Yesterday morning, I slipped our new videocamera into my jacket pocket and headed out the door with my wife and oldest daughter. We were going to the hospital to hear our 10-week-old baby’s heartbeat for the first time, and I wanted to capture that exciting moment.
We arrived and checked in, and then were ushered to an examination room where we’d hear that heartbeat. The medical technician pressed the fetal doppler unit against my wife’s belly and moved it around. My daughter moved to the side to get a closer look. We heard my wife’s heart, pulsing slowly. We heard unknown swishes and gurgles. But that baby’s heartbeat was elusive.
The technician moved us to another room, where our doctor would take a closer look using an ultrasound machine. Once again a medical device was pressed up against my wife’s belly, this time not to listen, but to see. The doctor moved the monitor so that my wife could see better. My daughter sat on my lap, excited to see the tiny baby that was growing inside her mommy’s belly, excited to get a peek at her new baby brother or sister.
“This doesn’t look good,” the doctor whispered.
The monitor showed an open space, which I interpreted as my wife’s uterus. No spine, no little appendages. Just an open space.
Our doctor zoomed in. On the left side of the open space was a small clump, affixed to the uterine wall. He measured it at less than half an inch — not the size you’d expect from a 10-week-old baby. Tears came to my wife’s eyes. Her face flushed.
The doctor left and came back with two assistants. After another exam, the doctor confirmed with us that the baby had died, probably some time in early March. He assured us that it wasn’t our fault, that sometimes this just happens.
I close my eyes and my imagination goes back a month. I see this tiny baby boy or girl, its tiny heart clicking away at 140 beats per minute. To the degree it’s able, it’s feeling secure, and loved. Then something goes terribly wrong. And our tiny baby with a full-grown spirit opens her eyes and sees not her mommy’s face, but her Savior’s face.
When we got home from the hospital, my wife went upstairs to be alone and my daughter went to the back yard to play with her sisters. I walked to the family room, took the videocamera out of my pocket, and laid it gently on the counter.
My daughter too lost her first child in a similar situation. While my heart grieves to never hold that first grandchild, I’m comforted by the fact that one day I’ll be greeted in heaven by this precious little one. I’m glad I have that hope.