When we made it to November 1st and Kristen was still pregnant, we were thrilled. We’ve had a planned C-section date of November 24 since maybe week 8 of the pregnancy. That date has a lot of meaning for us because it marks exactly four years since the day that we first met. It also happens to be 37 weeks, 3 days into the pregnancy, which our doctor felt was a good (if maybe a bit optimistic) target.
Things did not work out quite that way. Now it’s November 27th. Noah is 15 days old! Noah was only scheduled to arrive on the 24th.
What happened? Well, premature labor is what happened.
Kristen had been having contractions on an irregular basis for weeks. But on the night of the 11th, they became more regular. By the afternoon of the 12th they were continuing and she was experiencing a new pain with each contraction. Time to go to the hospital! As we drove to Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, we called our doctor and he agreed that it was time to deliver the baby. So, no more questions — it would be the 12th. We let our parents know what was happening and they headed to Baltimore in a separate car.
On the way up, we talked about what was going to happen. The moment we wanted most was to hear Noah’s very first cry. Will, the son we lost at 21 weeks, never cried. Hearing that first cry would be the first sign that this time, things would unfold differently. It would be the first sign that we might get to bring Noah home.
We reached Baltimore at about 7PM. The next hour and a half or so was filled with anticiifmactic paperwork and waiting for some of Kristen’s bloodwork to be done. That way, if Kristen needed blood during the caesarian section, the right blood would be on hand.
During this time both sets of our parents arrived at the hospital. We were all crammed into a tiny, temporary room with only a couple of chairs available. But fortunately, we weren’t to wait much longer. At 9:45 I was handed a set of hospital scrubs and told to put them on. Here I am, all scrubbed up, looking nervous (but excited!):
Kristen, on the other hand, was in relatively good spirits. Enough to take our traditional, pre-surgery “rock-star hands” picture.
Before I knew it, it was time to go to the delivery room! By this time it was 10PM. And after only 10 minutes, I was called into the room! I was given a seat next to Kristen’s left shoulder, so we could see each other and talk to each other. Mostly I held her hand and offered reassurances.
It seemed like no time at all passed before the surgeon, Dr. Atlas, said, “Okay, here comes Noah!” A few seconds later…a cry. A single little cry. And never in my life have I felt such relief and joy.
Thus began a slow week in the NICU for Noah. He needed surfactant (a substance to help the lining of his lun,gs be less sticky) for a day, but after that he graduated to breathing room air. 36 hours after he was born, we were finally able to touch him. What a joy that was! He charmed us like he charmed all the NICU nurses. No one could believe the color of his hair (so blonde it is almost white) nor the amount of hair (many toddlers have less).
Noah progressed through that first week without any significant setbacks. The only problem he had (and still has) is that, as a preemie, breastfeeding is exhausting work. So we usually have to supplement with stored milk.
We were very lucky with how Noah progressed. And it turned out, we were very lucky we chose to go to the hospital when we did. Because Dr. Atlas told me immediately after the surgery that Kristen’s Trans-Abdominal Cerclage (TAC) had begun eroding into her uterus and was likely about to break. A broken TAC would mean a ruptured uterus, and that would mean that Kristen and Noah would die.
We came within a few hours, Dr. Atlas said, of TAC failure. Kristen, brave warrior mom that she is, took Noah as far into pregnancy as was possible by anyone.
So today, during this Thanksgiving weekend, I’m very thankful that my son and my wife are alive and doing well. If things had gone differently I could have lost them both.
This past Tuesday, the 24th, was also a special day for Kristen and me. It marked exactly four years to the day since we first met.
Noah is the best anniversary present I could have asked for.