to go for 2 more weeks. Then, after that, we’re down to every week. I scheduled my next appointment with the receptionist with confidence.

I went to sleep Monday night curious, but not concerned. I woke up Tuesday morning, drank coffee (we were out of OJ – I wonder if we had OJ and I’d drank it and she hadn’t kicked, would I have called the doctor sooner?) and sat very still and though I didn’t feel much movement, I did feel a presence…a distinct presence. So, I went on with my day. Lily and I went shopping with my sister and her two daughters like we did last year when she was in town. If Tina hadn’t been in town, would I have called the doctor sooner? I didn’t want to worry anyone. I didn’t want to look like an overreacter.

By Wednesday, the presence wasn’t enough. I woke up, drank coffee, waited for kicks, went to work, drank cold water, rubbed my belly waiting for kicks, ate lunch while rubbing my belly, waiting for kicks and finally called the doctor.

I just want to make sure everything’s okay.

I’m sure everything’s fine, but why don’t you come on in and let us hook you up to the monitor to be sure? Can you come now?

I cried as I raced down the stairs to the parking lot. I told myself I was overreacting. I thought about not calling my husband, my mother. Sure I was overreacting. Please, let me be overreacting. I called them both anyway and they both assured me we were fine, but call them back.

The nurse gave me a cup to pee in and I weighed myself in the bathroom. I was back up that pound and a half – I thought that was a good sign. She took my blood pressure and asked why I was there. I explained the lack of kicking but the presence was there, she was definitely in there. I’m sure she’s just turned around or maybe there’s just not enough room anymore.

I laid down on the table and she put the wand on my belly. Nothing…wait…no, that sounded like my heartbeat. Moved it around some more…nothing.

Let me get some more gel. You’re probably right – she’s got her big butt sticking out and we can’t get to her heart.

After a few more tries and nothing more than my own faint heart, she went to check on the ultrasound room. I was halfway through a quick text to my husband to reassure him that all would be fine as soon as they checked the ultrasound and she was back with good news. The ultrasound room was free right now.

Let’s get you in there.

The ultrasound nurse was very enthusiastic, very sure everything was fine. She put the gel on and started moving the wand around on my belly. I watched the screen where I saw…nothing. She dropped the wand.

Oh, Catherine, she gasped.

I can’t find the heartbeat.

She went to get the doctor to be sure. Nothing.

Oh my god.

My life turned into a movie at that moment. Or a book, or a nightmare. It wasn’t mine, that’s all I knew. This is not happening to me. But it sure hurt like it was.

No time to digest, no time to think, no time to even wonder about other possibilities or what to do next. It was happening and it was real and it was the worst thing I’d ever known. My worst nightmare was coming true. I was right all along. I knew something was wrong. And I didn’t do anything about it until it was too late.

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