Thursday, July 30th – As I mentioned in post #2, July 30th was a completely normal day. At that point, we had been listening to Gracie’s heartbeat a few times a day with a stethoscope, and that particular day was no different. Listened twice, counted once – heart rate in the high 130s, which was normal for her. Around 10:00 I laid down in bed to read for a bit and wait for Jeff to get home from a quick road trip to Somerset County. While I read Gracie danced up a storm and pounded the heck out of the left side of my belly with her feet. I read until about 11:30 (when Jeff got home) and settled in to sleep around midnight. By all previous accounts, it was a normal day and a normal evening.
Friday, July 31st – As also mentioned in post #2, Gracie was nocturnal for most of the pregnancy. Most pregnant women say that they get up 100 times a night to use the bathroom. I woke up several times a night because Gracie thought it was cool to rehearse for her ‘Stomp’ audition all night long. Once I was awake, however, off to the bathroom we went. Anyway, back to July 31st - first of all, it rained all day. All damn day. And it didn't just rain - it poured. When my alarm went off at 0745 that morning, the very first thought to run through my head was that I had slept all night (with one very brief exception) and almost felt refreshed (something that pregnant women almost never feel). I immediately panicked a tiny bit, but then reminded myself that there had been a few other nights that she had allowed me to get some much needed sleep. I got a shower and went to the office to see my only patient of the day at 9:00. I had planned to use the remainder of the morning for paperwork and then head off to our 12:15 appointment for ultrasound, NST and midwife follow-up…then on to the Growers’ Market for organic goodies.
Gracie did not move at all while I was getting ready for work, nor did she move while I was playing P.T. between 9:00 and 9:45. I found this to be odd, as she usually moved around until some time between 9:00 and 10:00 before settling in to sleep for the day, but I was kind of hoping that it meant that she was starting to get her days and night sorted out. After the lone patient left the office, I sat down at my desk and decided to do my first heart rate check of the day before diving into charts. Nothing – anywhere. I laid down on a treatment table to reposition things, and still nothing – except the beginning stages of panic setting in pretty quickly. Stethoscope in hand, I headed home to let Jeff listen. I moved Gracie around pretty rigorously in an attempt to wake her up, but no luck. Jeff found nothing. This went on for about 20 minutes, and as each minute passed, the fear of every expectant parent started to become my reality. I sat down on the bathroom floor and didn’t move for 10 or 15 minutes – we had decided to call the OB office, but I couldn’t make myself get up off of the floor. The longer I waited to make the call, the less real it seemed. I finally called the OB office some time between 1015 and 1030 to tell them what was going on and ask if we should go early for our appointment. Long story short, we arrived at the OB office about an hour later for our appointments with pre-packed hospital bag in tow. We got in a few minutes early for our ultrasound, which was the first leg of our appointment marathon. The ultrasound tech asked how we were, and I told him what was going on – his response was pretty upbeat, and to the effect of ‘well, let’s see what we find.’ In complete silence he put the ultrasound transducer on my belly and went right to her rib cage, and I had the answer that I knew was coming. There was no flicker within the rib cage – Gracie had died some time during the night. Still in complete silence, he took a few still pictures, asked me again when I had last felt her move, then said “excuse me for just a minute – I’ll be right back.” He went to get the doctor, who came in to officially tell us that Gracie’s heart was no longer beating.
We went from the ultrasound room into Dr. W’s office and he gave us the option of inducing labor that afternoon or returning the next day for induction. He gave us some time to discuss it privately, but no discussion was needed for us to decide that immediate induction was best. While he was out of the office, we cried – really hard. I called my sister, who said only “I’ll be on the road in 20 minutes” and left a message for Jen. When Dr. W came back in, we got down to business. We told him our decision and he said that he had already talked to the midwife who was covering L&D and that she was expecting us. We left the office via the ‘back’ door and started the slow trek over to L&D.
Click here to read more about the hours before Gracie's birth.