The Worst and Best Year of My Life

In January of 2016, I posted this instagram photo welcoming the new year;

20 days later, we were told the worst news of our lives. Our baby wasn’t going to live past 30 weeks of my pregnancy, and if he did live full term he would die shortly after birth.

The next four months of my pregnancy Ben and I both attended school and BYU-Idaho, we both worked, and we visited Salt Lake City for specialists appointments I think 4 times… ?

We became dog parents to the best, cutest, and most supportive dog in the world! We love you Blue, you brought to much joy into our lives during a stressful and sad time.

We moved to a new apartment just across the street from our old one. We had the most supportive friends and ward we could have ever asked for. Many times we would have blissful moments where we would forget about our bad news and we would feel like a normal couple just waiting for their baby to arrive. But many times Ben and I had to comfort each other as we were reminded of the horrible reality of our child’s low chances of survival. During these four months I fell more and more in love with Ben. Often times Ben and I would walk to class together holding hands and talking about Will, there was one day in particular where I looked around at the other many married couples also pregnant. Many would smile at me, seeing my pregnant belly and most likely thinking; “She’s pregnant! I’m so happy for her!” But not knowing that we were actually discussing our child’s predicted death. Ben was talking about something I can’t remember and I began to feel extremely depressed at our situation. I then looked at Ben and after feeling incredibly depressed I felt a feeling of love and gratitude that I didn’t have to go through this alone, and someone else was going though the same thing I was. We were a great support to each other, Ben was a wonderful husband to me, and I feel eternally grateful he is my husband.

At this point 2016 was the worst year of both Ben and I’s lives, and we both anticipated it to continue to be the worst year, ever. As many of you know, I had a planned c-section on May 17th and William was born thriving. Against all odds he was surviving and didn’t need any life support, breathing tubes, or anything. We welcomed William to the world, and found out fast that, unlike what we were expecting, he was going to stay with us for a long time.

William stayed in the Primary Children’s NICU for 2 months (where we met wonderful NICU nurses who would become wonderful friends to Ben and I and Will) and then was transferred to the Infant Unit the last two weeks of his hospital stay before be came home for the first time. During this time he had 4 surguries, 2 PICC lines, and 1 EVD. He came home for the first time when he was almost 3 months old. Ben and I, during this time, had decided to move to Utah from Idaho when William had his emergency surgery. We came to the realization that although William was thriving, this defect was so rare and needed a lot of medical care. Rexburg, Idaho was unfortunately too far away for what we felt comfortable with. We moved to Bountiful, Utah in July. We found our new home after praying in the car, we were feeling helpless and were driving around Bountiful applying to anything we could find. We came across these cute town homes, and had a contract signed the next day. Ben found a job the same time and everything fell into place. We later met our wonderful ward family who would be one of the greatest supports for us during our roller coaster ride with our new special needs son, next to the many friends we met in the Primary Children’s Hospital Branch and friends we knew before hand.

William was home for a month and then was put back into the hospital for another 2 months. He stayed in the Infant Unit where we got to know even more wonderful nurses who treated William so well. During this time our ward family would take care of our home and Blue while Ben was at work and I was at the hospital with Will. Many prayers were answered through faithful friends and ward members, which Ben and I are eternally grateful for. William came home from this hospital visit and has had two more hospital stays that have lasted for 4 days which feeling like nothing to us haha. William has had a couple ER visits but nothing major.

William had his baby blessing on December 21, 2016. We always thought we would bless him in the hospital right before he passed,  but instead we were able to bless him in our home among family. It was a beautiful and spiritual experience. We are so happy we were able to have this experience with our baby.

William had his first Thanksgiving and Christmas with us at home, which is a miracle in itself thanks to dedication to William’s wonderful surgeons and prayers from many supporters, family, and friends.

Overall, this year is summed up as the worst and best of my life. I don’t know how that is possible, but that is the only way I can explain. I have experienced my biggest fear, and my happiest moment. Ben and I have expanded our medical education which we hope to continue to learn more, we have become fierce vaccine advocates, and have developed a greater desire to serve just as the Savior has. As nike would say; JUST DO IT, JUST SERVE! We have become more aware of others and less involved with ourselves. I have developed a deeper and more loving relationship with my husband, and I have grown my faith and love for my Savior and Jesus Christ. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about trials that can either bring out the best or the worst in us. If we choose to rely on the Lord, Jesus Christ, we choose to be happy, and we choose to stay positive, amazing things can happen. 2016 and I have a love-hate relationship, but I wouldn’t change a single thing! Here is to 2017 and all the amazing events we will experience, lessons we will learn, and people we will meet. Its going to be a great year!

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My Testimony

William was born May 17th 2016 at the University of Utah Hospital. I had a planned c-section that morning at 9:30 am. The night before William’s birth Ben and I met with family for Will’s anticipated death the next morning. Ben and I had a mortuary picked out, a casket and a date. We met with many people to help us create a birth plan for Will. Because of the way Will developed in the womb, doctors anticipated that William would not breathe and would immediately have to be intubated and put on life support. Ben and I decided that we wanted all intervention in order to stabilize Will until I was ready to see him and hold him. We would give him a name and a blessing and then take him off life support and be with him until he passed.

On May 17th Ben and I woke early that morning and drove to the hospital by ourselves, we talked on the way there about how peaceful we felt. We didn’t feel like Will would live, we just felt like everything would be okay, as members of the LDS church we believe that even though Will would most likely pass away that he was still ours, and we would be able to be with him forever. That truth is what got us through the terrible months of my pregnancy, the eternal truth that families are forever no matter what happens.

In the U of U hospital there is a little window in the operating room where babies that immediately need to go to the NICU are passed through. I knew I wouldn’t get to hold Will for awhile after his birth and I knew he would be sent immediately through the window. During the c-section Ben occasionally glanced over the curtain to tell me what was happening, the moment finally came when Will was born, “there he is, definitely a boy.” Ben’s comment was immediately followed by a sweet, beautiful, baby’s first cry. This was a wonderful moment for us because we were expecting Will to come out not breathing, but he was. My doctor came around the curtain to show Will to me, and then show me his head and within seconds he was transferred to the NICU. We waited for the NICU nurses to come get Ben so that he could see Will and give him a father’s blessing right after birth. When the nurse finally came she said; “We are ready for dad.” and then she came into my view and said to me; “mom, he’s breathing on his own.”

The spirit was so strong in that moment I bursted into tears, the anesthesiologist probably felt super awkward but I didn’t care. From months of thinking and anticipating our baby would die, he was alive.

This picture is me in my recovery room at the U of U hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was the first time I was able to touch Will and meet him. He was transferred to Primary Children’s Hospital NICU shortly after we met.

I wanted to share William’s birth story not as a “look how everything turned out so great” thing, but to express how our faith in the Lord’s plan and in Jesus Christ is not because everything turns out great and wonderful, but because its true. No matter the outcome. We must have faith even when things are really bad, even when we may not see the end or understand whats happening. I don’t think I felt peaceful before William was born because the spirit was telling me he would live, it was because during my pregnancy Ben and I made a choice to rely on the Lord, to believe in His plan, and to rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Daniel 3:18

If you want to know more about God’s plan and what helped Ben and I through William’s diagnosis visit www.mormon.org or www.lds.org