It was Wednesday afternoon a few days shy of the 16-week mark in my pregnancy. I was standing in the foyer of my yoga studio when the phone rang. “Hi, Michelle?” The female voice asked. “Yes”, I confirmed. “We received the results from your most recent blood test and wanted to book you in for your next ultrasound sooner rather than later. Are you free tomorrow?”
I knew from the immediacy of the appointment time offered that something was wrong. My pregnant body felt great, but I felt sick to my stomach and stood paralyzed with fear as I hung up the phone.
The next day my husband and I sat nervously in the Fetal Assessment Clinic waiting for my appointment. He held my hand, rubbing the back of it, in an effort to soothe my fears for our unborn child.
The nurse who called my name was very kind and friendly with small talk as she guided us. Now, as I reflect back on that day, I clearly remember how she leads us to the room down the hall away from the other curtained ultrasound beds to a private room with a door. I remember climbing up on the hospital bed, carefully laying back on the pillow and reaching out to hold my husband’s hand. Nervously, I smiled at him and turned my gaze back to the nurse and the computer monitor.
From there, things go a bit blurry. I remember the nurse pressing the ultrasound wand on my belly and moving it around to locate our baby. I remember her stopping, repositioning and adjusting the angle of the wand. There were a number of repeated attempts as she pressed the cold jelly with the wand on my baby belly. After a few minutes, she lifted the wand, leaned back and met my gaze with sombre eyes. Her devastating words confirmed what her eyes had already said. “Michelle,” she said heavy-heartedly. “I’m so sorry.”
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no…” I wailed bursting into tears and buried my face in my husband’s arms. I wanted to disappear.
“Wait, what?! What’s going on?” My husband blurted out in shock.
I lifted my head, met his gaze and managed to say, “Our baby is dead.”
Five long days later, I gave birth to silence.
Although I may have never held our baby girl in my arms, I carry her with me always. Sometimes, I am overcome with such intense sorrow, I mourn and silently weep her loss. Even in writing these words I have cried a number of times over. She would be turning four in May. But she’s not.
Yet from her passing, Grace blessed us with the light of a beautiful baby boy 11 months later. The gift of his life was made possible because her life was not. And aside from the countless lessons that come from birthing a child, my son has filled me up with so much goodness. He is an endless sea of love, compassion and hope. He has helped me uncover strength I never knew I had. And the curiosity and playfulness in which he explores and lives in every moment spread joy and happiness to every day.
He is my little guru, my teacher who sheds light in the darkness.
“The syllable gu means darkness, the syllable ru, one who dispels it, because of the power to dispel darkness, the guru is thus named.” – Advayataraka Upanishad