14 October 2018

Game of Heartbeats!

“Is there no heartbeat??”, I asked the nurse as my own heart pounded like a drum. The nurse refrained to comment anything, perhaps, in fear of the possible emotional consequences. With no relief, my eyes moved swiftly between the projected ultrasound image on the wall of my tiny fetus and then onto the nurse’s face to make out something positive from her facial expressions. “We will need a radiologist to redo the scan”, she said after making multiple attempts to observe the fetal heartbeat.

The next one hour seemed like eternity as I googled reasons for not observing a heartbeat in an ultrasound. I was never prepared to see myself in this state, especially since the time I had luckily seen the tiny flicker at my previous scan. I hated the unanimity in my search results and kept modifying my search queries to see a hopeful answer, till it was my turn for the scan.

“Rama, I’m not seeing any cardiac activity in the baby”, these words from the radiologist have since then been echoing in my ears every single day and night. Finding myself in complete denial of the situation, I almost wanted to respond and ask her what that means, when she continued, “Sometimes, nature puts things to an early end if any chromosomal abnormalities get built in the embryo.” My world fell apart at this moment. While I felt my body going numb, the tear glands seemed to be the most active. I was speechless and chose to not listen any further to the radiologist.

This was my first pregnancy and it sure did turn out not only special but an affair of extreme emotions. These 9 weeks were nothing but an eager wait to hold my baby in my arms and embark on the lifetime role of a mother. As I lay alone in bed at the lab, I felt a bout of memories gushing back. I remembered the morning of Sept 10th when I went to bed and whispered to my sleeping husband and told him that we were pregnant. I remembered our talks on whose nails would the baby inherit and whose hair, skin and so on. I remembered our plans to break the news to the world on Diwali when you would have transitioned into second trimester. My thoughts got broken when I heard the radiologist dictate to her assistant to type in my report, “Missed Abortion it is”. It turned out that my baby lost the life 5 days before (Oct 8th). This is the day my mother came into this world and several years later her daughter’s baby decided to let go the very same day but chose not to leave her body. Instead, it continued to stick in my womb and gave me those extra five days of joy even when the reasons were none.

As I built up strength to leave, the radiologist advised me to stay strong and positive. She said, “These things are more common that we know but the good part is that you’re young and there’s always a next time”. They say that things said before the word “but” don’t really matter. I’ve come to believe the vice versa in the event of a baby loss. Every optimism put so far by people after this word seemed irrelevant to me and in no way helped soothe me.

This event in my life has turned out to be the most distressing, transformative yet empowering. No line of vocabulary can do justice to explain my grief. I’ve come to realize the sensitivity in human relationships. I’ve felt every change when the “freedom” of yesteryear got replaced by an awkward silence or at times deliberate ignorance. I also feel empowered and believe that it has given me a true purpose to do my bit to help others who have unfortunately gone through or are going through similar experiences. I’m now cognizant of the taboo that exists in our society on the subject. This resilience has made me stronger and nothing else in the world can scare me more than having seen my lifeless baby slide down my vagina, way before its due time. I wish and hope for all you ladies out there for a better and healthier tomorrow. You deserve to be happy again and you will!


This year I will: rebuild myself.


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