If I Knew Then What I Know Now

Our little miracles

Essay Contest Winners with StaffSome people believe that if they could go back in time and change certain decisions they’ve made and in effect change their past or cause themselves to live their lives differently that it would somehow erase or change their present circumstances and possibly change their future circumstances.  Maybe that is a true assumption.  But I can honestly tell you that if I knew then what I know now about how difficult it would be to experience the joy of parenthood, I would not change a thing.   Life is about making informed decisions in the moment, experiencing joy and pain and creating a story of their own.  Every person has a story.  This story is mine.

It was August of 2004 and I just found out that I was pregnant with our first child.  I met the man of my dreams a few years prior, got married and was nine years into a career with the United States Army.  My husband just got back from his first deployment to Iraq when we found out that we had conceived.  Ten weeks after receiving a “positive” pregnancy test, I drove myself to the emergency room because of severe pain in my abdomen.  I had an ectopic pregnancy, which required immediate surgery because my left fallopian tube had burst, causing bleeding and great physical pain.  My tube was essentially destroyed.  I was very upset about losing our baby.  I know it was too early to know the sex of our baby but I called the unborn baby “Grace.”   Believe me…I am not a weird person.  I just thought that our baby was a girl and that is how I dealt with our loss.

I’d like to say that I received the “Luck of the Irish” on St. Patrick’s Day of 2006 (even if I am not Irish).  My husband just returned from his second tour in Iraq and I wasn’t feeling well.  I was scheduled for a hernia repair surgery on Monday, March 20, 2006 and on Friday, March 17th, 2006 I went to the hospital to complete lab work in preparation for the operation.  Late that afternoon, I received a call to come in for more blood work because some of the labs were inconclusive.  I went for more labs and a few hours later the doctor called me at home to tell me that he had to cancel surgery because I was pregnant.  Oh, how I cried!!! I was so happy. My husband and I went out to dinner that night to celebrate.  Everything was running smoothly with the pregnancy. All of my tests were normal and the baby was progressing nicely.

Nothing… and I mean NOTHING prepared my husband and I for the diagnosis we received at the 20-week ultrasound. It was Tuesday, July 11th, 2006.  My husband and I were dressed in our Army uniforms standing in the backyard of our home taking pictures before our ultrasound appointment.  We were smiling and happy and so excited to see our baby at the halfway point of development. We arrived at the hospital, checked in, and were called back to the examination room.

The ultrasound technician moved the wand around my belly over and over and over again.  He was silent for most of the exam and when we were at the end of the ultrasound, he informed us that we were having a baby boy. He then asked us to go and take a seat in the waiting room because he wanted to show the pictures to the doctor and that he would be right back.  I immediately started to worry but my husband Todd reassured me that it was probably normal hospital procedure.  The doctor returned and asked Todd and I to come back into the examination room.  The doctor started to tell us that our baby had a terminal birth defect in his brain, that we needed to go to Maternal-Fetal-Medicine the next day for a second opinion, and that he was sorry.  My husband and I sat in our car in the parking lot of the hospital for what seemed like eternity crying in disbelief.  The next day’s appointment confirmed the same diagnosis.  Our son had an Occipital Encephalocele, otherwise known as a hernia at the base of his brain.  It was a very rare condition; it could not be fixed surgically.  It was terminal.  We were given two options (1) terminate the pregnancy or (2) maintain the pregnancy.  My husband and I chose the only option that we could live with and that was to maintain the pregnancy.

Our son Noah Samuel Buckhouse was born on Friday, November 10th, 2006 at 7:53 PM.  We prayed for a miracle.  We prayed that when our baby boy was born that the doctor’s had it all wrong.  God did give us a miracle.  Noah was born alive and he was beautiful.  When the doctors told us that we had only a few minutes with him, he lived a few days.  When they told us that we had only a few days left with him, he lived a few weeks.  When they told us that we had only a few weeks with him, he lived a few months.  Noah is our first miracle.  Noah came home with us and we LOVED him and cared for him for two and a half months with the help of hospice care.

Noah left us on January 18th, 2007.  Losing Noah has changed us forever.  We never take life or our loved ones for granted.  Nothing is more important.  Losing someone that you love doesn’t ever really leave you.  You just learn to live with the pain and reengage with life because life marches on.

After Noah’s death, it took us a few years to conceive again.  Grief is a terrible feeling.  It is an emotion and even a process that has to be worked through.  You can’t sidestep it.  You can’t ignore it.  You have to look at it straight in the eye and not let it gobble you up.  My husband and I decided to seek assistance conceiving after trying for two years with no success.  The loss of one of my fallopian tubes statistically did not help in the conception area.  We went to the military hospital where we obtained approval to receive medical assistance from the University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine’s Colorado Springs Office.

Dr. Shona Murray was my primary physician.  She is excellent.  The best.  She sat down with us and came up with a plan of action for conception based on my medical history.  We decided on Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) as our first course of action.  The first attempt resulted in ovarian cysts and prevented successive IUI attempts until my cysts went away.  The second attempt did not work.  The third time was a charm because IUI worked!

Finally.  Another baby!  We were so happy.  On January 18th, 2009, which marked the second anniversary of our son’s death, I found myself in extreme abdominal pain, in a hospital room, with a second ectopic pregnancy.  I was bleeding internally.  I was informed that I needed emergency surgery, that my second and final fallopian tube was destroyed and that I would never conceive children without using advanced measures. I just fell on the hospital floor and cried.  I did not get up for a long while until the nurses picked me up and got me ready for surgery.  I not only had laparoscopic surgery to fix the ectopic pregnancy but because I had severe internal bleeding as well, I needed a blood transfusion.  I’ve never felt so low in all of my life.   I was in the hospital for a week.  I did not want to ever go home and wanted to sleep the rest of my life away because I just felt so much pain inside of my heart.

My grandfather is a World War II veteran and he is tough as nails.  He is ninety-five years old and still going strong.  I guess I get the desire to never give up from him because even after my spirit was crushed from losing two pregnancies and a son… I DID NOT AND WOULD NOT GIVE UP.  I went back to the University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine Office and met with Dr. Murray in March of 2009.  In April of 2009, my husband and I began the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) process.  We used the drug Menopur to help with follicle stimulation.  The medication was a huge success for us.  The doctors removed many, many healthy and viable eggs from my ovaries, which resulted in many fertilized eggs for my husband and I.  Menopur did not irritate my skin at the injection site and was wildly successful for follicle stimulation.

We had two of our fertilized eggs inseminated into my uterus on May 15th, 2009 and on May 26th, 2009 I received a call from the University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine that my husband and I were going to have a baby.  IVF was a huge success and worked on the VERY FIRST TRY! I was at work when I received the phone call and I closed my door, breathed a sigh of relief and sat in joyful silence for a long while.  In late June of 2009, we were informed that we were not only have one baby but TWINS!  It was one of the happiest moment of my life to hear that we were pregnant with two babies.  A lot of people get scared or nervous when they hear that kind of news.  Not I.  I embraced it and thanked God and did a little jig (dance) in my car on the way back to work.  IVF worked!  Menopur worked!

Today, Todd and I have two beautiful little girls.  They were born on January 6th, 2010.  They are so similar and yet so different.  Our daughter Moriah Jane has red hair and blue eyes and is a spitfire who likes to investigate and explore and loves to be on the move.  Our daughter Delilah Nancy has white-blonde hair and blue eyes and moves at her own pace, is super relaxed, loves to explore and studies her toys.

They are both brilliant little girls and they bring us so much joy.  Our hearts are filled with so much love and gratitude for our second and third miracles.  They are our living, beautiful, tiny miracles.  Moriah and Delilah’s names were selected from the Old Testament of the Bible just like their brother Noah’s name was.  It is a reminder that God is good and that he blesses us with brilliant, dedicated, kind, caring, and wonderful doctors such as Dr. Shona Murray, MD, Dr. Ruben Alvero, MD, and Dr. William Schlaff, MD at the University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine.  These doctors help patients like me every single day.

My advice to men and women that desire to become parents is to look at your medical history, develop a plan with your infertility specialists and then follow your heart.  Not every person can or will conceive.   If you put your trust in your doctor’s medical advice for your situation and if the desire is burning in your heart to become a parent…THEN GO FOR IT.  THERE MAY JUST BE A TINY MIRACLE IN YOUR FUTURE. (Maybe even two if you are lucky).