March for Babies: Ruth Chaput’s Birth Story

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In January 2014, my husband, Art, and I learned we were pregnant with our first child. When we found out we were having a little girl, we could not contain the excitement! Everything in my pregnancy was “by the book”, even better than normal actually – no morning sickness or headaches, slow weight gain and very few cravings.

At the beginning of my second trimester, I noticed swelling in one leg. I immediately went to the ER expecting them to find a blood clot, but thankfully that was not the case. However, my blood pressure was starting to creep up higher than normal an my doctor was concerned about it leading to pre-eclampsia/toxemia, so I was put on strict bed rest and told to go to the hospital immediately if my numbers read higher than 150/100, which could cause a stroke or seizure.

As instructed, we religiously checked my blood pressure. One night the monitor read 180/123. Panicked, we checked it again and again, and realized we needed to go to the ER. After four hours in Baptist DeSoto’s ER, I was admitted into Labor and Delivery. As soon as my OBGYN group learned of my blood pressure, they told us that our precious – and tiny – daughter would be delivered by Thursday, June 19th, an astonishing twelve weeks before her due date. As first time parents, we were flabbergasted with the news! How could a normal pregnancy take such a drastic turn in a matter of days? It felt surreal knowing that our daughter, Ruth (named after her maternal great grandmother), could make her debut so dangerously early. We weren’t ready…she wasn’t ready! Art and I prayed, “Please give this baby a chance.”

I was immediately started on magnesium to lower my blood pressure and given steroids to help Ruth’s tiny, premature lungs develop in a hurry. Needless to say, we were a nervous wreck! We were transferred from Baptist DeSoto‘s NICU which was not equipped to care for babies born before 32 weeks gestation to Baptist Women’s via ambulance the next morning. My family joined me later that day. We all prayed, “Please give this baby a chance.”

Despite all their efforts to control my blood pressure at 9:00 am on Saturday, June 21st the doctor told them to prepare me for an 11:00am C-section. However, my blood pressure increased and my liver enzymes and white blood cell count decreased; it was pre-eclampsia. We had to deliver Ruth as soon as possible –for her safety, and for mine.

Within the hour, at exactly 10:34 am, Ruth Hensley Chaput was born. I will never forget her first cry…I wept at this most beautiful sound I had ever heard. She was so tiny – only 2 lbs 6 oz and 15 1/4″ long! We didn’t want them to take our precious baby away; we wanted her by our side. However, we knew she needed to get immediate attention, and away she went for treatment with the wonderful NICU staff. That was the longest day of my life. There are no words to describe how a mother’s heart longs to hold her child. I just needed to know she was going to be okay. I prayed, “Please give this baby a chance.”

Although Ruth was doing better than the doctors expected, she wasn’t out of the woods for quite some time. Two days after birth, she was put on a ventilator to help her breathing. She continued to be on a form of oxygen for nearly two months.

We visited Ruth in the NICU every day, for 77 days. Those were the longest 1,848 hours of our lives (and trust me, you count each one). She was hooked up to tubes, machines, and monitors all over her tiny body. While in the hospital, she battled low birth weight, hypoglycemia, wet lung disease, respiratory distress syndrome, jaundice, feeding difficulties and many more concerns. We all, including the doctors and nurses, prayed, “Please give this baby a chance.”

To say Ruth is the strongest person I know is an understatement. If there was ever any doubt that we serve a mighty God, she is a prime example of His handy work. Our single prayer was answered and we continuously praise the Lord for her!

Today, Ruth is a happy and healthy 18 month old that loves to play, dance, and make her little brother giggle. When you look at her, you would never know she battled through such precarious and scary beginnings. We always joke that she was a fighter, which she still exemplifies today. There is no doubt in my mind that Ruth would not have survived had it not been for the care a treatment she received from

Baptist’s NICU. Looking back over the past year and a half, it is amazing to see what she has already overcome.

We stand here today to share our experience in the support of March of Dimes. Their research and developments help make it possible for babies like Ruth to have a fighting chance. We ask that you all join us in the 2016 March for Babies campaign. Your contributions will help bring awareness regarding prematurity and continue the much needed research to promote healthy babies.

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