01 April 2008

I Hold Them in My Heart

Why can't it be "April Fool's!" now that my patient's baby died at 6 months and my dad euthanized his cat, and I got an asinine crank call telling me I had so many days to live?

Yesterday. Can't I wish it one big joke? Ha ha, just kidding?

The mom came in for her routine prenatal. Mentioned no movement. Watched her daughter draw happy pictures of the baby. I searched for the heart. The quick beat I love to share with the big siblings. Is that a horse in there?! A train? I searched again. I prayed. I tried to make my face neutral, my eyes soft. I took her into the room with the ultrasound. And the little one only floated with his mama's breaths. Not still, but swaying in the fluid. I couldn't get the words out before my heart cried. My tears fell. I think your baby died. You need to go to the hospital for a better ultrasound. But I knew. She knew.

In 10 years, this was the first fetal demise. Nasty jargon for a loss inexplicable. The term you don't share with the family. Fetal. Oh, no... a baby, a loved member of the family. Demise. Should that soften the blow? Make it so that the midwife doesn't cry when she collapses in the chart room, her colleagues with no choice to hear it out? I was unprepared for the moment, caught in the disbelief. Consulting with the perinatologist like I would for fibroids or diabetes, while the majority of my soul paced the room, asking why?

And when I came home to tell it all again to Augusto, it was too familiar. The same sequence of sadness when we lost our first son. That empty, empty sound on the doppler. The panicked face of the resident. Then the words that became only the sound of nothing in the room, of everything lost in our hearts.

I told the family of my loss. Felt strangely grateful for some small connection to their crumbling souls. I am so sorry. What else is there, really, to say?

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