The first time I heard it, I was six weeks pregnant. I was visiting a friend in the hospital who had just had a baby and the lullaby played over the intercom announcing a baby had been born. I was giddy with excitement thinking that in just eight short months, our new life as a family of three would begin to the sound of that same lullaby.
The room was quiet as the nurse moved the transducer from one side of my stomach to the other and then back again. The longer she spent looking for it, the more puzzled she became.
“I’m having a difficult time here,” she said. “I’m going to go get the doctor and see if she can help.” And then she was gone.
I knew something was wrong. I knew something was wrong before I got there, but the nurse confirmed it when she left the room.
My doctor entered and did what the nurse had done just minutes before. The sound of silence was deafening as I laid there waiting for the results of my doctor’s examination.
Finally, with a soft voice, the doctor said, “Megan, we can’t find a heartbeat.” As the tears began to roll down my face, she continued: “I know this is a lot to process and you probably aren’t hearing anything I’m saying, but we need to take you to the hospital right now, so you can deliver your baby.”
She was right. I barely heard a word she said including the word “deliver”.
I thought I was going to the hospital for a D&C. I wasn’t expecting what came next. The doctor would be inducing labor and I would have to deliver my baby. I was two days shy of the 20 week mark in my pregnancy.
Roughly ten years prior to this moment, I watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where a woman had to deliver her stillborn child. To this day, I remember watching that episode and thinking that having to deliver your dead baby must be one of the worst things a woman could ever have to endure. I was right.
The hospital’s grief counselor visited us the first day to give her condolences, talk about our options and give us some reading material about how to handle our grief during and after our stay.
Before speaking to her, my husband and I decided we didn’t want to see or hold our baby. We didn’t want to remember her that way.
“In previous cases, I’ve never had a couple regret seeing or holding their baby,” the counselor said. “Think about it and if you change your mind, let one of the nurses know.” We didn't change our minds.
The decision not to hold her quickly topped my list of biggest life regrets. In the weeks that followed, my arms ached to hold her. As if by holding her, she would know that we loved her and she wasn't alone when she died. The weight of never holding her felt heavier than if I actually had. She was only 8 ounces, roughly the size of a banana, but the guilt I carried felt much heavier.
We were told from the start that we may never know why this happened. After a lot of tests on both her and me after delivery, it was determined by my doctor that the cause of death was a cord accident.
Despite having some answers, I researched second trimester cord accidents trying to find more information as to why they happen, their frequency and how to cope with this sort of outcome. It took a lot of time and dead end research for me to realize that coping with the loss of a pregnancy at any stage is difficult. There is no standard, no expected length of time it takes to heal and no guide on how to do it most effectively or efficiently.
Though well-intentioned, no one’s words really made me feel better. None of the “well, at least you can get pregnant” or “that just wasn’t your baby” comments provided any solace or consolation to what we were going through. However, a long time friend whose pregnancy journey also included loss said the only thing that I remember to have an impact.
“You were a great mother to your baby. She was warm, never hungry and always safe with you. She never felt sadness or heartache or pain but only love. You were a great mom.”
As the days passed, my sudden outbursts of crying and sadness lessened. The silence during the initial ultrasound didn’t haunt me like it had at the beginning. The lights in my life began to grow again and with them, the belief that our journey to have a family would one day come to an end.
To this day, I can still hear the lullaby that played over the hospital speakers every time a baby was born during our two day stay. I remember with every sound of that song, my feelings changed. I went from sad, to angry, to heartbroken, to jealous, and finally to hopeful. I believed with all of my heart that we would hear that song again, but the next time, it would be for us. I knew God’s plan for us included a child and I held onto that faith in him and his plan as we restarted our journey for a child.
On September 14th, 2014, ten months, six days and roughly three hours after delivering our first baby girl, Sarah, we welcomed our second, Nora, into the world and the lullaby finally played for us.
Written by Megan Blanks. Megan is a working mom and aspiring writer who lives in Atlanta, GA. She’s married to her college sweetheart and together they have a spirited one year old daughter. Besides her family and friends, she adores cooking, running, writing, everything chambray and fruit snacks. You can find her on Instagram.
Image by Bethany Rogers.