“there is no heartbeat”

The words a bereaved parent never forgets: “There is no heartbeat.”


I was sitting in a regular prenatal appointment, absentmindedly planning the rest of my day. My sister was visiting and we were supposed to drive to the next town over to go shopping. And being nine months pregnant, I was also already thinking about food. I never expected the words I was about to hear: “There is no heartbeat.”

The nurse put the fetal doppler to my belly, in the low spot where we had grown accustomed to finding my son. He had been low and engaged for weeks, so close to being ready for labor and delivery.

The nurse got a funny look on her face, and I asked her if something was wrong. She smiled tightly and asked me to move across the room to the ultrasound machine. She said she wanted a better picture.

She put the ultrasound wand to my belly and I saw my son on the screen. I saw his body, but he wasn’t moving. I asked her, again, if something was wrong.

The nurse excused herself and said she would be back shortly. I sat, numb and wondering. You never really believe, even when you know it’s true. And then the doctor was standing in front of me, and he was holding the wand, and then he said those words: “I’m sorry, but there is not heartbeat.” And I was broken.

Posts with this tag describe aspects of the moment I found out my son had no heartbeat; the moment I understand he had died.

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