In 1964, I was married and pregnant with a much wanted second baby. Early on, I felt something was wrong as the baby’s movements weren’t the same as my first. Two weeks to term while I was at a store, I felt this sudden heaviness inside of me as my baby died. A strange man’s voice asked me if I was okay as he led me to a bench. I saw my doctor right away. He took a very long time to examine me. There was no ultrasound then; only a stethoscope. He told me he thought the baby was dead. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I asked what he could do. He looked down, and said, “there’s nothing I can do. You have to carry to term.” I told him I couldn’t do that. He repeated he could do nothing. I went home and cried. The dead weight inside was overwhelming.
I’ve always been a very stubborn person, so I willed myself into labor. I called my doctor who told me to come to the hospital even though he doubted I was in labor. I was. Some wonderful woman with a European accent, a nurse I think, came into my room and said how barbaric it was that I’d been left to labor alone, and proceeded to massage my uterus and assured me I would be okay.
My baby daughter was delivered in a silent delivery room filled with people. Years later I realized that I could have died of sepsis. I had all the symptoms. No one should have to go through the agony of being forced to carry a dead baby to term. I remember wanting to stop the labor because I knew how it would end. I still grieve for the baby I never held in my arms. Her name is Rebecca.