When they said Renn’s debut would be December 25, 2023, we began to make plans. Tarrah & RJ live about eight hours north of us and we didn’t want them to be alone for the birth. As it would turn out, and to continue until this day, Renn had a different plan.
Tarrah began having contractions on December 13 at about 5 am. They continued to increase until she was admitted to Providence Saint Joseph Hospital in Eureka, California at 9:30 am. Little did she know that her contractions would last for a whopping 36 hours.
The delivery became complicated because of the length of time and because both Tarrah’s and Renn’s heart rates were intermittently decelerating. The medical team experimented with placing Tarrah in various positions to elevate the discomfort both were having. They tried placing Tarrah on her left side, then on her back, then on her right side and even on her hands and knees. They thought perhaps the gravity for Renn would offset the pressure on both.
There were doctors coming in and out of the room. The ultrasound found that Renn’s arms were up in a boxing position. By now, the epidural had worn off. Simply put, Renn was stuck in the birth canal and Tarrah was exhausted, fading in and out of consciousness.
As the situation became dire, more and more medical staff filed into the room. Towards the end, there were about 12-15 staff, with about 8-10 of them being doctors, all crowded into the room. The news of this birth had travelled throughout the hospital and it was ‘all hands on deck.’ Many of them were from the NICU department.
Because Renn was stuck, it was decided to attempt a specially designed vacuum, which they called a ‘baby plunger’ to gently pull Renn free. The plunger is designed to be placed on the baby’s head and guide her out of the birth canal. A pop-off is when the vacuum is fully suctioned to the baby’s head but pops-off. It was explained that there can only be three pop-offs before the doctor stops the procedure for the safety of the baby. The first attempt failed with a pop-off. The second attempt failed, but the doctor announced that it didn’t count as a pop-off because it wasn’t fully suctioned. Again it was attempted and now the second pop-off. At this point RJ was reading the room. Most non-participating staff were huddled around Tarrah and RJ. They were looking intently at the situation, prepared to help if necessary. RJ realized these signs were bad and he was trying to focus on Tarrah and her needs. He was experiencing the horror of potentially losing them both. The nurse that had been with them for much of the entire 36 hours made a face and shook her head twice. RJ emotionally sunk further.
On the third and final attempt Renn made it to the outside world. If she hadn’t been successful, they were prepared to do an emergency c-section. The umbilical cord was wrapped twice around her neck, surprising the doctor. It had not shown up on the ultrasounds, so the theory was that it had happened when they were experimenting with various positions for Tarrah. The last two hours were natural, without the benefit of an epidural.
Renn was purple and limp, she was not breathing. They placed her on Tarrah’s stomach, but she wasn’t breathing! Tarrah began to freak out. Renn was quickly taken off her belly and given to a respiration therapist (RT) from the NICU who had come into the room towards the end of the birthing process. Then, a faint whimper. Tears of sorrow turned into tears of joy as Renn took her first breaths. The RT asked RJ if he wanted to go with Renn to the NICU or stay with Tarrah. Tarrah wanted him to go with Renn. As the RT, RJ and Renn were heading toward the NICU, the RT placed a tube in Renn’s throat and gently tapped it when he wanted her to breathe in. RJ thanked him for saving his daughter’s life. The bald man smiled and said, ‘No problem.’ RJ bent down toward Renn and whispered ‘Hi Renn, I’m here!’. She opened her eyes and grabbed his finger. The RT placed a tube in Renn’s belly to relieve air and a ventilator in her nose. Renn was so tired that she fell into a peaceful sleep.
The hospital staff gave Renn a small felt heart to place on her chest. Tarrah and Renn each got one so that they could have the scent of each other as they recuperated from the ordeal. The little family now could catch up on their sleep; Renn in NICU, Tarrah in her surgical bed and RJ in a cot next to her.
Renn was born on December 14, 2023, at 6:40 PM. The family stayed in the hospital for two more days of recuperation. As they prepared to leave, Tarrah and RJ asked for the names of everyone who had helped with the birth, they wanted to personally thank all. Nobody, not one person, knew the name nor recognized the RT who was Renn’s primary savior in those first minutes and hours. There was no information on who he was, where he was from or what he specifically does. So, until we know otherwise, we are calling him Renn’s Angel and we cannot be more grateful for him.
Thoughts that are alien to any of my other projects can be found here.