Authors: Hannah Ford
There was blood on the toilet paper.
It was as though the wind had been knocked out of her.
Maybe I’m just spotting, she thought, her heart hammering out a quickened pace in her chest now.
She sat for a little while longer and wiped again and again. There was more blood. Her cramps were coming back again, redoubling in force, almost making her want to curl up into a ball on the floor.
Calm down, relax. Don’t get yourself worked up, she told herself. The worst thing she could do now was to get overanxious and make whatever was happening worse.
The blood coming out of her now was beyond spotting, she knew that. It was as if she were getting her period.
Nicole found a pad under the sink and put it in her panties, left the bathroom and tried Red’s cell phone. He didn’t pick up. Of course not, he was playing tennis.
Yet another cramp ran through her guts.
She forced back a sob and tried his phone again. The courts were far enough away that she didn’t want to try and walk there. Instead, Nicole went to the security phone and called the front gate.
A man answered. “Jeremy Lyons, sir. How can I be of service?”
“Jeremy, this is Nicole Masters, Red’s fiancé.”
“Red’s at the tennis courts and I need you to go and tell him to come back to the house immediately, okay?”
“Yes, ma’am. Is everything all right? Are you hurt?”
Am I hurt? She wondered. She didn’t know how to answer that. “Just tell him to come back immediately, it’s important.”
Nicole got off the line and went out front to wait. She could feel herself dripping down there, knew that she was still bleeding. Her forehead was slick with sweat, and she was terribly frightened now.
After what seemed like hours—but in truth had probably been just a few minutes—Red came driving up the private way and pulled up next to her.
His face was stricken, she’d never seen him look as afraid as he did when he saw her. “Nicole! What happened?” he climbed out of the car and ran to where she was sitting, her legs pulled up against her as she tried to will the cramps away.
“I’m—something’s wrong. I need to go to the hospital.”
“What is it?”
“I started having cramps and now I’m bleeding. It’s like I’m having my period but it’s different. Something’s wrong.”
“Come on, I’ll start driving us to the hospital now and make a few calls. I know a top OB/GYN who should be able to see us immediately.”
He helped Nicole to the passenger side of the car and then he ran and got in the driver’s side. The car screeched as he pulled away from the house and shot off towards the main road.
The lead got put back in his foot sooner than either of us thought it would be, Nicole thought, and something about it made her want to cry.
Red was driving with controlled urgency. He put his Bluetooth earpiece on and immediately was on the phone with someone powerful. She could tell by the way Red said things that it was someone who could get them seen right away.
“She needs to be looked at right now,” Red said into his headset. “I’ll have her there in under fifteen minutes, but I want Dr. Rosen, unless she’s not available for some reason. If not, please get me the next best available person. Okay?”
He looked over at her and tried to smile.
“I’m okay,” she whispered, not feeling in the least okay. But she could tell he was frightened too, and she wanted to somehow reassure him.
The baby will be fine, she told herself.
They arrived at Yale-New Haven Hospital a short while after that, and Red escorted her in and made another phone call.
Minutes later, the doctor herself came and met them. “I’m Dr. Rosen,” she said to Nicole. “Are you okay to walk? We can use a wheelchair if you’re uncomfortable.”
“No, I’m okay to walk,” Nicole said.
Dr. Rosen put her immediately at ease with her calm demeanor. She took them to the fourth floor, the obstetrics wing of the hospital, asking questions while they went.
“How long have you been cramping?” Dr. Rosen asked.
“Maybe an hour or so,” Nicole said.
“And bleeding? Is it light spotting or—“
“No. It’s heavy, like a period.”
They arrived at one of the examination rooms and Dr. Rosen inquired about the pregnancy tests Nicole had taken to determine she was, in fact, pregnant.
“Could it somehow have been a false positive?” Nicole asked her.
“That’s very rare, especially since you took more than one test. You’re not taking hCG supplements or anything, are you?”
“I didn’t even know that existed,” Nicole said, trying to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
“Yeah, it’s a new diet fad and it can cause issues with elevating a woman’s hCG artificially,” she said.
Dr. Rosen excused herself and asked Nicole to get into a hospital gown. Red stood there, his arms folded, trying to look less nervous than he was, while Nicole changed.
When she was done changing, she sat on the table and the two of them looked at one another.
“What if something’s happened to the baby?” she asked.
“I know it’s going to be fine,” he said, but she could see the deep concern in his eyes.
“And if it’s not?”
“Then we’ll get through it together, right?”
“Yeah.” She nodded, not feeling any better. He came over and gripped her hand.
A few minutes later, Dr. Rosen came back inside and told Nicole to lie on the examination table and put her feet on the stirrups. “I’m just going to do a brief pelvic exam,” she said, smiling. “Try not to worry, okay?”
“Okay.” Nicole tried to smile again. This time she completely failed.
“You might feel some pressure or a little bit of discomfort—just tell me if you feel any pain, all right Nicole?”
Red was watching with tremendous attention, but keeping very still and quiet. She met his gaze and tried to just think of him protecting her.
He won’t let anything bad happen to me, she thought.
Dr. Rosen gently touched Nicole’s bare stomach and pressed against it, feeling around the entire belly area. “Everything feel okay so far—any tender or painful areas?” she asked.
“Nope. Everything’s just fine.”
Well, that was a lie—but maybe she could manifest okay-ness if she could just act the part.
“Good.” Dr. Rosen used the speculum to continue the exam. “There is some blood,” she said. “However, the cervix looks as it should.”
Red continued to look into her eyes and reassure her with his presence.
“I’m just going to look a little more, here,” Dr. Rosen explained. “The vaginal walls are consistent with a pregnancy,” she said. “Now normally I’d have you do a blood test to make sure, but given the nature of your situation—I think it might be best to do a transvaginal sonogram. That will provide the quickest answer to our questions.”
“How will that work?” Red asked.
“I have the ultrasound machine right here,” Dr. Rosen said, pulling back her stool to talk to them. “We can do it immediately.”
Red looked to Nicole. “Are you okay with that?”
“I just want to make sure the baby’s healthy.”
Dr. Rosen explained the procedure, her calm, kind voice partially allowing Nicole to remain upbeat.
Maybe everything’s fine. Maybe she’ll tell me that this is all totally natural and normal, and that our baby is healthy. The doctor asked her if she’d like to proceed with the ultrasound.
“Yes,” Nicole said, nodding.
Dr. Rosen moved the monitor so that she could clearly see the screen, and then she took out a probe, rolled a condom over it, and applied some lubricant to it.
Nicole began to shake now. She had just a terrible, awful feeling about what was happening.
“Are you all right, Nicole?” Dr. Rosen asked.
Nicole nodded. She looked to Red and he came over to hold her hand during the procedure.
“Just let me know if you experience any discomfort. Take some deep relaxing breaths if you need to.”
When Dr. Rosen inserted the probe, Nicole did feel pressure, however there wasn’t any pain and she had total confidence in Dr. Rosen’s abilities. Mostly she was just frightened because she knew what they were going to find.
“Okay, I do see the fetus,” Dr. Rosen said, as she moved the probe slowly from side to side. “I’m getting a picture and now I’m just trying to locate the heartbeat.”
A long time went by.
Dr. Rosen’s face was a study of pure concentration, staring at the monitor. Ever since she’d said she was trying to find the baby’s heartbeat, she hadn’t said another word.
The seconds continued to tick by, and Nicole felt her eyes well up with tears.
“It’s okay, Nicole,” Red said, but his voice was choked up.
Dr. Rosen began to talk, but there was a loud ringing in Nicole’s ears and she couldn’t really hear what the woman was saying to her. Nicole wasn’t listening anymore.
All she knew was that her unborn child didn’t have a heartbeat.