Updated: Apr 4
Photo by Nicoleta Dragut
Ari wasn't planned, but he wasn't a surprise either. I got pregnant a month before we were hoping to start trying for a baby. We felt so lucky after so much sadness and loss in both mine and my husband's family. It was like a blessing from God. Everything was going well, all the scans and tests were showing a healthy growing baby.
At 22 weeks pregnant, I started having abdominal cramps and a day after that I started having a lot of contractions, though they weren't painful. I was in the hospital for one night and by morning I was feeling a lot better. My baby's heart was beating beautifully and the doctor said it was safe for us to go home.
That was the moment both Pepe and I started to worry.
An uneventful week went by while I tried not to overdo myself. I tried to just relax so my baby wouldn’t feel my frightened mind.
On the Friday I turned 23 weeks, I felt like baby's movement has changed. He wasn't kicking like he used to, but was just moving around from one side to another. I kept waiting for him to go back to his regular kicking, but as this wasn't happening by Sunday, we decided to go to the labor ward to check up on him.
A midwife used the doppler and took a few tries to find his heartbeat. He was lying really low and tucked in my back. His heart was beating okay so the midwife said it was most likely his weird position; that maybe he was just facing the other way, toward my ribs, and that's why I couldn’t feel the kicks.
Although it should have given me peace of mind, my anxiety just grew more and more, so I decided to book a private scan for that following Thursday.
The movement stayed the same—no kicks, but I could still feel him bouncing from one side to another, or up and down.
Thursday came and when I woke up I felt weird. It's hard to explain but I just felt like my uterus was numb. My baby was lying really low and it just felt silent like never before.
We got to the private clinic and the room was just like it had been at the 17-week gender scan, though it was a different sonographer this time.
There was a huge screen where you see everything straight from the beginning. The moment he put the probe on my belly—the moment we saw our baby—we knew, we just knew something horrible had happened.
It wasn't our first scan, so we knew what to expect. You expect to see the heartbeat flickering, you expect baby to be moving around and to be higher up in the belly. I knew, but I was hoping with all my being that I was wrong.
The sonographer started asking questions, like when was the last time I felt movement and what happened at that hospital visit. I kept answering in detail, like if I gave every single detail I could remember it would somehow change what he was about to say.
A few seconds later he stopped moving the probe around, looked at me and said, “I am so sorry, but there is no heartbeat.”
I stopped. Everything just stopped. No matter how worried you are, no matter how many times you tell yourself that this might happen, you can never prepare to hear those words.
I looked at Pepe, he was looking down, his face sunk into his hands. I started saying, “no, no, no. I felt movement last night, he was jumbing up and down like a ball. He can't be gone. No, no, no.”
I wasn't crying, I wasn't ready to let this be our reality. So, I asked him to check again. Maybe he was wrong. Maybe he just couldn't see the heart properly but it was still there, beating.
He went through the entire scan again, taking measurements, showing us everything he could see, showing us where the heart was and what we should be seeing.
I still couldn't believe it. I refused to believe it. They called the hospital for us to go get another scan. I couldn't cry. If I cried, I would have to accept this as our reality, that our baby was gone. That he was still in me, but his soul was already with God.
I love God, but I wouldn't let my son go so easily.
The scan at the hospital only confirmed what we already knew. They took blood and asked us to come back the next day for yet another confirmation scan.
On Friday evening they started the induction: one little pill and back home for 48 hours.
On Sunday morning, it was time for the next part of the induction.
I was in labor for 14 hours. I was offered painkillers over and over again, but I refused them all. I wanted to feel everything. I deserved the pain. I actually still do. My body had failed my child, so it was its time to suffer.
At 12:49 a.m. on September 28, 2020, Ari Elisei came into this world. Beautiful, strong and silent.
After more tests we found out I suffer with a blood clotting disorder, but we don't know if that's what took our sweet boy.
Holding him in my arms was the proudest, most painful moment of my life.
Every Thursday I relive the scan, I hear the sonographer's voice so clearly in my head.
“There's no heartbeat.”
Every Friday I count how many weeks I would've been.
Every Sunday evening I give birth to him over and over again.
I hold him, kiss his tiny forehead, analyze every inch of his body and smell him, but I keep waking up with empty arms. There's no baby, not even my dead baby. Whenever I close my eyes I see him, I see his dad carrying his tiny white coffin to his grave.
I still cannot see the light. It feels like I'm getting worse rather than getting better. His due date is in a few weeks and here I am, empty.
We've hit a wall with a few close friends which has only added to the pain of our grief.
My husband still wakes up crying in the middle of the night and I cannot talk to anybody without thinking to myself “my baby is dead, what's the point of this conversation. He was our chance at happiness. He was our future.”
Ari, our lion cub, now the 'Lion of God', so fearless and strong, you've made our hearts bigger and imprinted yourself on them forever. Sleep in peace until we come to you!
This post was submitted by Nicoleta Dragut and has been shared with permission.
Stillbirth is devastating and can leave loss parents feeling isolated. They Were Still Born beautifully gives voice to parents who have experienced stillbirth, while honoring the little lives gone too soon.