Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lawrence Dennis LeDuff IV

On Sunday, November 18th, 2012 at 11:14pm, Christy gave birth to our sweet baby boy after only 31 weeks and 3 days of pregnancy. We named him Lawrence Dennis LeDuff IV.

Debut of Lawrence IV
He came out pink, which was one of the things we were hoping for given his previous cardiac history. The labor was long and induced, but Christy did a phenomenal job. Both of our moms were able to stay in the room the entire time, and everyone had a job to assist. When labor began, familiar faces - friends - from the NICU entered, and I felt an overwhelming sense of calm to see them. I'd worked with them many times before on the pediatric ward, so I knew we were in the best hands. He was taken to the radiant warmer and flawlessly intubated by the NICU staff. Cory, one of the doctors from the NICU said to me with a smile, "He's 3 pounds, 4 ounces...with medical equipment." I couldn't help but smile back. What a tiny little man.

Despite the fact that about 15 people filled the room, I was able and encouraged to get in the mix for a few quick pictures. I was even able to cut his cord before he was placed in the isolette. They rolled him over to Christy so she could see him before he went. She was exhausted, but I could see a smile of relief and excitement on her face. We had a baby boy. He would need some help in the NICU for the next few weeks, but he had 10 fingers, 10 toes, and a huge family that loved him since before he made his debut. The entire NICU was awaiting his arrival.

In the delivery room
After making sure Christy was okay in the delivery room, I went to the NICU to check on him. He had the eye ointment on his eyes and they were getting his footprints for his paperwork - standard newborn stuff. And because they're awesome, they were even putting his footprints on a little sign that they already had made up for him to hang above his isolette because they knew he was coming. It all looked great. I went to Christy to report the news. They came in with the footprint sheet and had Christy place a thumbprint next to his footprints. We laughed about how a 3 pound baby already had feet as big as they were. He got them from his dad.

I cleaned the ink from Christy's thumb and ran over to peds to tell them the news. I was supposed to be working that night anyway, so I thought they should know that he had finally come. I was greeted with hugs and smiles and congratulations from my friends in peds. Even though he wasn't coming straight there, I knew he'd eventually get there the first time he got sick. They loved him too, and they were almost as excited as I was.

Then, there was a phone call...

The NICU asked me to come back. I came back to a code blue...around our baby. This wasn't happening, I thought. I participated in an adult code blue in nursing school during a clinical. I'd even watched code blues in the same NICU where I was standing. They were coding our baby. He wasn't even an hour old.

Cory explained to be exactly what had been done and exactly what they were doing. His heart just stopped. I watched the code for about 15 minutes. Part of me was dumbfounded that this was happening. The other part of me was overwhelmed by the effort and love from the staff. Somehow, miraculously, the entire NICU staff was around him, and they each had a job. No one was just standing around. It was the purest image of teamwork I've ever seen.

After 15 minutes, I went to tell Christy and our moms. I wasn't sure if they wanted to see what was going on. After telling them, I went back to the NICU to assess. His heart just wasn't working. I remembered learning in nursing school about the evidence based practice of letting family members in to see the resuscitative efforts of nursing and medical teams during a code. It helps families cope with the death of loved ones when they can see that the team did everything they possible. They needed to see it.

Our family
We were able to hold Lawrence and take pictures with him while he was still alive and after he left us. The NICU staff immediately sectioned off a huge space for us in the middle of the NICU. We were allowed to stay as long as we wanted. I can't speak highly enough of the staff there. They truly were family to us that night, and they continue to be a support to us during this difficult time. I was able to participate in his first and only diaper change and bath. I was able to see his first and last breath. Somehow, all rolled in to one, it was the absoute best and worst 3 hours of my life. On Monday, November 19th, 2012, at 2:03am, he left us.

His memorial service will be Thursday, November 29th at the chapel of NMCP. The chaplains have been wonderful. He was cremated and will be taken with us wherever we go. We didn't think it right to bury him here as we have no permanent attachment to Virginia. We also wanted his memorial service to be at a place where everyone, including his immediate and extended NMCP family could attend.

It's been a rough week, but it was all worth it to see him for the few hours he was with us. Mom and dad love you little man.

Lawrence Dennis LeDuff IV


  1. Chip, this is such a moving account. I am absolutely blown away with your ability to cope with this - and be so strong too. I cannot even imagine being in your shoes. My heart aches for you guys. Thank you for posting this.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing. While your little man's time here was not what anyone had planned, I pray you continue to find the blessings and purposefulness of this precious one's life. Much love to you and Christy -- you continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. Chip, you are such a brave and wonderful person. Words cannot express how sorry I am for your loss and your family will be in my prayers. You always have your Centenary choir family for support. May the Lord Bless You And Keep You.

  4. Chip, you are such a brave and wonderful person. Words cannot express how sorry I am for your loss and your family will be in my prayers. You always have your Centenary choir family for support. May the Lord Bless You And Keep You.

  5. Beautiful story, and I'm so glad you chose to continue your journey with your son, though I am so sorry for your loss. Please let us know if we can be of any assistance. Jennifer