I didn’t know what was happening at the time, at least not for sure.
I broke down and bought an at-home baby heart monitor around 15 weeks pregnant with Iris. I debated a long time. At my 12 week prenatal visit, a heartbeat could not be found right away and the stress was unbearable. But an ultrasound found the heartbeat a few minutes later, ticking away, nice and strong. In between the appointments though, almost constant, frantic palpitations of my own heart, with little to soothe me.
So I spent $59 on the best heart rate monitor I could find on Amazon, the one “guaranteed” to easily find the baby’s heartbeat after 15-16 weeks. It arrived, and I covered my stomach with coconut oil, starting to stretch from the forming baby. I slowly dragged the monitor around, waiting hopefully to hear the heartbeat through the static. I could not find it. I heard a few sounds that were possibilities, but gave me little reassurance.
Scared, I put it away. The directions said not to worry; it could be the position of the baby and to relax and try again in a few days.
In a few days, my regular prenatal appointment revealed that Iris had no heartbeat. Measurements of her size showed that her heart likely stopped beating just a few days prior.
I wonder. Did I know – in those moments when I could not find the heartbeat of my own – did I know that it was over? Was that the cause of my overwhelming sense that something was wrong?
I never told Ger about my heartbeat monitor purchase. I convinced myself that it was paranoia and went through those days alone in my knowledge that I had not heard her heart beating. After we lost Iris, I returned the monitor to Amazon, claiming that it was defective.