Wednesday was busy. It usually is as I don't do ultrasounds on Tuesday so I usually have catch up to do with the women from Tuesday and Wednesday prenatals. I had just finished my 5th and was going on to my 6th. She was an unusual woman for here. Short hair. A rambunctious 4 year old girl at her feet. Big belly. Very matter of fact. I could tell her time was stretched thin.
I introduced myself as I walked her down the hall to the exam room. I asked her why she had been referred for my care.
"The midwives said no heartbeat."
Oh Lord, I thought. I took a bit of her history...4th pregnancy, 32 years old, breadwinner for her family. I palpated her belly, a bit boggy.
"When was the last time you felt your baby move?"
"I'm not sure," she said. "But my belly keeps getting hard. Not really contractions, but not normal with my other pregnancies."
I gooped up her belly and applied the probe. A little head appeared, baby was breech. I brought the probe down the neck to the chest area and nothing. No movement...and it wasn't even round anymore. My heart started to race in protest. I searched and watched. Nothing.
The mom's eyes were watching me earnestly, not the monitor. They followed my every movement. Never have I felt the weight of a gaze so strongly. I took a deep breath and grasped her hand. "Wala na, po. Patay na ang puso ng baby mo."
No more, m'am. Your baby's heart has died.
Is there ever a kind way to say those words? She looked at me with that burdened gaze, "But why? What did I do wrong? How will it come out? Do I have to have surgery?"
I explained that often times there's no way of knowing why the baby died, but that because the head was still firm, if she went to the hospital right away, they could induce the labor. It sounded to me as if she had already started to have weak contractions.
I brought in a wonderful Filipina nurse to help explain more fully in Tagalog while the mom broke down in sobs. Why had this happened to her? Just two days before I had scanned a woman whose baby could very well have died from medications she had taken before she knew she was pregnant, but that woman's baby was perfect and alive.
All I can say is I am so grateful the choice is not up to me. I am not sovereign and I am ever thankful for that. I do the best that I can to give love fully, to touch gently, and care greatly. The rest is up to God. We prayed for Rosa before we gave her a letter of referral for a local hospital.
Would you pray, too?
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11:34-36 ESV)