Ashleigh is a young local mom whose story is about finding out what it truly means to walk with God day-by-day and hour-by-hour. The story of her struggles and her reliance on the only one who could have possibly gotten her to the other side will give you hope in finding your own purpose in life.
In October of 2006, my husband, Jimmy, and I found out we were pregnant through a home pregnancy test. When we went for our first doctor’s appointment we found out my HCG level that measures how pregnant I was read very low. I was sent home with orders to come back in a week to do a repeat test. The test showed we had had a miscarriage, which the doctor termed a bio-chemical pregnancy. Of course, we were devastated. All the joy and excitement was gone. But we could try again.
In no time we were pregnant again and due August 19, 2007. It started out fine but then I developed blood pressure issues and eventually pre-eclampsia (toxemia). I gained a lot of fluid weight. My legs and ankles became very swollen and I had to have numerous ultrasounds and bio physical profiles. I was put on bed rest for 2 weeks at Tuomey Hospital and at 36 weeks we had our first son, Cooper! He was born a healthy baby but had a high bilirubin count and had to stay in the Level 2 nursery for 5 days. He brought us more joy than we could have ever expected!
In 2009, we decided to try to have another child. The first month when we tried a home test we were excited to see that it showed a positive result, again not taking any time at all. At the first doctor’s appointment, however, a urine test showed a negative result. The words “Sorry you’re not pregnant” left us disappointed thinking we had had another miscarriage. About a week later, after eating pizza out, we both came home sick. I started throwing up first and then Jimmy. We thought it was food poisoning yet Jimmy started feeling better and I didn’t. I felt like a knife was jabbing my stomach and he noticed I was turning gray. The first question they asked when we got to the ER was “Are you pregnant?” I told the nurse I had just been to the doctor the week before and they said my urine specimen was negative, however, everything I was explaining she said sounded like I was having an ectopic pregnancy. The doctor came in and said I WAS indeed pregnant and had an ectopic that had ruptured. They were going to have to do emergency surgery and take out one of my tubes. They said I had waited too late and that it did not look good for me. With Jimmy by my side the doctor said, “You need to say your goodbyes because you may not see him again”. All I could think was “Lord, PLEASE don’t take me now. I have my precious husband and 2 year old son and I’m not ready to die”. We all prayed in the room before I went back for surgery.
When I woke up in recovery, my parents were there with Jimmy. The doctor came in and said a miracle had happened from the time of the ultrasound to the time I went into surgery ... the baby ruptured in my stomach instead of in the tube like it was originally thought. He was able to save my life and the tube! He actually showed me pictures of how healthy the tube was. I was fine AND we might be able to still have more children! It’s amazing to see the things God does to make you appreciate what you have! God had performed a miracle and he performed it on ME!
Time passed and in the summer of 2010 we found out we were pregnant again! Cooper was turning 3 so we not only had an ultrasound that day but had a fun birthday celebration at the zoo as well! The next week I started bleeding at work. My first thought again was, “God please don’t let this be a miscarriage!” I called Jimmy, went to my OB, and they did an ultrasound ... not one baby but TWO! The bleeding was the implantation of the second baby which he said was common with multiples. They noticed, however, that one sac was bigger than the other sac so they would have to keep a very close eye on me. He then referred me to the USC School of Medicine to see two specialists in multiple birth pregnancies. We found out early on we were having girls! Buying matching outfits, bows, dance lessons, prom dresses, and everything pink made me one happy momma! It took us no time to come up with names, Ansleigh Elizabeth Sease (Ansleigh for the name I picked out when I was a little girl and Elizabeth for my middle name) and Hayleigh James Sease (Hayleigh for our favorite TV character and James for Jimmy’s first name). We started putting cribs together and getting the room ready.
I found out at 19 weeks that I had a tear in the sac of baby “B” and was leaking amniotic fluid. I was immediately put on bed rest and had to stay home except for going to doctor’s appointments and ultrasounds in Columbia. My co-workers hired a housekeeper to come in once a week. People brought meals and made the time as easy for us as possible. I remember waking up every morning and praying for this to turn out alright for our family. The last thing I wanted was to tell my 3 year old son that he was no longer going to be a big brother, something no parent should ever have to do. I remember my 23rdweek of pregnancy and my friend, Missy, coming to visit. I told her how I kept feeling pressure that I hadn’t felt before and that it would come and go. Otherwise, I felt ok. When she left I went to the bathroom and lost my mucous plug. I called Jimmy again at work and we headed straight to Columbia. They met us out front of his office and took me straight to ultrasound. By that point, one of Hayleigh’s legs was already out so they quickly wheeled me across the street to the OR. The doctor told me Hayleigh wouldn’t make it because she was not 24 weeks yet and had not had her cerfactin shots that would’ve helped her lungs mature. She wouldn’t be able to breathe on her own. She was born in less than 10 minutes and weighed 1lb. 3oz. and, in fact, didn’t survive as he had predicted. By this time I was hooked up to an IV and they had determined my white blood cell count was through the roof. My body had become infected as a result of the leaking amniotic fluid. I had gone into labor as my body tried to get rid of the infection. Devastated as we were, they told us that baby “A”, Ansleigh, was fine and had a good heart beat. Her sac was still closed and plans were to sew me up and move me to a room. They would keep me there to try and save Ansleigh. If she could make it two more days and get the shots she needed, she had a chance. About 3 hours later I felt a big drop and a lot of pressure. The doctor thought at first it was the placenta of Hayleigh but it was actually Ansleigh. She was coming! They called in the neo-natal intensive care team to be there during delivery. The doctors spoke to us honestly and said she did not have a chance of survival and would be brain dead, wouldn’t be able to speak or see, and that they were sorry. I was praying and screaming for God to PLEASE not take her from us! She was our precious angel! And I remember distinctly God saying back to me, “She is MY precious angel and you will see her again one day”.
I was able to hold Ansleigh and Hayleigh and even got to take several pictures with them in the delivery room. They both looked so much alike and so much like Cooper. They were beautiful. The nurses brought precious pink dresses and bonnets to put them in. They also were kind enough to give us a second set to keep. At that point, time stood still and we could feel God in the room. We knew from that point on our lives would never be the same. We knew our girls were in heaven and were not in any pain and that they were safe with Him forever. We also knew we would see them again one day. We were given the choice to dispose of their bodies or have a funeral and, of course, we had a funeral. They were born on November 17, 2010 and we had their funeral on November 22.
We had so much love and support from family and friends during that time but the most amazing was from our son, Cooper. He was right there beside me through every tear and sad day. I was so worried that this would have a damaging effect on him but God was good to make sure it didn’t. God didn’t use us to heal HIM but just the opposite. He used him to heal US. I will never forget after 2 weeks of being home waking up one morning and him looking at me saying, “Mom, are we going to stay home and cry again today or can we go outside and play?” At that moment, I knew I had to get it together. I had a child here to love and care for and that is exactly what I did.
I prayed for God to open a door for me to see Cooper more. I was currently working at Tuomey Hospital as a caseworker 5 days a week and was on call several weekends a year. I knew this was not best for our lives anymore. I found out our church had a position open for Director of Preschool Ministries. I quickly applied. I now had a job I loved to wake up to and could even take Cooper to school and pick him up, which was a dream come true! I was amazed at how God was blessing our family during such a tragic time and allowing us to remember that he had a plan for us even if we couldn’t see it at times. My sister-in-law gave me a devotional that really helped me during this time called, Grieving the Child I Never Knew, by Kathe Wunnenberg. In it I was reminded that Psalm 46:10 tells us “Be still for I am God”. I would repeatedly say this to myself because I couldn’t stop the desire of my heart to still have another child even after all of this.
We discussed the possibility with my doctor and he said there was no reason we couldn’t try again. The next month we were pregnant again. We kept it from Cooper and everyone else and then 3 weeks later at eight weeks I suffered another miscarriage. The ultrasound showed no heartbeat. The doctor said I had the worst luck of anyone he had ever seen. I looked at him and said I didn’t understand why it was so easy for me to get pregnant but I couldn’t seem to carry the baby to term. I asked for a referral to a specialist and he set us up with a reproductive endocrinologist in Charleston. Two weeks later we were in the doctor’s office having tests. He did an ultrasound, which showed I had enough eggs to populate Sumter and that I should feel blessed I didn’t have trouble getting pregnant. He told us he thought I could have a blood clotting disorder that causes women to have miscarriages at various points when blood does not flow to the baby. When the blood work came back I, in fact, did have a disorder called Anti-phospholipid antibody syndrome. The specialist said it was an easy fix with heparin injections and that I should be able to carry to full term. I had been diagnosed but was told to not start trying until taking baby aspirin for 2 weeks. Well, I got pregnant before that time period was up. I was told I’d have to start injections immediately. That same day the nurse taught me how to give myself the shots in my stomach. I went to Charleston every week through the 10th week for tests. He then referred me to an OB in Columbia who specialized in high risk pregnancies. Dr. Salley was just who I needed for this time. I had ultrasounds every couple of weeks and was watched closely.
We soon found out we were having another boy and were so excited! We were beyond scared to tell Cooper given my track record. When we decided the time was right, he was so excited too! He was finally going to be a BIG BROTHER! The pregnancy was not easy and eventually I had to give myself shots 3 times a day but in the end God blessed us with another beautiful baby boy, Connor James Sease at 6lbs. 13oz. and 19 inches long!
I share my story with you because I want it to bring hope and a new found trust in the Lord. The work he has done in my life, he can do for you, too! When Jimmy and I got married 8 1⁄2 years ago we did not know that this would be our story or that we would have to endure this but I tell you I wouldn’t change anything. God’s plan for my life has allowed me to know purpose ... to be a mom and serve the Lord in all that I do. He has made me stronger than I could have ever been without traveling this road and he has blessed me beyond measure. Two happy, healthy boys and two sweet girls that we will all get to see and be with in heaven one day. I live life each day praying that I can be a light to someone in some way and know that my story was written to serve a purpose for me and hopefully for you as well. In the Bible itsays in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. I have learned in the past 31 years that God does have a plan for my life and continues to use me for his kingdom. God has a plan for your life too and my prayer is that each of you will become closer to him and see his plan for you as well.
If you have any questions or would like to talk with Ashleigh about her journey please use the comment section below and we will be sure to forward it to her. Thanks and may our Heavenly Father guide you to also be a light to someone through the sharing of your life experiences.
Welcome to our blog page! We hope you will find stories here to encourage you.
We would love for you to share your story with us. Click the button above to send us a story about what God is doing in your life.