The old, half painted, tired hospital ceiling was a patchwork of cracks. Following them with my eyes, as I lay on my back on the examination table, waiting.
Routine scans are never quite ‘routine’. Instead always tainted with a hint of fear, anxiety, excitement, relief and unknowns. Busy places, filled with stories. Stories of peoples lives. Mums, filled with a new future, a new hope. Some exited, some fearful, all there for the same common goal, to have a scan to check how the progress of their baby is coming along. A busy, bustling noisy waiting room. midwifes and doctors shuffle in and out, long days, overworked and time poor. Unable to sit a while to talk to anxious looking parents who await their own individual moment of relief with the doctor. Each parent waits their time to watch that scan come to life on the screen. A thumping of the heartbeat. The small, unique little ‘person’ in there, in that safe, dark, calm, quiet place. A place to grow and thrive.
As I lay there, on the examination table. The doctor is gentle in his voice, quietly comfortable and confident in his profession. Routinely asks me to lift up my top so he can place the gel covered monitor on my ever growing belly. I do as I am asked, my small bump sticks up. A baby. A new life. A new hope. I wait to hear the loud, thumping sounds of the heartbeat, a sound I am familiar with hearing, this is baby number two. It is my second time on this path of checks and appointments, my second time parenting alone. My second time attending my appointments by myself. A single mum, having my second baby, a baby girl. Who will be called Sally, after my mum, who died years earlier in a horse riding accident.
I wait, staring at those cracks in the ceiling, that seem to get bigger, deeper, like a road map. Any minute now, I will hear that loud thumping of her heart. I will see her small face on the screen, and I will leave the hospital with a calm, sense of peace. That moment lingers. The doctors hand holds tightly to the monitor and moves with a pronounced urgency in his search. Its here somewhere….There is a deathly silence, not just from the monitor. But also from the Doctor. I try to breath, I tell myself…any minute now. Time stands still. His face says it all. There is a picture of her little body on the screen beside me. She is perfectly perfect. He looks me in the eye, and gently, succinctly and calmly says the words in an echoey chamber of numbness, the words I await, as I can see by his paleness, his sad eyes, that he is the bearer of this news.
There is no heartbeat, I am so sorry.