As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a Mommy. Every year on my Christmas list, at the very top was "a dolly that does something". The more real, the better! I dreamed of the day that I would become a mother. But I never could have dreamed of the way that it would happen.
At only 15 years old, I met the love of my life. By 18, we were married and right after I turned 21 we found out we were expecting! We could not have been more thrilled! Joseph deployed to Iraq in August of 2007. He came home on R&R for 18 days in February of 2008 and we decided that we would "try" for a baby. Our expectations were low since we knew we did not have a lot of time, so you can imagine my shock when I got that beautiful positive pregnancy test a couple of weeks later! We were ecstatic, but that joy quickly faded to fear and devastation as I began bleeding heavily around the sixth week of the pregnancy. My doctor was unable to determine the cause of the bleeding and although there was a strong heartbeat on the ultrasound, she prepared me for the worst. The heavy bleeding continued for three weeks. Finally around nine weeks, it subsided and things were looking hopeful. Two weeks later the bleeding came back, this time until about sixteen weeks. When it finally stopped again, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief! I was well into my second trimester and finally feeling hopeful that this pregnancy was going to result in a healthy baby!
On the Fourth of July, I was 19w5d pregnant. I enjoyed a beautiful day at Whiskeytown lake with my family where we all admired my tiny little bump, everyone got to feel the baby move and I expressed how happy I was and how great I felt. I finally felt like everything was going to be ok and I was so excited about this miraculous life growing inside of me.
The next day, July 5th 2008, is a day that will be forever ingrained into my memory. A day that changed the rest of my life in ways that I never could have imagined. It was going to be a great day. We had planned to go camping out at Shasta Lake with my sister and friends. As I stood up out of bed to start my morning, something completely terrifying and unexpected happened, at just shy of halfway through my pregnancy, my water broke. I ran to the bathroom and cried for my mom. Her and my sister both came running. Fluid was still gushing and I was shaking as I told them what happened. We rushed to the ER where it was confirmed. My membranes had completely ruptured and there was little to no fluid left. The baby's chance of survival was slim to none. I was admitted for the night for observation but was encouraged to terminate the pregnancy for fear that an infection would begin to brew if I did not go into labor on my own. I was told that I would either get an infection or go into labor in 24-48 hours. My OB gave me the option of going home on antibiotics to wait this out. I chose to do so. I knew that I could not terminate a baby that was still very much alive and moving inside of me.
The next 24 days would become some of the slowest of my life. Each morning I would wake up and thank God for another day, praying tirelessly for another, and another, and please God, another. I didn't move for 24 days. I only got up to go to the bathroom. I had two ultrasounds during this time to check fluid levels and there was never any change. The fluid was gone and anything that was rebuilding was leaking out. The goal became to make it to 24 weeks. Even then we were told all of the complications our baby would face if he or she made it. The lifelong disabilities, the possibility of still birth, etc.
On July 29, 2008, a miracle was born.
Once real labor started, there was no stopping it, and at 11:21am, Travis Alex Arledge entered this world, weighing 1lb 3.5oz and measuring 11 inches long at 23 weeks 2 days. He was not making any efforts to breathe but was quickly resuscitated and whisked off to the NICU, where he would spend the night 142 days fighting for his precious life. His tiny body would endure more than the human mind can really understand. Multiple blood transfusions, a collapsed lung, sepsis, pneumonia, ROP/laser eye surgery, two months on three different types of ventilators, CPAP, high flow, and so much more that has been erased from my memory. Miraculously, one week before Christmas, we recieved the best gift: our baby was coming home!!
The last three years have truly been the most blessed years of my life. I have had the honor and priveledge of watching a miracle right before my eyes, each and every day of my life. I have watched Travis beat the odds, all of them, and blossom into a beautiful young boy. And most importantly, a HEALTHY boy. Today Travis is thriving. He is such a blessing to our lives and truly not a day goes by that we don't express to one another what an amazing little boy he is and how blessed we are to have him in our lives.
It wasn't until Travis was 18 months old that we finally got answers to the biggest question we had: WHY? Initially, after everything unfolding with my pregnancy, I was told this was just 'one of those things' and we would probably never know why it happened. Thankfully I asked for my doctor to dig a little deeper. We knew we wanted more children at some point and felt the need to at least try to find an answer. After an MRI, we were told that I had a condition called a bicornuate uterus and that it could not be repaired. We were advised to not have any more children. It was a hard pill to swallow and we decided to seek a second opinion in the form of a fertility specialist. At our consultation, the fertility specialist took one look at the MRI and said that I DID, in fact, have a defect in my uterus, however it appeared to be septate rather than bicornuate and this could be repaired with a rather simple surgery. We were ecstatic and scheduled the surgery immediately. On June 10, 2010, I had surgery to repair my uterus. After the surgery we were told it was very successful but that because the septum was so large and went all the way to my cervix that there was a risk of my cervix being weakend and I would need to be followed very closely in any future pregnancies. We were hopeful and relieved and thus began a new chapter in our lives....