Shortly before my 38th birthday, we discovered I was pregnant. This would be my fourth pregnancy and the journey up until this point was long and difficult, struggling with years of infertility and loss. My first pregnancy ended in a devastating termination at 22 weeks for the sake of my unborn daughter’s health. My second pregnancy was successful – my son, Joey, had just turned two. My third pregnancy ended in a missed miscarriage in the first trimester.
My husband, Josh, and I were cautiously optimistic as I scheduled an early appointment for a scan. When that checked out, we did all the necessary, suggested, and optional testing we could along with an amnio before letting the cat out off the bag to family and friends. I was over 25 weeks along by then and although Josh and I wanted to keep it to ourselves, people were starting to ask questions and we felt it was safe to let the world know.
To be honest, I never felt comfortable celebrating or letting myself simply enjoy the pregnancy due to my past experiences, although after about 32 weeks, I let myself relax a bit. I’d gone into labor with my son at 37 weeks, so I believed that at this point, we didn’t have anything to worry about. Scans and tests were all coming back normal. I was ready and I couldn’t wait to meet our daughter.
At 36 weeks, I was getting dressed for what I expected to be one of my last non-stress tests when I realized that I hadn’t felt our baby move for quite a while. I couldn’t quite remember the last time I felt her kick – it was Thursday and I’d seen my brand-new nephew on Monday and felt her kick while I was holding him. Was that really the last time? She’d been quiet throughout the pregnancy compared to my son. I thought he’d come out of me doing backflips, as much kicking as he did. I jostled my belly and drank some juice to make her active, but still, I didn’t feel her move. I told myself that she’s running out of room. Trying not to worry, I headed out the door.
On the way to the appointment, I was still anxious about not feeling the baby move for a while and negative thoughts popped into my head. At the same time, I kept telling myself I was just overreacting and everything was fine. Besides, I would see her little heartbeat during the NST, a new set of ultrasound pictures would be added to her collection, and life would continue to be normal.
Once I arrived, I was led back by a technician named Jenna. She wasn’t the usual technician I got – I can’t remember her name. I liked it – was it Quinn? Something somewhat rare, but becoming more common – at least with her age group. Had we not already narrowed our choices down to two names, her name would’ve been in the running. But on this day, I had Jenna and she set up the equipment while I laid back prepared to read the novel I’d brought. She was skimming the fetal doppler over my belly searching for the heartbeat, but not able to find it. I thought maybe Jenna wasn’t as experienced. A few weeks before, our baby girl was transposed (sideways) and the next week she was head-down. Then the week before this appointment, she was breech. Jenna continued to scan different areas of my belly. Maybe the baby was just in a difficult position to detect the heartbeat, but after several minutes, panic set in. I tried to hold back tears and swallow the lump in my throat, but I couldn’t keep my emotions in check and with a breath, I started sobbing. I knew things were bad.
Jenna put a heart monitor on me so that she could make sure that she wasn’t detecting my heartbeat, but she still couldn’t find my baby’s. She left to go get a doctor who came in with a bedside ultrasound machine and started scanning my belly.
I heard the doctor say, “There’s baby’s head… there’s baby’s stomach…”
Then, after a significant pause, “I’m so sorry. There is no heartbeat.”
I knew it before she said it, but when she said it, I began wailing. I couldn’t stop myself. My anguish was a siren. It was the sound of my heart breaking.
We named her Micah. Micah Nadine Woods. Her middle name comes from my great aunt, who was a very special person in my life. I could write a book about the hours spent waiting for my daughter to be born sleeping, or the days in the hospital I stayed to spend time with her after she left my body, or of the suffocating grief I felt and still feel not having her here.
There are no words to describe the ache of losing my daughter – the little girl who I never got to hear cry or see blink or feel the warmth of in my arms. It’s like a dark tide washed over my soul and hasn’t receded. It may never recede. My heart may forever be flooded. Drowning. Sometimes at night, lying in bed, while my husband sleeps beside me and I still find it hard to breathe and the weight on my chest bares down and I slip under the surface of sorrow.
Special thank you to Katie, for sharing the story of her sweet babies here today. Katie is loving mama to four: Kilenne – June 5, 2015, Joey – June 1, 2016, Baby November – November, 2017, and Micah – February 2, 2019