‘My husband caressed his cheek and told him we’d be okay. His eye searched ours, as if to be sure.’: Mother of angel baby says their son ‘brought a light to our lives death could not shadow’

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“‘Are you adoptive mama?,’ the nurse called from across the room. I stood there stunned: tears uncontrollably pooling from my eyes, hands cupped over my mouth trying to calm my overwhelming emotions.

‘Yes!,’ I choked out.

‘Come meet your son,’ she smiled and waved me over.

All I could do was sob as I crossed the room to him. There he was. My baby. He was kicking and crying and I could hardly believe this wasn’t a dream. He was perfect. I reached out, and as he grabbed my finger I heard a soft voice I have come to know so well whisper over my shoulder, ‘Mom, I picked him just for you. He’ll heal what’s left broken in your heart.’ My sweet angel, Max. My boys together. My mama heart so full it could have burst from my chest. After 7 long years of hoping and dreaming, we were finally going to take home a baby.

Mother smiles as she looks at her adopted newborn in hospital
Courtesy of Brittany King

Tyler and I were married in September 2010, and could only stand to wait a year before we decided we wanted to start our family. To be honest, I did start to worry after the first 6 months, but I tried to stay calm and remind myself it was totally normal to take some time to conceive. After 9 months I really started to become anxious. After a year, I went to my OB for some tests, which showed us I wasn’t ovulating. We tried Clomid, which was awful. I didn’t even make through a full cycle before we decided the side effects were not worth it. Since that was as far as we could go with my OB, we took a few months break to look into fertility clinics and decide what we should do next.

Eventually, we found a new doctor and I was put on Femara to induce ovulation. After a few cycles and the addition of HCG trigger shots, we found out I was finally pregnant in November of 2013. We named our little miracle Boston, celebrating the Red Sox World Series win. We were ecstatic! But in January, at our 12-week ultrasound, we found out that our precious little miracle had stopped growing somewhere between 9-10 weeks. We were broken; completely shattered. We took our time after that before we revisited treatments. We had to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually. That loss had taken more out of us than we could have possibly imagined.

Husband stands smiling with arms wrapped around pregnant wife who ended up losing the baby
Courtesy of Brittany King

When I started Femara again, it didn’t work. After multiple rounds, I still wasn’t pregnant. I was frustrated. I was angry with my body for its inabilities. I couldn’t take it anymore. The medication, the shots, the planning, the scheduling, that waiting, the anticipating, the disappointment month after month. I needed a break. The doctor explained we would have to look into the next step for treatments, and there was no way we were ready for that.

So, we just went about life for awhile. We were hopeful for a miracle, but not expecting one… but somehow, we got one.

In April of 2015, I realized I was 5 days late. I was on my way to the dentist, and even though it seemed impossible, I took a pregnancy test to confirm to myself that I was not. I took the test in the bathroom at Walgreens, yes Walgreens. I broke my cardinal rule and looked at the test immediately… My eyes bugged! There in front of me, 2 hot pink lines stared back at me. I checked the instructions again to confirm what that meant. I shook the test and blinked my eyes open and shut about 10 times. There were still 2 lines. ‘HOLY CRAP!’ My voice echoed against the tile bathroom. A hysteric laugh burst from my chest, then the tears came. ‘H…Ho… How?! Wh…Wha… What?!… OH MY GOSH!’ Not about to throw away such a prize, I put the positive test back in the box and ran out of the bathroom.

Our anxiety was incredibly high by our 12-week appointment, but when we saw that wiggly little bean moving about on the screen our relief and joy were indescribable. We thought that was the hurdle we had to get over. We thought we were in the clear after that. What else could we possibly have to worry about? At our 20-week target ultrasound we found out.

We were so excited for this appointment. We knew they would go over everything, like count his toes, look at his heart, check all his organs, etc. The radiology tech shows us the baby is measuring exactly the right size, his kidneys are filtering blood, his stomach is digesting amniotic fluid, and his bladder is full – ALL good signs! She can’t get a good look at his hands, and she can never be sure if she just sees one arm or leg moving back and forth or if she’s actually getting a good look at right and left. She mentions she’d really like to see his face, and apologizes as she grinds the wand into my low abdomen, trying to get him to turn and get a look. I feel bruised, and still no luck. She tries for a long time to get a good look at his chest, but he won’t hold still enough, and she mentions something about not being able to get a good view to count all the chambers of his heart.

Eventually, she removes the wand and the screen goes blank, and I just long to see him again… But she doesn’t wipe off the ultrasound gel. She leans forward, and her face becomes serious. ‘The doctor will be in soon and will probably want to continue this ultrasound so I won’t wipe off your belly, yet.’ And the room begins to spin and my vision gets fuzzy as she says the words I do not want to hear, ‘I don’t want you to be blindsided when the doctor comes in, so I want to warn you, I see a lot of concerns.’

Hand holding ultrasound picture
Courtesy of Brittany King

I think I’ve blacked out for a moment. I try to come to, and I blink back at her in the dull light of the darkened room. I feel Tyler squeeze my hand tighter, but I cannot look at him. She repeats herself so she can be sure I understand, squeezes my arm and reassures me that she will be back with the doctor soon and they will explain everything. I just nod, because my throat is closing up and I cannot speak a word. I feel like every inch of me is filling with panic and I might explode. But I don’t explode, I just unravel. Concerns? What concerns? We just couldn’t see his face, right? She couldn’t see his heart well enough to count all the chambers, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, right? WHAT CONCERNS?! Is my sweet boy going to be okay?

I, finally, turn to Tyler and his eyes reflect how I feel. ‘It’s gonna be fine. Everything is going to be fine.’ It sounds more like he is trying to convince himself. We wait for what feels like an eternity for her to return with the doctor.

Pregnant wife smiles as she holds wooden heart and husband stands behind her with chin on her shoulder
Courtesy of Brittany King

The doctor explained then that our baby boy had fluid on his brain and little to no cerebral development could be seen. His foot was clubbed and his heart tilted. He suffered a neural tube defect; a fluid-filled sac off the back of his neck. It is likely that these were caused by amniotic band syndrome, as there were strands of the amniotic sac loose that had entangled parts of the baby.

After that appointment came many more appointments: amniocentesis, MRI, Pediatric neurologists and cardiologists, and near weekly appointments at Maternal Fetal medicine to monitor baby’s development and the ever-increasing fluid in his head. We learn from the MRI he also has facial deformities: cleft lip and palate, and a tiny dysplastic eye.

At 34 weeks it was decided that our baby boy, who we decided to name Max, will be better off out than in. While the pediatric neurosurgeon is hopeful that we should be able to get some time with our son, it was hard to know how much time we could expect. I was scheduled for a C-section at the University of Utah Hospital, where Max can be immediately transferred to Primary Children’s Hospital.

Mother sits smiling in NICU while newborn lays on her chest
Courtesy of Brittany King

Max Carter King was born on November 17, 2015. For the following 5 weeks our incredible little boy astounded us and medical staff. He was perfectly imperfect. We saw countless miracles each day he fought for life. Every day we had with Max was a blessing, but our days with him were few. The shunt that was placed to help relieve the fluid in his head developed an infection which his body couldn’t fight. After 5 weeks we had to say goodbye to our sweet boy.

Newborn boy lying in NICU who didn't make it
Courtesy of Brittany King

Our family gathered around us in our hospital room in the early morning hours of December 23rd. The nurses removed Max’s breathing tube, he took a deep breath and smiled at us. He beat all the odds and breathed for us while we held him close. After 5 long weeks there were no more tubes, no more chords, nothing to keep us from pulling him in close, snuggling him, kissing his face, and holding him like we’d always wanted. His breaths soon became labored. Tyler caressed his cheek and told him we’d be okay, that he could go and we would be fine. But his eye searched ours, as if to be sure. As I held my baby in my arms and Tyler held us both in his, Max smiled at us one last time and took his last great breath.

Mother and father sit on couch holding baby in NICU who they would never bring home
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Despite the grief and pain of our loss, the miracle of Max brought a light to our lives that even death could not shadow. He was a remarkable miracle. He was and continues to be the most beautiful gift in our lives. He is our guardian angel.

Husband and wife kneel of newborn's grave at funeral with crowd behind them
Westbroek Studios

In the years that followed losing Max, we experienced more loss. Two more pregnancies followed, Todd and Faith, which didn’t last beyond the first trimester. Through genetic testing we discovered I carried a balanced translocation of chromosomes #5 and #18. This was the cause of our sweet little babies dying between 9-10 weeks. A balanced translocation means I have a 1 in 8 chance of being able to carry a healthy pregnancy to term. This meant that we had 3 choices for having children: we could continue trying to conceive naturally, knowing there would be more losses; we could do IVF, only using balanced embryos; or we could adopt. Since the beginning of this journey, we had always wanted to adopt more than continue with further fertility treatments. So, at that point we decided to keep trying to conceive and begin looking into adoption.

After a year, I still wasn’t pregnant. We thought about starting the adoption process or looking into agencies, but in all our praying it just never felt right to us. I felt discouraged. I felt hopeless. I didn’t know how we would ever grow our family. By early this year I had resigned myself to accept that we may never bring a child home, and I was trying to be okay with that. But it was breaking my heart.

Then, on Mother’s Day, we got the biggest shock of our lives. A dear, incredible family friend called us to say that she had her great-niece with her. The young woman was pregnant and considering adoption. She wanted to interview us. Our friend wanted to bring her niece over to meet us in about 10 minutes! We ran about the house in excitement and anxiety. This beautiful girl came in the front door, and immediately reached out to hug me.

I will never forget this moment. We held each other tight. Her small bump pressed against my stomach. I fought back tears. I was overcome. It was like I was reunited with a long-lost best friend, no, a sister. My soul knew hers. I distinctly remember thinking, ‘If she picks us, this will be the moment I knew I met the mother carrying my baby.’

After we met a few times, she returned home for the summer. She was here for college from another state. We kept in touch throughout the summer. We fell in love with her. Whether or not her son was to be ours, we just adored this amazing young woman. She met with other families to interview, and while we had faith in God and His plans for this child, we also hoped with all our hearts that he could be ours.

On Sunday, July 8, Tyler and I received the message we had been hoping and praying for. She had chosen us. We were going to have a son! We leapt into each other’s arms, crying and laughing. We dropped to our knees to thank the Lord.

We hurriedly prepared for our baby boy, Wyatt, to arrive in the next couple months. We continued to grow so close with our amazing birth mom. She returned to Utah to give birth. She even went to my own OB who had been through the last 7 years with us. We felt like we were living a dream!

On September 6, 2018, Wyatt Kincaid King was born. My mother-in-law and I were invited to be in the delivery room. We sat, holding each other’s hand, as we watched this amazing young woman bring our sweet Wyatt into our world. To say it was remarkable, is an understatement.

Woman stands holding adopted baby in mirror selfie
Courtesy of Brittany King

‘Are you adoptive mama?,’ the nurse called from across the room. I stood there stunned: tears uncontrollably pooling from my eyes, hands cupped over my mouth trying to calm my overwhelming emotions.

‘Yes!,’ I choked out.

‘Come meet your son,’ she smiled and waved me over.

All I could do was sob as I crossed the room to him. There he was. My baby. He was kicking and crying and I could hardly believe this wasn’t a dream. He was perfect. I reached out, and as he grabbed my finger I heard a soft voice I have come to know so well whisper over my shoulder, ‘Mom, I picked him just for you. He’ll heal what’s left broken in your heart.’ My sweet angel Max. My boys together. My mama heart so full it could have burst from my chest.

Wyatt had 2 days in the hospital with his amazing birth parents. On that Saturday evening, he was released to go home with us. He was ours. I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I wanted our first family picture to be of our entire family. In our favorite, most special place. We drove straight from the hospital to the cemetery. Tyler’s parents met us there, welcoming us with balloons at Max’s grave. Our angel was a big brother. I had a baby in my arms. I could not keep my composure. It was a moment of pure joy.

Mother cries as she holds adopted baby beside red car
Courtesy of Brittany King
Mother kneels holding adopted newborn beside grave of their first born with husband squatting beside her
Courtesy of Brittany King

We are blessed to know both what it feels like to hold a biological child and an adopted child. We are blessed to know there is no difference. Each son is our own. Each one has our hearts entirely.

I never could have imagined this journey when it began 7 years ago. I never could have known what joy we could experience despite so much grief. I never could have imagined how good life could be some day while we were endured loss after loss. ‘This is still a good life’ has remained our mantra throughout the years, because it is really true. Miracles don’t always come the way or when we expect, and some miracles just take a little time.”

Husband kisses wife on cheek as she holds adopted newborn beside his crib in nursery
Westbroek Studios

This is an exclusive story to Love What Matters, for permission to use, email Exclusive@LoveWhatMatters.com. This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Brittany King. You can follow their adoption journey on Instagram and on her blog, This Is Still a Good Life. Do you have a similar experience? We’d love to hear your journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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