I love having the chance to share other mama’s stories. This one is near and dear to my heart both because Ashley and Tom are my sweet cousins and because I’ve felt some of the emotions she opens up about. I love her positive outlook in facing their heartache and fighting to grow their family. I was glued to every word she said. Here is their story:
“Hello, to all you sweet people reading this. Today, I am opening up about my infertility and our decision to pursue adoption. Bear with me, this is a long post very much from the heart and real.I struggle to talk about this topic for a lot of reasons, mostly the fear, judgment, heartache, and tears that it brings. However, I feel that talking about it, in some ways is helpful. In meeting others that have gone through similar experiences it has helped calm my aching heart. I feel at peace knowing we are not alone in our trial and though our stories are unique, on some level I feel we understand each other.
Our journey is a long one. We got pregnant with our first baby in 2010. Although it wasn’t a “planned” pregnancy we were excited and anxious. I didn’t find out I was pregnant until we were into the second trimester due to some medical complications. Not long after we found out we were expecting, we found out there was no heartbeat, they didn’t pay much attention to it and thought the baby was just in a strange position. We were to go back for another ultrasound a few weeks later. It was a Sunday evening and we were at my in-laws when I started to experience heavy bleeding. I was rushed to the hospital as we knew something wasn’t right. There was no heartbeat, the baby had stopped developing at 12 weeks and my body didn’t recognize it until 19 weeks. As we sat in the hospital room that night looking at a screen with a lifeless baby my heart shattered. I was broken. The doctor told us that 1 in 3 women experience a miscarriage and it was nothing to worry about, we could try again when the time was right. I was hopeful and optimistic that he was right. I will never forget all the emotions I along with my husband felt. All the unanswered questions, confusion, sadness, anger, bitterness. I was stubborn and knew we would figure things out and get the answers we were looking for. Not long after our loss, we had an ultrasound done to make sure the baby had passed, at that ultrasound the tech noticed I had a misshaped uterus and possibly a uterine septum. She sent us to a fertility specialist to confirm and it was, in fact, a uterine septum. I had a large piece of dead tissue running down the center of my uterus. This gave me hope and I felt like it was the answer I was looking for. The doctor explained that if the baby implanted on that septum we would miscarry because of the lack of blood flow. They advised that we have the septum removed through surgery. After taking some time off from trying to get pregnant we decided to schedule the septum surgery for February of 2012. Surgery went well and afterward, the doctor said my uterus was in perfect shape and ready for pregnancy. He urged us to try to get pregnant right away as the septum could grow back. Both of us agreed after the surgery that the time wasn’t right to get pregnant, put simply our feelings had changed. We felt like all would be fine with the septum and we would try once we felt ready.
Fast forward to October 2014, we got pregnant with baby #2 very easily. We were so excited. We announced our pregnancy to the family at Christmas and it was a joyous time. We were thrilled and anxious to finally welcome a baby to our family. We were scheduled to have our first ultrasound between 10 and 11 weeks. We went in for our ultrasound and the sad news came, no heartbeat. We felt confused, angry and wanted a second opinion. This is when we found Dr. Terry. He is an amazing doctor and we cannot speak highly enough of him. He confirmed the nightmare we hoped wasn’t true, our baby did not have a heartbeat. I had a D&C (Dilation & Curettage) on January 9th, a day my heart will always break over. Dr. Terry was hopeful that we would get some answers and thought we should try again soon, so we did. As I look back I am not sure why I felt we should try again so soon, as my heart was still very broken, but I longed for a baby more than anything, so we tried again. We got pregnant in June of 2015; we went in for our first ultrasound at 8 weeks and again, the baby had no heartbeat. At this time, with three losses in a row, two back to back I was overcome with emotions and so much anger. I didn’t understand what God was doing, and his reasoning for it. However, I was determined to find answers, all while knowing through my faith that God is in charge and it is His timing, not ours. I had another D&C on the 28th of July, and the testing began. Dr. Terry wanted to figure this out, I appreciated his concern on our behalf. We both had blood tests done, tests were done on the babies tissue, countless ultrasounds, Sono histograms and lab work. I quickly felt like I became a human pincushion. I was frustrated and hoped we would, in fact, get the answers we were longing for. My blood tests came back with something, I have a blood clotting disorder, known as Prothrombin 20210 for which I am homozygous, making it more severe. They felt like this might be a large part as to why I kept miscarrying. The doctors explained it was an easy fix and explained I would be on baby aspirin as well as Lovenox shots daily with our next pregnancy. At the time it seemed easy enough. During all the testing we also had our Sonohysterogram done and found the septum had in fact grown back. Both our OBGYN and the fertility specialist felt we should have the septum taken down again and then get pregnant six weeks after. I went in for my second uterine septum surgery the day before Thanksgiving in November of 2015. Surgery went fabulous and the doctors advised that six weeks after the surgery we start on Clomid (a fertility pill) to help us get pregnant before that septum had a chance to grow back.
Things went as planned and we got pregnant with our fourth baby February of 2016. Deep down I was excited but mostly scared. This time felt different, Tom was giving me Lovenox shots every day, I was having my blood drawn to check HCG 3 times a week, my HCG was rising perfectly, and things were going very well. They scheduled an early ultrasound at 5 weeks; after our last experiences with ultrasounds we were very anxious and scared hoping that it would be different this time and sure enough, it was. For the first time ever we heard our baby’s heart beating. It is a sound that still brings tears to my eyes. It was the best feeling in the world and I felt like the miracle we had been waiting for had finally come. This time was going to be different, and it was. I had severe morning sickness; couldn’t keep much of anything down. I had to have IV’s to help keep me hydrated. I didn’t have energy, and to be honest was miserable, but I was so happy because it meant everything with this baby was going smooth. We had ultrasounds once a week, the baby was active and doing great. I made it to 14 weeks and felt we were in the safe zone, at this point I was finally able to calm down a little.
Three weeks later we were scheduled to find out the gender of the baby. I had always felt it was a girl but our doctor was convinced it was a boy, I was just hoping for a healthy baby, the gender didn’t matter to Tom and I. The day of our appointment I felt something strange happen while I was using the restroom at work, it was a sudden pop. I stood up and realized I was losing a lot of blood as well as what I thought was water. I screamed down the hall for help and a lady at the office came running. I was shaking, in shock and completely scared beyond words. I kept asking if my water broke and they all said no, it doesn’t happen this early. I then worried that I might be hemorrhaging as I was on blood thinners. Every worst case scenario was running through my head. Tom picked me up and rushed me to the doctor. They took me in for an emergency ultrasound and I will never forget the look on doctor face. He didn’t even have to say anything, I knew it wasn’t good. He had to excuse himself because it was too much for him to take in. It was confirmed my bag of waters had ruptured. I went from 22cm of water to 1.2 cm. It was drastic. I lost all control and could not hold it together. It was supposed to be different this time, everything had been perfect, what happened, why? The Dr. gave me the option of being induced and delivering our baby, or to go home be put on flatbed rest, drink lots of water to hopefully restore some of the water, keep an eye out for infection, pray that we could get this baby to at least 24 weeks, and hang on as long as possible. I felt hopeful that bed rest would help and would be the only option if we wanted to give our baby any chance. Unfortunately, the week at which my bag ruptured was a crucial time for the baby to have fluid, as this is what helps the babies lungs develop. I went home, stayed down as much as possible, drank as much water as I could, and prayed harder than I have ever prayed. I had a feeling come over me that this baby just needed a body and that it wasn’t going to survive. I tried my hardest to do everything to get her here but in the end, my body couldn’t do it. The biggest risk for both the baby and I was an infection. At 19 weeks, I started having horrible back pain. I thought this might be labor, then quickly thought I am losing my mind, the back pain is from laying on a couch for two weeks straight. The pain got worse but I decided I could tough it out as we had an ultrasound to check things with our Dr. the next morning. The pain and pressure I felt that morning was almost too much to bear. I remember them taking us back to the ultrasound and as I looked up at the screen, things were different; I panicked because I saw no baby. The tech saw the fear in my eyes and explained the baby was in my birth canal and on its way. She said that I was fully dilated and that the baby was coming. She ran down the hall to grab my nurse, and the next thing I knew we were down in labor and delivery getting ready to have the baby. I wasn’t ready, it wasn’t time. I knew this meant the baby wasn’t going to survive and it tore my heart out. My biggest fear was becoming a reality. I can’t explain how I felt that day, but it was the hardest day of my life. This was something I had been dreaming of and I felt like in an instant it was taken away. I had my husband with me, our moms, and our sisters to help support us and help us through this difficult labor. After a very difficult and painful labor, we welcomed a baby girl to the world. She was beautiful, and perfect in every way. Our precious girl lived for an hour, her little heart was strong and wouldn’t give up. Had her lungs been more developed I am confident she would have been strong enough to survive. We named her Grace Lynn Olsen. I remember the pain of that day being unbearable. I felt like my heart had left me, it was as if a piece of my soul left my body. I was empty, broken and knew from this day my life would never be the same. Not only was I dealing with the great grief from losing our girl, but I felt like a complete failure of a women, wife, and mother. I felt like I had let everyone down. I know many women have felt these same feelings. I knew from this day on it was the start of a journey for Tom and I that I knew would not be easy.
A few days later we had a graveside service for her and it was beautiful. The words both spoken and sung by our loved ones were inspiring, beautiful, comforting and gave me feelings I will always hold near to my heart. The day we buried her was an incredibly hard day but I felt so much peace and love and I know her little spirit was with us. Our Grace is how we got through it. The love we felt when we delivered Grace and the day we buried her were more than words could ever describe. The days following have been full of deep heartache, grief, pain, sadness, confusion and at times anger. I long for answers and have come to a hard realization that we may never have those answers. The doctor will probably never know why my water broke, or why she came early. However, I do have one answer, and that is that our Heavenly Father has a plan, he knows the reasons and I am confident that our baby just needed a body. She was too perfect for this cruel world. I feel blessed to know that I have a little girl waiting for me on the other side. It has helped me to try to be a better person, to live with purpose and to make her proud. I smile knowing that most people dream of Angels, and I had the opportunity to hold one in my arms. I am confident she is where she is supposed to be. I still get angry and sad, but when I do, I remember that it is NOT on my terms, timing or plan, it’s our Heavenly Father’s and I know He is in complete control. I am learning to be less selfish through this process. Heavenly Father needs her at this time. I will see her again and will have the opportunity to raise her. I am choosing to take this trial and learn from it and I pray I am being shaped into the character that our Savior is wanting me to become. Our miracle did happen, we had our baby. It might not have been the way we wanted or hoped but it happened just as it was supposed to. Our miracle has wings.
After all the loss we have experienced, I have taken the last year to reflect and take the time needed to grieve. The pain is still very deep, but I am learning to manage and take things day by day. Grieving is normal, everyone’s timeline of grieving is different. We grieve to remember and to not forget. I will never forget what our baby girl has done for us, and the gift she is to our family. We love her more than words could ever express.
That brings us to our decision to pursue adoption. It may sound silly to some but we have always known we would adopt. We knew that adoption would be part of how we grew our family. We both have a deep love and passion for adoption and always knew that we would want to help another baby and give it the best life we could. As I went through each loss, I would feel at times like I just wanted to prove that my body could do it. I didn’t want my body to fail us anymore. However, it became clear to Tom and I that we were waiting on something that we had wanted all along and that was to grow our family through adoption. I began to set my pride aside and felt the peace that adoption was the direction we needed to go. We have wanted to be parents for a very long time and we know adoption is our next step. My body, our hearts, and our emotions need a break from the loss. We are thrilled to help raise a baby and give it a life that the birthmother wants their baby to have. Adoption will not solve our grief, we will still miss our girl, however, we have chosen to stare heartache in the face and we are fighting to bring some life and joy to our family. It will not be easy, but I know the hardest of things, are often the most rewarding. I love this quote by President, Spencer W. Kimball. I pray that we can meet the needs of our baby and I know they will meet our needs. Adoption is such a beautiful gift.
I am grateful for my trials because through them we have learned of our great commitment to each other, the beautiful miracle that each baby is, the blessing that our Grace is in our lives, and our unwavering love for each other and for our Savior. I know things happen for a reason. No, I don’t know the reason, but I choose to believe there is one. Grace changed our lives forever and touched so many others lives as well in her short time here. She has a special place in my heart and always will. Her siblings will know about her, we visit her often and she is embedded into our lives. We believe God has called us to adoption and we are thrilled to start our journey. We know Grace will be on the other side guiding us through this process. We feel blessed to have so many wonderful family and friends who support us and will be a huge part in helping us raise our baby. I think we have learned that in all of this there is sunshine down the road ahead, and although it might not be easy, it will be worth it. We struggle to ask for help, but we would feel so blessed by any help you can give. We want this baby to know of all those who helped us bring them home. Adoption is a leap of faith, there are so many unknowns, but we know with all of your support, we can do this, and it will be worth every difficult moment. I think we can all agree that this baby has been prayed for and loved by many for a very long time. Thank you for the encouragement and excitement about our adoption. Announcing that this is the next step in our journey has been so exciting. Seeing this come to life is a dream come true.”
To follow Ashley and Tom’s journey click HERE, and to help them out, click HERE.