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The World of Franyo, Part 46: Heartbeat

Nicole Jeffords 3 months ago

The beginning of pregnancy for me was heralded by a strange fizzy feeling, as if something were fermenting in my stomach. When I gave Werner the news, I might as well have told him I had bubonic plague. He was furious. He wouldn’t talk to me and if he did, he’d yell. Poor guy. He was backed into a corner he’d never planned for or anticipated, and didn’t know how to handle it. And so he did what he knew best: he left.


Frankly, it was a relief. After four months of intense quarreling, he took off for Indonesia, claiming he wouldn’t likely be coming back. I partied the first week he was gone, broke out the booze and cigarettes. I was well into the second trimester: the nausea and fatigue had lifted and I felt more like my old self. But one morning at the end of that week I woke up to a sticky feeling between my legs, and knew instinctively something was seriously wrong and I’d better not get out of bed. Thank god I had a friend staying with me. I was losing big clots.

It took all day for the doctor to show up. When he did, he palpated my stomach, informed me without a hint of sympathy that I was miscarrying, called an ambulance and left. The EMT guys came pretty quickly. No sirens though; this wasn’t life-threatening. As the main guy strapped me in, he said: “No worries, ducky. You uncross those legs, you’ll be pregnant again, lickety split.”

At the hospital it was a different story. A very young female doctor prodded me gently. Just the sound of her voice calmed me down. “We’ll have a look at your cervix. If it’s still intact, chances are you’ll be okay.”

Well, obviously it was intact and the pregnancy held. But they kept me there on bed rest for two weeks and from then on I was considered high risk. Since it was a teaching hospital, the obstetrical surgeon made his rounds every day with an entourage of students. He’d snap closed the curtains, pull up my gown and say things like: “All right, judging by the height of this woman’s fundus, how many weeks pregnant would you say she is?”


I might as well have been a horse or a cow, but I didn’t care. The second week I was there, a nurse rolled a machine up to my bedside and connected it to my stomach. “Just listening for the heartbeat,” she said. I was on a gynecological ward, twelve of us with threatened miscarriages, and all of us very bonded by this point. You can imagine the silence as the microphone was turned on. At first the nurse couldn’t find it. And then there it was, a rapid thwa thwa thwa like someone breathing very fast. Music to me. Oh my god, the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.


Ultrasound, Photo Credit Rob Bell, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/


**An episode from this memoir is published every Tuesday & Thursday for those following!

**Need to start at the beginning? Find Part 1 here!

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