Today I got a second notice of a bill from the radiologists who did the ultrasound when we arrived at the hospital. I already set up the payment in my online bill pay so it’s on its way. Our portion on that bill is only $10.67, but yet they feel the need to send me 2 notices in a short time period. This is the bill for the ultrasound that confirmed that Luke was truly gone. The one that showed his still heart as the doctor had seen at his office. I do not need repeated reminders of that horrible moment. It just brings it back.
We went to the doctor on a Monday morning for a normal appointment and non-stress test. It was the start of week 39. I was having non-stress tests at the end of the pregnancy twice a week because I was 36 and got gestational diabetes, so I was “high risk”. Little did I know what that risk really would be. The usual nurse, who I liked a lot and who also had a son named Luke, began to set up the equipment and couldn’t find the heartbeat. We had had this problem before because Luke would move away from the doppler. Also, my placenta was in the front of my belly and I am chubby, so there was some matter to listen through. I had to hold the Doppler pressed into my tummy for the 15-20 minutes several times to hear him well. But he had passed with flying colors every time. The doctor said “textbook” and “beautiful” about his heart rates. Now wish I had soaked in every moment of that beautiful heartbeat. Instead, I had been somewhat uncomfortable having to keep my hand pressed onto my stomach and was happy when we could be done with each test. I was sure he was fine. I never worried about anything happening to him. I was so naïve. I’m sad to think how different it will be next time, if we are hopefully blessed with another baby.
When the usual tactics didn’t find his heartbeat, I asked if we might need to use the ultrasound equipment. I was still not worried. My hairstylist, who was only about 10 weeks pregnant, had just told me about our shared OB not being able to find her baby’s heartbeat on the doppler. She said the doctor then moved her to the ultrasound room and found it with that equipment. She said she looked over afterwards and her husband was crying because it had worried him. I still didn’t feel this worry.
The ultrasound tech who I had seen several times was on vacation that week. So my doctor’s partner came in to the ultrasound. He had trouble getting the equipment up and running and explained that he rarely used it and to please be patient while he figured it out. I laid there waiting, still not worried. But then when he placed the wand on my belly and was very quiet for several minutes, I began to worry. Josh said he was worried from the start, way before I was. He went and got a nurse to come in and help him. They did not turn on the screen, so I could not see the picture they were looking at at. It continued to be very quiet. Then he just said, “Okay, so there is no heartbeat.” No comforting hand on the arm or leg, no warning words like “I have some bad news…”. Just 6 horribly casual, devastating words. I screamed “No! This can’t be happening.! This isn’t real!” or something along those lines. Then my next sentence was “This is my fault.” I also said “I just want to die.” It is by far the most horrible, shocking moment of my life. I was supposed to be there to talk about my baby’s impending birth in the next week. I was ready and so excited for him to come. I had been off work for 2 weeks finishing things up in his nursery. I had washed his clothes, cleaned his car seat with antibacterial wipes, hung the shelves and picture frames in his room that would soon have his cute pictures in them. I bought a wipes warmer at the last minute after a friend said we really did need one. I remember when I told her I got one, she texted me, “Luke’s buns will appreciate it.” I had spent every minute thinking about him and preparing for him. He was coming so soon. Life was about to change in a beautiful, exciting and overwhelming way. But it didn’t. Instead, it turned upside down and crushed me.
Because my OB’s partner was so unsure with the ultrasound equipment, on the nearly silent ride to the hospital, my husband said, “I think he didn’t know what he was doing and he just hit the wrong button. Like a ‘still image’ button or something.” I saw the reason in this and a little hope came back into my heart. I wanted that to be true so badly and it could have been. I told the doctor at the hospital this and she said well, you certainly need to feel sure, so she ordered another ultrasound. That ultrasound was the longest and most silent. The girl did not say one word. Josh and my mom watched the screen, but I could not see it. I didn’t want to see it. But it confirmed the horrible truth that was just beginning to seep in, along with shock.
So, Prescott Radiologists, can you please stop sending me bills for your $10.67?! Don’t know our baby died?! I don’t need the reminder of that horrible moment. It has seared my heart in permanent way. I don’t need your stupid bill in the mail to tell me how wrong my life turned. The money is coming, please leave me alone. We certainly owe many others way more than you for this baby that we don’t have with us.