Monday, October 23rd, 2017
It was just 4 days before we were expecting our first baby.
We went in to the doctor for a routine checkup. The doctor told us Allie is 1-2 cm dilated, we looked at each other, excited that it was starting. Time for the heartbeat.
In the past it was quick and easy. The doctor puts the doppler on, maybe changes position once and we hear a nice strong heartbeat. This time though, we just heard the whirring sound with no rapid thuds like before. He moves it to the other side, same thing. A few more seconds and finally the doctor says, “oh there I think I hear it in the background. The baby has its back to me so tough to get a good read. Let’s go get an ultrasound for a better look.”
At that point our hearts start to race but you stay calm and do your best to reassure your partner it’s all OK. The monitor is behind Allie’s head, but Jeremy can see the screen. We’ve been to enough ultrasounds to know what a beating heart looks like. The doctor spreads the gel on and begins the scan. Every time there is a pause, nothing on the screen moves. Again, and again. Finally the doctor slowly takes the doppler off and says, “I’m sorry, but I’m not seeing a heartbeat. I’ll be right back with my partner for a second opinion.”
Allie immediately covers her face with her hands, Jeremy’s stomach drops heavily. Both doctors return almost immediately and confirm through various positions that there is no heartbeat. They give us all the time we need and meet with us in the office to take the next steps.
It’s difficult to recall exactly how the conversation in the office went. The doctor stressed that this was a full term baby, we lost our child, a life. He shared some figures and his experience dealing with tragic scenarios like ours. Sadly, and as we would continue to learn over the next several weeks, it is an all too common experience. After answering many questions patiently and coaching us through the process, we established next steps.
Allie still had to deliver the baby, a hell nobody should go through. C-Section could be an option, but the doctors advised not to undergo a major surgery like that, as the recovery will be much worse and can affect future pregnancies. From the doctor’s office, we were going to go home, call our parents and pack a hospital bag. Meet there in an hour to begin the induction process.
We arrive at the hospital and after checking in get settled into a room. Our nurse greeted us with hugs and tears, assuring us that we will get through this and she is there for anything we need. Within thirty minutes, Allie had the first induction. The doctor said she could be ready to deliver by nighttime, the next morning or tomorrow night.
In the meantime, we had several decisions to make. We needed to decide if we wanted to hold the baby after delivery, to opt for a fetal autopsy, what to do with the baby’s body, if we will name the baby, and so on.
We still didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl, which made naming difficult. Jeremy wanted to hold the baby, Allie was unsure but was able to make up her mind in the moment since Jeremy was going to. We received a visit from the rabbi of our synagogue, and he told us that the synagogue owns a plot about 20 minutes from us. There is a section in the corner where babies are buried under a tree.
We decided we wanted to name the baby, but not what we were planning and not after anyone we knew. We wanted one single and strong Hebrew name, that meant something.
Our families were at the hospital all day. They only went home to sleep.
Allie received the second dose of the induction, and some Ambien to help get some some sleep.
October 24, 2017
After not sleeping much, Allie was feeling the pains of contractions, so they administered the epidural. Jeremy was asked to wait outside as it is meant to be a sterile procedure. Outside the door, he noticed a card hanging. The front was a picture of a leaf floating with a single teardrop on it, and inside was a poem about the smallest bit of hope, even in times of despair. The card was hung so staff entering the room knew the mood inside. While each tragedy has its own story, it is a reminder that the hospital sees a number of these significant enough to establish a protocol.
After reading the card and waiting in the hallway, Jeremy started to research lists of names, both for a girl and a boy.
Either that early morning or slightly later, while scrolling through the list, we read the name Calev. In English it means “like a heart.” It immediately stood out to us. We know so little of our son and what kind of person he would have turned out to be. But we did find out he had no heartbeat, and we knew we would carry him in our hearts forever.
Oddly enough we never selected a girls name. We had a couple that were nice but none that spoke to us like Calev.
The doctor came in to check on Allie - she was 6 cm dilated. No need for any other medication for inductions.
Our families arrived slightly later. It is hard to recall exactly what went on that morning. Allie fell asleep for a few short naps. We did turn on the TV and there was a Yankees Classics game on - 1996 World Series vs. the Atlanta Braves. A good distraction, I guess.
The doctor came back in, and the family left as he checked how dilated Allie was. He looked up and said, “it’s time.”
Jeremy left the room to tell everyone that they should head to the waiting area, we weren’t sure how long this would be.
Allie was incredibly brave and strong throughout the entire process. Luckily she only needed about 4 pushes which lasted about 20 minutes until our baby entered the world.
The baby came out and the nurse took the baby to get him clean. Jeremy looked at the doctor, “is it a boy or a girl?”
“It’s a boy.”
Up until that point it was just “our baby” or “our child.” Now we knew...we had a baby, a child, our son.
The nurse returned with Calev, all wrapped up, who looked very peaceful and really cute (not biased). We were warned he could be a little discolored, and that could worsen over time too.
We spent a few hours together, with our family and alone as a family of three. We held him, loved him, sang to him, cried, kissed him, spoke to him, and took pictures. It’s something nobody should ever have to experience, and yet we cherish those hours so dearly and feel grateful to have the memories together.
After saying our final goodbye, we were transferred to a smaller room on the same floor. Allie was able to eat again and luckily was recovering as well as could be physically from delivery.
October 25, 2017
Less than 48 hours from the doctor’s appointment, we were discharged from the hospital. Calev was laid to rest in peace a few short hours later.