I know some of you may visit my blog today from http://www.thewordsmithjournal.com/you-are-not-alone.html, so I wanted to post Noah's story here as well. If you or someone you know has suffered the loss of a child, please feel free to look back through my archives as I hope it will be an encouragement to someone. The Lord carried us through even the most difficult time of our lives and our faith in Him has increased so much since that July day in 2009...(see video at the end of this post)
On December 27, 2009, two little pink lines told us that we were expecting a baby. We had seen these lines many times before. In 2004, my husband, David and I were expecting our first...and second. Twins. But just 12 weeks into the pregnancy, I miscarried. We were devastated. In 2005, we got pregnant and just days later had an early miscarriage. Then in May of 2006 we finally welcomed our first son, Ethan into the world and we thanked God for allowing us to be the parents of this precious little boy. When Ethan was 2 and 1/2 years old, we decided we wanted another child. Again we experienced an early miscarriage, but the very next month we got pregnant again. This time we felt certain that this little life growing inside me would be just fine. Ethan was going to have a baby brother. We were ecstatic and couldn't wait for his arrival.
It was a pretty normal pregnancy in the beginning. I had morning (or all day) sickness just like I had when I was pregnant with Ethan. But twenty-five weeks into the pregnancy, things began to change. My blood pressure was consistently high when I would go to the doctor for my checkups. My blood pressure had never been high before, so I was definitely concerned. I eventually became paranoid. I bought my own blood pressure cuff and would take my blood pressure several times daily. It was always high. I called the doctor several times and they did several ultrasounds. Every time they checked, our little boy seemed to be doing just fine and he was moving all around. My doctor took the high blood pressure very seriously and decided to call a specialist and make me an appointment. On July 4, 2009 my brother and sister-in-law came over to our house to watch the firework show that was visible from the top of our driveway. That night my brother got to feel the baby kick for the first time.
The morning of July 6, 2009 I woke up to the realization that I couldn't remember feeling the baby move the entire day before (Sunday). We were very busy that Sunday and I thought perhaps I had not sat down long enough to really feel him move. I knew I had felt him move on Saturday night. That was the last time I could remember feeling him move. I decided to drink some caffeine on the way to work to get him moving. When I got to work, my co-worker and I joked about how the baby was taking a long nap and needed to wake up. I jiggled my belly a bit, but still nothing. I decided to run up to the gas station and grab an orange juice, so I did. I drank it and waited. Still nothing. I convinced myself that I was just being paranoid and tried to get through the day at work without worrying about it. On my way home from work I called my best friend and then my dad. Both were very concerned and encouraged me to call the doctor. Their concern upset me and my worry was that the doctors would want to take the baby early. I was just 30 weeks and a few days along and I was terrified that my baby would end up in the NICU. I called the doctor and she told me to go to the hospital immediately. I started crying. I just kept telling my husband that I was worried they would take the baby early and that my blood pressure must be making him lethargic.
On the way to the hospital, David and I decided to finally settle on a name for our baby. After all, if he was possibly going to be born that day, he needed a name. I had wanted the name Noah all along, but David wasn't ready to decide until that day. We chose the name, "Noah David" which means comforter, peaceful. When I arrived at labor and delivery, they had me sign in and took me straight back to a room. They first used a fetal heart monitor (the little wand) and rubbed it all around my belly. We heard nothing. Then they strapped a heart monitor on my belly and we waited to hear something. Still nothing. I started to panic, but the nurse said she heard some movement and told me not to get upset. She went and got the doctor and brought in an ultrasound machine. The room began to spin. I stared at the ceiling and prayed out loud, "Father, please. Please let him be ok! You can make him be ok if you want to. Please don't take him from us!" They placed the wand on my belly and I stared at the screen. There was my little boy. His perfect little profile first caught my eye. There was my Noah, and he was still. No flashing heartbeat, no movement, no sound, just silence. I suddenly heard someone screaming and after a moment, I realized it was me. By this time there were several doctors and nurses in the room. They hugged us and then gave us a few moments to call our family and let them know what had happened. I couldn't bear to hear the sound of each of their hearts breaking, so I asked my husband if he could make the calls. Bravely he told each one.
In a split second, our world had changed forever.
We decided that we needed a night to process what had happened and I was not ready for the emptiness that was to come. I recalled the emptiness I felt after having a D&C when I miscarried our twins and I knew I wasn't ready. I wanted one more night with my son. We scheduled the c-section for the next morning. Our family was all there the next day and waited in the waiting room while I went into surgery. God's peace fell on us. The silence in that room was deafening as they pulled Noah out. In the quietness of that room I secretly prayed that a miracle would take place and he would somehow be born alive. But there was no screaming baby in that room that day. Our son was stillborn. I asked David how Noah looked. "Beautiful...he's perfect," he said. Noah David was born on July 7, 2009 at 3 pounds, 6 ounces and just 15" long. I immediately wanted to see this tiny baby I had carried all those months. A strange excitement came over me. Just like the excitement I had with my son, Ethan, I couldn't wait to hold Noah. Maybe it was my way of coping. I just wanted to snuggle with my baby, even though I knew he was gone. The next few days we spent holding him and photographing him so that we would never forget. We wanted to remember that his upper lip curled just like his Daddy's, that his profile looked just like his big brother's, that his ears looked just like his Aunt's. We never wanted to forget his beautiful face, his perfect little hands, his precious baby feet. We wanted to say our brief "Hello" before the inevitable "Goodbye".
After 3 days in the hospital, the dreaded day came when we would have to say goodbye. Leaving Noah in the arms of a nurse and walking out of that hospital empty-handed was by far the hardest thing we have ever had to endure. The next few days were a blur. We chose to have a private burial with just family and a few close friends and then we had a memorial service where we invited everyone to come. The service was beautiful, but so surreal. How could it be that my worst nightmare had become a reality? My blood pressure was at stroke level during the service. My doctor and one of my nurses who had attended the service immediately escorted me to the hospital afterward where I remained overnight in order to get control of my blood pressure. We later learned that the cause of Noah's death was blood clots that had formed all around the placenta. I was diagnosed with Factor V Leiden, a blood clotting disorder. This was most likely the culprit of all of our pregnancy losses.
We buried Noah at a local cemetery in a small section called "Babyland" where so many other babies were buried. In the days that followed his burial, I would visit daily and pray over each grave and for the parents of the child inside. I longed to connect with the mothers of these children. I made a bold move and decided to google some of the baby's names to see if I could locate their parents. I only found one. Her name was Dawn - the mother of a baby girl buried close to Noah. I contacted her and prayed that she wouldn't think me a stalker. She responded and we had an instant connection. Our hearts had holes in them, but our children were together. They were in the arms of Jesus. I am so thankful to have found a friend who understands and shares my pain.
There is a song that I listened to on repeat in my car while facing the harsh reality that we would not raise this child I had carried for 31 weeks. The song is written by the group "Selah" and it is called, "Unredeemed". My favorite line of the song says, "Places where grace is soon to be so amazing. It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored, but you never know the miracle the Father has in store". Every time I heard that line, I pictured myself back in that hospital room, but this time, holding a healthy baby girl in my arms. Noah could not be replaced and we knew we needed time to grieve, but we also longed for this heartache to be redeemed. We wanted another child.
On Noah's 1st birthday, we invited family and friends for a Balloon Release to remember our precious boy. It was the perfect day. One year. We had made it. We would never forget our sweet boy, but we knew we were ready to try again. In fact, we got pregnant right away and on March 18, 2011, we welcomed Ella Jane Collinsworth into our hearts and lives. David and I always felt in our hearts that God would give us a girl after Noah. There were a lot of scares in the early part of my pregnancy with Ella and I had to give myself over 230 injections to prevent blood clots from forming. We knew how to save her because of her brother. He had made a way for her.
Since losing Noah, I have met countless women who have walked this road either right before us or right behind us. It's a difficult road full of ups and downs. I wish this kind of tragedy never happened in the lives of so many families. We never know when grief will hit us, but we always have hope. We have the hope of a Savior. The hope of a creator God who knew that he would create Noah. A God who knew the number of hairs on his head. There are days when I have asked God, "why?", but then I remember that He never promised us we wouldn't have sorrow or that we wouldn't have pain, He promised He would carry us through. And through our suffering, we could allow Him to receive glory. I will have Noah forever because God chose to create him. God promised us that we will see him again someday. We will spend eternity with him. There is no greater joy. I long for the reunion we will have someday where we will know no more pain. Grief will be no more. And never again will we have to say goodbye.
Noah's video (from his 2nd birthday...)