Carol and I had a scary moment a week ago. This baby is incredibly active and loves to do handstands and whatnot, much to Carol’s discomfort. But on Thursday and Friday, he or she just stopped moving completely, which scared us half to death. You see, when a baby stops moving like that, chances are that it’s nothing. But sometimes it can be a sign that the umbilical cord has been restricted in some way and the baby is not getting enough oxygen is dropping, hence the decreased movement. And a lot of late term miscarriages are caused by this complication. So on Friday we went to the doctor, who confirmed through ultrasound that the baby is doing just fine.
Curiously, the same exact thing happened two years ago with Jonathan. So rather than hash all out the details from last week, I’m just going to paste a section from my manuscript that describes the same incident:
It was July of 2010, and Carol had only a few more weeks of treatments left. We had fallen into something of a rhythm by that point: she would have treatments on Thursday and would be knocked out of commission for a few days as a result. I would then step up daddy duties around the house until the weekend passed, and by that time she would be feeling much better, almost her usual self. I would revert back to caveman status for a few days, and on Thursday, we would do it all over again. It was nice to have a weekly rhythm, even if that rhythm involved going to the hospital so that your wife could have caustic chemicals injected into her body.
That particular Thursday was no different from the others. But a few days afterwards, in an oddly flat voice, Carol said, “Peter, I haven’t felt the baby move since Thursday.” At first, being the ignorant male that I am, I didn’t know why she was telling me this – was this bad news, was it goods, what? I had no idea. But one look at her face confirmed that this was very, very bad news. Even though she had spoken calmly enough, I could tell that she was trying hard not to alarm me, and trying even harder to keep herself together. “The baby has never been this still for this long.”
“That’s it,” I thought to myself. “The baby is gone.” The chemotherapy drugs must have been too much for the baby, and it had succumbed to the toxicity. I thought back to the miscarriage that Carol had had nearly a year ago, and fear washed over me at the prospect that it was all happening again. We had lost another baby.
“Let’s go,” I told her. “Let’s go to the hospital right away.” At first Carol resisted, telling me that she was just being paranoid, and that she was sure the baby would move any minute. But knowing my wife as I did, I knew that she must have already waited a while to tell me this. So I insisted that we pack up everyone and leave for the hospital right away to make sure. “Don’t worry sweetheart, I’m sure the baby is fine. But let’s just go to make sure, there’s no harm in that.”
That’s what I told her. But what I was thinking to myself was, “Please God, no. Please, please, not now. This baby is all that is keeping us together. Please don’t take this baby from us. Not like the last time.” My reformed and renewed understanding of God, so much stronger than before, was beginning to twist and buckle under the stress.
We got the girls into the car and drove to Georgetown Hospital. I remember that it was hot and humid that day, as it often is in the DC region, but also beautifully bright and sunny, which contrasted with the storm that I felt inside of me, and I’m sure that Carol felt inside of herself. We checked her into the hospital, the same hospital where she was scheduled to deliver the baby in a few weeks, and waited for a doctor to do an ultrasound to confirm that the baby was still alive.
Carol lay on the examining table, and I sat next to her, holding her hand. I had an overwhelming sense of déjà vu, and was immediately brought back to the last time we had been like this together, in the surgical ward of Sibley Hospital seven months ago, and Doctor Magnant had shared with us the shocking news that Carol was pregnant. How strange to be in such a similar position again, our hopes, our joy, our peace, hanging in the balance once more.
The doctor came in and began to use an ultrasound probe to try to find the baby’s heartbeat. As she moved the probe around my wife’s stomach, the monitor was silent. There was nothing, just faint static and subtle whooshes. She moved to another location, and still nothing. She moved once more, and we suddenly heard:
The baby’s heart was beating. The baby was alive.
Carol’s face broke, and she dissolved into tears. I exhaled, for the first time since the ultrasound started, and gave thanks to God from the deepest place in my heart. The baby was alive, and doing fine. It had just been resting for a while. Once more, Carol and I had sat together, waiting for the most terrible of news, and once more God demonstrated that He had a plan, and that plan would not fail.
Good times, good times. Thanks to everyone who stood by us two years ago, and thanks to everyone who stands by us now. Just 10 more weeks until this baby is due!!!