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When The Ultrasound Goes Silent

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She rolled over the doppler to check Dorothy’s heart rate. I closed my eyes hoping to relieve the pressure in my head. As she pushed and prodded at my belly, I noticed she had actually stopped talking.


“Where does she usually hide?” she asked after a minute or two. I pointed at the lower left corner of my uterus; her usual spot. She rolled the wand over the area and I waited to hear that familiar lub-dub that had been so strong just hours before. Nothing.


“I’m going to get the NST machine,” she said hurriedly as she left the room. Mike rolled over in the hospital bed next to me, where he had been sleeping for the past week. “Everything okay?” he murmured sleepily. “Yeah,” I said “The nurse isn’t very good with the Doppler.” I tried to keep my tone light, but my chest was heavy with worry. The nurse strapped me to the fetal monitor and no matter how she positioned it, there was nothing to monitor.


“I’m getting the doctor. Try to relax hon.” She patted my hand and rushed out of the room. Mike quickly dressed and came to sit on the edge of my bed. “It’ll be okay,” he told me, but the tone of his voice matched the fear in his eyes. I couldn’t speak because I didn’t know the truth. I didn’t know if it was going to be okay and I didn’t want to be a liar.


Minutes later the nurse returned with one of the residents who had been supervising me that week. As the doctor rolled in the portable ultrasound machine, I noticed that her mouth was not in its usual smile, but her lips were thin and pressed tightly together. There was silence in the room as the wand glided over my stomach. With every silent second, I tightened my grip on Mike’s hand. My eyes were glued to the doctor’s face. Before she said the words, I knew what had happened. Her eyes were filling with tears and her breath was heavy.

“I’m so sorry” she whispered. “There is no heartbeat.”


And, then came the screams of anguish.


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