It makes me proud and a bit emotional to be able to write about this today. There are some moments that we mark as turning points in our lives; getting married, going on a mission, graduating from school, etc. All of which are amazing and change the trajectory of how we all live. There is an experience though that trumps most of all other moments and that's becoming a dad. Danielle and I have had quite the journey into this moment coming to pass in our lives. She obviously tells our story a lot better than I do but I don't think I tell the husband side of the story very often.
To tell this story right I have to introduce you to the amazing woman that I am married to. Danielle and I met in high school and after many attempts I finally caught her eye and we started to date. I loved every minute we were together in high school. I took her to every school dance of mine except one and we spent every moment we could together. She knew how to make me smile and laugh like no one I had ever met before. She was strong and confident and knew how to make every day seem better when she was around. She was the happy in my ness as it were.We spent every minute we could together, even when there were bumps in the road. One of those bumps was a medical issue that came up during Danielle's senior year of high school. It was a scary time for her and for many reasons an even scarier time for me. What is 16 year old boyfriend supposed to say when her doctor tells her that due to her own body she may never be able to have children down the road? I worked hard to comfort her and we got through that time together. Danielle continued to be the light of my life and is the reason I was able to filter through high school and serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Cambodia. I was nervous leaving such an amazing catch behind for two whole years while I got to go to a far off place I had never heard of to teach people about Jesus Christ. We knew though that if we stuck together and did what Heavenly Father asked of us we would be blessed and our relationship would only grow through the experience. For two years she wrote me every week, always telling me how much she loved me and how proud of me she was. She was my light in dark times and my hope when sometimes there seemed like there wasn't any. Eventually I returned home from Cambodia and we were reunited after being apart for what seemed like forever. Days after getting home I quickly had to get my act together as she was very excited about the thought of getting married. Throwing worries of money and giving time to our families to prepare for a wedding to the wind I proposed a few weeks later and we were married 6 weeks after that.That marked one of the happiest days of my life. I remember that repeatedly throughout that day we turned to each other in amazement that it finally happened.
Danielle and I went on for many more months living the quintessential newly wed life. We traveled, we partied, we burned many homemade meals in our small little apartment, and had lots of opportunities for other extracurricular activities together as well. Said activities eventually led to us having a very serious conversation one day. We had been talking for many weeks about when to start having a family. Many prayers led us to the conclusion that because of Danielle's medical history we should start as soon as possible. It was while we were in the temple that we sat together and talked about how hard it was going to be. Together though we decided that we shouldn't put anything off because who knows how long it would take for us to finally have success. After that night we were officially trying, which is always an awkward conversation to have with others. Are you trying? .....someone would ask.....what exactly are you asking here? Are my wife and I enjoying each others company more frequent than before? You betcha! lol Anyway, a few short weeks later we got the surprise of a life time. I was just waking up on a Saturday and Danielle came running into our bedroom pregnancy test in hand. It was positive and we jumped up and down together so excited. We sat and talked about what this would mean for our lives and holy crap how would we ever afford it? We went over names and for the next week kept it a secret from everyone. Long story very short there, it just wasn't our time to have a baby then. We lost our lil miracle and it made a few days feel like a few months. I remember during the miscarriage watching Danielle stay so strong in such a hard time. For me, it was very scary time that helped me gain a strong testimony of the priesthood. When we got home from the hospital Danielle had to pass what would have been our lil guy. she did so and it was a very intense process. I had never seen her in so much pain and I had no idea what to do. I frantically called my mom and she advised me to give her a blessing. I called my brother in law, Regan, and he came right over and we gave her a priesthood blessing. It was unreal how quickly the pain subsided and she was able to fall asleep. Heavenly Father was watching out for us that day and helped us get through that very dark day.
We spent the next weeks going to the temple and trying hard to find the lesson in the trial that we had experienced. How could this lil miracle not happen? Weren't we doing the right thing? This is where things got to be really difficult as a husband. Over the next few months Danielle became very persistent in trying to get pregnant again. She knew within her that there was a little spirit waiting in Heaven to come into our home. Months passed and we became very accustomed to the monthly negative sign on the pregnancy test. Things were just not happening the way we wanted them to. As a husband, being on the other side of the door and listening to your wife pray to ask why she was being punished was a very humbling experience. I was feeling the hurt but not so much for myself, rather more for her. It must have been so hard for her to know that the answer to her prayers was no, for now. I spent many nights wondering how could I be there for her and help her see Heavenly Father's bigger picture? There were many weeks of praying and fasting to follow which lead me to find the answer. I came up with a system to help her cope with the many trials around her. She is in sales professionally and reaching incentive goals is something that motivates her more than anything else. So, together we came up with a list. One of the hardest things for her was seeing everyone around her get pregnant without any difficulty. We came up with a list of people getting pregnant and I told her that if the list got up to 20 people we could go on a cruise. We got pretty close to the 20 but fell short. This helped her immensely get to the next step. The next step, we decided, after the many months of trying on our own was that we were going to employ the help of professional fertility doctors to get things going.
We researched many doctors in town and whittled down the selection to two doctors. We went with one and had a pretty terrible experience there. Upon meeting the doctor he misdiagnosed Danielle without any kind of testing and told us that we had what was called "unexplained infertility"....whatever that means. Though we felt bothered by this doctor, his payment arrangements made it cheaper to go through with a procedure called 'IUI'. During this process they take the guy's stuff and put it in the location most likely to create a successful environment for conceiving. It's much cheaper than other procedures but is only 30% likely to yield a successful pregnancy. Going through this process we had high hopes and unfortunately they were unsuccessful. This was very hard on Danielle. After watching her spend the next few weeks so sad I decided I had had enough of this baby thing for a while. Being so sad all of the time was not what life was about. We talked about our current situation and after going to the temple we decided that it just wasn't time yet to have a baby. We decided that we were going to take a year off. We were going to work to save money for the next procedure which is called 'IVF'. This procedure carries a very burdensome price tag but is 85% successful. During the next year we had so much fun being together. It was so comforting to know that every month did not bring another negative pregnancy test. Eventually though, time came for us to get back to business.
We eventually made our way to a new fertility doctor, Dr. Bruce Shapiro of the Fertility Center of Las Vegas. From the minute we walked into this place we knew we had found our miracle maker. During the consultation he put to rest all the myths we had hear previously. He explained that there actually is no such thing as 'unexplained infertility' and was very thorough about explaining the entire 'IVF' process. During this procedure they actually harvest eggs from Danielle and take the eggs and sperm and create a living embryo in a petri dish. They then insert this embryo into Danielle and hope that it attaches to her uterus. Sounds pretty simple right? More or less it kind of was. Throughout the next few months Dr. Shapiro worked his magic and eventually we finally got to the implanting stage (for more detailed information about this please visit Danielle's blog @ tysanddani.blogspot.com). We decided that there are few moments that people get to treasure in life and announcing you are pregnant as a surprise is one of them. Because of this we chose to keep the implanting process a secret between just us. In the back of my mind this was so that if it didn't work Danielle wouldn't have to relive that moment while explaining what happened to various people. It was kinda fun having our little secret. The day of the implantation we went into the office and Danielle was very nervous. She tends to find reasons to be nervous even if there is no reason to be nervous just so she can be nervous, so this was not out of the ordinary. They set everything up and had me put on a hair net and booties and allowed me to come back for the procedure. We had chosen to implant two embryos and as they brought the embryos in everything came very surreal. Dr. Shapiro looked Danielle and I straight in the eye very seriously and told us that if we went through with this we were pretty much guaranteed to have twins. We confirmed with him that was what we wanted to do and he went through with it. It took about 30 seconds and then the wait time began. We had to wait for 2 weeks, as any pregnant couple does, to find out if the embryos had indeed attached. It was a long couple of weeks but we finally got the call and it was positive results! Danielle was so excited. She made me a dinner with a baby theme....baby back ribs, drinks in baby bottles...the works to tell me we had positive results. We were so excited by the news! Finally, after 3 years the stinkin test finally said positive :) We said to ourselves, what do we do? Do we tell people? Do we keep this a secret till the baby is born? Do we shout it from the rooftops? Eventually we decided the best thing to do was to tell our parents at 8 weeks after we heard the heart beat and then tell the world (i.e. facebook) at 12 weeks. It felt like an eternity but 8 weeks finally came. We made a video and gathered all of our families together via skype and in person and showed it to them. We received an overwhelming feeling of love and support for our families. It was definitely humbling to see how excited everyone was for us. We had asked so many prayers from everyone and they finally were answered. We are definitely very lucky to have them as such a get support system. 4 short weeks later we sent that movie out into cyberspace on Facebook and even more kind and loving words were sent our way. The video itself sky rocketed and eventually received over 700 views. That may not seem like a lot to youtube professionals but I don't think I even know 700 people so it was a lot for us. We spent many nights talking about how loved we felt and how grateful we were for Heavenly Father for giving us not only this little miracle but also so many wonderful loved ones who have hoped and prayed with us.
Now that we knew we were having a baby the big question became, is it a boy or a girl? Many theories were presented and Danielle and I both had our suspicions. I really wanted to have a boy cuz what guy doesn't but I knew it was going to be a girl. In Danielle's family there are 6 nieces and 1 nephew....I knew this trend would most likely continue with us. Danielle had strong feelings that it was going to be a boy and because there were so many opinions about it we decided that we were going to throw a party so everyone could find out what it was going to be all at once. On the internet it's called a "gender reveal party" and it was a lot of fun. When Danielle and I went to the doctors office to find out the gender we told the doctor to not tell us the gender if they could see it, but rather write the gender down and seal it in an envelope. He did so and we gave the envelope to my mom. Her charge was to fill a box of balloons with the color of the gender, blue for boy or pink for girl. We invited friends and family to come and watch us open the box to find out what color the balloons would be. We had everyone come dressed in the color they thought the baby was going to be...I wore pink and Danielle wore blue. We were so nervous to open the box and find out. We did and PINK balloons came flying out of the box! It was so crazy, we were going to have a little girl. Secretly, though Danielle were blue, I know this was a dream come true for her. A little girl to dress up and put big bows in her hair. We embraced as we found out the news and it was hard not to just be overcome with just how surreal this all was....this actually was going to happen...we were going to be parents.
The excitement continued for weeks until we hit a bit of a speed bump. Turns out, our baby wanted to join the world a little bit too soon. Danielle was at work one day and she had felt an immense amount of pressure....whatever that means. She listened to her body and went in to the doctor's office to see what was going on. At this point we were 24 weeks along....the baby was about 1 pound and not ready to be born yet. Without getting too TMI, the doctor told her that had she not come into be checked that day she would have had the baby that night. They scheduled an emergency surgery that night to sew the baby up inside of her (referred to as a cerclage) so she wouldn't come out prematurely. As you can imagine, this was a bit of a curve ball. Luckily our doctor is a stud and was able to perform the procedure with ease. However, this procedure required Danielle to go on full bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy. Now for all of you established type folks with your fancy degrees and big old houses, you may not understand at this point why I became very nervous as a husband. We were basically saying goodbye to 50% of our income just like that. How was I going to pay for this? How in the world would we survive this financially? It was a very worrisome night for me. Danielle and I prayed many nights to know that having her stay home was the right thing to do. We felt that the Lord would provide a way as He always had done. So, Danielle went on official sick leave and was home in bed on official doctor ordered bed rest for the next 2 months. For the next few weeks Danielle was only allowed to go up and down the stairs to take a shower once a day and was allowed to come to the doctors office for her appointments but nothing else. Needless to say we became very acquainted with various TV shows and pintrest projects. It was definitely fun for me to be going to work full time, school, getting groceries, cleaning the whole house, doing laundry, and getting anything Danielle needed all by myself for a while. I came to have a great appreciation for what moms do every day of their lives. Luckily, Danielle's mom also came to stay with us during this time which was an immense help and was especially fun during the heated election season as she is an avid Obama supporter....(jk Julie, just wanted to see if you were reading this please don't hate me).
Through crossing this off my bucket list I fulfill a life long desire to be a dad. Going forward I look forward to all of the fun memories and hard lessons that will be gained through the crazy journey of parenting. If any of you out there are on the bubble of whether or not you should take the plunge and be a parent I highly recommend it. To me, the process was worth every penny, prayer and tear. I sure do love our little Laila and I look forward to many more learning experiences to come. The below video highlights everything happened during Laila's journey to Earth. I have been told it's quite the tear jerker.