I heard the baby’s heartbeat again yesterday. Without the proper context, you probably don’t realize just how much it meant to me.
For the last several days, I had a foreboding feeling about this pregnancy. I haven’t felt much movement, but I did think I was feeling small occasional kicks and gentle, indistinct movement. I also seemed to be “popping out” last week – going from just a little thick around the waist to Obviously Pregnant.
But then on Saturday I realized that my belly seemed unusually still and quiet. At 18 weeks, this concerned me a little. I started looking for movement, sure that I would find it.
By Sunday my concerns were becoming more serious. I hadn’t talked about it yet to hubby so I didn’t want to say anything to our friends at church, but I felt awkward every time somebody asked how I was feeling. The more I tried to feel movement – any movement! – the more sure I became that I couldn’t feel a thing. And was my belly actually getting smaller?
I finally mentioned it to hubby and we agreed to call my midwife in the morning. I had an appointment for Thursday and was hoping to move it to Tuesday. Hubby was home all day Monday, and I still felt no movement. Ann heard my concerns and immediately agreed to squeeze me in on the following day. I was relieved that I would have an answer soon, but the stillness in my belly seemed too powerful to ignore and I was already quietly grieving for this baby.
Yesterday morning as I drove the 75 miles to my midwife’s office, my head was filled with questions. “Will there be a heartbeat?” was not even on my list. I was asking myself what it would be like to deliver at 4 months (I have had early miscarriages and a full term stillbirth, but never in the second trimester.) I was wondering if we could find a nice little wooden chest at Hobby Lobby to serve as a coffin. We could bury the baby in the family cemetery next to our stillborn daughter Sarah. What would we name the baby, and would the gender be apparent to our untrained eyes at this stage? I was wondering if we would need to notify the county coroner after the delivery, and would the midwife need to be present or would it be safe to deliver alone unattended? I composed the blog post in my head: the title would be from Job, The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. I was sad, but content. We are all His.
When I arrived a bit early, I sat down to read and wait, but the midwife was ready for me. She hurried through the preliminary parts of the checkup: blood pressure, urine test, etc. Then I laid down and she rubbed cold jelly on my belly. I was composed, thinking I knew what to expect. I had heard the deafening silence of a baby’s still heart once before. As she got ready, she warned me that the baby at 18 weeks has lots of room to move and hide; I shouldn’t jump to conclusions if she didn’t find a heartbeat immediately.
She laid the cold head of the stethoscope on my belly and we instantly heard the most beautiful sound imaginable: the pitter patter of a tiny heart. My composure melted and I burst into tears of surprise and relief, thanking God for entrusting this child to us for a little longer.
And that was what I did on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade this year. I celebrated an unborn life.