Thursday, September 5, 2013


today has been exactly one month since ivory was born. it feels like the longest month of my life, yet i can't believe it's already been that long. contradicting, i know. 

i don't know why i feel the need to post about ivory. she is a sacred part of my life that i will always cherish. i don't know if i feel the need to write this for someone else, who may be going through a trying time, or for me, for the future. i don't want to forget what i (we) went through. i'm afraid of forgetting. i'm afraid one day i won't cry.  i'm afraid of forgetting how she smelled or how she felt as i held her or those precious moments she would just stare at tanner and i. i think about her constantly. she is truly the best thing that has ever happened to me.
 i love my sweet ivory.

my story started aug. 1st. 

thursday: i was 28 weeks and 4 days pregnant. tanner had been in india for 5 days. he was supposed to be gone a total of 11 days opening an eye clinic that proof donated to. i joked with tanner before he left that he could be a daddy by the time he came home. he didn't think that was funny. i don't either anymore. it was a thursday morning and i had just dropped my brother off at the airport. i went about running errands when i suddenly got really tired. i went home and took a 2 hour nap. i woke up and had some pains in my lower abdomen. i had been having bad pains for several days that would wake me up in the middle of the night, but just figured my stomach was stretching and things were moving around. i ignored them and left the house to finish my errands.  i was getting an oil change and i couldn't get comfortable standing up or sitting down. i started having lower back pain as well. my ab pains turned into menstrual like cramping and i started googling on my phone if cramps were normal during the 3rd trimester. it was. so i continued to ignore them. then i started googling belly bands that support the belly because i figured the extra weight was causing the pain in my lower pelvic region. anyway, my oil change was done and i went to get a car wash. it was then, as i was sitting in the car, that the pain got worse. this pain didn't seem like something i should be experiencing this early. instead of finishing my errands, i went home to take a warm bubble bath. the pains got pretty intense during my bath.. but.. i was catching up on the bachelorette on hulu so i stayed in the tub and cried through the pains so i could finish. after 2 hours in the tub, and the pains getting closer together and more intense, i finally realized i could be having contractions. i googled one last time about cramping and scrolled down the page to find "preterm labor symptoms." i had three out of the four symptoms listed. 

i had a wedding to film the next day. tanner was in india. 
i could not be in labor. 

 i called my doctor and he said the only way to really know was to go to the hospital. so i drove myself to the hospital, in hopes of getting a shot to stop the contractions and go back home. (this happened to me at 22 weeks preggo)

i checked myself into the hospital at 8:45 p.m. and the nurse brought me back to a little room. i told her my symptoms and she gave me a gown to change into. she really wasn't giving me the time of day. i'm sure she sees this all the time, a first time mother, who freaks out over every little thing.. same old, same old. she strapped me up to the heart monitor and ivory's heartbeat sounded great. she even had the hiccups. (funny the little things you remember) she also strapped me up to the contraction monitor and it was clear as day i was having contractions. the nurse told me she was going to give me a shot and i'd be sent home in a half hour. cool, i thought. i can still film my wedding tomorrow. but, she said she was going to call my doctor to see if he wanted to do anything else. she came back into the room and said she needed to check if i was dilated. as she was checking me, her eyes got big, and she said "oh my goodness honey, your 3 cm. dilated. you're not leaving this hospital for at least 48 hours." i started bawling and she left the room to call my doctor. 

a million things ran through my mind. 

the nurse came back and her cold shoulder turned into a warm shoulder that she let me cry on. she turned into a mother and i ended up really liking her. they wheeled my bed into a bigger room and starting poking me with needles. then they started asking me a lot of questions. do you have a birth plan? no. have you taken any birthing classes? no. did you bring your hospital bag? no. is your husband here? no. i wanted to tell them they don't need to bother asking me these questions because i was not prepared to have a baby yet. i thought i had three more months! 

i texted my bride telling her i couldn't make it to her wedding and i'd refund her money. thankfully, she understood. then i called my sister in law and found out she was in utah. i called my mother in law and she was 2 hours away.  my husband was on the other side of the world. i emailed tanner a short email saying "urgent. call me asap. in labor. not joking." literally, all my family in the boise area was out of town and my immediate family lives 5 hours away in utah. 

back to the hospital.. they put me on magnesium through my IV. they explained to me that magnesium is a muscle relaxer that will stop my contractions. sounded great to me because the contractions were kicking my butt. then they put a pack of ice under my tush to numb it up for a steroid shot that would help develop ivory's lungs. even after numbing my bum, the shot was painful! then they informed me i would be getting it again 24 hours later. fun.

 i was put on bed-rest until i delivered. they weren't sure when that would be. they said it could be days or months.. but i would be on bed-rest until then. elevated bed-rest i might add. being tilted back got old really fast. they did this to keep pressure off my cervix. i told my nurses i had to use the bathroom and they let me use a bedside commode. talk about all your pride going out the window. when i got out of bed, i thought my water broke. i felt a gush of liquid run down my legs. i told my nurses and they checked me and cleaned me up. it was blood. still don't know what that was all about. then i got an ultra sound to find out ivory was breech and was told if (when) i delivered it would be via c-section. i was assured many times that if she was born, everything would be fine with all the medical advancements.

friday, aug. 2nd: i had a restless sleep with nurses coming in and out of my room all night. i remember watching Full House around 4 in the morning for a few minutes and thinking it was super corny. which was weird because i've always loved Full House. then next thing i knew it was 8 in the morning. i called my nurse in because i needed to use the bathroom again. she helped me out of bed and stepping on the ground was the weirdest feeling i've ever had. i felt like a thousand pound noodle. i nearly collapsed to the floor because i had no feeling in my legs and shuffling my feet was nearly impossible. it's hard to explain.. needless to say, getting out of bed, just to go to the bathroom, became a danger and they considered putting a catheter in me. i. did. not. want. one.

my father in law came about 8:30 in the morning with tanner's cousin to give me a blessing. i was so grateful to see my father in law. it was nice having some family there. my mother in law came about an hour later. they stayed with me pretty much the rest of the time we were in the hospital. 

the magnesium was going strong through my body now. i couldn't keep my eyes open because they were so swollen and my vision was blurry. i threw up everything, even water. i would throw up every time i tried moving from side to side. while my in laws were talking to me, i needed to throw up so i grabbed a bag and threw up in front of them... and wet the bed at the same time. i'm telling you, that magnesium gives you zero bodily control. that's when i got the catheter. dang it. i hated that thing but ivory had a lot of fun kicking it around. i lost more and more control over my body throughout the day. moving from one side to the other became an impossible task. it took every ounce of energy in me to move an inch. basically, magnesium sucks. 

tanner called me later in the afternoon and said he got my email and was at the airport trying to change his flight. i felt so bad for him. he said he was having a hard time because their customer service was horrible. he called again 8 hours later and still hadn't found a flight. he said the internet connection was super bad and no one there was helpful. my in laws were able to find him something and got him booked to fly home. its two full days of travel so we were all worried that he could miss the birth of his first child.

my in laws then told me they also booked a flight for my mom so she was coming the next day. i was so happy to hear that. 

the rest of friday was uneventful and i slept through most of it. i had people from the NICU, a lactation consultant, someone to inform me about c-sections, and several other people come visit to explain what i was to expect. i was so drugged up, i don't remember a thing most of them said. i kept falling asleep but thankfully, my mother in law was there and tuned me in later. she stayed with me that night and i slept pretty good. well, i slept good after the pain from my second bum shot went away.

saturday, aug. 3rd: they slowly started weening me off the magnesium. i was glad because i was tired of throwing up. but, i still was having contractions so they gave me shots instead. my mom came that afternoon and i had a few visitors from friends that day.  my relief society presidency stopped by with a bucket full of chocolate. that was awesome. i was feeling pretty good on saturday.

sunday, aug. 4th: they completely stopped my magnesium sunday afternoon but now i could feel how achy my body was from not moving. i hated the catheter before, but now i really hated it.. it felt like getting a pap smear that never ended. me and my poor nurse that morning got off on the wrong foot. i complained to her how much my body was hurting and how uncomfortable the catheter was. i didn't think i was being super rude, but she didn't seem to like me. i told her later i was sorry and we had a little heart to heart. she ended up sponge bathing me (pride is completely gone at this point anyway) doing my hair, changing my sheets, changing my night gown, and getting a foam pad to put on my bed. you wouldn't believe how good all of this felt. i don't know how people do bed-rest for long periods of time. mine was only three days and it felt like an eternity. tanner called me that afternoon and said he was now in the states and would be at the hospital around 12:30 in the morning. at this point i learned i was 100% effaced. this worried me because it seemed like no matter what we tried to stay pregnant, my body wanted to have this baby. i truly was ready to let her come, but of course i wanted tanner to be there. my doctor assured me that no matter when i had ivory, she would be okay. her organs were all developed and she was nearly 3 pounds so with medical advancements, she would be fine. he said she would be in the NICU for 2-3 months but there was nothing to worry about.

monday, aug. 5th: tanner got to the hospital around 12:30 in the morning. that was a joyous moment! i've never been happier to see him. the baby hadn't come yet so things were good! poor guy was so tired though. all we had in the room was a chair that pulled out into a "bed." we both fell asleep pretty quick. i woke up around 8 and called the nurse in because i felt wet.. again, i thought my water broke. she checked me, and it was blood, again. she seemed a little more worried this time. she cleaned me up and was telling me how they were thinking about moving me into antepartum. what was antepartum i asked? she said it was a new room where i would be until i delivered.. which could be weeks from now. she was telling me how they have craft night and massage night and it can be fun. i didn't want to go there. i didn't want to be in the hospital on bed rest for a long time. i didn't want to get my blood drawn several times a day and continue eating hospital food. truthfully, at this point, all i wanted was my baby.  i felt selfish feeling this way because i knew the longer i could keep her in me, the better it was for her.

a couple of hours went by and same thing happened again.. i felt wet and called the nurse in. it was more blood and she finally called my doctor to come to the hospital. she told me she thinks i'm going to be having my baby. i couldn't wipe the smile off my face. i was SO happy. my doctor came to see what was going on. it was about 11:30 in the morning and tanner was finally waking up. my doctor checked me and said i had dialed to a 5. his worry now was that my water would break and ivory would get stuck so he made the decision to do a c-section right away. things got real, real fast. nurses flooded my room, prepping tanner and i for what was going to happen. they pumped a high dosage of magnesium through my IV to help with ivory's delivery. that high dosage made my arm feel like it was on fire. i honestly had images going through my mind of bella from twilight when she gave birth to her vampire-child haha. i looked over at tanner and he looked kind of in shock. they wheeled me into the room where the surgery took place. they sat me up to drink that nasty stuff and for my spinal shot. i honestly didn't feel the shot at all. but for some reason, i couldn't stop coughing. they lied me back down to get everything else ready. the numbness was kicking in but i started to feel sick from the drugs and coughing so hard. tanner came in at this point and i told him i was going to throw up.. they quickly put something by my face so i could puke. then they gave me an ice chip to help with the coughing. that ice chip was heaven. i kept asking for another one but they couldn't give it to me. the coughing finally stopped and all of a sudden, i felt soooooo good. i remember lying there and thinking about how good i felt. obviously, the drugs. i realized there was music playing softly in the room. i listened to my doctors just chatting about life. i looked over at tanner, who still looked in shock haha. he had been taking pictures which i think helped calm him.

 then, the best thing of my life happened. i heard the faintest cry. it was the most beautiful noise i had ever heard. it was so quiet and weak. the doctor held ivory over the curtain so i could see her.

ivory gwen dame.
2 lbs. 14 oz. 15.5 inches long.
10 fingers, 10 toes. a head full of wavy strawberry blonde hair. 

 instant love.

(she got bruised from the way she was in my stomach) 

i had already loved her since the moment i knew we wanted a family. but this love was a different love. it was strong and powerful. i couldn't keep my eyes off her. i watched as the nurses cleaned her up. my doctor told me for being a baby so premature, she was a 9 out of 10 for being healthy. she looked bigger than i thought she would be. she even had a double chin. i was told she would be whisked away right after she was born, but watching her get cleaned up felt much longer to me than i anticipated. i was happy i got to see her that long. tanner (finally) looked so happy. i watched him look at ivory with such loving, proud eyes.

 everything honestly seemed in slow motion to me. but then, i was told it was time for them to bring ivory to the NICU. they finished putting me back together and wheeled me into a new room where i could rest. after about an hour, they wheeled me into the NICU where i got to see my baby girl.

ivory looked so tiny and helpless hooked up to all the machines. emotion overtook me and i started to cry. but i was so happy. i got to touch her sweet hand and feel her skin through the "incubator." tanner was by my side. this was my family. my perfect little family. it was a beautiful moment.

unfortunately, i couldn't stay long because i felt sick. we went back to my room where i rested. i didn't get to see ivory again until the next day.

monday, aug. 6th: i finally got the catheter taken out of me when i woke up. i also got to stand up on my own. this was much harder than i thought it would be. but it felt so good. i shuffled slowly to the bathroom where i finally got to go by myself, like a big girl ;) tanner was a great cheerleader. my next goal was to be able to walk to the NICU.  tanner was the cutest dad and was with ivory every moment he could be. he came to check on me occasionally and report things. he said he got to change her diaper... he was so proud about that.  i was out of it this day though.. i remember wanting so badly to be with ivory, but my body wouldn't allow it. i was tired and achy and drugged up. finally during the late afternoon, i was ready to go see my daughter. they gave me a wheelchair to walk with and then i could sit when i needed to. i felt like i saw 50 years into the future, with me shuffling down the hall in my slippers and nightgown, holding onto a wheelchair, with tanner by my side. i loved this image. i made it to the elevator and then had to sit down.

^^my hair was in a braid at one point.. 

tanner wheeled me to ivory's room. every time i saw ivory in the NICU, i had the same thoughts.. "oh my sweet baby girl. i'm so sorry you're in there. hang in there, i love you." i sat in my wheelchair and just stared. tanner and i could stare forever at her. we were allowed to touch her through the incubator and hold her hand. again, the drugs made me feel so gross, i couldn't stay as long as i wanted. i hated leaving her every time.

  i got to shower when i got back to the room and oooooh that felt good.

tuesday, aug. 7th: i had been having some great (and not so great) experiences so far, but this day was the best day of my life. that may sound cliche, but there's no other way for me to say it. i was feeling pretty good and around the afternoon, tanner came back from the NICU to help me go see ivory. when we got there, they asked me if i wanted to hold ivory. what?! i get to hold her?! i wasn't expecting this at all. i thought it would be weeks before i ever got to hold her. i got comfortable in a chair and they carefully took her out of the incubator and placed her on my chest, still hooked up to everything, of course. i can't explain how this felt. i've never been so content. ivory seemed so content. life was perfect. the way she fit on my chest was like a puzzle piece. it was like our bodies were created the way they are for that moment. i got to hold her for two hours and listen to her quiet noises, feel her slowly move and smell her. i was in love with her hair. she had so much of it. it had a cute wave to it and was strawberry blonde. i thought it would darken as she got older and probably be like mine. she was so small and light. she was my everything. the bond we made in that moment is something i crave to feel again. 

 it was a powerful moment that i didn't want to end. but all good things do so the nurse came back and had to put ivory into the incubator. they told us we could hold her skin to skin everyday for a couple of hours. how awesome is that?! i couldn't wait for tanner to experience it the next day. tanner and i went upstairs and ate our "celebratory" dinner from the hospital. haha. then went back down to see ivory. i got to change her diaper. you wouldn't believe how tiny her diapers were, and they didn't even fit her. tanner actually went home this night to shower and get some good sleep. he saw ivory before he left the hospital and sent me this picture and wrote "ivory says goodnight with her best pageant pose." it cracked me up.

wednesday, aug. 8th: i went downstairs to see ivory as soon as i woke up. i was happy to be able to do it on my own.

 i was so excited for tanner to experience holding ivory. he got to the hospital around 10:30. he kept telling me i could do it again, but i insisted he did.

 ivory's room felt so cheery this day. the window was open and it was a beautiful day outside. ivory was breathing mostly on her own so they took the c-pap off and just had her on oxygen. i was a little jealous tanner got to hold her without the c-pap but i was able to get good pictures where you could actually see her face. for some reason, i took a lot of pictures this day. i even kept telling myself to stop, and to be in the moment, but i kept taking them. so grateful i did.

ivory was sad when they took her out of the incubator, but she calmed right down and snuggled up when they placed her on tanners chest. it was like, she knew who he was. i am so grateful i got to witness this and experience it with tanner. they were able to bond for three hours. i've never seen tanner so content, ever.

 i was discharged this day so after tanner held ivory, we went upstairs to my room to go through that process. i got my staples taken out and one final shot before we left. when everything was cleared, we went back downstairs to say goodnight to ivory before we headed home. i felt so emotional knowing i wasn't going to be close. ivory was very alert this night. she kept looking at me and tanner. she would just stare at us.  her eyes would go back and forth between us and we would just look into each others eyes.. almost like we were reading each others minds. this may sound cheesy, but i truly believe she was telling us she loved us. this night is one i hope to never forget. i hope i never forget how i felt. there was so much love in the room and a strong bond with our tiny family. on the drive home we talked about how fortunate we were to have a healthy daughter who was doing so well. we also mentioned how we knew it was a long road ahead and we were in for some rough patches. we were so grateful for the hospital staff who was taking great care of her. we knew shew as in good hands.

^^she gave us a peace sign when we left her that night ;)

thursday, aug. 9th: i got a call from the hospital at 7 in the morning. they told me ivory got sick during the night. they mentioned ivory had a valve open in her intestine that was leaking air and she might need surgery.  i truthfully didn't feel panicked. i figured that with medical advancements, they would know what to do. i didn't realize the seriousness of it. but i told them we would come to the hospital right away. it was as we were walking into the NICU that it hit me. i started crying. i didn't want to see ivory sick. i had just seen her last night and she was perfect. walking into her room felt surreal. there were lots of nurses and doctors looking over her and writing on their clipboards. i then realized this was very serious. we walked over to see her.

my heart broke.

she was motionless and attached to life support. she was swollen. her skin was a dark red, almost purple. the doctor pulled tanner and i aside and told us ivory had a disease called "necrotizing enterocolitis" also known as NEC. it sometimes happens in premature babies under 3 pounds. basically, a premature baby's bowel has a hard time with food and this can destroy their intestines. they took x-rays of ivory's intestine and made the decision to preform surgery. they turned her room into an operating room and did the surgery there. it was the hardest thing to kiss her and tell her to hang in there and then to wait. the surgery took about 3 hours from start to finish. 

we called tanner's parents and they came to the hospital right away. i was so grateful to have them there. they shared every emotion with us and were able to help us when we mentally couldn't do it. the staff was wonderful and got us a room with cots in to wait. later they moved us into two different rooms with beds. they felt more like a hotel room than a hospital. they provided food and were so accommodating. they said we could stay there every night if we wanted to.

they called tanner and i into ivory's room when the surgery was finished. they told us that they had to remove 3/4ths of ivory's small intestine because it was completely dead. they didn't close her incision because they weren't sure if they'd have to go back in to remove more. this surgery is normally highly successful. we asked what her future would hold for her now. she would have had a strict diet, permanent diarrhea, and a pick line in her chest where we would feed her her nutrients. not fun, but something we could easily live with. tanner, his dad, and his brother were able to give ivory a priesthood blessing after the surgery. tanner and i both got blessings for peace and comfort. i was constantly praying in my heart for a miracle.

ivory's next battle was her blood. the air that was leaking from her intestine was a bad bacteria that was attacking her blood. she was given a blood transfusion that her body wasn't responding well to. she was later given two more blood transfusions but her body just didn't like them. this was a very long, emotionally draining day. tanner and i felt like we were getting hit left and right with bad news. nothing was working out for ivory. it was so hard to see her lying there in her condition. it was so hard watching the doctors poke her and putting more tubes in her. her sheets now has blood on them. her skin was getting darker and she was swelling more with all the liquids running through her. her poor fingers and toes were so purple. her beautiful wavy hair was straight. her eyes were so puffy. she wasn't ivory. one of the nurses (who i loved) could tell how hard it was for me to look at ivory in her condition. this nurse put a tiny bow on ivory's head, and believe it or not, she looked beautiful with it.

tanner never left ivory's side. he slept in her room that night.

 i fell asleep in our room for a few hours. i had to get rest or else i wouldn't have survived the next day. i was also trying to keep some energy because i was pumping. i had a great milk supply :)

friday, aug. 10th: it was tanner's 28th birthday. i went into ivory's room and stayed next to tanner. the nurses had brought in two somewhat comfortable recliners for us. ivory was receiving more x-rays to see if she might need more surgery and to see if more bacteria was infecting other parts of her body. her body still wasn't taking to the blood transfusions. her kidneys weren't excreting any pee which was a bad sign that her kidneys were shutting down. still, we weren't hearing any good news. this went on for most the morning. i tried to stay optimistic. i had heard of so many miracle stories and i just knew we would have ours. ivory was a fighter and we had faith that everything would be fine. we have amazing medicine and knowledge that we used to not have. tanner and i walked outside for a few short minutes to get some fresh air. we sat on a bench and talked about the plan of salvation and how blessed we are to have an eternal family. this was the first time we even murmured a thought of ivory not making it. we bore testimony to each other and for the first time in my life, the reason why we're here was so clear. all of a sudden, the gospel wasn't something i was just a part of.. it is who i am. the gospel is my life.

 around noon, a doctor sat down with tanner and i. he said ivory was very sick and we needed to start making decisions. he didn't have to say anymore. my heart shattered into a thousand pieces. i lost it. i couldn't believe i was losing my baby. she was perfect just a couple of hours ago. he left the room and i cried harder than i ever have before. we went over to ivory and i could hardly stand. i tried to touch her tiny swollen hand and it was unbearable. i couldn't stand seeing tanner like this either. we were supposed to be strong for each other and neither one of us could fully wrap our mind around what was happening. we stared at ivory and sobbed. around one, we were asked to meet with the surgeon and a few doctors in the conference room. tanner's parents were with us. we discussed our options. none of them had good endings. what it came down to was prolonging ivory's life on life support a little longer..... or, saying our goodbyes now and getting a chance to hold her again.

how can parents make this decision?? it's not fair! i was completely numb at this point. i remember thinking, why am i not crying? all i could do was stare at nothing. i couldn't stand seeing tanner in such despair. it was his turn to cry for the both of us. we couldn't see ivory like this any longer knowing she didn't have a future. it would be selfish of us to keep her going on life support. it would be for our comfort of having her with us, even though she wasn't coherent. we made the decision. it was time to say goodbye.

when i think back on it, i don't know how i had the strength to walk back to her room knowing what was happening. it was almost as if we were being carried. we had to go through with it. tanner's dad had called our bishop to come to the hospital to give ivory a name and a blessing. tanner's brother also came to be in the circle.

there are no words to describe the pain and sorrow we felt. tanner and i were standing at ivory's bedside in unbelievable grief. the nurses slowly started taking things off of ivory. but then, the doctor stopped everything and told us there was one more thing they could try. he said it didn't promise anything, but he would feel better if we tried absolutely every option. of course we agreed.

i thought, yes, finally! this is our miracle! heavenly father saw that we were faithful until the very last moment and now we are being blessed with a miracle. i felt like abraham, who was asked to sacrifice his son. god saw that he was faithful and told him he didn't have to sacrifice his only son at the last minute. our bishop arrived and they were able to give her a name and a blessing. i was feeling so positive and comforted. i also couldn't bare the thought of her passing on tanner's birthday and having it be a reminder every year, so this at least gave us time. i mentioned this to tanner, and you know what he said? he said it would be an honor if she passed on his birthday.

things seemed to be getting slightly better. she finally peed! she had a new blood transfusion that seemed to be working. unfortunately, the good things didn't last very long. they tested her pee and found bad things that should not be in her pee. tanner's dad decided to head home for the night and come back in the morning. his mom went to catch some sleep in the other room. this left tanner and i in ivory's room. together, just the three of us. well, and some nurses. now, all we had to do was wait. we didn't know for how long, or what to expect.. we just waited. it's amazing how you can lose all track of time and what day it is. the only thing tanner and i wanted to do was be in ivory's room with her.

saturday, aug. 11th: it was one in the morning. tanner's birthday had passed. i had fallen asleep but woke right up when the doctor came in. he said the new thing they wanted to try wasn't working. ivory was back in the same state she was previously. tanner and i knew what this meant. you would think you're body would run out of tears at a certain point, but they somehow kept coming. things seemed calmer now then they did earlier when we were going to say goodbye. it was quiet. it was just the three of us. it was exactly how i wanted it to be. the nurses again, started taking things off of ivory and removing her from life support. the only thing they kept her on was oxygen. they wrapped her in a blanket that tanners mom had made and carefully handed her to me. oh my sweet ivory. how do i say goodbye? i kissed her and smelled her and just soaked up how i felt in that moment with my family. i handed her to tanner. he held her for a while and then his mom had come in to check on us. she didn't know we were saying our goodbyes. i was glad she woke up and was able to be a part of the moment. she held her for a little bit and then they handed her back to me. i sobbed. the nurse then asked if we wanted to take her back into our room and spend some private time with her, completely alone, just the three of us. i did want to. i wanted to be with her without any of the machines or nurses. although, i knew she would have been gone, i wanted to hold her without anyone or anything else around. tanner and i went back to our room and they brought ivory to us. this may seem weird to some people, but it was precious time with her. it felt like she was sleeping in our arms. she was no longer in pain or suffering. she was our angel. the most beautiful angel i'd ever seen.

it was around three in the morning when we decided to go home. leaving the hospital was not the joyous exit i had imagined it to be. we drove home in silence.

we actually slept well. our bodies and minds were spent. i woke up around eight and went and sat in my backyard and reflected on everything that had happened. it seemed like a dream. a very painful dream. i remember looking up into the sky and for the first time, heaven didn't seem far. i felt as if ivory was with me. she will always be in my heart and i hope to feel her presence often. i know i will have the opportunity to raise her in the millineum. how cool is that? i know she is most definitely a choice spirit who came to earth to receive her body. she is a celestial being doing some great work. i am honored to be her mother and that she is my daughter. death all of a sudden is not scary to me. it's exciting! what a reunion it will be when i get to see her again. i love my savior. i know he has made the ultimate sacrifice so i can have my family for eternity. he has been with me through all of this. he has felt my pain and has helped me feel peace and comfort. how grateful i am for the gospel! i love it with all my heart. i hope to live it to my best potential so i can be with ivory again. she has set the bar high. this has been the hardest thing i've ever gone through. it was a beautiful experience. the timing of everything was planned and somehow was perfect. she waited for tanner to be there for her birth and left after his birthday. she gave us enough time to love her, hold her and bond with her. that was most definitely a gift to us. i'm actually grateful this whole experience was quite fast. everything happened from beginning to end, in just a few days. she could have been healthy for months and then passed due to the illness she got. but, it all went quickly.

thank you for everything ivory. thank you for choosing me to be your mother. thank you for letting me carry you and feel you move inside me. thank you for letting me give birth to you. thank you for letting me hold you and get to know you. i know you're happy.

i love you ivory.



  1. Dar this is just amazing. I can't express my love for you and how much you inspire me. As I read this, tears freely falling, I couldn't help but feel the spirit and know that Heavenly Father is so aware of you and Ivory is for sure your little angel. Forever watching over you and also waiting for your joyous reunion. I am so happy you had a few days to get to know her, and I pray you will always remember them! You are truly amazing. Tanner too. I love you dearly and am thankful for your story and words.

  2. These beautiful words will help so many people. God bless you guys and god bless that red-haired feisty little angel, Ivory Gwen.

  3. Thank you for sharing this Dar. So beautifully put and full of such love. The spirit was so strong as I read this quietly in my bed. Thank you for your testimony and your faith. You are such an inspiration and I'm so grateful to know you. You are so strong and I'm in awe of that. Your beautiful baby girl has touched the lives of many.

  4. thank you for sharing this. really.truly.
    i am not a religious person but i will be praying for your baby girl ivory tonight.
    hope you two are doing well and you are continuing to take care of yourselves and each other.

  5. I'm not going to lie, Dar, but this was the most difficult thing to read for me. We had several similar scares with our own daughter, so I'm mighty familiar with many of your emotions that you mentioned. When I was reading it to my wife, I couldn't stop from breaking down in tears several times throughout. Please tell Tanner that I admire him so greatly for his strength and faith. You two are so strong, and I know that God has both blessed and prepared you for this so you could be of strength and inspiration to others. Like you said, God does have a plan and you are an eternal family. God bless you.

    We love you.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing! You and Tanner are so amazingly selfless...I can't imagine anyone who reads your story will have dry eyes. I'm sure it with help so many others who have experienced similar situations, because of your belief in the Gospel and your positive outlook. You are so amazing! Love you cousin!

  7. I just read your story and completely ache for you & your husband. I cannot imagine going through the pain and heartache of losing a little one. Although, I love how you remembered the plan of salvation and noted that you felt honored to be the mother of such a choice spirit. Your positive outlook is something that is extremely admirable. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

  8. Beautifully written and so touching. I cried and cried as I read. Sharing your story will help more people than you'll ever know. Thank you, thank you for sharing.

  9. I feel so blessed to have become your friends. You have been such a great example to me of steadfastness, patience, and faith! Every since we became friends I have been impressed by your love for the Gospel. I wept while reading this and am truly grateful you know where Ivory is, why she came and that you will always have that special bond of love that you feel for Her forever. I am so excited for your reunion with beautiful Ivory in the eternities. As I read this I thought of something I'd like to send you. Ill text you for your address. I miss you! I am praying daily for you. Love you!

  10. The Botkin family loves you sweet ivory. Dar you are so strong, so blessed, so inspiring . I love you friend! Beck and arli still keep you and tanner in every single one of their prayers. Ivory is so beautiful. She had just so much more to do, I can only imagine how righteous and string she is doing her work. You guys are amazing parents. You will never forget those feelings. That love is too strong.

  11. Heartbroken and hopeful all in one. I'm thankful for eternal families and for your beautiful testimony. Hugs and loves from afar!

  12. oh Darlene. thank you for sharing. it is so painful to read about, but also strengthening. I love your closeness to the Lord.Your honesty is powerful. The feeling the joy is just as strong as the pain, but i know both are too deep to fully comprehend. You are strong, and Tanner too.. I will be praying for you.

  13. Darlene you are amazing! Thank you for sharing your sweet story. I loved setting pictures of your beautiful Ivory. Your story touched me and strengthened my testimony of eternal families..I know it will do the same for many others!

  14. you're more inspiring than you know. your testimony has strengthened mine.

  15. I am honestly so touched and inspired by your whole outlook on this situation and how well you handled it all. I pretty much cried my way through this whole post. Love your perspective. Thank you so much for sharing.

  16. Your testimony has strengthen mine. I hope you will always feel her close.

  17. That was honestly one of the most touching and beautiful things I have ever read. Thank you for sharing!

  18. Beautiful baby Ivory... May she rest in heavenly peace... Families Are Forever... :-)(-:

  19. I've had tears rolling down my cheeks for the last 20 minutes and Paul is wondering what's wrong with me :) I appreciate your being able to write this and express yourself so well, even though I am sure you feel so much more than you were able to share. We continue to think of your family often.

  20. Darlene you are a beautiful soul. And a tough cookie to go through all of that... You and Tanner make an incredible team. Thank you for sharing your beautiful yet heart breaking yet inspiring story of Ivory's birth. The pictures of her are incredible!! That perfect, tiny body--what a miracle. I loved reading about when you and Tanner looked into her eyes and you felt she was saying I love you...i don't doubt it for a second. Your honesty in the details and your testimony had me in tears. I can't imagine experiencing the loss of my babes, but I have loved-ones who have and I absolutely know their stories lift each other and yours is a gift to someone else going through something similar will be blessed by it. Hugs to you beautiful mama. Hope you feel Ivory extra close. And happy belated birthday to Tanner. :)

  21. Dar. Landon and I sit here this morning with tears running down our faces. Thank you for sharing such a tender and sacred experience. You have a gift for putting meaningful experiences into words. Your words are sure to bless many--I know they've blessed us this morning. I feel I know sweet Ivory a little better after seeing her beautiful face. We love you, and have so much respect for you and Tanner. You two are such an example of faith and testimony. wow. There are just no words to say how sorry I am that you don't have Ivory with you here, but I do pray that you feel her near you often. You are wonderful. xo

  22. Oh Darlene. I love you so. I am so so heartbroken for you but so hopeful at the same time. I am deeply sorry for you loss. You are such a beautiful girl, so much depth, so stong, so inspiring. I am sure Ivory chose you for a reason. She needed someone as special as her. Tanner and you have a very bright future and a very specific plan and I am grateful that you shared your story and testimony. What a reunion it will be. She loves you a lot. As well as so many friends and family members. Bless you Dames.

  23. Darlene, I only know you from following your amazing photography on your blog but reading this post really struck me hard. You and Tanner seem like you are an amazingly strong and positive couple. I can't even imagine going through what you two have been through but I do know that God only gives people trials that He knows they can handle and can become stronger through it. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your testimony. I hope the best for you guys and know that there are wonderful things in store for you and you will be with your sweet Ivory again.

  24. I've been thinking about and praying for you and Tanner ever since I heard the news through the grapevine. You are so strong! Thanks for sharing your testimony on here. I'm sure it was hard but it strengthened mine to read yours.

  25. Tears have been streaming down my face as I read this. So grateful to have you and Tanner as my brother and sister-in-laws and so grateful to be Ivory's Auntie. You two are so inspiring- no wonder you were sent such an angel. xo

  26. Thank you for sharing your testimony. You are so amazing. It was an honor for me to be a part of Ivory's life.

  27. Hi Darlene. I found your blog through Proof/your husband's/your Instagram. My heart squeezes for you! I wish you incredible peace!

  28. You're an amazing,inspiring woman. Reading your story and your testimony strengthens mine. Ivory was and is so beautiful- I can see the mother-daughter resemblance. Lots and lots of love sent your way.

  29. just caught up on your blog! thank you so much for sharing your story. hearing the details really changes my perspective. what an experience you went through, and you were so selfless throughout. ivory will be waiting for you in eternity to raise her, and i don't think there's anything more motivating in that to get through this life. love you dar.

  30. The Lord definitely has a specific plan for each and every one of us, and I am glad you have become receptive of just how true that is. Ivory will forever be your angel and you will forever hold her love and presence with you. You are a wonderful mama dar, and will continue to be through the eternities. as is tanner a wonderful father. i love you guys and we have cried tears for you and been praying for you guys throughout all of this. thank you for your testimony. keep strong and keep pushing along. ivory would want that :) love you guys!

  31. Thank you for sharing your heart and testimony. You are remarkably strong and have inspired me to look to heaven during challenging times!

  32. I don't know you and I felt like I was invading your space by reading this, but I could not stop reading and thinking about my own son who was also born premature, fortunately he made it. thank you so much for writing this, I sobbed through the whole read. .i wish I could give you a big hug, one mama to another.

  33. I don't know you but I wanted to know more about your story, so I went to your blog and I couldn't stop reading once I started. You are more amazing then you'll ever know, you and your husband. Your story has touched my life in ways that I'll never be able to describe. You guys are so strong and I'm so thankful that I got to read your story. God bless you guys, and I will be thinking of your angel as her birthday comes around soon again. (BTW,me and your husband share the same bday!) Godbless, thankyou for making it so I could read your story. Truly amazing.


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