I know so many of you have already heard most of the details of our time in the hospital but for those who haven't, here is the run down:
DAY 1: We checked in at 7:30am Wednesday morning. Our nurse greeted us right away and showed us to our room, that was a part of the labor and delivery area that I had never seen before. She told us her name was Lauren and that we were her one and only patient today (Thanks Jesus). She told us that where we were was the wing of labor and delivery where they try and stop labor. They wanted us there so we wouldn't have to hear the cry of healthy babies. So sweet of them. She also informed us that she had chatted with our friend Tammy (a friend of ours from high school) who is a nurse at CMH, and that she knew a lot about us already. She was very kind and walked us through everything. We dealt with paperwork, I got into my gorgeous new attire and we settled in and waited. We did not get our first dose of cytotec ( like cervadil) until 9:30am. They told us I would get another dose in four hours so we could just kick back.
(This was the sign they placed on our door to inform the staff of our situation)
Within about an hour I started to have slight cramping and by the second dose they definitely started to feel more like contractions, but still very bearable. During this time, John and I got to meet the social worker, Tracy, who I had been chatting with for a couple of weeks. It was so good to put a face to a voice and to give her a big hug. She was so kind to us. She told us if we needed anything she would be around all day and to not hesitate. She was another sweet gift from Jesus. The rest of the day consisted of John and I watching "So I Married An Ax Murderer", making Ruby a couple of headbands, having lots of visitors, having the boys come to play, watching "Friends", trying to do my Beth Moore study, going for short walks and talking on the phone.
It really felt like we just got up and said "Hey, wanna go hang out at the hospital all day? Let's have friends come over to chat and bring us food too!" The nurse would check me from time to time and things were happening, but dialating was not in the equation yet. I could not receive pitocin until then.
By my third dose around 8pm I began to really feel contractions, the kind that were hard to sleep through. So the doctor recommended I take Ambien to help me sleep and rest. I got a couple of hours which was nice, but by the time they woke me up at 4am, I felt slightly nauseous with a bad headache. We had a very sweet nurse all evening named Charlotte, who took her time walking us through everything. When she left at 7am, she told us that she was also a believer and was truly blessed by our decision and the faith that she saw in us. She began to tear up and we were just truly touched. God was in every detail of our stay, encouraging us through small moments like this.
DAY 2: 7:30am rolled around and we met our new nurse, Kimberly. She stayed with us through out our day there. I loved her!! God allowed us to have 5 different nurses throughout our time there and every one was a gift. They were all so different but yet very compassionate, patient, and understanding.
She gave me my pitocin at 7:30am and we were praying for a nice quick process! She would come in every 20 minutes and up my pitocin... I kept asking if we could just crank it to 10, but she knew better.
John and I took walks, spent some more time with friends, watched "Arrested Development", and by about lunch time I was in full throttle labor. But about that time I was also ready for a nap. I had gotten very little sleep and having consistent contractions for over 30 hours was getting pretty taxing. The doctor had previously informed me that I did not have to dialate to 10 cm to deliver Ruby, because of her size. So I put off the idea of an epidural. I thought to myself if I can at least get to 6cm then maybe my body will be ready. The nurse would come and check me every 4 hours and every time became more and more discouraging. By noon I was a mere 1 or 2cm. But I pressed on in hopes that my body would remember doing this before and kick into gear quickly. So we trekked on. John would feed me ice chips, rub my back as I stood near my bed, let me hold onto him as I stood through the hard ones and walked me down the halls. He was right by my side the whole time. I couldn't have loved him more for it. I had a goal of getting to 4pm. She upped my pitocin to 12 and told me she would check me again at 4pm and I thought, if things have not progressed by then I will get my epidural, sleep and get rested up for time with Ruby. But I did tell John, "I really wanna have her before sun down. I don't want to have her at night." Don't ask me why but I think I needed to see her in the light of day. By 3pm my contractions were getting longer and way too close together. By 3:30pm we had clocked them at 50 seconds long and 40 seconds apart! I was dying! By 3:45pm I begged John to go get Kimberly and ask her to check me right then. I told him if I'm not at least a five you are bringing me that epidural! She came in and informed me I was only a 3 or tight 4cm. "BRING IT!"
This is where things got crazy! Within 5 minutes we had the anesthesiologist in our room prepping me for my epidural. I was shocked he got there as quickly as he did but also needed him to speed it up already! He got everything done, and had me rest back down and try to relax but with contractions coming every 40 seconds it was difficult to even catch my breath. I just kept thinking, "Yay, I can nap, rest up, and be ready to greet her with open arms!" Well it takes about 15 minutes for epidurals to take full effect so I breathed through a few more intense contractions then looked over and told the nurse, "Um, I'm feeling some pressure...what does that mean?" she looked very surprised and told me to get ready. I prepped myself for the next contraction and, still feeling everything, I gave birth to Ruby Jean Harrell at 4:28pm.
This may be too graphic for some viewers...reader discretion is advised.
Everything came with Ruby. My water never broke, She came out in her water sac, with the placenta right on top. The nurse ran to get the doctor and I looked over to John. I asked him "Are you ok?" He said yes and that he couldn't even see her yet. I have been very concerned about John's reaction to all of this. I had held a trisomy baby 6 months prior, so I felt I had more of an idea of what to anticipate. But this was my man's little girl and I was just so unsure how he would handle seeing her this way.
The doctor on call came in, introduced himself, told us how sorry he was, and opened up the bag. The doctor said, "Well, you are done! You did it all in one push so there is nothing more for you to do, but hold her." I watched John's face the whole time. Tears began to well up in his eyes as He took sight of his little girl. They placed her on my belly and cleaned her up. Not a tear, just pure joy came from my spirit. I was so grateful to hold her, grateful to hold my ultrasound baby, my Ruby Jean. I was so in awe of seeing her cord, her tiny chin, the features that made her a trisomy baby, the features we had only seen through images in black and white. Her arms were perfectly crossed. John and the nurse said she came out that way.
There was so much peace in knowing that this wasn't Ruby. That she was no longer with us here, but with our sweet Jesus, witnessing her mommy and daddy exploring her earthly shell.
Within 10 minutes the photographer got there. The hospital has a photographer come and take professional pictures for us to cherish...moments in time that we will never forget. When she left, we asked the nurse for some time.
John and I spent about 10 minutes exploring, talking, crying and praying. Her fingers were perfect, her feet were long, legs so skinny, toe nails, eye brows, every feature a full term baby would have, except maybe her ears. They were still being worked on:) We praised God for her, so thankful for what she had done in our lives.
The one thing that truly broke my heart was not that I never got to meet my little girl, but that she was Jackson and Caleb's little sister. She was gonna be the baby that the boys couldn't wait to hold. I wanted that for them. I wanted that for John.
But words cannot explain the peace both of us felt. Here we were, holding a little girl who drew so many people closer to Jesus, who transformed our lives, who answered our prayers, who has done so much good in our lives with her short 28 weeks in my womb. I felt as though we were privileged to hold a small miracle who, I believe, did more in her 28 weeks in the lives of my friends and family than I ever have in my 28 years.
We were in awe of what our God had done! John also relished in the fact that Ruby never sinned. She was a perfect being on this earth, and God took her home that way. That is all she has ever known....perfection. She is wiser than we are. So cool!
We had a few more friends come in to give us love and pray over us. They brought me my first solid meal in 36 hours:)
The mortuary then came to take our little girl away. John and I both felt as though we had spent enough time with her to not need to see her again. She was already beginning to physically change and we knew we wanted to remember her as we saw her in those first few moments. As they closed the door tears began to well up. We held each other and grieved the departure of everything we physically had of our sweet little Ruby. She was gone. Our time with her here on this earth had officially ended.
It was a good time for the two of us. A much needed time for tears.
I was unsure of what the hospital would want us to do now but by God's grace they allowed us to check out and head home. We packed up our things and eventually made our way out. But not before we stopped by our friends the Morris's in room 222. Josiah has been a dear friend from high school and due to having the same social circles and God's goodness we have stayed in contact with him and his family through the years. They delivered the day before just down the hall and welcomed home their sweet Bravery Olivia. We came in to say congrats and hold their new blessing! It was the perfect way to end our stay. Being able to witness God's perfect will in both our lives and proclaim His goodness in both stories. She is perfect, healthy and was sleeping like a babe. We gave our love and headed home.
We were truly blessed to be in our own beds. We needed to spend the evening in each others arms, to hold, to cry, and to sleep well.
I'm not even sure how to conclude a post like this. There is just so much more welled up inside of me, but I just cannot seem to put it into words. I am a blessed woman who was chosen by my Father to endure a trial no mother would ever volunteer for. A woman following after so many who have gone before me, surrendering the life of my child to the will of her Father. I do not take one once of credit for anything I endured. His grace took care of everything. His goodness, His gentleness, His peace, His comfort, His beauty. I only surrendered. But what else was I going to do? There felt like no other choice. This was the easier path. There is so much freedom in never making one decision, but allowing God to do His perfect will.
I will say this: Heaven seems so much more exciting! I cannot wait! I cling to it more tightly. And I truly look forward to the day when I get to explore, hold, hug and come to know my real, eternal, perfected Ruby Jean.