After a day enjoying the warm sunshine, beautiful beaches and delicious eats, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t felt my baby kick in awhile. In fact, I couldn’t recall him kicking in the last 24 hours. My mind raced to all sorts of morbid conclusions and I choked on my breath as I poked and prodded my tummy, urgently trying to stimulate some sort of movement.
I had heard that relaxing would help and returned to my room to focus on capturing baby movement but after an hour or so, still hadn’t felt a thing. I messaged my husband. We both started to panic nearly 2000 kilometres apart.
As many daughters do, I reached out to my Mum and then my sister. My sister, slightly more cautious, advised me to find a doctor just in case. My Mum told me to relax: Stress wouldn’t help anyone. She said that he may be in a position that was less conducive to me feeling his kicks. She also said that as I had been more active than normal, the baby wouldn’t move as much. She then told me that a) Google confirmed her theory and b) She was always right.
So of course, I did the opposite. I panicked and stressed.
Still no movement.
At this point, my poor husband was starting to panic, among other emotions, and feeling helpless in distant Canada. He called our midwife who told me to drink some cold water or something sugary, sit still for an hour or so and wait for our boy to move. Try this twice and if nothing had happened, call her back.
We did. Twice. Nothing.
We called her back. She recommended a visit to the doctor if possible, just to make sure everything was okay.
At this point, I could feel both my husband’s and my heart beating in our throats but nothing from the baby. I googled the issue (which never helps), and concluded that I was either over-reacting or the worst had indeed happened. ‘Let me try and sleep,’ I told my husband. ‘I haven’t truly relaxed yet so maybe that is the issue.’
A few sleepless hours later, my husband messaged me, asking if I had felt anything yet. “Maybe,’ I replied. I had felt something but I wasn’t sure if it was just gas but it definitely wasn’t the strong kick that my baby had given me a few days earlier. It was time to go to the hospital.
It was 5:30 am so I figured I could be to the hospital and back for our scheduled breakfast before anyone was the wiser. After much deliberation (and a few more tears), I woke my friend (thankfully, one of best friends was also on this press trip), and told her I was going to the hospital. I knew she was worried about both baby and I, and would be furious if I went through this alone. I called a cab and we went to Lee County Health Centre Hospital Emergency Room. This is by no way a political statement or comment on any country’s healthcare system but this hospital was beautiful. The grounds were immaculate, the building was clean and the coffee was spectacular. I was seen immediately and with a smile.
I was admitted to the OB unit where the loveliest group of ‘mother hen’ nurses asked me questions about my pregnancy thus far, any concerns (besides the obvious one) and about the father. They asked me if he was still in the picture and if so, did I feel threatened or afraid in our relationship. The rise in domestic abuse in Florida and the number of associated deaths meant that these questions had to be asked. As a hormonal pregnant woman with a loving and supportive husband, this made me want to cry even more.
Within ten minutes, I was on a bed and hooked up to two monitors, listening for baby’s heartbeat and movement. As I lay in the hospital bed, straps across my belly, waiting for the nurse to pick up a sound, I realized how cold and giant the room felt. I felt alone, away from home and suffocated with fear. There was a moment where I thought, ‘If she can’t get a heartbeat, I am going to die right here.’
‘There he is!’ the nurse smiled as 130 bpm of baby heartbeat came over the monitor. We could hear him kicking and turning and swimming in his little cocoon. He was moving around as if he were on parade, performing for the nurse and awaiting a round of applause.
‘He was facing your back,’ she confirmed. ‘And because your placenta is in the front, he was totally cushioned. It is no wonder you couldn’t feel a thing. But let me assure you, he is alright.’ The OB on call came in and reiterated what the nurse had said.
My friend came in. She cried.
She texted my husband. He cried…. Then he asked about the bill.
And as the sun came up over Southwest Florida, my friend and I of sat in Lee County Hospital while my son’s heartbeat echoed around the room.