We have known each other for a long time but I recently ran into her and learned about all the crazy things she has been going through over the last 2 years. I was blown away and felt horrible that I didn't know. I wish I could have been there to help her in some way! She is truly an amazing mom and is raising an amazing little girl. Her Olivia is a breathing miracle. She was sent from heaven fighting for her life from the very beginning. I can't even imagine what this little family has been through. Even through everything though, Megan has that sweet smile on her face that she has had as long as I can remember! She is a great example of faith, sacrifice, and hope.
Here is her story...
I believe that each of us, at some point, have a moment when we can use the word “perfect” to describe our lives. In May of 2014, life was precisely this for me and for my husband. Perfect. We were finally settling into our brand new house; I had just accepted a full-time nursing position with Intermountain Healthcare, putting us both in full-time job positions; a summer filled with hiking, swimming, BBQs and fun was just around the corner. It wasn’t until the first week of June that we found out our lives would hit a forte in perfection. That week, after a missed period, those two little blue lines appeared on a home pregnancy test… Actually, it was four pregnancy tests with two blue lines before I truly believed I wasn’t imagining it.
Appointments were made and blood work was done. Because I am a private, conservative, play-it-safe kind of person, and having a career in healthcare I was well aware that it isn’t uncommon for things not to go as planned early in a pregnancy. Because of this, and per my request, I made my husband promise he wouldn’t tell a soul until we got past our first trimester. Plus, who doesn’t like a good secret?
In a matter of days, my results were in and unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly the news I had expected to hear. We were informed that my lab results pointed to positive pregnancy, but that the hCG levels weren’t increasing at the expected intervals, which could possibly indicate an ectopic pregnancy. With this being a possible reason for the hCG levels, our doctor sent us in for an early ultrasound.
With an estimated gestation date of about six and half weeks, we went in for an ultrasound on June 17. To our relief, I was indeed pregnant and the baby was right where it needed to be. In the following days, the expected pregnancy symptoms began to become more prevalent: frequent bathroom trips at all hours of the day, some nausea and vomiting, and extreme exhaustion. I had also been informed that “spotting” was normal and that it should subside within those six weeks; however, mine seemed to be getting worse. Throughout the next month, my “spotting” turned into on-and-off bleeding with no possible explanation. No cramping, no contractions, just enough blood to make us all uneasy. With this being a concern, I was scheduled for weekly ultrasounds to assess my health as well as the health of our growing baby. Week to week, the doctor couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary and baby seemed to be just fine. In addition to our weekly ultrasounds, I was given progesterone tablets and instructions to take it as easy as I possibly could. We were about 5 days away from being “out of the woods” and reaching the second trimester and we were ready to share our exciting news with our families. Even though we were still seeing abnormal bleeding, baby was good, I was good, everything was still good.
That night, on July 20, around 2 a.m. I woke up to find myself soaked through with fluid. Not urine. Not normal. And definitely not good. After a minute of trying to wrap my head around what was possibly happening, I took a few minutes to focus on how I felt. I wasn’t in any pain, I wasn’t bleeding, but deep down I had a horrible feeling of dread. Trying not to panic but not knowing what to do, I woke up my husband and told him what had happened. After some discussion but not knowing what more we could do at that point, and realizing a trip to the ER wouldn’t be necessary, I said a silent prayer for comfort and was able to fall asleep. I remember that following morning very clearly. I remember waking up and wondering if I had dreamt everything that had happened the night before. As I laid there in my bed I remember physically feeling…. different. Emptier. I finally came to the realization that it really did happen, I called my doctor as soon as the clinic opened and he told us to come in right away. Upon arriving to the clinic, I immediately filled him in on every little detail I could and was taken back for an ultrasound.
The minute the screen lit up on the machine, I already knew what had happened before it was even confirmed. My water had broken. There was my baby on the screen with no fluid surrounding it, seemingly being crushed by my own body. Just days before, I had seen my baby on the monitor moving around with enough room to wiggle his or her arms and legs. Now I was looking at a baby-shaped mass barely able to move, but with a heartbeat going strong. My doctor tenderly offered me his hand and gently helped me sit up and with tears in his eyes he said, “I am so sorry.”
Before he was able to say anything else, I blurted out my assumption that my water broke, to which he replied, “I’m afraid so.” Unable to contain my emotion anymore, I also broke down and cried. He confirmed my fears that my water had indeed broken and explained that with ruptured membranes at 12 weeks gestation, we would expect to have our baby miscarry within 24 to 48 hours. Not knowing what more he could do for us at that point, he prepared us for the worst, educated us on signs and symptoms to watch for that could indicate an infection, scheduled a follow-up appointment for the next day, and we left the office with the heaviest of hearts. I felt numb. It was like having an out of body experience, or having a nightmare where all you can do is wait to wake up; to come back to reality. But I never did wake up. This WAS my reality, and there was no escaping. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other to get to the car where I had to let myself fall apart again, this time alongside my husband. The pain of what was happening in that moment shook me to my core. To this day, I still don’t know how I survived my entire work day without telling anyone what had happened and was able to focus on those patients in my care. There were no words that could describe the sorrow of simply waiting for our little one to pass and I couldn’t wrap my head around what was in store for us in the coming days.
That night my husband and I prayed more fervently than we had in a long time. We poured our whole souls out to the Lord in prayer. We prayed for a miracle if it would be according to the Lord’s Will. We also felt prompted to pray for strength to accept the Lord’s will, whatever that would be. We prayed that whatever was to come, that it would all work out and that somehow we would be okay. We prayed and prayed and prayed. That night we went to bed physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted.
The next day came, the bleeding had stopped, we went for our follow-up appointment and despite the minimal amount of fluid, our baby’s heartbeat was still going strong. In addition to all of this, I still physically felt fine. As with any pregnancy, the risk of infection increases dramatically once those membranes are broken; however, being a type 1 diabetic, my risk of infection was practically through the roof. It was truly a miracle I had not had any infection set in yet.
The weekly ultrasound appointments continued for several weeks and small amounts of fluid would build up but continued to leak out; however, with no other notable changes and with our baby still growing and having a good strong heartbeat, our doctor felt it best that we follow up with some specialists and high risk OB-GYN professionals in St. George since in his book we were now in uncharted waters.
At this point, we felt it was best that we break the news to our parents. A week or so later, we had our first appointment with the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor at Dixie Regional. After watching the ultrasound tech and doctor squint at the ultrasound screen and shake their heads in attempt to take measurements of the baby and fluid amount, the doctor said we could talk some more in the back office. Not knowing exactly what was going to be said, I sat down at a table in a little office area and waited for what would come next. Watching the doctor, I could tell the news he had for me was not going to be good; that what was already bad was about to get worse if it were possible.
Over the previous weeks since my water broke, I thought I had a pretty good idea of the possible outcome and had already started building a protective wall around my already broken heart so that I could be ready to accept this loss, whenever that would be. I knew the basics of what our situation meant: that our baby would most likely not survive and that if he or she did, there would certainly be some major issues. The doctor confirmed my thoughts as he sat and discussed possible outcomes with us (mental or physical retardations or both, the possibility of infection or hemorrhaging for me as the baby continued to grow), but it wasn’t until he started discussing treatment options that I realized that my situation was going to get a lot more complicated.
I will never, ever forget the awful sick feeling I had as I sat and had my options laid out in front of me: a) Wait for my body to manage it by itself, meaning eventually get an infection, hemorrhage, or miscarry, any of which could away take my ability to have more children, or worse, my own life, or b) Schedule an elective termination.
After explaining what is done for an elective termination, the doctor shared his personal opinion. He felt strongly regarding elective termination, in relation to the logistics of it in my situation. I wasn’t pushed to make a decision right then, but was encouraged to consider my options, and to make a decision sooner than later. And just like that, my world shattered again. I kept thinking I would wake up from this horrifyingly, twisted nightmare, but reality hit hard again as the seriousness of my situation sunk in. My options were laid out very plainly, but instead of clearing things up, it muddled it even more. In my situation, there was no black and white. I thanked the doctor for the information and declined having to make a decision that day.
On my ride home I was overcome by so many different emotions. I had never felt more lost, alone or hopeless than I did leaving that appointment. I was angry at my body for not being able to just work like it should in creating a safe place for my baby to grow and develop. I was broken hearted that I had not even had a chance to truly celebrate this little person and the beauty of pregnancy with family and loved ones. I was scared that I would HAVE to make the decision of elective termination if I did get an infection.
The coming days were filled with prayer, fasting, pondering, and many, many tears. After a lot of prayer and fasting, we decided to move forward with the waiting game and the hope that everything would work out how it was supposed to. We felt that we had been blessed and watched over to this point, so now it was our turn to step into the darkness with faith that we would be watched over a little longer. It was about this point in our lives that I noticed our prayers changed from praying for a miracle, to praying for a miscarriage so we wouldn’t have to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy.
We continued to pray for strength to accept the Lord’s will no matter the outcome. The weeks dragged on and I continued to lose fluid on and off. I continued to work-full time and did my best to hide my growing belly so I didn’t have to get into the details of my situation with patients I barely knew. My privacy of the situation was, in a way, my healing balm. It protected me from the “helpful input” from others or the, “Well, if I were you…” comments.
Even though each new day brought new emotions and challenges, it also gave me new perspective and made it easier for me to find happiness in the little things. I had especially grown fond of my weekly ultrasounds and looked forward to and even expected to hear that little heartbeat. I also continued to see a specialist from Murray every couple of weeks to get more insight on our developing situation.
Surprisingly, I eventually made it to 24 weeks and saw the specialist from Murray again who brought in a neonatologist to further assess our situation. The neonatologist asked a lot of questions and marveled at our story. As with the other doctors I had dealt with thus far, I was a unique, one-of-a-kind situation. The doctor explained he had read a case where a woman’s water broke at 14 weeks and delivered at 24, the baby had survived but suffered from cerebral palsy among other issues. Other than that, I had nothing more to go off of to give me any hope to hold onto for an optimistic outcome. During our visit, we learned that one of our biggest concerns at that point was if our baby’s lungs had developed enough for him or her to survive. In the womb, the baby needs fluid to help in proper physical and functional development of the lungs; they practice breathing by “breathing” the fluid. We were told that the structure of the lungs are usually fully developed at about 16 weeks and in the coming weeks the tiny detailed functions fine-tune; however, in my situation, no one could tell for sure if the lungs had had time to develop enough. In addition to the lungs, the baby needs the fluid to be able to move the joints freely so they can properly develop. Long story short, we were informed that at this point, if our baby did make it, the chances were high of he or she having physical malformities (clubbed feet or hands, deformed head shape, contractures) but it would most likely have some form mental problem as well. Not only that, but I was still a high risk for severe infection or hemorrhage. We were also advised that at this point, being 24 weeks along, the baby would be considered viable, meaning life-saving measures would be taken when our little one decided to come. Because of this, they advised me to consider being admitted to Dixie Regional for steroid therapy (to speed up any possible lung development) and be put on bedrest until I reached 34 weeks.
We were shocked! Was there a chance? Even if there were issues, did we actually have a chance our baby could survive? After being told “no” so often, were we actually hearing a “yes”? After some discussion and a lot more prayer, we asked our doctor if it would be possible to admit when I got to 28 weeks since I had already made it this far. We got the “OK” and I was put on the schedule to be admitted to Dixie Regional in St. George.
On November 10, at 28 weeks I was admitted to the hospital and introduced to my new “home” and way of life for the next 6 weeks. Overnight my life literally was turned upside down. I went from working full-time and keeping busy (which helped me stay sane) to sitting, sitting, and more sitting. I was allowed to go outside in a wheelchair, but only if I had someone who could take me. Weekly ultrasounds, daily monitoring, nurse and doctors’ assessments, beeping and humming of machines, and hospital food quickly became the norm.
By the time I had been there for two weeks, I felt like I had been there for an eternity. During this time, I found I had a lot of time to myself; time to think…. and over-think. It didn’t help to have pregnancy hormones on top of everything else. Just like anything, I had my ups and downs. Some days I would be at peace with things and truly felt like it could actually work out, that we would have a baby that would survive and no matter what difficulties he or she had, they would be so, so loved. I even started allowing myself to shop online for baby clothes. I began to allow myself to feel. It was amazing how, without realizing it, I had become so deeply connected to this little person I didn’t even know yet. I couldn’t help but feel guilty for trying to block out those feelings and that connection in order to protect my own heart, but with so much unknown, I wasn’t ready to be hurt again.
Other days were unbearable as the reality hit me that all of this could be for nothing, all of this sitting, waiting, and hoping. The burden hung heavy at times when I realized, as I had been told, that my baby could be born and we would have to watch our little one struggle to breathe with underdeveloped lungs until he or she passed on. The thought haunted me and made for many sleepless nights. It was in those moments a little voice in my head would remind me that I was doing all I could to give our little one the best chance they had and that what I couldn’t control was in the Lord’s hands. Those days of hopelessness in that lonely hospital room were probably some of my darkest times I have ever had to experience in my life.
During this time of bedrest, I once again started praying, even begging, for a miracle. I specifically remember praying and telling Heavenly Father that we would deal with whatever we needed to if our baby could just survive. While in the hospital, I remember reading a quote from the April 2014 Ensign in the talk given by President Boyd K. Packer titled, ‘The Savior’s Selfless and Sacred Sacrifice’. It stated, “I firmly believe that no experience or opportunity essential for redemption and salvation will be denied you who live faithfully. Remain worthy; be hopeful, patient, and prayerful. Things have a way of working out. The gift of the Holy Ghost will guide you and direct your actions”.
Never had a quote rung more true than it did for me with my situation. I knew I wasn’t alone in any of this even if sometimes it felt that way. Not only did I come across little treasures like this in my quiet times of need, but when I was admitted to my hospital stay, I had saved on my phone screen a portion of a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley that simply read, “It Will All Work Out” and boy did I anchor my entire being to that phrase!
The days continued to crawl by. Thanksgiving came and we celebrated in my hospital room with real, non-hospital food, and before we knew it December had come. What a beautiful time of year it was to find myself in such difficult circumstances. As the weeks went on, I found so many reasons to by thankful and began finding small things to be grateful for each day. Certain things that had become ordinary in my routine life became extraordinary.
My daily monitoring became a source of comfort in knowing that at least in that moment things were good, my baby was alive and well. Some of the nurses and doctors who cared for me every day became more than acquaintances to me, they were my friends. Friends who cheered me on when we met weekly milestones of my baby still going strong. The tender mercies of good weather made it possible for me to not have to spend many nights alone by allowing my family to travel from Cedar City to St. George to be with me.
There were more things to be grateful for than I could count. Before we knew it I made it to 34 weeks gestation, and since nothing had varied from the continued fluid build-up and leak out routine, our induction date was upon us. Amazingly enough, in the days leading up to that date, a calm came over us and there was no worry that weighed on our minds. In fact, we were looking forward to meeting our little one and knew that everything would be alright. Uncertainty always remained, but doubt and fear of having our baby not make it was replaced with peace that no matter the outcome, everything would be okay.
After a rough and very long labor, our 3 pound 15 ounce baby girl was born, and once again, for that fleeting moment, everything was perfect. Too soon for my liking she was whisked away for immediate monitoring to assess the situation of her condition and me being the already protective mom I was, sent my husband along too. Before long, my husband returned to the room carrying the tiniest, sweetest package I had ever laid eyes on! She was wide-eyed, content, and very much alive. Not only that, but she was free from cords, tubes, assistive breathing devices, even supplemental oxygen. She was alive, beautiful, and had a healthy set of fully functioning lungs. I was informed that the respiratory support team, who was on standby and waiting for this delivery, never had to do anything to assist her in breathing. Their services were dismissed and they left, shaking their heads in unbelief. She was a living, BREATHING miracle. So many emotions came flooding over me as I realized that so many things that had only been impossible were now possible and that my life was changed forever in the best way possible.
Over the next four-and-a-half weeks, our little Olivia was in the NICU with her only diagnosis being prematurity. Since she did have some “packaging issues” from being so scrunched up for so long, she was born with a club foot, her right knee was hyperextended and dislocated, and both hips were dislocated, so even I will admit, it was a bit of a shock the first time I got a good look at her, but seeing her sleeping comfortably put me at a little more ease.
Over the course of the following months, I ended up needing to have a surgical procedure related to retained placenta and ended up with a serious infection, tubo-ovarian abscesses, and had to do 5 more days in the hospital again on IV antibiotics, and yet somehow, we still made it through.
Fast forward to now, Olivia is a happy, healthy, silly little 18 month-old. She likes animals, stickers, trucks, balloons, coloring with crayons, and her family. Over the course of this last year, we have been through multiple splintings, castings and different types of braces for her legs, a lot of physical therapy, Achilles tendon surgery, two hip surgeries, one with a femur reduction, and 18 weeks in a spica cast (body cast) and she is still smiling! Even though things have been rough and we still have a long, unknown journey ahead, we continue to move forward every day with the hope and faith that as with anything in life, things will have a way of working out.
In hopes of sharing some valuable insight I received from an article I read about a year ago, I couldn’t not share this wonderful quote:
“Men and women desire miracles because of their beneficial nature. They often come with a timestamp reading, “Please grant immediately.” But part of the principle of faith needed for miracles is trusting in the Lord’s timetable. Sister Susan Tanner, then Young Women general president, said in the April 2008 general conference, “I delight in the Lord’s mercies and miracles. I know that His tender mercies and His miracles, large and small, are real. They come in His way and on His timetable”
Mormon 9:19 reads: “And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.”’
In voicing my testimony alongside this quote, I know that miracles happen today, and not always how or when we expect them. Some are big and others are small, but they are there and they do come. Every day is a gift and every day we have opportunities to see miracles all around us if we will just look. I owe everything to my Father in Heaven and I know that it is only through the Atonement of my Savior, Jesus Christ, that I have been, and still am able to overcome the trials and tribulations of this life. Even though life can be hard, the miracles that come are always worth it.