In 2010, we decided to start trying to get pregnant and by November we discovered we were expecting. Unfortunately, at our first ultrasound, we learned that our baby did not have a heartbeat. This began a whirlwind of emotions and an up-hill battle to parenthood.
Following our loss, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and MTHFR. Since our doctor was unsure if these conditions caused the miscarriage, we were encouraged to continue trying to get pregnant again. We tried on our own for several months, before feeling defeated and seeking reproductive help.
This began the second half of our journey: infertility.
After seeking the help of more experienced doctors, we discovered we were up against male-factor infertility. We tried fertility medicines, herbal teas, vitamins, special lubricants…I’m not even joking. Then we moved on to blood draws, specialists, medication adjustments, and the world of assisted reproduction.
Still nothing! So we upgraded to IVF treatments and became pregnant with our first cycle (55% chance of success, 10 embryos retrieved, 7 fertilized, 2 transferred and ONE baby! We were finally pregnant!! Our miracle baby!).
The pregnancy was wrought with fear, complications and cautious optimism.
At around 17 weeks I had routine bloodwork that later came back abnormal. Our baby had screened positive for Trisomy 21 on our AFP blood work.
We were assured it was a false positive and even told not to seek further testing. Out of fear and worry we decided to have more tests- we wanted to be prepared for whatever the outcome. Our doctor suggested the new MaterniT21 test. While we waited for the results, we tried to wrap our minds around what Down syndrome might mean for our son and our family. It was almost too much for our hearts to take- the fear, the misconceptions, the disbelief…But just two weeks later the test confirmed that our son would in fact be coming to us with Trisomy 21.
Our doctor was so shocked, he requested an amnio as well, which set the diagnosis in stone. Eli has Down syndrome.
“Devastated” doesn’t even begin to describe the utter crushing pain, fear and heartache that came with that diagnosis. I grieved for months. I worried. I researched and stalked blogs. I was afraid and I didn’t know how on earth I would feel whole again.
But God had a plan for us. He worked on my heart for the next 5 months. Helped me make connections and meet others. Helped me to see the unique plan He had for our family. Our doctors offered support above and beyond the call of duty, and our ultrasounds consistently showed a healthy baby. God knit Eli together perfectly, creating this amazingly strong and healthy boy that would rock our world! Through love and acceptance, we were able to close that very raw and fearful chapter of our lives so we could eagerly anticipate our son’s arrival.
What a journey!! April 28, 2012 brought our prefect miracle baby into this world and we haven’t looked back since.
Eli Walker, you are the perfect son we prayed and hoped for. We have waited for you, precious one! We feel blessed to be your parents and love you more than you can imagine. Thank you, God for giving us Eli.
Our journey to becoming your parents was not without troubles, but so very worth it.
A month before Eli’s estimated due date, we had begun discussing birthing options with the doctor. Eli was breech and I had tried everything humanly possible to get him to change positions. Since he wasn’t budging, we had scheduled a c-section for May 14. This was a huge source of anxiety and fear for me- it wasn’t what I wanted and I felt frustrated that it was one more thing not going the way I envisioned. Eli had other plans, though…
Friday, April 27, 2012 Barry and I went out to dinner and a movie. I had a bunch of popcorn and a huge cheeseburger. 🙂 Perfect date-night in my opinion.
I came home super puffy from the salt and we both crashed because it was so late. During the night I woke up a few times with some light cramping. I figured it was from the large quantities of salt I had just consumed so I drank a bunch of water and went back to sleep. The cramps persisted but didn’t hurt and I was able to sleep through them. When I finally woke up the next morning with continued cramps, my next thought was that they had to be Braxton Hicks contractions. No big deal!
We had big plans for that Saturday morning- a tour of the hospital! So we began to get ready for the fun pregnancy milestone.
While using the restroom, I noticed some pink and red blood stains. My heart jumped in my chest and I paused to make sure I could still feel Eli moving. Ok…cramps, bleeding…this must be more serious than I though. I came out of the bathroom and immediately called my PA, Mary Jane.
Mary Jane said to pack up and go to Labor and Delivery.
My immediate thoughts: Seriously? Is it really necessary? I need to pack my bags and shave my legs! I’m only 36 weeks pregnant and I haven’t even taken my maternity leave yet! There is no way he is coming now, these cramps don’t hurt and I feel fine! No other signs of labor. What about our hospital tour?
Needless to say, I didn’t think it was that serious. So I showered and shaved and we packed all our stuff, taking our time. I texted family members but didn’t tell anyone to come to the hospital at this point.
I figured we would be admitted and then be sent home for a false alarm. During the drive to the hospital, Barry began to time how far apart my cramps were coming. Turns out they were 4-5 minutes apart…but still I wouldn’t be convinced. If I could talk through it there was no way these were the real deal.
We got to the hospital, checked in and I was brought back to a bed. One nurse asked me a few questions and then had me change clothes.
She put me on a fetal heart monitor and checked my cervix. After checking she gave me a weird look and said she would be right back. Ok…whatever, lady. I texted friends and facebooked while I waited. lol The nurse returned with a second nurse who also checked me.
Nurse: Well, Ashley, you are officially in labor!
Me: What? Really?
Nurse: Yes, and you are at least 6 centimeters dilated but your son is kicking me in the hand so I might guess more.
Nurse: In my 15 years here I have never been kicked in the hand!
This can’t be happening! 6 centimeters? I doesn’t hurt…and who are all these doctors coming in? Why are we discussing a spinal and I am being asked to sign paperwork?
Barry finally had to get me back to reality- Eli is coming right now. Today. You are going to have a c-section because he is breech and we need to let family know ASAP. Boy, did I need the reality check!
Ok…I know what you are thinking- how does someone not know? I just didn’t! And I had plans for how this was going to go. We scheduled a c-section and it wasn’t for today. But it was a positive in the end because I didn’t have time to worry or stress over my fear of the c-section. I had to do it right then and there.
At this point I was thinking two things. First: Eli is too early. Will this be a factor for his health? He already has down syndrome, please let him be healthy!! Second: Wow!! I was experiencing real labor and my body was doing what it was supposed too. Which was instantly disappointing because I knew I would only be allowed a c section. (Come to find out, the c-section was the smartest move. Eli had his cord wrapped around his neck 3 times- preventing him from turning. It also prevented him from completely calling out foot-first when I went into labor! I was proud that I at least I got to experience some labor.)
Ok, I had finally gotten with the program. Baby-time. Next, I was moved to a new bed and asked to sit up and prepare for the spinal. This was the part I was most afraid of. The IV had already hurt pretty bad so no telling what this would feel like. But actually, it wasn’t what I thought! Just a pinch and some burning. Then my legs felt tingly and warm. That was it! Again, another proud moment, even though I did shed a tear out of anxiety.
I had been admitted at 9:08am, wheeled to surgery at 10:00am and now we were just waiting on the doctor. I was prepped, which included a shave, a catheter, and cleaning (no modesty here, guys!). My blue sheet was up and Barry was at my side waiting with great anticipation. Dr. C came in singing. 🙂 he was ready and so were we.
I began to feel a bunch of tugging, pressure and being manhandled, then suddenly he announced: “Here he is! He’s beautiful and has dark hair!”
Eli Walker was born at 10:30am weighing 6lbs 15oz, 19.5 inches long!!
I waited with anxiety to hear his first cries- please be healthy! They came with gusto! They showed him to me briefly and then grabbed Barry to go get him cleaned up. I remained in the room getting stitched back up and prepped for recovery. That was the most difficult part for me- waiting to meet my son. As I lay there on the table I tried to recall his features. Did he look healthy? Did he have lots of hair? Who did he look like? I remember thinking he was beautiful, but I didn’t have the chance to soak him in.
Eli scored a 9 out of 10 twice on his apgar. He was so healthy that no special care was required. They wrapped him up and brought him to me while the surgical team finished their job. Finally, I could really see him. He was perfect.
We were wheeled off together where Barry and I snuggled as a new family of three. Eli was beautiful! I held him, my eyes taking in every feature, committing them to memory. What had I been so afraid of? What was so scary? He’s perfect! He’s like any other newborn except he’s ours and he’s wonderful.
When I began to feel better we were moved to a private room and family began to pour in. It became a celebration of this new life- one we had waited on for so long. He was held, snuggled and loved on for hours. He was the hit in the nursery and brought smiles to anyone who saw him.
Eli is so so loved and we are so so blessed!
It’s crazy to think that we had scheduled anything and that I was anxious about the remaining days until his birth. But true to Eli’s personality, he came on his own time and on his own terms. He was healthy and ready to meet us! In the aftermath of his arrival, we were left glowing and proud. We felt incredibly blessed and excited to begin our new life as a family.
Thank you everyone for your support and for following our journey. Eli is perfect and I look forward to continuing to share our journey with you. The best is yet to come!! 🙂