At 38 weeks pregnant, lying on my back is not only uncomfortable, it makes me feel vulnerable. Like a turtle lying on it's shell, I feel unwieldy, unable to get up quickly or move easily. As I lay on the examining table in my OB's office, flat on my back, those feelings are never more apparent.
She squirts the warm gel on my belly and runs the doppler gently across my huge expanse of belly. I am anxious, as always, to hear the comforting sound of my baby's heartbeat. Don't be afraid, I tell myself as I listen to the static coming from the machine. I strain my ears to hear even a faint echo of baby. The doctor is asking me questions about the headaches I am having that seem to indicate further issues with my blood pressure, but I try to block her out so that I can hear babe.
The Doctor lifts the doppler for a second and asks me where we usually hear baby. I point to the right side of my tummy as she squirts more gel. I feel my heart start to race as she places the wand back on my belly, pushing a bit harder now.
My mind is going places I don't want it to go. Tears start to stream down my face as I think, "I knew I would never hold this baby in my arms alive." I feel resigned to the fate of another dead baby. More minutes pass, each one has the weight of hours in it as the doctor continues to move the wand around. She notices the sobs racking my body and starts to croon to me. "It's okay, sometimes baby moves into a position that is hard to capture. We have an ultrasound machine here and we will find him with that. When did you last feel movement? See, it will be fine. You have been happy with his movements, right? It's okay."
All I can think is that she must not remember that I have been here before. Straining to hear a baby's heartbeat that had ceased to beat. Hoping against hope, but that time I never once imagined that my baby could actually be dead. This time I can think nothing else. Hope has left my heart, fleeing with the static that fills my ears.
And then. And then I hear it! The OB has moved the doppler all the way behind my ribs and we hear it, strong and loud, and now my tears fall in utter, disbelieving relief. "There he is! Strong and healthy at 150 beats. He is fine." The doctor sounds as relieved as I feel. She showed no alarm for those long moments of silence, but now it is evident that I was not the only one who doubted.
So baby Zed is healthy and strong and we are still awaiting his blessed birth. My heart was broken and mended again, even if the stitches are a bit haphazard and loose this time. Hope has taken up fleeting residence in my soul once again. But as I lay in bed tonight, weeping quietly to myself, I am not sure for whom I weep. All I can think of is the family from my church who received the news I did 6 years ago, that their much loved baby has died in her womb. A few Sunday's ago I sat in the pew and watched this couple walk to the front for prayer. I had no idea why, they weren't ready to announce or talk about what had happened. But as I watched them, I started to sob, I felt in my spirit why they were up there and my heart broke for them.
And it breaks today for all of the others who have held their lifeless babies in their wombs or arms, all hope gone, hearts broken completely, feeling as if they will never mend again. Never hold hope in their hearts again. And I pray that hope returns. That hearts mend. Souls soar once more. Because with God's help, I have come back from that awful place, the brink of the abyss, bottomless sorrow and even bitterness that threatened to creep in and take over. God has healed my heart, not just once, but over and over again. Fear has threatened to come in and take over, but my God is bigger than my fear and he eases it and allows hope to fill me over and over. Today I feel, once again, that there is a day soon coming where I will hold baby Zed in my arms as he cries lustily in protest of leaving his warm nest within me.
And I also know, within my heart of hearts, that the day is coming that I will even hold the baby girl that was taken from me too soon. She is well and perfectly happy in heaven with her God, and one day He will let me be her mother again, when my days here with you are over.