Everything Was About To Change. Forever.
I’ll never forget the day I was sitting at our kitchen table talking on the phone to a friend when my wife comes running into the room, and saying,
“Rick….get off the phone.”
I quickly hung up the phone thinking something was wrong. No sooner than I can say “What’s wrong?” my wife shows me this plastic stick with two lines on it.
These two lines were going to change our life.
We were having a baby…!
I was in disbelief! I was in shock! I was happy, joyful, excite….but most of all in love with this baby that was already growing at a rapid pace inside my wife’s tummy!
I couldn’t wait for this day to happen.
But it was happening….
….we were going to be parents…!!!
The next ten months seemed to last forever. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much fun it was going to be to raise a child, especially with my wonderful wife.
Abbie and I spent much of that ten months creating “Noah” in our minds.
As soon as we found out we were having a boy, we knew just what he would look like, act like, talk like, and dress like.
Oh, when it came down to Mac, or PC…he was defiantly going to be a Mac kind of guy.
I absolutely loved going to Abbie’s OBGYN appointments. I LOVED getting to see Noah on the screen as they preformed ultrasounds. I watched him grow from the size of a pea, to a grape, to a peach, to a watermelon.
I remember hearing his heart beat for the first time. Wow! (I cried like a baby.)
I couldn’t believe this was real. I couldn’t believe my wife was carrying around another human life inside of her. I couldn’t believe I was going to be a dad.
We had a blast the next ten preparing for Noah’s arrival. Baby showers, parties, getting the nursery ready, (We even painted it ourselves!) reading the mommy bargain books, and of course picking out the cutest new-born outfits on the planet!
I seriously don’t have a clue how I got anything done during those ten months. The excitement of becoming a parent was like a child waiting for santa the night before Christmas….over. and over, and over again. Each night wondering if this could be the night he arrives!
On December 14, 2010 we went into the OBGYN for a check up, and found out my wife’s blood pressure was a little high. Noah was 36 weeks old at this point, and the OBGYN said she wanted us to come in first thing the next morning to induce labor.
Wow…! I couldn’t believe it. We were really going to be parents! This was happening.
After the appointment we drove around for a bit running last-minute errands, and I don’t remember if it was that day, or perhaps a few days before…but I remember telling my wife,
“You know sometimes when couples at church get up on stage and share a really sad story about something that happened to their child, and everyone in the audience is crying and stuff. And you feel sad for them, but in your mind you are thinking about how glad you are that happened to them and not you…I don’t think I could handle something that.
Sometimes I get scared and I think that God is going do something like that to me since I’m a communicator. Ya know? I sure hope not though, I really don’t think I could handle it. I’m so glad everything is fine with Noah. We are so blessed that all of his sonograms and everything are perfect. I can’t wait to meet this kid.”
We went to one of our favorite local mexican restaurants, Posados, and had one last meal as a “child-less” (no-child-out-of-the-womb) couple. We had no idea that last meal was actually the last meal for our life as we knew it. Because in less than 24 hours our world was going to be turned upside down.
As we dined on ten-dollar enchiladas, our little Noah was just hanging out in his mother’s womb waiting to come out and meet us. We spent the next hour eating, talking, laughing, asking each other questions. We were so excited.
After dinner I was so excited I didn’t want to go home and try to go to sleep. So to kill time we went to Target and just walked around until they closed. Once we got home I’m pretty sure I stayed up the entire night thinking about how awesome it was going to be to finally get to meet our little Noah!
The day we had been waiting for was finally here!
The Long Wait
We woke up that morning and stopped by Chick-Fil-A. Abbie couldn’t eat, but I could..and I was starving. (I know, I”m a horrible husband.) We arrived at the hospital around 6:15 in the morning and got all checked in. I was so nervous. I was so excited. I couldn’t stop thinking about what Noah was going to be like. What the labor was going to be like. If I was going to faint once Abbie started to go into labor. (I seriously thought I might. I have a weak stomach for stuff like that.)
We finally made our way back to the pre-labor room where they induced Abbie.
There was a very uncomfortable couch in our room which I claimed as my home base for the day. We spent the next twelve hours napping, reading, watching daytime talk shows on the tv, (is it just me, or does it seem like every hospital room in America plays Montel Williams and Maury Povich on repeat all day long?) and playing some games on the iPad.
I tried to sleep as much as I could because 1.) I had zero sleep the night before, and 2.) It helped me pass the time. When I was sleeping I couldn’t keep track of time. I just slept. (Which was awesome considering how the minutes oozed by like hours.)
Doctors and nurses came in all throughout the day to check on Abbie, and each time that door opened I sprung up from coach like publishers clearing house was knocking on my door, hoping they would say, “It’s time.” But, they didn’t. They just kept saying, “Ok…he isn’t ready to come out yet. We’ll come back in and check on you in a little bit.”
One of my greatest weaknesses is that I’m not a patient person, (I’m working on it.
Be we had to wait……
It was excruciating to me. I just wanted to meet this little guy!
The Wait Was Over
After 12 hours of labor (and waiting!) our OBGYN came in and said that we had options; 1) Keep trying for another twelve hours, (or longer) or 2) perform a C-section.
After 12 hours of labor, and not knowing for certain if another 12 hours would result in a baby boy, we opted for option number two. From that point forward I feel like my entire life has been in fast forward. Before I could even pack up my iPad my wife was wheeled back to the delivery room, and I was dressed in a pair of light blue scrubs.
There was about five minutes where my life felt as if it was in super slow motion. It was when my wife was out of the room, and I was all-alone in the room where we had been all day. I prayed. I paced. I jumped up and down with excitement. I prayed. I paced. Over and over again.
I couldn’t believe my wife and I were finally about to meet this little boy we had waited so long to meet.
After what seemed like an entirety a nurse came and got me and brought me back to where they were performing the C-section. Thankfully they had a curtain up that allowed me to only to see my beautiful wife’s face. Which was fine by me.
I remember wondering all my life what it would be like in that room. I wondered what I would feel like. If I would break down and weep with joy. If my wife was going to be like the wives in all the movies I had always seen where the wife’s are screaming and cursing the entire time.
I wondered if my wife was going to be in extreme pain. And of course, I wondered if I would faint.
It was nothing like I expected. My wife looked great. No one was screaming. The doctor and nurses were talking to about my thoughts on social media and teenagers while they were pulling Noah out of Abbie. It was surreal.
I grabbed Abbie’s hand and repeated a conversation that went something like this: “Are you ok? Do you feel anything? Is everything ok? I love you. Can you believe we’re about to have a baby? Wow. This is crazy. I love you.”
In what seemed like about five minutes, the doctor said, “Oh, wow there he is!” and then “Wow…! Look at those cheeks.” I was so nervous, and so excited. My heart was racing a million miles a second. I wanted to see him, for myself.
Then she said, “Would you like to see him?” I said, “YES! YES! YES!” Then my heart froze. Seriously. She palmed his little head like a basketball, and lifted him above the sheet, and at 6:15 on December 15, 2010, I saw our beautiful son, Noah David Smith, for the first time.
My heart froze.
I seriously thought I was going to pass out; right there in the hospital! He was amazing. He was our little boy. He was so beautiful. I wept tears of joys. He was the most beautiful person I had ever seen.
I remember thinking,
“Wow…how in the world could I help make a baby that beautiful!”
I was star-struck.
I was seriously in awe.
That little boy had my entire heart. I was in love with him the second saw those 2 lines on that plastic stick, but seeing him for the first time, looking into those big beautiful blue eyes of his for the first time, was more than I could handle.
It was overwhelming.
I simple could not believe our boy was here. (I remember thinking; Wow…shouldn’t she be more careful with him? I had always been told you had to hold a baby very, very gently. Turns out they are a lot tougher then I thought.)
I watched like a hawk as the army of medical professionals cleaned him up. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. The doctors and nurses were whispering to each other, which I assumed was standard end-of-delivery-water-cooler-talk. (I’d learn very soon what all that whispering was about.)
I took pictures, and reported back to my wife everything I saw. (She was pretty out of it at this point.) I seriously looked like the paparazzi with all the pictures I was snapping. In fact, I think I may have actually strained my finger from pressing the shutter on my camera so many times!
After a few minutes one of the nurses came over and handed me our son. I got to hold our little tiny adorable baby Noah for the very first time! He was all wrapped up in this little blue blanket and cute hat.
I couldn’t believe I was holding my boy.
My own flesh and blood.
It was overwhelming.
We held him. Kissed him. Abbie had a second to look at him as she was going in and out of sleep.
They took Noah out to weigh him, and I asked if I could come with them and take a picture of Noah on the scale. As the nurse and I wheeled Noah down the hallway to the nursery, we passed the waiting room where our family had been waiting. They all ran out to grab a quick glimpse of our beautiful little boy.
The nurse took my camera and snapped a few pictures of Noah on the scale, and said she would have Noah up in our room with us in about an hour!
Wow! I couldn’t wait.
I took my father and mother in law in one at a time in to see their daughter in the post-op room. They were so happy to see her. I was busy using my cell phone to take pictures of the LCD screen of my DSLR camera so I could text Noah’s first picture out to all of my friends. (And of course tweet and Facebook them as well!)
As my wife’s medicine was wearing off she was shaking and acting funny, and it scared me. But within an hour she was back to normal. The nurses were huddled up in our post-op room whispering with more water-cooler talk, and finally our OBGYN came in. She said
…everything went well, Noah was beautiful, and that Abbie would be back to normal shortly.
We were then asked about five times what the name of our pediatrician was. They said they just wanted to make sure they had it right. Again, that seemed normal to me. No biggy.
They wheeled Abbie past the nursery (very, very quickly) so she could look her little boy again, on the way to her hospital room.
Normally the nurse in the newborn nursery will hold the baby to the window for a few minutes so the new mom can spend some time looking at their sweet little baby before going to her recovery room. In our case Noah stayed lying down and they rushed Abbie past the newborn nursery windows very quickly.
This was our first time to have a child, so just figured it was par for the course.
Finally we were in our room surrounded by parents, presents. and friends. We were so happy and blessed that everything had gone off without a hitch. It was like a mini-party in our room. It was so exciting. We couldn’t wait to see our boy again!!!
I kept going back and forth to the nursery to stare at our little baby. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He was stunning. Everyone was crammed into our little hospital room just waiting for little baby Noah to make his grand entrance. Cue the balloons, bubble gum cigars, and sparking apple cider….it was about to be a party!
Little did we know that our entire life was about to change.
The Fifteen Minutes That Changed Our Life. Forever.
After an hour had gone by and our son still hadn’t been brought into our room I started to become very impatient.
After two hours of waiting my wife called the nurses station and was told everything was ok, and they would be bringing Noah in soon.
It was a Wednesday night, and the hospital seemed busy so I thought nothing of it. We waited another hour, and still no Noah. By this point friends that had stopped by had left, Abbie was completely exhausted, and all we wanted to do was hold our little boy.
At a few minutes past ten pm our pediatrician (who was a friend and former co-worker of my wife’s during her medical residency) walked through the door, sat down, hugged Abbie, and asked me if I wanted to come over and sit near Abbie.
I was sitting next to my mom on the couch, exhausted, and just wanted to see our precious little boy. I figured your pediatrician coming in at ten o’clock was normal, especially since she was also a personal friend of my wife’s. So I jokingly said,
“Nah. I’m ok. I’ve been sitting next to her all day!”
After all, all she was going to do was tell us congratulations and talk “doctor talk” with my wife, there wasn’t any need for me come sit by my wife. She was fine. And I was very comfortable on the couch with my mother. (The couch I was on was only about four feet away from her, so it wasn’t like I couldn’t hear what was being said.) Our pediatrician looked at me, and sounding a bit taken back that I didn’t come join her on my wife’s hospital bed said,
There is nothing I could have ever done to be prepared for the words that would come out of her mouth in next 180 seconds….
“First, I want to tell that your son is adorable.”
(I later learned that this is doctor talk for “I’m about to tell you something that’s going to feel like getting punch directly in your soul.) She said had just spent some time with our son and he was
had the cutest little checks….
something about his eyes……
and the shape ears…
and his toes….
and then she said these 10 words that would change the entire direction of our life;
“…and you’re aware those features are consistent with Trisomy 21….”
The next 3 things seriously summed to happen at the exact same moment….
My wife starts to cry.
Our pediatrician starts to hug her.
I jumped up off the couch and in the 1/2 of a second that it took me to get to her bed from the couch was trying to figure out what just happened.
I had never in my life heard the phrase “Trisomy 21.” I was so confused. Why was my wife crying? Why did our pediatrician have my wife in a bear hugh?
I had just heard her say less then four minutes ago that our little boy was adorable..and that everything was fine. What was in the world was going on?
I’ll never forget the next few minutes of my life. It’s like those moments are burned into my mind. I can close my eyes and it’s like I’m standing right there….
I kneeled down on the floor of that small hospital room beside my wife’s hospital bed, grasped my sobbing wife’s hand, looked at my wife’s beautiful face, looked at our pediatrician, and…shakingly, fearfully, quietly, barely whimpered these words,
“So our son has Down Syndrome?”
To which she quietly answered:
I immediately clung to my wife and we wept like we’ve never wept before. It was seriously like time had just frozen.
I caught a glimpse of my mother in law look at my father in law as I was clinging to my wife and I saw them look at each other with a “what in the world is going on” look. And he was trying to figure it out also. They didn’t hear what the pediatrician said. It all happened in less than three minutes. No knew what was happening. My mother in little brother were also wondering what was happening.
They were confused. And so was I.
Our family excused their self from the room, and we sat there with our pediatrician on that small hospital bed in silence. There were no words for the next few minutes. Only sobbing.
I felt like someone had sucker punched me directly in the heart. What just happened? Where were the balloons? Where was the celebration? Where was my son. I had no idea what just happened to me. It was like the wind was knocked out of me…times a million.
Our pediatrician sat there with us for a little while longer, and told us a few things about what to expect, and what the next steps were. She had thought Abbie had already known, which was why she was surprised that I didn’t come sit by my wife when she had asked me to, and also why she didn’t ask for our family to be excused before giving us the Down syndrome diagnosis.
She went on to say she had listened to his heart (which is a major medical concern for a baby born with Down Syndrome) and didn’t hear anything wrong with it.
Finally, she asked if we had any other questions (we had a million, but what we really wanted to do is just see our little boy.) and told us they would be brining Noah in to see us = shortly.
It is interesting to note that we later learned that this was the reason they rushed Abbie to her room without getting to get a good look at her baby in the nursery, and hadn’t brought him to the room yet. Since my wife is a pediatrician they didn’t want her to self diagnose her own baby.
All of the whispering in the post-op room was the hospital staff trying to figure out how to contact our pediatrician this late on a Wednesday evening. So all of the time we were waiting for them to “clean up” Noah, we were actually waiting for our pediatrician to arrive at the hospital to tell us Noah was born with Down syndrome.
They wanted us to see the pediatrician, and for her to tell us Noah was born with Down syndrome, before we saw our son up close and personal.
Our pediatrician hugged Abbie once last time, slowly got up off the bed, hugged me and walked out the door. That little metal “click” as the heavy hospital door closed shut behind her sound sounded louder than ever before.
And there we sat.
We held each other and wept. Harder then we had every wept about anything ever before. We didn’t say anything. We didn’t know what to say. We just wept. There were no words to say.
To be honest, in that moment I really had no idea what I was weeping about. After all we had just had a baby. This was a birth. Not a funeral. No one had died.
There were supposed to be bubble gum cigars, streamers, balloons, laughing. Not sobbing. Sobbing is the very last thing you’re supposed to do when your child is born.
At least that’s what always happened in the movies.
But this wasn’t a movie. This was our life. And it had just been turned upside down.
A few minutes later our family came back in and we all hugged each other. I remember stepping out into the hall way with my father in law (my father had passed away a few years prior) grabbing him, and the two of us just weeping together. Loudly.
I had only seen my father-in-law tear up a few times before. It was always when my wife (his daughter) had to leave their house (out-of-state) after a vacation or holiday to head back home. This crying sounded nothing like that crying. This crying came from somewhere deeper. There are no words to describe how it sounded, and I hope I never have to hear a sound like that again. It was two men weeping from the depths of their soul. Again, I’m not even really sure why. But there in that hospital hallway, for what seemed for hours, two grown men held each other and wept. Like we had never wept before.
We all finally calmed down and started to catch our breath. (It’s amazing how the entire direction and course of your life can change in a matter of minutes.) After about fifteen minutes had passed the sound of the metal lock opening on that large wooden hospital door sounded louder than it ever had before. (For the 2nd time!)
And through that door walked a nurse pushing a small, rolling, clear plastic crib with our son quietly (and cutely) resting inside. He only wanted one thing at this point in his life. And it wasn’t an iPad, a new rattle, or the cutest new onesy.
It was his mommy and daddy. And Love. A whole lot of love.
And he was about to get a lot of it.
Let The Heart Stealing Begin
I later learned that my wife had told herself that no matter what, she would be smiling (not crying) the first time she held her baby.
And as hard as I’m sure it was for her, she made good on that promise. I’ll never forget the second they handed my wife our sweet son Noah. I have never been so proud to be her husband. It sounds weird, but I could see the love in her heart on her face. Despite all that had just happened in the last few minutes, she was so happy. She loved this kid so much. I loved that kid so much. And I loved her so much. I loved our family.
There is nothing in the world that compares to the feeling a parent has the first time they hold their new-born baby. It’s indescribable. But it’s awesome.
I could write forever about that first night, but I think you probably have an idea of how it went. We loved on our son. We loved on each other. We hugged a lot. We wept a lot. And we prayed a lot.
The Morning After
The next morning our OBGYN came in and said,
“I’m so sorry. I went home last night and looked over everything to see if I somehow missed something.”
(I was thinking to myself, 1.) “What is there to be ‘sorry’ about? We just had a baby!” 2.) Even if you ‘missed’ something it wouldn’t have changed anything. We love this baby so much!”)
For some strange reason the OBGYN wouldn’t look my wife or I in the face. It was bizarre. Like she was embarrassed. It was a very awkward visit. Then she asked my wife if she’d like some antidepressants. My wife said, “Ummm….No. I don’t think I’m depressed. I think everything I’m feeling is normal.” The OBGY said ok and that she would note in her chart that she could have them if she wanted them…..Which prompted the nurses to awkwardly whisper to my wife all throughout the day, “Would you like your medicine?” We both sort of laughed it off.
I just couldn’t get over how “un-positive ” everyone was. I just kept thinking to myself how strange it was that God just allowed us to have a this beautiful baby boy, yet everyone was acting so sad.
This was a birth, not a funeral.
And from that day forward we knew we’d always celebrate his birth.
Will you help us share the story that Down syndrome is ok?
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The story that Down syndrome ok.
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