Our story is long and deep and WAY too much for this platform. However, I can fast forward you to the day my husband asked me to marry him. He asked me, on March 15th 2013, to spend the rest of our lives together and it was the day I realized all my dreams were going to come true. I was going to be a wife... and next a mother. We didn’t want a long engagement, after already being together for almost 5 years, so we were married in September of the same year. By January 2014 I was off the pill and setting up all my doctors appts. I have PCOS and hypothyroid so I was warned it would not be easy. I never knew it would be this hard. We tried for 6 months on our own, then I went on clomid, to no avail. I was referred to a fertility specialist and after a few months of testing and prep we decided to try IUI, aka artificial insemination, again with no results. After 3 tries we decided to pull out the big guns and go for IVF.
I was lucky enough to get pregnant with our first round of IVF. Unfortunately, at 17wks my sac ruptured. It sealed but sealed in an infection. At 22 wks my water broke and my son, Magnus, passed in utero. My first angel left me on August 6th 2015. I still look at pictures of him and am in awe of how much he looked like my husband.
I am a determined individual and over the next year we tried five more times before I ran out of embryos. Still, we wouldn’t give up so I did another embryo retrieval. This time we got smart and genetically tested our embryos and ended up with 2 amazingly perfect boy embryos. I took time off from transfers to lose weight and do ALL of the doctor appts to make sure there wasn’t something else wrong. We were determined to change our story.
At the end of 2016 I found out that not only do I have PCOS and Hypothyroid but I also have Stage 2 Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD associated with PCOS) with scar tissue and Stage 2 Kidney Disease. After being told there wasn't anything I could take, until I decided I wasn’t having babies, anymore I went full overhaul and changed my lifestyle. I started 2017 on the WHOLE30 and was determined to get down at least 40lbs before I would attempt to get pregnant again.
On August 25th 2017, down 45lbs with significantly improved kidney and liver labs, we transferred my 2 perfect embryos. I knew the chances of me getting pregnant with twins was high but I never expected it to really happen. But it did!!! Oliver and Sebastian were perfect little baby boys and I was determined to make it this time. 17wks came and went, and I was still ok!! First hurdle done! Then 21 weeks.... I went in for my 20wk scan and everything was still perfect. No issues. I got so bold as to start painting the nursery... still thinking it was going to be different this time. At least I hoped so.
At 21wks and 6days Oliver’s sac ruptured. I was in the hospital being told there was hope but chances were slim that Oliver would ever make it... but that because I didn’t go into labor we could hope for the best. I was put on bed rest. Only allowed to get up to go to the bathroom. 2 weeks passed and Oliver is still doing ok and Sebastian is totally fine. If we can just make it to 28 weeks we can still have our happy ending. At 24 weeks and 2 days I went to the bathroom and found that Oliver’s umbilical cord was partially hanging outside of my body. I was admitted to the hospital and constantly monitored. After 2 days, on January 24th 2018, my little Oliver passed away.
The OB thought as long as I didn’t get an infection and I didn’t go into labor that maybe Sebastian could still have a chance. Unfortunately, 24 weeks and 5 days... I went into labor and was suffering from an infection. Sebastian was viable but the risks were high.
I gave birth to my babies at 3pm on January 25th. One was gone and the other one was fighting for his little life. How could I be so happy and so sad at the same time? Once I finally got to see him... he was PERFECTION. I mean... just this tiny little perfect boy that was all mine. There was this moment when I first got to touch him. I put my fingers on his head and his feet and I leaned over and said "Hello little boy. I’m your mommy and everything is going to be ok." He raised his eyebrows and turned towards me and he knew who I was. He knew I was his mom. He tried to open his eyes but couldn’t. But he knew it was me and my heart exploded. A love I have never known took over my whole body and I was forever changed.
At 4am they called me to tell me that he was in serious distress. That they found a bleed on the right side of his brain and that he wasn’t oxygenating properly. I ran down... praying every step of the way that it was minor and that he would recover. 12 excruciating hours later, after trying everything, we found he now had a similar stage 4 bleed on the left side of his brain. Despite the fact that he was stable and breathing we would never be able to function as a normal human being. He would never breath or eat or walk on his own. There was nothing that could be done.
They turned off all the monitors and unhooked all of his lines and took out his tubes and placed his tiny little body in my arms. For an hour, I sat there and held him against my skin as he slowly stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating. O ver the next hour we just told him it was ok... that he could go and be with his brothers now. That he fought so hard and we were so proud of him. He held my finger with his tiny little hand and squeezed it as hard as he could. When I felt him let go I knew he was gone. I imagined his life. The friends that he would have made, me teaching him to cook, and watching football, and the love he would have known. It would have been a great life full of love and laughter.
That feeling, when you touch your baby for the first time.... it’s like a drug. And I’m not willing to let go of hope just yet.
I have done everything I can do have my own baby. We have tried for almost 4 years and lost 3 perfect babies that never got the chance to live the life they deserved. I have known my whole life that I was meant to be a mom. And we are not ready to give up. This time we want to try something else.
Now the dream is different... We would like to find a surrogate and have also started the adoption process. I might even try again but it's really my last option. Surrogacy and Adoption are options that exist but they are financially impossible without help. And that’s what we are asking for. We know there is a baby waiting to be ours. A baby that needs us.
There is a half-painted nursery mural and furniture from my great-grand parents just waiting to welcome a new baby. I am determined to finish that mural and finish the nursery and put a baby in the crib we got when I was pregnant with my first son. One way or another I know it will happen. We have to have hope. Help us change our story.
- Cathy Marshall
- Jen Binsley
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