The Hardest Adventure

(Just a heads up, parts of this post may be a little graphic but worth the read.)

Hi friends, family, and followers,

We are embarking on a new adventure, but this time it’s going to be a little different than our last big adventure.  It’s definitely been a while since we’ve shared a blog post…February of 2014 to be exact.  To say the least, we’ve been busy.

What I’m about to share with you, is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to put into words.  It’s very personal, somewhat heartbreaking, and joyful at the same time.  We contemplated how, when, and whom we would share this with, but now seemed like the right time.  So please bear with the long post and we just ask for your prayers, support, and any kind thoughts.  However, in order for you to understand the path we’re headed down, we first have to explain a little (or a lot) about the past and what we’ve been through since our last post in 2014.

In 2013 we decided we wanted a different lifestyle, one that would allow us to travel, explore, and most importantly allow us to grow our family when we were ready.  So if you’ve followed the blog, you’ve read and seen all of the adventures that our trip around the world took us on.  What you didn’t see was what happened when we came home at the end of our trip.

Just a couple weeks after we returned home from our big adventure, we found out that I was pregnant.  We were going to be a family of 3! We were both over the moon and terrified at the same time.  The first couple months of the pregnancy were easier than we anticipated with just a little morning sickness and lots of naps…and that’s where the easy part ended.  From three months on, my pregnancy turned into a nightmare including lots of complications; placenta previa, a terrifying trip to the emergency room where we thought we miscarried, a bicornuate uterus that lead to lots and lots of trips to the emergency room in the middle of the night to get shots and medications to stop me from going into pre-term labor.  It was not an easy pregnancy by any means, but it didn’t matter, because we were so blessed to be having a baby.

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The day finally came when I woke up at 4:00 in the morning and went into full on labor.  I labored for about 12 hours with coupled contractions and after 3 hours of pushing, we were rushed into a C-section because the baby was face up and there was meconium in the amniotic fluid.  On September 8th of 2014 at 4:33PM, Liam Bradley Achen made his first appearance weighing in at a whopping 8lbs 9.8oz and 22 inches long!  He was perfect and healthy and Scott got to watch the entire operation (I don’t know how he watched it all, but he did).  We were so blessed to finally be able to hold this little miracle!


Shortly after the c-section I spiked a fever and had indications of an infection.  I was so happy, yet so miserable at the same time.  Scott got to escort Liam to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to be checked out while I got sewn back together.  That first night in the hospital was miserable…joyful, but miserable.

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We spent a couple days in the hospital and then we were on our way home with our new baby boy.  The first couple weeks at home were rough and we didn’t get much sleep and I was in a lot of pain from the c-section, but we thought it was to be expected.

When Liam was 10 days old, we took him to have newborn pictures taken by our good friend Kathy at Brooks Photography.  I didn’t feel well that day.  I felt exhausted and still in a lot of discomfort, but we were so excited to be getting these photographs taken. I toughed through that whole day.

That night, the baby was fast asleep in his crib and so was Scott.  I woke up and just didn’t feel right.  I got up to go to the bathroom and started to bleed profusely.  Scott rushed us to the emergency room in the middle of the night, where I continued to hemorrhage for over 4 hours in an emergency room bed until we were seen by a doctor.  By the time the doctor came to see us, I had lost so much blood that I was in need of a transfusion and was admitted.  At first the doctors thought it was due to the infection I had experienced just after Liam’s birth, so I was put on antibiotics for a couple days.  It didn’t work.  I began to hemorrhage again…and again.  I was taken into surgery to try to remove what they thought were placental fragments left behind from the c-section, which should solve the bleeding…and it did…for a little while.  I hadn’t had any bleeding for a couple days, so they decided I could go home.  We were home for about 10 hours and it happened again, this time worse than the last and I was in unbearable pain!  Back to the emergency room.  We were admitted again where the doctors tried different medications and injections, and to be honest, were a little stumped at why this was happening.  At this point, I was at 13 units of blood that had been transfused and the doctor’s were running out of options.

The doctors came in to have the discussion we were dreading throughout this entire nightmare.  They said at this point there was only one option left…a hysterectomy.  I was at a point where my body could only handle one more blood transfusion before it would start shutting down.  It was my life or my ability to have more babies.  At this point I was in denial and in such a fog (probably Fentanyl induced).  I was trying to grasp for any way to not have to go that route, but both Scott and the rest of my family knew that it was the only way for them not to lose me…baby Liam needed me…they needed me.

So on September 25th, our fourth wedding anniversary, I was wheeled into the operating room one more time.  They re-opened my c-section incision and removed my uterus.  I received that 14th unit of blood during the surgery (at this point my entire body’s blood volume had been replaced), and I escaped with my life.

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It was a very long recovery, both physical and emotional.  It was traumatizing, humiliating and very hard to talk about.  Only some of our closest friends and family even knew that we had been in the hospital for almost a month, let alone that I had almost died.  Our hopes of having a big family, to have more babies was gone.

So we decided to focus all of our love and attention on the one BIG blessing that we got from all of this, and that was that we had our beautiful, healthy Liam Bradley and we had each other.

Since then, we’ve traveled a lot with our family of three.  Liam has been to Dallas, Phoenix, Denver, all over New Mexico, Boston, Baltimore, Hawaii, Paris, London, and Disney World 5 times! He has his own passport and is already collecting stamps.  He is a little traveler by nature (may be a genetic trait…just saying). The hardest part of our trips now, is that he gets lonely.  He wants to play with other kids.  He doesn’t have a partner in crime to experience being a kid with.  He has cousins and he has friends, but at the end of the day, when it’s just us at home, we can tell he is lonely and it’s heartbreaking.

Now a couple years down the road, Liam is starting to ask that question that hurts to hear, “Mama, Liam have it baby sister?” (He repeatedly tells us he wants a baby sister named pants!  He is very definite about it too.  Lol!) We’ve had the baby itch for a while and it’s hard to watch all of our friends having more babies.  To be honest, we are constantly surrounded by new babies and bombarded with social media posts of friends that are expecting.  It is so hard, because we are happy for them yet our hearts are aching at the same time.

After a lot of thought, we have decided that Liam NEEDS a baby brother or sister and we are determined to give him that.  We’ve discussed adoption, but we just aren’t there yet.  We truly believe that it is a calling to be adoptive parents and to be honest, we haven’t felt called to do that.  We get the “why don’t you adopt?” question A LOT from people who know our situation, and to be honest, right now it’s just not in our hearts.  It’s also very expensive and can be a VERY LONG process, especially if you want to adopt a baby.  This may be hard for some people to understand.  Maybe we will get there someday, but maybe not.

So we’ve started exploring other options, and fortunately, when the doctor’s performed my hysterectomy, they left my beautiful ovaries behind.  Which means, that we still have all of the ingredients to make another beautiful baby, we just don’t have the oven!

We have met with a wonderful fertility specialist in Albuquerque and are moving forward with the in vitro fertilization process to create our next baby.  Which brings us to the hardest part of our journey moving forward, the oven part.  We are actively looking for a loving woman to carry our next baby.  If you know anything about the IVF process, you know that it is not a cheap process…and if you know anything about the gestational carrier (surrogacy) process (and most people don’t), you know that it can be an outrageous financial and emotional burden.  We have had a few people that have considered carrying our baby, but ultimately decided that they couldn’t do it, which is understandable.  It’s not an easy decision with a lot of complexities involved and it is A LOT to ask of somebody.

So, we have been praying that God would send us the right person to give us the biggest blessing that we could receive by being a carrier of our baby.  We know that it is a huge undertaking for someone to commit to and it is also requires a lot of faith on our part to trust someone else with caring for our unborn baby.

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This is where we are at in the process, and we just ask that you please keep us in your thoughts and prayers and maybe sometime soon Liam will get to be a big brother.

XOXO,

Steph, Scott, & Liam Achen

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”                                                                                                     2 Corinthians 12:9

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