What Went Wrong?
At my scheduled 36-week prenatal visit three days earlier, I'd felt fine but mentioned that it was taking me longer -- sometimes an hour and a half -- to get my kick counts at night. My obstetrician, Alisa Williams, M.D., listened to the baby's heartbeat and didn't detect anything unusual. "Call me in two days if you don't see an improvement." She didn't seem alarmed, so I tried not to be.
A couple of days later, I dropped Bradley off at kindergarten. When I got home, Randy, who works as a police officer, had just finished a 12-hour graveyard shift. I told him that I hadn't noticed any change in the baby's kicking. We called Dr. Williams, who instructed me to head to San Diego's Mercy Hospital for a stress test. Randy insisted on coming along, even though he was bleary-eyed and needed sleep.
At the hospital, the technician strapped a band around my stomach to measure any contractions and another band to monitor the baby's heartbeat. She tried for several minutes with me in different positions but couldn't find a beat. When she left the room to call Dr. Williams, I turned to Randy with fear in my eyes. "Everything's going to be okay," he said.
Dr. Williams arrived, breathless -- she had run from her office across the street. As she performed an ultrasound, I couldn't bring myself to look at the screen. "Nadine, here is the baby," Dr. Williams said. "And this is the heart." She pointed to a dark area on the monitor that wasn't moving. "I'm so sorry." Time stopped.
I waited for her to tell me what we were going to do to save the baby, but she remained silent. It was too late to do anything. With tears in her eyes, Dr. Williams hugged me. I started to cry. Randy cried. We held on to each other, sobbing. Suddenly, I remembered a magazine article that I'd once read about stillbirth. "They're going to make me deliver this baby," I stammered to my husband, feeling a new rush of despair and hopelessness.The doctor told us to go home, collect our thoughts, and think about when we wanted to schedule the delivery. Randy and I walked out in a daze. It was exactly one month before my due date. How could things have gone so wrong so fast?