Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents
Eric Ruthford

About Eric Ruthford

Thomas Eric Ruthford (WA) is the father of one child, Gabriel, who was born at 22 weeks and 6 days of gestation, setting a record for most immature survivor to come out of his NICU, the busiest one in the state. Thomas and his wife, Miri, live in Washington state. Thomas was a newspaper reporter in the late 90s, and is now a non-profit manager. He has also served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Ukraine, teaching English as a foreign language. He is working on a book about Gabriel, and how neonatal care developed. You can find him on Twitter @MicroPreemieDad, or his personal blog.

Yearning for connection after miscarriage

October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. For more information on grief and healing, visit Hand to Hold’s bereavement resources.  I have never liked visions of heaven that have it be a separate place, a place where we float as souls disconnected from our bodies. You know, the halo, the harp and the clouds? […]

Bob the Nurse and Learning to be a Useful Dad

One day in June, Miri and I walked to the front desk of the NICU to sign in. My head briefly felt like there was a bubble of thin air around it and everything outside the bubble was moving too fast. I remembered the first time I felt this way was when our son, Gabriel, […]

New, small NICUs – convenient, or risky?

Five months in the NICU made the daily drive to Swedish Medical Center in Seattle quite tiresome. And then we met some Alaskans in the waiting room, who told us stories about being hustled on to air ambulances when pre-term labor was discovered, about husbands who had never seen their child because they had to stay with the other children, and about getting tired of living at the Ronald McDonald House.

I said, “There really ought to be a NICU in Juneau like the one here so you can be closer to home!”

A year after our family got home from the hospital, I went to a talk given by a neonatologist about how preemie care developed, and discovered that the issue of building smaller NICUs at community hospitals is complicated and controversial. [Read more]

‘Your Child is Welcome in Our Nursery.’ Please Say It.

I sat, nervous and emotional, in a room of about a dozen hospital administrators and said, “It would help if you started by telling parents like us, ‘Your child is welcome in our nursery.'” They all nodded and I felt like their faces showed I had gotten through to them. “When our son was about to be born, they talked about statistics and outcomes and decisions people make about whether to try to save their baby, which is important, but it would have really helped just to know that you were willing to have him, because there was literally no other choice for us.”

My wife and I were talking to the hospital’s medical ethics committee. I had written them because while Swedish Medical Center did save our son’s life, we were still really unsettled by the near miss we’d had when he was born in 2012 at 22 weeks and 6 days of gestation. I felt like a vulture was sitting on my shoulder, asking, “What if you’d made the wrong choice?”

The wrong choice, in this case, would have been accepting the on-duty neonatologist’s recommendation to not have our son resuscitated, saying he was too immature to survive. [Read more]

Preemie parent could be preemie author. Maybe.

Miri and I dutifully wrote in our CaringBridge Journal almost every day during Gabriel’s five-month NICU stay. We updated relatives and friends on how Gabriel was doing. Also, we described the really cool systems and procedures that go on in the NICU — we come from families of engineers, so the “how stuff works” posts were read with great interest. My wife is a zookeeper, so she could compare things that went on in the NICU to the way endangered species at zoos are raised.

“You should write a book!” numerous people told us. “You already have, with all these journals.” Indeed, by the time we left the NICU, we had written about 40,000 words, or about 160 book pages. We’re almost there, right?

Um, no.
[Read more]