After a night with no sleep, I was wheeled over to the high risk doctor’s office for my ultrasound. Tyler and mom were with me. The ultrasound tech pointed out the spine, head, fingers and toes. We listened to the baby’s heartbeat — strong and awesome — and even saw the baby yawn. The tech took measurements of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby and, even though I had no idea what to look for, I knew before the high risk doctor came into the room that things didn’t look good.
Dr. Fairbanks was very serious when she came into the darkened room, the only light, a glow from the monitor machine. She quietly took control of the wand and moved it across my barely pregnant belly. Based on my account of what happened, the positive pH test and the low level of fluid showing up on the ultrasound, it was clear that my water had broke prematurely. What to do, what to do. Fairbanks placed her hand on my leg as she explained in very sober terms the importance of amniotic fluid and the nil chance for the baby’s survival without it. Without it, the lungs don’t get a chance to develop, and the baby isn’t able to swim freely and stretch out the arms and legs.
Most women go into labor soon after their water breaks and if this happened to me, there would be nothing they could do. Termination was certainly an option, but not one that Fairbanks recommended and not one that sat well with me. How could I possibly make the impossible decision to end the life inside of me? The baby’s heartbeat was beating so strongly right there in front of me, yet what was going to become of this tiny life without the essentials for growth and development? Then Fairbanks offered some hope.
“If I were you, I’d go home, get in bed and stay there, and hope for the best. That way, you’ll have no regrets,” she told me. “There’s a reason I do what I do. I’ve been doing this a long time and know a lot of kids who wouldn’t be here had their mothers decided to terminate their pregnancies. There’s a chance you could have a baby home with you for Christmas.”
Tyler and I didn’t even have to discuss it. We knew by looking at each other that that’s what we’d do. Fairbanks finished up the appointment by explaining what I was allowed to do and not allowed to do on strict bedrest. She assured me it wouldn’t be easy. Any images I had of putting on a cute top and heading to Target to shop for baby things … well, I’d better just get rid of them, because I wouldn’t be able to do that. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t meet my friends out for lunch. I couldn’t walk the dogs. I couldn’t use the stairs. I’d stay home for six weeks, then I’d be admitted to the hospital until I delivered the baby. I was looking at a possible four months of total bedrest.
After being discharged from the hospital with a prescription for antibiotics and instructions for bedrest, I walked into my house, greeted my dogs and slumped into my mother’s arms. I was unable to process what the future had in store for me, but I was so damn scared. I had one last good cry, then I wiped my tears, got in bed and prepared myself to fight the good fight.