Monday, June 3, 2013
Noah Howard Rutherford
Today, I would have been 15 weeks and 5 days pregnant, but the Lord had other plans. (I know that there are people who have questions about my experience. Here is the whole story. Warning, it may be a tad graphic for some) It's 4:00am and I wake up with a warm wet feeling between my legs. I go into the bathroom and find that my pajama pants are soaking wet. I clean up and change pants quietly and wake up my husband Paul to let him know what just happened. He sits up and turns on the lamp on the bedside table as I call the answering service of my OB. Within a few minutes, the on-call OB calls me back. I tell her what happened and she tells me to put on a pad and to call back if it is soaked within the next 2 hours. I call her back 45 minutes later. She has me change pads again and tells me to call her back if I start to see blood. I call her back 30 minutes later. She tells me that I need to come to Wake Med to the emergency room to get checked out. Paul and I quietly get dressed and discuss what we need to pack in my bag and who we need to call to watch our daughter, Grace. We call our friend Linda, who of course without any hesitation, heads our way. Once she arrives, we hop in the car and head to the hospital. The car ride is mostly filled with quiet tears and comforting words to each other. We don't know what to really expect or what we are about to experience, but we try to stay positive. We arrive to the ER and go to the front desk to check in. I can no longer hold back the tears. Paul and I get through the check-in process and through triage, with him answering any questions that I can't manage to answer through my tears. They take us back to a room and have me undress. I slowly take off my pants and blood begins to stream down my legs. I begin to panic. They have me sit on the bed and a large amount of blood and clots come out...I FREAK. By now, I am beginning to have significant cramping. They ask if I would like something for the pain and anxiety, I say yes. A few minutes later the ER doctor arrives and explains that my OB would like me to go straight back to have an ultrasound. They wheel me towards the ultrasound lab with Paul following closely beside me. We arrive and the ultrasound tech is on the phone, telling them to wait to bring the patient who is supposed to be heading down, that she has a patient from the ER who needs to be seen first. She explains to us that we cannot see the screen and that she cannot tell us what she is seeing. We nod. The room is silent, except the sounds of images being taken and the ultrasound technician typing. After only a few minutes, she explains to us that she has sent the images to the OB and that she needs to call them to make sure that they have all that they need. She leaves the room. Paul and I look at each other, we are both thinking the same thing...this cannot be good news. She comes back and says that we are all done and that she hopes I feel better soon. The nurse wheels us back to the ER room, and we wait. A few minutes later, the ER doctor arrives back to the room and closes the door. Paul and I hold hands and wait. He explains to us that all of my amniotic fluid from around the baby is gone, and that the OB is on his way down and will explain to us the rest. We both begin to cry. He leaves the room and we hold each other and begin to cry even harder. We already know in our hearts that the outcome is not good. The OB comes in and sits down on the bed and holds my hand. He begins to explain to us that the amniotic fluid is gone and that the baby still has a heart beat. He tells us all of the possible outcomes, none of which involve us delivering a healthy full term baby. We are heartbroken. He tells us that they are going to admit me to the maternity ward, where I will stay until it is all over. They wheel me down the winding halls, Paul holding my hand the whole way, both of us numb with disbelief. The hardest part of the whole ride was being wheeled down the maternity hall, hearing the cries of newborns and the joyous laughter of new parents and their visitors. We arrive to our room, ironically, we are in the room directly across the hall from where we stayed after the birth of our daughter Grace. By this time, my gown is soaked with blood. They help me change gowns and get comfortable in my new bed. The nurse introduces herself and gently explains that we will stay in this room during the entire process, and that there is a picture of a leaf on the outside of the door to symbolize a loss. This is their way of communicating with the hospital staff, without having to use any words and without risking someone saying or asking any uncomfortable questions. The OB arrives a few minutes later with a portable ultrasound machine. Paul sits on the bed with me, with his arm around me while the OB checks for a heartbeat again. There still is one. He shows us the baby and the sack that has now collapsed around it with the lack of amniotic fluid. He sits down at the foot of the bed and begins to go back through all of the possible outcomes, this time he goes into more detail and we are able to ask questions. Our hope, at this point, is that the heart will stop naturally in the next four hours when he comes back with the portable ultrasound to check. He leaves. Paul and I cry. The nurse comes back in with tears in her eyes. She says, "I'm so sorry, I thought I could handle this." I said, "It is OK." And she hugs me and we both cry. She gets us all settled in and leaves. Paul and I begin the hard task of calling our families and letting them know what is going on. We also call a few close friends and make arrangements for them to watch Grace. Uncle Joe and Aunt Erin even took her to the pool. Thankfully, they ask for each other's phone numbers (they have never actually met each other) and tell us that they will take care of everything. Our friends Laura and Caleb has the last "shift" for the day, and assure us that they will go to our house and transfer Grace's carseat to their van and pack a bag for Grace with enough stuff for three days. (You know they are good friends when they are offer to do all of this for our daughter.) It definitely brought us great comfort in knowing that Grace would be taken care of for as long as we needed, since we had no idea how long this process would take. Laura is also the one who is keeping our Sunday School class updated on what is going on. Our neighbor has told us that they will lock up the house for us for the night and take care of Jasper for as long as we need. We spend the next 4 hours talking about how different the rest of the year will be, laughing at the sweet pictures of Grace that our friends send us, crying of the loss of our baby, praying that the Lord will make this process as safe and easy for me, and trying to envision what the next hours will hold for us. Before we know it, the OB is back in with the portable ultrasound. Paul and I hold hands, and our breath, as he looks at the baby still inside of me. There is still a heart beat. The OB asks us what we want to do next. We ask if we can wait a little longer, hoping that I will go into full labor on my own. By this time, the word is spreading and the text messages, voicemails, Facebook messages, and emails begin to pour in. Paul and I read and listen to every one of them, some are Bible verses, words of encouragement, or just heart break for us. It definitely brings us some comfort and peace knowing that so many are hurting and praying for us. During the next 4 hours, we eat some dinner and watch some TV, and Paul joins me in my hospital bed and holds me. I really just needed his arms around me. We are able to sleep for a few minutes, which was refreshing. I am passing heavier blood and clots and having some cramping. When Paul and I wake up, we know it is only a few more minutes before the OB comes back. We have finally come to grips with the fact that we may have to make a decision about speeding up the labor which will ultimately speed up the inevitable. The longer we wait, the higher the risk is for me to develop an infection and the longer I could stay in the hospital. If we made the decision to leave the hospital and "wait it out", we could be back the next day, a week from now, or a month from now, but the outcome will ultimately be the same. It is just too early. Paul and I talk about all of our options. We feel that choosing to leave the hospital to wait out the inevitable is not the choice for us. What kind of life would that be?...constantly wondering if the baby's heart beat has finally stopped or if I am getting an infection. We wouldn't be able to travel or to just enjoy life with our daughter. The moment of truth comes as the OB comes back with the portable ultrasound. The baby's head is now down in the birthing position, and there is still a heart beat. We decide that we want to go ahead and speed up the contractions so that we can finish this process sooner than later and begin to healing process. The OB supports our decision and orders the medicine. It is 4 tablets that will be inserted vaginally. He explains to us what is going to happen next as we wait for the nurse to bring the medicine. He places the pills and leaves the room. Paul and I cry. We have no idea what the next few hours will have in store for us, but we know that it involves loosing our unborn baby. I am encouraged to continue to drink fluids and empty my bladder. They hook me up to an IV and order a pain pump. We update our families again and check on Grace. She is heading to bed for the night. A couple of hours later, I go to empty my bladder and the pills all come out. We page the nurse, who calls the doctor. This time, he brings 3 pills for me to take orally. He explains that these may actually speed up the process even more. About 30 minutes later, the contractions begin. We page the nurse to check on the pain pump, by now shift change has happened, so we wanted to make sure it hadn't been forgotten about. It still hasn't been delivered by the pharmacy yet. With in 30 minutes the contractions are 1 minute apart with no real relief in between. I am in a large amount of pain. The reality hits me. I am not ready for this. We are that much closer to delivery. I begin to hyperventilate. The nurse calls the OB to check on my progress. My cervix is thinning, but there is still no dilation. The OB prescribes me a shot of pain medicine and some anti-anxiety medicine. The nurse has me focus on my breathing to help calm me down. With in a few minutes the medicines kicks in and I am very relaxed and feeling very little pain. The pain pump comes and they hook me up. They tell Paul and me to just relax and try to rest. We sleep for a little less than 2 hours before I wake up. I have the urge to push. I can feel, what I know my heart, is the baby in my birth canel. The nurse comes in and checks. It is time. I sob. I can't do this. Paul holds my hand and reassures me, tears in his eyes. It is 1:15am. I give a small push and the baby is out. It is a boy. This surprises us and saddens us at the same time. They cut the cord and wrap him in a small blanket. They ask if we would like to hold him. I put him in my arms and we cry. He looks perfect, like a teeny tiny normal healthy baby. He isn't fully developed, of course, but you can't really tell just by looking at him. They ask if we have a name for him. Noah Howard Rutherford. We chose the name Noah because he followed God's command to build an ark without ever doubting...and even though we cannot begin to understand the reasoning for our loss, we know that this was God's plan for our son and for our life as a family. God is in control, and we take some comfort in knowing that we will see Noah again one day in heaven. Howard is both Paul's middle name and his father's first name. We always knew that we wanted to use that name one day as our son's middle name. They take him away to measure and weigh him, he weights 79 grams and is 6 inches long. The nurses put their focus back on me. The placenta has still not been delivered. They clamp the small umbilical cord and the OB comes in. He apologizes for not making it before Noah was born. There are others having babies too, we understand. The team of nurses were wonderful. He explains that he is going to give me some more medicine to induce more contractions hoping that the placenta will come out on it's own. I have 2 hours. If it does not, I will need a DNE. He leaves. The nurses begin to clean me up and start to change some of the bedding and help me change my gown. They leave and Paul and I cry again together. We send a text message to our family to let them know that our son was born. We wait again, and we pray. Our prayer is now that the placenta will come out on it's own so that we can skip the DNE surgery. This has already been so much on us. The 2 hours are over. The OB comes in and checks the progress. He tells us that I need a DNE, which will require me to be under anesthesia. He leaves to set up an OR and the nurses begin to prep me for surgery. I ask them if I can keep pushing when I feel the urge, they say yes. They are done prepping me and the main nurse leaves to get the transport. I feel the urge to push. I push and there is the sensation of a large amount of something that has come out. The nurse's aid looks, turns and opens the door to yell down the hall, "I think what y'all are looking for just came out." Paul and I look at each other in amusement and relief. The nurse comes back to check. The placenta is out. She pages the OB who examines me again. No DNE. Praise God! The clean me up again and explain what I will experience next. I will come back to the OB in 6 weeks for my post-pardom exam. I have, after all, given birth to a baby, even though I am only 15 weeks along and he does not get to come home with us. The OB explains that I will have to wait 6 months before I can try to get pregnant again, my body needs to time recover and heal just like after any other birth. To me, this is the hardest thing to hear. Not only do I not get to have our baby on November 24, 2013 (or around there), as planned, now I can't even try to get pregnant again until after that time. I do the math in my head. It will be the first of the year before we can try again. If we are able to get pregnant again right away, it means that we won't be able to have a baby until the end of NEXT year. It feels as the hole in my heart has gotten even bigger. A little while later, everyone leaves the room. The tell us to rest, we need it. We snuggle together and talk about the events of the day and grieve over the loss of the future plans that we had been anticipating with a new baby. After a little while, we know it is time to sleep. Paul goes back to his fold out bed. I cry myself to sleep. We wake up to the sound of the nurse entering the room, breakfast is here. She gets my vitals and asks how we are doing. It has been a rough night for her too. We find out that we were one of SEVEN families going through this exact same ordeal, some who's babies where younger, some who's babies were older, and some who would have to have DNEs. As strange as it may sound, it brought some comfort knowing that there were others who had been going through the same ordeal and the same time, others who knew our pain. At this time, we asked for the Chaplin. She arrived a few minutes later with a memory box for us. Inside were molds of Noah's tiny feet and legs, a birth certificate type paper with his birthday and measurements and tiny feet prints, a few pictures of Noah, and the hat and tiny handkerchief that he was wearing. In a way, taking home that box brought a tiny bit of comfort, knowing that we had something of him we were bringing home. I nurse came in to take some blood to run some tests before I can be discharged. She hugs me and tells me how sorry she is for our loss. She continues to tell us that she went through the same thing in 2009 with her twins, a boy and a girl. She was only 23 weeks and neither baby survived. I cried for her and with her and for the comfort that it brought when someone shared their story. She gave me her number and told me that if I ever need to talk, she would be there for me. We hug and she leaves. My nurse comes back in and tells me that I can finally take a shower. Paul helps me to the bathroom. The warm water feels so nice on my tired aching body. For the first time in 36 hours, I feel clean...and empty. I dress, brush my hair and teeth, and we prepare to leave. We wait for the transport. Paul and I talk about where we go from here, what do we do. These are uncharted and unplanned waters we are about to head out into. The wheelchair arrives, and I sit down. They wheel me out and Paul follows behind. We are so ready to hold and squeeze our sweet Grace, but we are both anxious about what these next hours, days, weeks, months have in store for us. We catch up with our families on the way. We pick up Grace, she has had a blast with all of her adventures. We arrive home. There are bills, a dog to take care of, a daughter to love, dinner to prepare (which was already in our fridge, thanks to sweet friends), errands to run, work to catch up with...life is still going on, the world hasn't stopped for us to grieve. We go through our afternoon and evening rituals and put Grace to bed. We begin to reflect on the last few days. God has had a plan all along, He knew that this was going to happen and has truly protected us. I was supposed to go to Greenville on Saturday by myself with Grace, but I ended up in the ER with cramping and bleeding, and after being checked out, I was released a few hours later with orders to follow up with my OB on Monday. What if I was in Greenville, away from Paul when all of this happened? God protected us. It happened on a Sunday, when most of our friends were available to help out with Grace, what if it had happened during the week? God protected us. Everything happened naturally, I didn't have to have an DNE. God protected us. Grace was with people who loved her, she had such a great time. God protected us. Even though we lost our son through a miscarriage and had to deliver at 15 weeks. God protected us. He knows what is best for us. God has truly blessed us with an amazing family and support system, both in Raleigh and beyond. Navigating through the next few days is going to be tricky, since we don't really know what they will bring to us emotionally, but God will protect us. We are thanking and praising God for all of the beauty and goodness that can come out of sorrow and sadness. God is with us, all of the time. I shared my story with you because I know that it brought me comfort when others shared theirs with me. I hope that I have been an encouragement to you. If you need to talk or want to share your story with me, I urge you to do so! God brings people into our lives for a reason, a season, or a life time. I hope I can be one of those people for you.