You may remember Katie and JD from a post awhile back. In that post, if you recall, I alluded to something big coming for them in the future and that greater things were yet to come. Have no fear folks – the future has arrived and greater things have come!
Katie and JD’s beautiful snowflake baby, Judah, came into this world on Saturday, February 15th. He was roughly 10 weeks early and came in weighing a whopping 3 lbs 1 oz and was 15.5 inches long.
Let’s rewind about 7 years…
These two are special in so many ways. For starters, they got married on Katie’s birthday, in June 2005, after a mere 7 months of knowing each other. (When you know, you know.) After about six months of being married, they started casually trying for babies. After awhile, when traditional measures weren’t working, Katie decided to have some tests run. She knew in the back of her mind something may not be right. She knew JD had been diagnosed at 9 months old with Rhabdomyosarcoma and endured chemotherapy from 9 months of age until he was almost 3 years old.
Knowing this didn’t make the news that came in January 2008 any easier to hear. JD was sterile, which meant it would be impossible for them to conceive a child that was part of Katie, AND part of JD.
What do you do when you hear news like that?
They went through every emotion you could ever imagine – sadness, anger, disappointment, anxiety, despair, everything. But they did it together and that made them stronger.
Over the next year or two, Katie and JD considered their options including adopting through the foster care system, embryo adoption, and domestic adoption. They also were hopeful for a biological child via various new, emerging techniques, but none ever were fruitful. Never in their struggle to find the right option for them did they consider a sperm donor using Katie’s eggs though. Both agreed it wasn’t right for them. They always felt like it was “their diagnosis together”, not simply JD’s diagnosis. How powerful is that?
In early 2010 is when they started to seriously think about embryo adoption. Coincidentally, Judah was conceived around the same time. With embryo adoption you’re adopting an embryo already a few days old created from egg and sperm from another male and another female.
Once Katie and JD realized embryo adoption was the route that made sense for them, they applied to adopt just as you would in a traditional adoption. In January 2012, they received the amazing news they were matched with two embryos. The couple they would be adopting from had already completed IVF treatments and had remaining embryos that had been frozen. Katie would transfer these two embryos into her uterus in hopes they’d survive and she would become pregnant, potentially with twins.
But wait, transferring the embryos is not a straightforward thing – it comes with many rounds of medicine in preparation. First she took medicine to stop her period. Then she took injections of Lupron in her stomach once a day. A couple weeks before the transfer of the embryos she had to take shots of Progesterone two times a day in the butt and took estrogen pills daily. The progesterone shots would continue until she found out she’s pregnant or not, post transfer.
The transfer of the two embryos happened in June 2012. One embryo didn’t get transferred at all as it didn’t survive the thaw process. The other was transferred fine. A couple weeks of anxious waiting determined the 2nd embryo didn’t implant and Katie was not pregnant.
Let’s pause here.
Wow. The strength these two people have is unimaginable because that didn’t stop them.
They were matched again in January 2013 with four embryos. Queue the medicine again – medicine to stop her period, Progesterone one time a week in the butt + suppositories for 10 weeks, tons of blood work, and lots of ultrasounds.
Katie had two embryos transferred on August 6th 2013. Two weeks later she found out SHE WAS PREGNANT WITH ONE! The elation, the excitement, the nervousness – all of that wrapped up into a little package due April 28th, 2014.
Finally their years long journey of having a baby was coming to fruition!
But the struggles weren’t over.
At roughly 29 weeks of pregnancy, Katie entered the hospital and was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia. Her liver and kidneys were failing and if she didn’t deliver the baby ASAP, she would compromise her life and Judah’s life. She had no option. Judah came into the world a fighter 10 weeks early via emergency c-section.
He was born on a Saturday, but Katie was only able to be wheeled in her bed to look at him from the hallway the day he was born. The next day she was allowed to touch him, but still not hold him. She couldn’t actually hold him until the Thursday after he was born.
As Katie recovered and her preeclampsia symptoms subsided, Judah was fighting his own battles in the NICU. Katie was in the hospital for 10 days and Judah was in the NICU for six weeks. During those six weeks he had a hole in his heart, he needed assistance breathing, he had chronic lung disease, and he had a feeding tube up until the last week he was in the hospital.
During his 5th week in the NICU, that feisty little boy ripped out his feeding tube. The nurses took it as a sign and let him keep it out to see how he would do on his own. That was the beginning of thinking about him coming home as he was trying to tell them he was ready.
Judah came home on 3/31 and continues to get bigger and stronger everyday. These pictures are of him at 13 weeks old or 2.5 weeks old if you consider his true due date.
I realize this is a long story, but it’s one I’ve been waiting to tell since I got the phone call from Katie in January 2008 and heard her heart ripping apart when she found out her and JD couldn’t have their own biological baby. As they continue to watch Judah grow, my hope is those 2008 feelings become murkier and harder to feel.
Don’t worry though, they aren’t done. They’ll go through this journey again. They still have two embryos left and Judah definitely needs a brother or sister!
Katie and JD – I love you both, and now Judah so much! He is so lucky to have you two as parents. Your journey helps me to see so very clearly what is important in life and how to handle challenges with grace. Thank you for being so amazing and inspiring to me and others everyday!