COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11th, 2020.

On March 12, I saw your heartbeat. I listened to the gentle “thump, thump, thump” on the monitor and all worry about the pandemic faded from my mind. I imagined Claire as a big sister. I imagined rocking you slowly and smelling that fresh baby scent. I thought about what you would look like. Wondered what your voice would sound like.

But that worry-free moment was fleeting. 

On March 13, my job announced we would work from home for two weeks while we tried to slow the spread of the virus. Nine days into the pandemic, my whole world momentarily stopped. 

March 20 started like all other work-from-home days. I will remember every moment of that day for the rest of my life. It was just after breakfast that I first thought something might be wrong. While your dad sat next to me working on his laptop and your sister danced to “Let It Go” in front of the TV, turmoil and worry settled deep inside my heart.

I tried to tell myself that sometimes bleeding is normal. After all, it wasn’t that much blood at first.

But every time I went to the bathroom, the pink tint on the toilet paper got a little darker and a little heavier. I didn’t mention this to your dad because I hoped it would stop. I begged everyone I know in Heaven to please help keep you safe. 

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Finally, after we watched the evening news describe how bad COVID-19 was getting, I turned to your dad and barely choked out, “I’ve been bleeding all day.”

Immediately, he told me to go to the hospital. My heart dropped into my stomach.

I knew.

I had just listened to the news anchor say how hospitals were overloaded in some parts of the world and because of that, I had put this off all day hoping for the best, hoping I was wrong. The hospital was the last place I wanted to be.

With your sister sleeping soundly in her bed, I pulled out of the driveway alone and terrified. After sitting in the ER waiting room for what felt like a thousand minutes, I was finally sent to a room. The ultrasound tech put her wand on my belly, and I curiously watched the screen. I had just seen your heartbeat eight days earlier, surely everything was fine. I saw you for the last time for a split second before the room went quiet, small talk stopped, and she slowly turned the monitor away from my view.

You were gone.

And I knew.

While she was doing the exam, I stared at the ceiling and sobbed uncontrollably, but silently, not wanting to break the quiet sadness that had taken over the room. Tears soaked my hair and the pillow. I told myself “don’t cry until she leaves the room.” But there was no stopping it. A hole in my heart was opening and no matter how hard I tried to frantically push and shove the sadness back in, I couldn’t. It overflowed.

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My phone was across the room, and I desperately wanted to call your dad. Losing you was the worst thing I could imagine but not having your dad there was truly a punch to the gut. The ultrasound tech finished the scan and without a word, left the room. She knew that I knew, and nothing needed to be said.

She gave me grace at that moment by allowing us to be alone so I could say goodbye.

You were gone and I knew.

I went to the hospital as an expectant mother and left with the instructions, “you will probably pass the baby tonight or tomorrow.” When I got home, I cried in the shower for almost an hour. Curled up in the fetal position, with the hot water splashing over my shaking body I could hear your dad sitting right outside the door trying to support me however possible.

I’ll never be able to describe the grief I felt that night.

Lying there on the shower floor I screamed out in pain, not from the cramps in my belly–the only home you’d ever have, but from the sheer agony of the loss of a life I couldn’t save. All I could do was watch helplessly as your life left my body. Dark red against the garish yellow bathtub.

I made you a promise while we were alone in that hospital room that I would never forget you. I think of you often and celebrate the time we did have together. I know I only carried you for nine weeks, but you are in my heart forever. My baby that soars among the stars.

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Tristen Koehne

I have two little girls, I work in marketing, and I'm based in the Midwest. 

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