A Birth Story

7 Days Old

7 Days Old

 

This blog actually starts seven months ago….when Steph and I fulfilled a dream that was long in the making. On September 12, 2012, our beautiful boys, Liam and August, came into the world. BAM. Overnight, we were parents to four children – 2 adults, and two infant boys. Our life was suddenly so full I barely had time to think. I knew I wanted to start a blog about our family, but I didn’t have enough brain power to figure out a blog name. So, I jotted down what I knew would become my first post one day – the story of August and Liam, and how they came to complete our messy, joyous family.

Before I share their story, I wanted to explain my whimsical little blog name, Mommy Loves Martinis.

Mommy does love martinis. A great lot of them. Even more than the tasty little beverage itself, I love what martinis symbolize!

*** Fun. Light-heartedness. Adventure. Subversion. Daring. A grand ole time. ***

Because even though this world is complicated and there is much to fathom, in the end it’s all about embracing those you love, being passionate about your life, and having fun along the way.

I just read a story about a little boy, Mitchell, who had muscular dystrophy. After struggling for many years, he came home from the hospital to die at home, surrounded by his family. He had been sick for years, but was so at peace at home in hospice. His dad asked Mitchell what advice he would give people about life. Mitchell’s response? “Be nice to each other and be glad you’re alive. Nothing else matters.”

I don’t take advice from a dying child lightly. They know what is important, and what is not. My hope for this blog, then, is to celebrate life, and have a little bit of fun doing it.

So, here’s the story of August and Liam, written 7 months ago, when the boys were 8 days old.  It’s a little painful, but to me it’s full of joy and passion, and ends just perfectly.

9/20/12 Thursday – 8 days old

Stephanie and I tried to conceive for almost two years, which honestly was a bit of a shocker to me, because I had gotten pregnant at the blink of an eye with my first two, who are 20 and 19 years old. I was 36 at the time we first visited the fertility clinic –  “on the cusp” for advanced maternal age, so we moved quickly from less-invasive procedures to IVF – in vitro fertilization.

After two weeks of stomach and butt-shots (for real!), our first IVF in October of 2010 resulted in a positive! At 8 weeks, we were released from the fertility doctor, and had our first appointment with our obstetrician. We met with the nurse and got a large congratulatory bag of pregnancy goodies. The doctor decided at the last minute to do an ultrasound. He showed us the heartbeat, and then paused. “I’m so sorry. What I thought was the heartbeat was something else. There is no heartbeat.” I was confused and in disbelief.

We asked for a second opinion and went up to the top floor of Baptist Medical Center to the high-risk practice ROC – where they had super-duper machines that showed blood flow. The doctor was very gentle, and showed me where the blood flow should have been. We had miscarried at 8 1/2 weeks. I distinctly remember throwing the congratulatory bag of goodies in the trash as we walked out the door. I had several martinis that night!

We were devastated, but regrouped and did our second IVF in March of 2011. Again, it was positive. Hallelujah! Only a handful of people knew, because of what we had gone through before. I made my fertility doctor keep us on until 10 weeks, at which point he released me to the obstetrician. By then, my pants were starting to get pretty tight and knew I had to share the news at work before people figured it out! Stephanie left for a work trip right before my 12 week appointment. The morning of my appointment, I couldn’t feel anything. My morning sickness had stopped. I called Steph and told her to prepare for bad news.

At the doctors office, I saw the ultrasound tech and asked her “If you don’t see a heartbeat, will you please tell me right away and not wait to make me see the doctor?” It was very important that I know right away if something was wrong. Something was wrong. There was no heartbeat. We had miscarried at 11 weeks. When we went in the hospital for the D&C, I asked the doctor to bring in the ultrasound machine and show me our baby one last time, just to make sure. I just couldn’t believe I had had two miscarriages in a row. I’ll never forget the last image of my little girl- her little hands clasped gently in front of her,  her head bowed down towards her body.

Next, we did two cycles of the frozen embryos that were left from the first two IVFs while we recuperated financially and emotionally. More shots and estrogen patches and waiting. The cycles were negative. We finally did one last IVF with my own eggs in January of 2012. Our plan was to move on to donor embryos if that didn’t work, or if I miscarried again. When we met with Dr. Winslow after my egg retrieval, and right before the transfer, I talked to him about how many to transfer. I had a plan. “Dr. Winslow”, I started. “I know we normally transfer two embryos. But, I’ve had two miscarriages. I’m 38. I don’t think we have to worry about high-order multiples here. Would it be reasonable to transfer three?” He agreed. So, I went home with three little embryos vying for a chance….

For those who do fertility treatment, you know you’re not supposed to test at home. It’s a carousel of emotion, and it’s best to stay away! I cheated, and used pregnancy tests immediately.  4 days past my transfer, I got a faint positive on the little stick. (I may or may not have sheepishly purchased multiple  3-packs of pregnancy tests at Target in the following weeks) Our first ultrasound 2 weeks later confirmed IT WAS TWINS!!! It had taken us a total of 2 years, 8 fertility procedures and 13 embryos transferred to get there, but we did it! I’m not sure who was more excited – our fertility specialist Dr. Winslow or Steph and I!!

Twins!!For the record, Ophelia and Dakota in the picture above are actually uber-excited!

Because of my age at the time (38), we went through all of the non-invasive testing – Nuchal Fold, the quad screen, and the new test – MaterniT21 – that has a 99% accuracy rate in detecting Down syndrome, and other chromosomal disorders. Both boys passed all tests with flying colors. I breathed with ease and focused for the rest of my pregnancy on having the experience I was never able to have with my first two, since I was a teenage mom when I had them. My twin pregnancy was hard to enjoy because I was so uncomfortable, and I was full of anxiety that I would miscarry again, but we finally made it to my scheduled C-section date of September 12, 2012. Eviction notice for the boys, since they were 37 weeks and considered full-term!

Here I am the night before the C-section. I had already been in the hospital for a week with pre-eclampsia. I was ready!

Taken the night before my C-section!

Taken the night before my C-section!

 

Steph is ready for business.

Ready for action.

Ready for action.

 

Once on the table and prepped, they brought Stephanie in and turned on a Bob Marley CD – “One Love” was the song that was playing. I remember joking with the nurses about the music, and took some deep breaths. I was ready to meet my boys.

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Baby A came out crying and I remember crying that I had made it to birth and hadn’t miscarried. He was here! Out came Baby B, and baby B was crying, too! I was so relieved! I hadn’t realized out traumatized I was from the miscarriages, and how convinced I had been that something would go horribly wrong. I had spent 9 months living in a state of if.. “If I get to see these babies.” “If I carry them full term.” “If I get to be a mom again.”

As they sewed me up, I got to meet Baby B – Liam Bruce. He was perfect! Small to me at 6 pounds 9 ounces (my first children had each been over 9 pounds!) but perfect. He looked at me with his dark eyes and I laughed at how intense the little bug was.

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Suddenly, the neonatologist was holding Baby A – August John – up for me to look at.  She told us his weight – 5 pounds 14 ounces, and then paused. I’ll never forget her words, though I’ve forgotten most of what she said after she got her initial thoughts out. “This is Baby A. He has soft markers that lead us to believe he has Down syndrome.” She went on to talk some more about his belly being distended and that they would need to send him to NICU for immediate testing, but I cut her off. “No”, I told her, “We had all the tests and he was negative.” I’ll never forget the dead silence in the room and how they all looked around at each other. I swear the silence lasted 5 minutes, although I know it was only a few moments. “Amnio?”, she asked, and I told her no – but that we had done MaterniT21, which had the same accuracy rates for detection as amnio. She tried to steer me back towards the issue at hand and told me “OK. I’m actually more concerned about his belly. Kiss him, and you’ll see him soon.” They sent him immediately to the NICU.

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I honestly don’t remember much of anything after that, except for looking at my partner Stephanie and asking her “Is everything going to be ok?” She assured me it would and that we would love him no matter what. I was terrified. I don’t think I said anything else the entire time I was in the operating room, but I can’t be sure because it was a blur. I do know that I was devastated.

The night was very long and quiet. I sobbed that night and the next morning in the hospital, having moment after moment where I couldn’t believe it was true. After all that we had been through – the IVF’s, the miscarriages, the tens of thousands of dollars we had spent – the emotions that would peak and valley with each failed try. But it was true. Even before they drew his blood and sent it off to genetics, I knew it was true. And I knew we would be ok. None of this could have been a mistake. It had unfolded exactly as planned. By the next afternoon my tears had stopped for the time being, and I knew I needed to jump full force into loving and caring for these babies. That I couldn’t sit there in shock another moment.

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There’s a simple blood test that confirms Down syndrome – the presence of a third copy of the 21st chromosome in each cell. We got the call on Wednesday from our pediatrician, Dr. Sanchez,  with the results from the genetics testing. He called us personally to tell us the news. I already knew in the bottom of my heart, but I didn’t know how relieved and peaceful I would feel when I got off the phone. I looked at Stephanie, told her “It’s positive” and gave her a kiss. Then I took a new breath that would start our new future. I picked up August, smothered him in kisses and thanked him for choosing us to be his parents. I couldn’t imagine having a different baby. I honestly couldn’t. Liam and August are ours, and we will do everything we can to be the best mommies we can be.

August is perfect to me. I’m scared to death about the medical issues that come along with Down syndrome, but right now he just seems like the sweetest, most gentle baby I have ever met. And, so far, he’s healthy. We are so blessed.

He seems wise beyond his years. His twin brother Liam will be next to him crying, and August will just gaze at him as if to say “Listen little dude, it’s not worth the fuss. Don’t get yourself worked up. It’s ok.”

His expressions are priceless. His blinks are long and slow, which melts your heart and brings tears to your eyes. Who would have thought that little blinks could be so quietly and perfectly sweet? Liam’s personality is super-intense, and we enjoy so much spending hours looking back and forth at them, watching how different they are.

The boys are 9 days old now – and our life is already a flurry of doctors appointments that are lined up over the next few weeks. Every time I pick up the phone it’s someone from the pediatrician’s office, apologetically calling to give us more info on yet another appointment – for the geneticist, for the opthamologist, for a repeat echo, for the pediatric cardiologist. We have more questions than we do answers, but that will come in time. For now, I’ve done little things, like ordering some books about Down syndrome, liking some Facebook pages. But I am driven to get involved. Steph and I both are. That’s what August wants. I know it.

The outpouring of support has been amazing. Everyone has celebrated the birth of our boys with us – not once have we been told “I’m sorry”, which makes me smile 🙂 Right now, I’m in the phase where it helps for me to say the words “My son has Down syndrome” out loud – whether into the air, or typed on the computer. I know that he is much, much more than his diagnosis, but it helps us now to accept fully and move on.  After all, it’s only been 9 days since these boys were born and our whole world changed in the blink of an eye. Our journey was not what we expected, but it was a perfect journey, and we have two perfect little boys.

*****

April 13, 2-13

So, that’s our story. As I sit here today, the boys are 7 months old. Ophelia is their “Sistah-Nanny”, watching them during the day while Steph and I work. By night, she’s a nursing school student, studying her way towards being a kick-ass nurse. Older brother Dakota is out spreading his wings in Vietnam – literally climbing mountains and experiencing new cultures. I think often of the miscarriages – my two little bubbas who didn’t make it this earth. Or, maybe they did, and wanted to wait until they could be born together, as twins! I don’t know, but I have a sense of deep peace about it all. This is our family, and we invite you to share in our love and adventures.  We worked so hard to complete our little family, and here we are, making our way through life. Thank you for reading! XOXOXOXOXO

PunkRockEaster2013

 

 

 

38 thoughts on “A Birth Story

  1. Kimberly Wicker

    Heather and Steph, This is a wonderful story. I am so proud of the two of you. It’s a very brave thing to choose to be new parents after raising two. The fact that you have been blessed with two handsome young men just proves to me that God knows what he is doing by entrusting you with these special angels. I enjoy watching your little family grow. Love and kisses to you both!
    Kimberly (Foster) Wicker

    Reply
    1. hbuckman Post author

      Thank you Kim! It means a lot to read your words. Thank you for reading our story. Much love to you, too!

      Reply
  2. Rebeeca Winters

    This brought tears to my eyes. Like Ophelia’s writing, your writing is absolutely wonderful. I enjoyed reading every minute of this blog. And even though I am your sister, I thank you for sharing. You guys are amazing!
    Family=Love.
    Love,
    Your Sis Beckstah
    a.k.a. Oog

    Reply
    1. hbuckman Post author

      Dear Oog,
      You are my best youngest sister, and I love you with all my heart. August and Liam love their Aunt Beckster and Uncle Eamon.
      xoxoxo
      Zwoo

      Reply
  3. Richelle

    Hi heather,

    Beautiful experience beautifully described. Hugs from one who knows a little more than most so what it’s like.

    Richelle

    Reply
    1. hbuckman Post author

      Thank you Richelle! Hope you and your family are doing well. Love reading your updates. And love knowing that we have such similar experiences, and that we are out there living somewhat parallel lives…. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Nicole Hale

    I congratulate you courage and bravery through absolutely every step of this journey! I’ve been there – devastated by miscarriage, the fear of “if”, the fear of all those test results, the just wanting a little life to hold and nourish. I know that road. It takes a strong woman to have a child. It takes and even stronger one to endure the painful journey of miscarriages and then the joys of twins. (been there too!) I also want to applaud your courage to bring life into the world – when so many choose not to anymore. Love those adorable boys and revel in every minute! (even the up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-all-night ones!) You can look back one day with pride and say I did this – and I’m a better person for having gone through it! The little angels in heaven look down upon you and are proud of their mommas!!! And you will see them too – a big, noisy, joyful family reunion one day!!!
    Blessings,
    Nicole Schneider Hale

    Reply
    1. hbuckman Post author

      Thank you Nicole! And thank you for sharing that our experiences are so similar. It always helps to know you’re not alone. Congratulations to you for your courage and bravery. It takes a lot of strength and positivity to continue forward, despite having no control over the outcome. Much love to you and your family!

      Reply
  5. Candace Bradley

    Love your blog! Found you through Holly Bourquin posting about your blog on her FB. I don’t have kids of my own but recently came into stepmotherhood when my boyfriend and life partner got his kids from his ex in a long custody battle. I too am creating a chronicle of our life journey. I look forward to following yours and hope you will do the same. http://www.misadventuresinchildrearing.com

    Reply
    1. hbuckman Post author

      Thanks Candace! Love your blog name. Congratulations on becoming an insta-mom. 🙂 It’s a beautiful journey.

      Reply
  6. Kim

    What a wonderful story and so very similar to mine. You told it way better than I could have. My partner and I also took about 2 yrs to conceive and finally did through IVF. We transferred 3 embryos as well and ended up pregnant with twins! We did not do any pre-natal testing, because we knew we would end the pregnancy no matter what. Well, delivery date came and we had 2 beautiful girls. Our Baby B was born with Down syndrome. She has been such a blessing to our family. She did not have any health issues which we are so thankful for. She is now 6 yrs old and doing fabulous in kindergarten!

    Reply
    1. hbuckman Post author

      Kim, it sounds like you have a beautiful family. Congratulations to you and your partner! What a blessing that your daughter doesn’t have any health issues. We don’t know what’s in store for us with August, but both boys are super healthy right now. I just try to stay present in the moment. Do you have a blog? Would love to follow…

      Reply
  7. Jamie borders

    Awesome. Look forward to seeing what they both become. Very inspirational story. You girls got it goin on.

    Reply
    1. hbuckman Post author

      Thanks, Jamie! You rocked it with the blog design. 🙂 It’s so fun, and I smile every time I log in to write/kanoodle-around.
      Thank you for being a part of our story. It means a lot!

      Reply
  8. annie dopkins

    Heather,

    I love this!! My wife and I are at 19 weeks with twin boys, and I know that whoever they are, they are OURS and I cannot imagine anyone else being our sons. Thank you for writing this and I can’t wait to read the next installment!

    annie

    Reply
    1. hbuckman Post author

      Annie, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! It’s such an amazing, awe-inspiring experience, waiting for your child(ten) to be born. Boys are a ton of fun. I may or may not have burst into tears when the doctor said it was 2 boys. I had my heart set on a boy and a girl. Of course now I can’t imagine anything different!!

      Reply
  9. Tina Baggs

    Heather and Steph Thank you for sharing. I have loved seeing pics of the boys on facebook. I was in tears eeading your blog. We found out that William had ds 4 months prior to birth. I hope you will share more about the boys I look forward to reading more

    Reply
  10. Claudia Storey

    Wow! I think that sums it up, just “WOW!” Wow about your sharing such an intimate story, well written, and wow about those two beautiful boys—-and then I’d better add Wow that I haven’t met them in person yet (though I feel like I have because you and Steph have been so diligent about your fb pictures and posts!) I’m so proud of you and Stephanie!

    Reply
    1. hbuckman Post author

      Thank you so much Claudia! We’re probably going to come drop by unannounced one day. August says we need to catch you off-guard 😉

      Reply
  11. Milanie Hatfield

    August and Liam were born the day before my grandson Ronen. I remember following your pregnancy journey while I watched my son and daughter-in-law on theirs. When your boys were born we were on our way to the hospital to await Ronen’s arrival. Through it all I remember thinking how blessed we all were to see these new lives begin and how blessed all of the boys are to have the loving parents they have. Much love to you.

    Reply
  12. Nina Fischbach

    Heather, thank you for sharing this beautiful story. It brought tears to my eyes. Having gone thru the IVF roller coaster and having a couple of miscarriages, I understand the fears that you had during your pregnancy with the boys. I didn’t understand my miscarriages at the time but now I can see that those pregnancies were not meant to be. I was meant to be Max’s mommy just like you were meant to be Liam and August’s mommy. I think you have a beautiful family! August has already brought such joy to your family and the best is yet to come! I fully believe that August will flourish from the love that all of you giving him. Knowing August has raised my awareness in regards to Downs Syndrome and for that I am grateful. I admire the fact that you are sharing this very personal story.

    Reply
    1. hbuckman Post author

      Nina, you are my IVF soul-sister 🙂 Very much looking forward to coming to meet you and your family in person! We both worked so hard to get to where we are. Just makes it all the sweeter.

      Reply
  13. Sharla

    As a mom of twin boys and one with ds I loved reading your story. It brought back a lot of feelings that I had and I can’t help it…I am a sucker for pictures of twin boys. I am glad to hear that your boys are doing well too. Love their names!!! I can’t wait to read more about your family 🙂

    Reply
    1. hbuckman Post author

      Thank you Sharla! It’s amazing how many families I’m meeting who have twins, one who has Down syndrome. I have to admit that when I first got the DS diagnosis, I felt robbed of the twin experience. I didn’t really feel like I was having a twin experience – I felt like I was having a Down syndrome experience. That’s come full circle for me and I am definitely a twin momma.

      Reply
  14. Lauren Hysler

    Heather,
    I’ve just now had the opportunity to sit down and read this, as I am quite busy these days with my 6day old, 4 year old, and 7 year old!
    Your’s and Steph’s story, Sir August’s story, it’s inspiring. I have to say that throughout my pregnancy I was anxious that one of the test results were wrong for my little boy as he was suciptible to a multitude of issues due to some medication I was on at the early part of my pregnancy before I knew I was baking a little bundle. Oddly enough, meeting you and your family and getting to know you all more through Facebook have me great peace and courage to know that no matter how my child turned out, all that truly mattered to me was that he was mine and I would get this time to be his mommy. My level of anxiety lessened considerably the closer I came to delivery because it jut didn’t matter as much. I knew we would be blessed with exactly te perfect child for us. No matter how difficult the journey may be ahead, I knew we would survive, thrive, because we always had, by being a family and supporting one another. Just as you and Steph, and Ophelia and Dakota have. Now that my perfect little bundle of chunky boy is here I cherish every waking, and partially asleep moment I have with him.
    I grew up with a close cousin who has Down syndrome. Johnny has been a true highlight in our family. It’s amazing how much he has taught is all, adults and children alike. I am so glad August has such a wonderfully loving and supportive family to help him in his life. He is just as blessed as you are.
    Thank you so much for being amazing examples of strength and humility and helping to teach others the true meaning of love without boundaries. I am so glad to have net you all and get to know your story. 🙂

    Reply
    1. hbuckman Post author

      Thank you Lauren. This made me teary. I’m so glad we were a part of your journey, and that you’re a part of ours! Looking forward to seeing you again and meeting your new little one.

      Reply
  15. Stu Avery

    Wow. I am so moved by getting to know this part of your story, Heather. I am really looking forward to our families meeting this summer (although I’m not sure if Ophelia and Dakota will be in Colorado too?) Much love!

    Reply
  16. pepibebe

    Beautiful story Heather. As you maybe know (from the fb group or maybe my blog), we haven’t had any children yet, but I’ve always had a feeling that we might end up with a DS child. We didn’t plan to have the tests for it with my two pregnancies as we knew we’d keep the child no matter what. So I guess we’ll just wait and see if it happens, when I finally carry a child to full term.

    Reply
  17. Maria

    I love your story- i had tears in my eyes as read it. Very encouraging!!
    Your babies are so gorgeous and God has plan for everything- I am sure they both will be great men on this earth!
    God Bless!
    Maria

    Reply
  18. Lori

    Happy ICLW. Wow, this is an amazing story and your sons are beautiful. I also struggled for 2 years to get pregnant, and my son was in the NICU for 2.5 months after being born a premie. I look back to that time and it was scary, but we made it through and it’s like you said, you know it all unfolded as was meant to be…

    Reply
  19. Pingback: Buckets of Hope – Surviving Multiple Miscarriages

  20. Nancy Woods

    I am so happy for you and your new baby boys. My daughter and her husband did the Envetro procedure also and gave birth on sept. 26,2012 to twin baby boys Alex and Nick. Alex has downs syndrome and let me tell you he is the joy of our life. He is so smart and so handsome he laughs all the time. We wouldn’t change a thing about Alex. Everyone who meets him falls in love with him. I just wanted to share this with you.

    Reply
  21. Holly

    Such a beautiful story! My aunt shared this one facebook, she has a lovely 28 year old daughter with downs and she also happened to be the flower girl in mine and my husbands wedding when she was 12. But what really got me was reading that this happened here…as soon as you typed Roc!! It took us 8 years to get pregnant the first time, the second time I was 41 and boy did I spend a lot of time at the roc and the last 3 weeks at baptist south before she was born at 37 weeks! I had a 1/15 chance for my daughter having downs. I refused the amnio but was never told about the other test. She did not have downs though…it’s just amazing how inaccurate these tests are. I’m so glad you got these two beautiful boys to fill your life with…enjoy every moment! I don’t know what my life would be like without my sweet cousin in it…she’s made me a braver woman just knowing her and how wonderful every person is no mater if they are “normal” or not.

    Reply

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