"The Riley Family Made Those Three Months Bearable."

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Andrew Rife, Indianapolis

My water broke at 27 weeks while visiting family two hours away from Indianapolis. Because the doctor didn’t think I’d make it to Indy in time for delivery, I was taken by ambulance to an Evansville hospital. I stayed pregnant 3 1/2 more weeks while on bed rest at a hospital three hours from home. 

My son Andrew was born at 30 weeks gestation and soon after his birth, doctors could not insert a feeding tube. That’s when we learned he had esophageal atresia, meaning the top half of his esophagus was shaped like a pouch. Doctors told us they could not provide the care he needed for this birth defect formed in utero. Hours later, he was taken by helicopter to Riley Hospital for Children. 

On Andrew’s second day of life, his stomach ruptured and he was rushed to emergency surgery. We learned he also had tracheoesophageal fistula: the bottom of his esophagus was attached to his trachea. Five weeks after birth, a surgeon connected the two ends of his esophagus, eliminating the gap. 

From the moment we were told a transport was necessary, choosing Riley was a no-brainer. In all, Andrew spent 13 weeks in the NICU. Although circumstances were tough, I looked forward to visiting Andrew every day. We were treated like family at Riley from day one. People knew us by name and got to know us. Trusting others with our baby was easy at Riley. This became especially important because both my husband and I had to return to our full-time jobs weeks later. 

A few days after Andrew’s second surgery, I was distraught at home before bed, and decided I had to call to check on Andrew. Nurse Holly Scott cared for Andrew that night and patiently comforted me over the phone and answered my questions. I will never forget that moment and her care for Andrew. 

Our list of medical professionals and support staff who showed they cared for Andrew is too long to mention. The Riley family made those three months bearable. Many of them still feel like family today. 

Now Andrew is a healthy and active 2-year-old who loves to shoot basketballs and play with cars and trucks. We still see three Riley specialists occasionally. God used many amazing medical professionals at Riley to save our son’s life and give him a quality of life that all children deserve. We would not have Andrew, and he would not be eating his favorite foods like broccoli, avocado, and Cheetos, if it weren’t for Riley Hospital! 

Tricia Rife

Tricia Rife was born in Vincennes, Ind., and now lives with her husband, Adam, and son, Andrew, in Indianapolis. She is a writer and editor at The Wesleyan Church Headquarters in Fishers, Ind., and enjoys reading, writing and editing, baking, good coffee, sweet tea, all things Disney, encouraging others and hearing their stories, and spending time with family.

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