July 7, 2009 - one month ago
The morning of Noah's birth (though it felt like one long day since we had not slept), my doctor - the one who delivered Ethan - walked through the door. I couldn't believe it. One of the other doctors was on call the night before and he was supposed to be doing the surgery that morning, but he had called Dr. Duhart and told her what had happened, so she came in (on her day off) to do the c-section. David and I were so very grateful that she was there (a blessing from God). God also answered my prayer that a specific nurse (Amy) would be there. She was in the room during my best friend's (Angela's) delivery and we had come to be friends on facebook. She was my nurse for the delivery. They wheeled me into the OR at around 7:30 and prepared me for surgery. David patiently waited in the hall while they gave me a spinal. The spinal worked very quickly. My left leg went numb first, then my right and I remember thinking that I wished the spinal could make my heart numb too.
Since we've lost Noah, several people have said that they hope God will give us the "peace that passes all understanding." While there are several occassions when I have felt such peace, the one that always comes to mind is Ethan's birth. Ethan's heartbeat dropped from the 160's down to the 40's after 14 hours of labor and I had to be rushed for an emergency c-section....the thing I had feared most. In the moments when I was in the OR and Ethan's heartbeat read "0" on the screen for what seemed like forever, I just had total peace. I didn't know it then, but God was absolutely giving me that peace that passes all understanding. God did the same thing for me during Noah's delivery. I prayed that God would give me that same peace and he did.
They finally let David in the room and he stayed close to me, holding my hand and telling me how strong I was (though I felt no strength of my own). It seemed like it was taking hours to pull Noah out, but it had only been a few minutes. At 8:18am, Noah David was born. It was the opposite of our experience with Ethan. This time there was only silence. No crying. The silence was deafening and suddenly I was sobbing. The moment that was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of our lives had turned into one of the cruelest and saddest.
David and I weren't sure if we would want to see him. We didn't know what he would look like. Many stillborns are born bruised, underdeveloped....we just didn't know if it would make it all even more difficult. But after they pulled him out David said the EXACT same thing he said when Ethan was born and they had put him on a little table to clean him up..."Can I go be with him, baby?" I said "yes, go". He saw Noah and then came back and I asked, "Is he ok?" David smiled and said, "Yes, he's beautiful. He's perfect. He's so big!" We were expecting Noah to only weigh about 2 pounds, so we were thrilled when they said he was 3lbs. and 6oz. I immediately wanted to see him after David had seen that he was ok, so they brought him over and I saw my son. My beautiful, perfect angel. I desperately wanted to hold him. Just as badly as I had wanted to hold Ethan the day he was born.
A few minutes later the doctor showed us the placenta and the cord. The placenta had calcium deposits all over it (as if it were aged to 41 weeks) and the cord had a false knot in it. I felt angry at that moment. Angry that my body had failed him. Angry that I didn't know. The doctor took her time stitching me up to make sure I would heal quickly. The next few minutes are a blur. I do remember that a lady came in with Noah in her arms and introduced herself as the grief counselor and that she would be bathing Noah, dressing him, and then bringing him to us in our room. She was such a wonderful lady and treated Noah as if he were any other healthy, breathing baby. She finally brought him to us and placed him in my arms. He was so tiny.
His head was smaller than the palm of my hand and his feet were the size of my thumb. His skin was so soft and he smelled so sweet. They had put him in the tiniest little preemie outift, but it was still big on him. I pulled off his little hat and saw his soft brown hair just like Ethan had when he was born. No doubt it would have all fallen out and turned blonde.
The days in the hospital are a big blur to me. We had to make decisions about Noah's burial and memorial service as quickly as possible. It was my worst nightmare. It was all happening so fast. My child was gone and I couldn't take him home. I would have to bury him.
Our family came to the hospital and everyone held Noah. Philip (our pastor) was the first one at the hospital and Angela was in New York on vacation but got the quickest flight back to be there with me. She cried with me for a long time. I think it was overwhelming for her too because we had been pregnant together. Sarah was just a few weeks old. Angela's heart was broken for me and I was so glad she was there for me. Jason (my brother) and Esther (my sister-in-law) came in and wept with me. They ADORE Ethan as if he were their own and they were so looking forward to Noah's arrival. They, too, were heartbroken.
My mom was sick with the flu and could not come immediately. She got better and was finally able to come, but wasn't sure she wanted to see him. When she was young, my Aunt Cindy died when she was a baby and she was really traumatized by the events surrounding Cindy's death. She didn't know if seeing Noah would bring all of that back. Eventually, she wanted to see him and hold him and she is so glad she did. I remember my sister-in-law, Melissa had such a hard time saying goodbye to Noah. She just didn't want to let him go. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law, Erica both went back to our house and probably washed about 15 loads of our laundry and cleaned our entire house. Jason and Esther did a lot of cleaning too. They took care of Ethan while we were at the hospital. They brought Ethan to the hospital to see me, but we never let Ethan see Noah. Ethan is only 3 and we just didn't think it was necessary. We have since let him look at pictures of Noah and explained that he is in Heaven with Jesus.
Many people came to see us. The nurses placed a picture of a sunset on the door of our room. This was to alert anyone who entered our room that our baby had died. The nurses were absolutely amazing! They really treated us like family. They cried with us, they told us how beautiful Noah was, they told us stories of their own loss. One nurse of mine had lost her baby just last February. She really understood our heartache and I thanked her for sharing with me about her precious daughter. Another nurse cried with us a lot and she took EXCELLENT care of me. She even came to Noah's memorial service.
My co-workers came and saw Noah. I will never forget my co-worker's mother coming in to see me. She walked over to see Noah and she became overwhelmed. She was crying hysterically and just hugged me and kept saying, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry!". I think any mother (or father) can imagine the deep agony that losing a child would cause. It felt like she understood. I appreciated her crying with us.
Philip called us the day after Noah was born and told us that our other church staff member, Jeff, had told him about this song that had Noah's name in it and that it seemed as though the song had been written just for us. My brother quickly downloaded it onto his computer and brought it to the hospital. I will never forget that moment with all of my family. We sat around the computer and listened and we all just wept together. I have never seen my father cry. Ever. My dad has a tender heart, but he just doesn't cry very often. I saw my dad weep so much in those days in the hospital. To see his daughter weep over his grandson was enough to bring him to his knees. I love my Daddy so very much!!!
I long to hold Noah again. To kiss his hands, his feet, his face just one more time. Letting him go (letting his body go) was so very difficult. It made it final. He was gone and we would be leaving that hospital with empty arms, broken hearts, and changed lives.
Sweet Noah, I long to have you in my arms!!! To hear you cry! To feed you! To kiss you! To see your big blue eyes looking at me. To see you play with your big brother. To see you laugh with your Daddy. My heart aches. I miss you so much. I miss having you in my belly and feeling you kick and move. I know you are in the presence of the Lord and while I only have photographs of you sleeping, I have a picture in my mind of you standing in front of our Savior, praising Him for all his goodness. I can't wait to be there with you forever. A time when I will never have to let you go again.