This post is #5 (or letter “E”) for the A to Z Challenge, where my theme is “Letters to My Daughter”.
Dear Love Bug,
I love you so very much. I have story for you. A story about the scariest day of your mom and I’s life…
It was a quiet day in Northern Virginia. The heat from the noon sun was beating on the windows, pushing through beams of white light, filling our two bedroom apartment. I was in the nursery putting together a dresser that would hold your cute little onsies, socks, mittens, and bibs. The room was really starting to come together. The crib with it’s white, yellow, and gray bedding spoke of the joy that would soon arrive. The wall decals accented the lamp shade that sat on the newly assemble storage cabinet, which match the dresser I was working on.
“Okay” I said aloud as I reviewed the instruction sheet in my hands. “A. Where is piece A?”
They say that nesting only happens for mothers. Samantha was definitely nesting, as she cleaned the already spotless apartment. I was nesting in my own way with the slow and meticulous readying of the nursery for your arrival.
It was a good day, and one of anticipation with your nearing due date just a few weeks away. It was a great day actually. But it wouldn’t stay that way. No, this day would turn into the scariest day of our lives.
“Babe, I’m starting to worry.” Sam said as she walked into the room, a hand holding her pregnant belly, and a tense expression tightened her face around pleading eyes.
This was nothing new to me. My beautiful wife was a worrier, and came from a long line of worriers. I had never decided who was worse, Sam’s mom or her grandmother. They worried about everything they could possibly worry about, and when there was nothing to worry about, they would make something up to feed their intense need to worry. It was their way of showing love, but it could rub you the wrong way at times. Still, Sam was worried, so I would listen.
In my best attempt to show concern, I stopped my work at hand to meet her eyes. “What’s wrong? Are you feeling okay?”
“I haven’t felt Winslow move since last night.” Her eyes spoke much deeper than her words. This was a real concern, and not one influenced by her lineage.
“I’m sure she’s just sleeping babe. How long has it been since you last felt her move?”
“Since I went to sleep last night. She’s normally moving like crazy in the morning. I’m starting to freak out a little.”
She had an urgency behind her words, and quickness in which she spoke which was unusual. She was starting to worry me at this point, but I needed to remain the calm within the worry storm.
“Well, do you think we should call your doctor?” I asked.
She hesitated for a moment and replied, “Yeah. I think I will call them. I’m really starting to freak out, because she’s normally moving by now.”
I couldn’t help but notice the desperation that she was trying so hard to hide. “Okay babe, go call them.”
She immediately turned and disappeared from the room. I sat on the floor starring at the now empty doorway. Anger arose in me as a horrific thought flashed in my mind. The flash was an image of Sam crying in our bed, as I floated near her… unable to console her. “NO.” I thought. There was no way that anything could happen to our precious joy that was growing in my wife’s belly. It just was not possible. I shook the image out of my mind and quelled the anger for allowing such a thought to enter.
Being one to not worry until there is something to truly worry about, I pretended it was nothing and went back to assembling the dresser. Yet, the stabbing hypotheticals seared my mind with thoughts of unbearable pain.
I am not sure how many seconds, minutes, or hours passed before Sam came back into the room, but forever felt like a blink in those moments. Sam still had her hand over her belly, hoping, and praying that our babies little foot would push our worry away. Her eyes had narrowed, sharpened, and her brow furrowed in determination. I raised my eyebrows, asking the question without words.
“They said to play some music, read to her, and even some light exercise. If none of that works, that I might have to come in for some testing.”
“Okay.” Was all I could manage before she was gone again. This time I followed her into our bedroom. The worry and potential dread still consumed our minds, but was fogged with action at that moment. There was something we could do. We didn’t feel helpless, even though we felt completely helpless…
Sam got in bed, propping herself up with a plethora of pillows. She grabbed the suction cup head phones designed for pregnant bellies, unwrapped them and plugged them into her phone. She moved swiftly, with fluid motions as I just stood helplessly frozen at alert attention. She found some upbeat workout music on her phone and began to play.
“Not yet.” She replied. Sam didn’t bother to look at me. She was too determined to sense even the slightest of flutters within her belly.
Seconds turned to minutes.
The next few hours of attempts at garnering movement from our baby floating in her mother’s womb were agonizing. A darkness started to float within our apartment as Sam did some light exercising. It was heavy in the air. We were beyond worried, but both trying to be strong for the other in our attempts at warding off gut wrenching fears. Sam drank some coffee in the hopes that the caffeine would cause baby Winslow to stir.
With a tear falling down her pale cheek, she spoke with a weak voice; “Nothings working.”
I held her hand. It was cold and trembled with hardly noticeable tremors. “Do you think it is time to call the doctor again?” I asked.
She gave a slight nod with her eyes gazing blankly onto the wall across the room. She snapped from the trance and dialed the doctor’s office. She spent the next few minutes managing with all her might to speak clearly, though her voice was cracking and the tears streamed with unrestricted ease. She answered questions in a more technical way than most. Her nursing background always kicked in during conversations with doctors or nurses. She used words not in my vocabulary when describing quadrants of her anatomy. She had written down times, events, and what methods she used to try an illicit movement from within her womb. Even in a time of desperation, I was impressed with her knowledge and the precision in which she gave answers to the questions that I could not hear.
“Okay. Yeah. Okay.” She hung up the phone and the determination had taken over her face again. “They want us to go to the hospital for testing. They said to go straight up to the maternity ward, and you could fill out the ER paperwork there. They will call it in, so they should be expecting us.”
“Okay.” I said, unable to find any words for a day that could forever change our lives. That day could even change our hearts. ‘Okay’ was all I could manage. My heart sank at the building possibility of horror. My body began to ache with stiffness clutching at all of my fibers.
I turned in circles, moving without knowing where to go, because I had to move. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I was stopped still as Sam grabbed me. She looked in my eyes, and I hers. I could see so many things in those eyes. I saw love first. I saw her need for me to hold her. I could see her need for God, her need for our baby girl to be okay… to be alive. I saw fear, sheer terror. I saw pain, deepest of sorrows, and depression induced numbness being held at bay with the flimsiest of hope barriers.
We embraced in a soul supporting hug, holding each other from falling. The immense intimacy in that moment was as God had intended; husband and wife as one with God, telling each other it would all be okay through a simple hug.
The drive to the hospital was one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life. My beautiful wife sat crying silent tears. I gripped the steering wheel with great force in my attempt to control the involuntary shaking of my arms. I had to tell myself to breath as I battled the urge to pass out.
I didn’t know what Sam was thinking, but if it were anything like the atrocious scenes playing in my mind, then I knew she was feeling worse than she had ever felt in her life. Scenes of screaming, wall punching, ‘why God’, violently pierced my mind. Scenes of siting in the nursery unable to move, consumed me. Scenes of trying to get my wife out of bed plagued my mind. Thoughts of hating the world and all the people in it burned wildly.
I found it difficult to speak, but through the physical pain of talking, I said; “We need to pray.”
I don’t know if anything other than “Please God, let her be okay”, came from my mouth, but I prayed aloud as we neared the hospital. Sam then prayed to God. It was hard to listen, hard to escape the enemy invasion attacks that were infiltrating my mind.
The car returned to silent.
I struggled to find the correct entrance with the hospital under construction. I found it and we parked. We got out, and I immediately walked to my wife on our way in. I held her close, floating to the entrance because I couldn’t feel my feet hit the asphalt below.
When the elevator doors closed, I could feel Sam get closer, but neither of us dared look at one another. This was the most scared we had ever been in our lives. We were about to find out either the worst news, or the most relieving news a parent could ever learn.
The doors opened with the nurse station and check-in desk directly in front of us. The nurses looked up and immediately knew who we were by our revealing facial expressions. They matched our worry, but in a professional manner as the atmosphere was thick with seriousness. The nurses seemed more confident than we did, or at least they were better at faking it.
One of the nurses came from behind the desk and gentle grabbed Sam and lead her down a hall and out of sight. My mind and body screamed at me to follow, but a nurse was saying something to me and handing me a clipboard. I wanted to be with my wife. The nurse had to repeat herself multiple times as I continually asked “what” in a barely audible mumble. I filled out the paperwork, and they told me which room to meet Sam in.
It was late by that time, and the halls were dark and empty. The loud cry of a minutes old newborn wailed from behind a near door. The cry slapped me like a cruel reminder of what we might be losing. I wanted to walk quickly, but the dread of what might wait behind the door stalled my steps. Time froze. I could hear my heartbeat as sweat made my clothes cling to my hot skin.
I grabbed the handle of the door, took a deep breath and walked into the room where my fate await. Sam was in a hospital bed, head turned towards a monitor. Her clothes were pulled up past her belly, with a heart monitor strapped to her bare skin.
Sam turned to meet my anticipating eyes…
Her tear streaked rosy cheeks glistened, and her smile shone like a thousand suns.
My eyes pushed outward as my head whipped to the monitor to see the green line which was making mountain peaks over and over again.
Our baby girl was still alive!
I looked back towards Sam, and she said; “They still need to run some test, and want to give me some fluids, but they found her heartbeat.” Then she cried some happy tears, as I grabbed her hand and sat next to her.
Every ounce of worry, fear, terror, and horror fell to the floor like the demolition of an old building. No scenes of horror would attack our hearts.
We praised God, and thanked Him for our baby girl. That night became one of the happiest nights of our lives.
What a day it was in Northern Virginia. Life was perfectly imperfect.
I pray that I am lucky enough to never have to worry about you like that again, Winslow. I love you so much and I am so happy your heartbeat like a little drum that day (and every day since). I love you sweetheart.
If you missed any of the past post from the A to Z Challenge and want to catch up, the links are below: