‘It seems your water has broken, baby has no fluid left.’ I looked at my husband, full of tears. I squeezed his hand and took a deep breath. I didn’t notice I was holding it in the entire time.’

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“My husband and I are the proud parents of a 5-year-old little boy who is our world. Getting to parenthood for us was a little harder than most. We struggle with infertility and our first son was conceived through IUI. When we decided to have another one, we decided to move on IVF after three failed IUI attempts.

Pregnant woman smiles in mirror selfie with hand on her hip
Ashleigh Olson

We were thrilled it worked on the first try. I couldn’t wait to experience pregnancy again. I was told early on my hcg levels weren’t rising properly and it could signify an ectopic pregnancy, when the embryo grows in a Fallopian tube. So I went to my first ultrasound appointment to find out our embryo started to grow an amniotic sac but failed to grow much after that. I should have been further along than what they were seeing. I remember the tech saying ‘there’s an empty sac and you are measuring 5 weeks.’ I was devastated but I stayed strong. We would try again. I was told to come back in 10 days to see if there were any changes and if I needed help to move the miscarriage process along. The next 10 days seemed to drag on. I arrived at my follow up appointment, even though I didn’t want to go and almost didn’t. I told the tech ‘I know what you are going to see and I’m ready to hear it.’ She starts the ultrasound and immediately says ‘well there’s a baby and a heartbeat!’ What?! She turned the monitor to me, and there she was, a small bean of a baby with a flickering heartbeat! Our doctor told us our embryo split in two, one didn’t grow and our healthy growing baby hid behind the empty sac! I was shocked, and excited. I couldn’t wait to tell family and friends the incredible news.

Pregnant woman stands in hospital room while holding her young son with her husband
Ashleigh Olson

Fast forward to my 20 week anatomy scan, the tech seemed concerned. She asked me some odd questions, ‘have you had any bleeding or fluid loss?’ She asked. She excused herself from the room. That’s when I had a flashback. I was around 15 weeks when i had a small gush of fluid. I never thought anything of it because I had no pain or contractions. A few minutes later, a doctor came in, ‘it seems your water has broken, baby has no fluid left’ he said. They sent me down to labor and delivery, where they told me my baby wouldn’t survive without fluid and I could consider termination as an option or continue with the pregnancy and see what happens. My chances of making it to viability were very slim.

I felt numb. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I didn’t know if I was strong enough to do this. My husband was by my side in a heartbeat, he held my hand and said ‘let’s fight and give this baby a chance!’ I knew in my heart I needed to fight for this little life inside me, it was alive, it was thriving and its heart was beating. I couldn’t decide it’s fate. We decided to continue with my pregnancy and to fight. I put myself on a regimen of vitamins, stocked up on foods and liquids that were known to fight off infection, and put myself on bedrest at home. I would start seeing a high risk ob and would be admitted to the hospital at 24 weeks. I felt determined and also relieved to have a game plan for our baby.

Pregnant woman sits on couch in hospital room while her son and husband touch her stomach
Ashleigh Olson

At 24 weeks, I was admitted to the hospital to start antibiotics to prevent an infection and steroids to help the baby’s lungs. I spent almost 9 weeks in the hospital, which included Thanksgiving and Christmas. I made close relationships with nurses I still talk to today. I couldn’t have done all those weeks without their kind words and friendships. Nurses would visit me and hang out with me, share stories and keep me company. One of my favorite nurses arranged a special Christmas morning for my family and I, who got to spend the night with me. On Christmas morning, it was a blessing to see my son wake up.

The entire time I spent in the hospital, I was told how brave I was and how strong I was. ‘You are such a strong mama!’ It made me feel good, but at the same time I kind of thought it wasn’t true. Yes, I was strong  but it was because I had to be, for this baby growing inside me. I was doing what a mother had to do for her child and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat to give her life.

At 32 weeks and 4 days- 6:40am, Stella Sue was born weighing 3lbs 12oz. I was shaking uncontrollably during the C-section. Nerves got the best of me. Having my husband by my side holding my hand helped me. We didn’t know what we were having, and to hear ‘it’s a girl and she’s so cute!’ made me smile. When she came out, she didn’t make a peep, she was really sick. Her lungs were flat and wouldn’t inflate. She struggled to breathe. I was immediately brought up to see her, to hold her foot and tell her I love her. The doctors told us they were trying a different medicine to help her lungs. If it didn’t help, we would say goodbye to our daughter.

Woman sits in chair while newborn lays sleep on her chest with blanket over her
Ashleigh Olson

I’m not religious, but I never prayed that hard in my entire life. I prayed for someone to save her. For the medicine to help. I felt numb all over again and couldn’t believe this was happening. Begging and sobbing I prayed. Within minutes, her oxygen levels rose. ‘She’s getting better! It’s working.’ I remember the nurses saying. I looked at my husband, full of tears. I squeezed his hand and took a deep breath. I didn’t notice I was holding it in the entire time. Her color restored. Each day she got better. Each week she conquered a new task.

Father smiles as he sits in NICU with newborn asleep on his chest
Ashleigh Olson

Doctors and science can only say so much, but your fight and your strength say so much more. Believe in yourself. Fight for what you believe in and never give up, no matter how hard it will be. You’ll look back on how far you have come with such admiration and trust in yourself.

My baby almost miscarried twice, but miraculously survived.  I am proof and she is proof, that miracles do happen.”

Close up of baby whose lungs wouldn't inflate laying in NICU asleep with tubes up her nose
Ashleigh Olson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ashleigh Olson of Worcester, Massachusetts. Submit your story here. For our best stories, subscribe to our free email newsletter.

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