Living Every Mother’s Nightmare

“What the hell? C’mon, kid.” I laid flat on my back, my pregnant belly rising like a full moon.”Hey Dane, come help me a second, ok?”

“Ok.” My four year old appeared in the room. I swivel around and sit up.

“Yell at your baby brother in mommy’s belly as loud as you can, ok? We need to get him to wiggle.”

“Wiggle, Little Brother!!!”

No answer. I drank cold juice so hard and so fast my throat ached. No answer. We left for the Emergency Room. I was stonefaced in the car, clutching my purse on my lap. My husband drove in silence. Hip hop on the radio. I cranked the bass and put two hands on my belly. No answer. Ryan looked over and I shook my head, tears mounting and rolling down my face.

A young orderlie with a man bun sat at the ER intake desk.

“I’m 34 weeks pregnant with my third baby and I haven’t felt him move in several hours.”

Like molasses. “Uhhhhh, ok…your name?” My name is Gimme the Goddamn Fetal Scope, ManBun!! Date of birth. Due date. Number of pregnancy. Wait here for a wheelchair. Fourth floor, maternity services. I marched over to the bed and hiked my shirt, my floral print ballet flats on their sterile bed.

“We’re going to need you to undress into a gown.”

I hustled, bunching the gown behind me for decency’s sake. On the bed, under the sheet, gown up. The goo. A blue disk on a cord. Crunchy potato chip bags. We heard something! No, that was my low beat. Searching, her blue eyes slanted in listening. But I knew. I knew thirty minutes ago when I was mashing on my belly and not getting a one-two-punch response. At 34 weeks and being thin, finding a heartbeat should not be hard. They had me roll over, they had me pee. They searched for the soft pocketa pocketa pocketa in the midst of those potato chip bags. Their hope filled me with less doubt.

The ultrasound machine rolled in. “Hi, I’m Dylan.”

“Hi, Dylan, I’m Arica.”  Reece Dylan had a nice ring to it. Find my baby’s heartbeat and we will name him after you.

The screen was slanted at an angle. He took forever to start the machine. Click, zoom, zoom. Four beautiful chambers.

No lub dub. No graceful sweep of a black butterfly. Dylan clicked the sound on. Straight and trim as a western Nebraska road. Smooth. No beat. I watched my nurses face. Her blue eyes welled.

NO! No no no no no! NOOOOOOOOOO! I screamed, guttural like an animal fighting for her life. The screen darkened. Ryan planted his arms over me, crushing himself against me, and we wailed. Heaving. Gasping. Dylan slipped the cart out of the room like a whale through black water.

The minutes between fearing and knowing were endless. But then we clicked over into our new life. An ophthalmologist thrust the big burdensome machine in front of our eyes and had us looking through lens number 2 instead of lens number 1. There is no trading back. The machine is stuck. Lens 2.

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