DENVER — When I was young, watching my two older brothers become dads, I only saw the good stuff. Nine months went by so fast. Before I knew it, I was an uncle .. of five.
In 2014, it was my turn. Life took a quick turn for the better. I met my wife on the internet in January and we were engaged in June. In April, 2015 we were married and pregnant two months after that.
I didn’t really believe it for the first few weeks. No doubt I was excited, but Tiffany didn’t look pregnant .. reality hadn’t quite kicked in that I was going to be a father. I wasn’t really worried. When my brothers became dads it didn’t seem too complicated.
A few weeks went by and that’s when reality hit me right in the face. Tiffany came walking out of the bathroom at our favorite restaurant in tears. My heart skipped a beat.
Tiffany hadn’t been feeling well for a few days. I knew right away what she was about to tell me. Tiffany miscarried at nine weeks. I tried my best to be there for her.
Tiffany and I decided we wanted to share the news with our closest family and friends so we could have a support system to get through it. It’s the best thing we ever did. We learned just how common miscarriages are. The only way we found out was by talking about it and having friends and family open up to us. It made a huge difference.
It took us more than a year to get pregnant again. During that time we went to infertility specialists. Everything came out normal. It was in September of last year when Tiffany showed me the positive pregnancy test again. The feeling this time was so much different. I was no longer new at this. The worrying started the minute I learned we were pregnant again. I knew that we needed to make the 12 week mark because that’s when the risk of miscarriage drops significantly. My internal clock started counting down to week 12.
Week 10 came pretty quickly. We were packing for a trip to Texas to see my uncle. Tiffany wasn’t feeling well again. I tried to stay positive. I kept telling myself, “There’s no way she’ll miscarry again.”
It was just before we left for Texas when I saw the same tears falling down Tiffany’s cheeks. She lost the baby. I was now suddenly the husband who went through two miscarriages with his wife.
Tiffany was devastated, and so was I. We were starting to lose hope. I sensed that Tiffany felt like she was a failure. I started wondering if I was the cause of all of this. Just when I thought Tiffany was doing better, I would hear her crying herself to sleep. All we could do was tell ourselves that this was all in God’s hands and to try again. The third time’s a charm, right?
It didn’t take long for the third positive pregnancy test. It was last November. This time, I kept my cool. I gave Tiffany a big hug and then my internal clock started that agonizing countdown to 12 weeks.
Week 12 came. It was such a relief. We could hear the heartbeat during the ultrasound. Things were looking good. Tiffany wanted to throw a gender reveal party so we decided to do a blood test at 12 weeks. We would get the results within a few days.
All week we waited ... and waited. We finally got the call from Tiffany’s nurse. I answered the phone. We didn’t want to know the gender. We just wanted to get the call and then Tiffany’s sister-in-law would go pick up the results and bake a cake: pink or blue?
The nurse told us the results were in but the blood work showed something else. She said she couldn’t tell us the findings unless she told us the gender. I felt sick to my stomach. I handed the phone over to Tiffany.
She dropped to her knees in tears. The nurse told her the blood test came back positive for Turner Syndrome. TS is when a female is missing one of her X chromosomes. TS can cause a variety of medical and developmental problems, including short height, failure to start puberty, infertility, heart defects, certain learning disabilities and social adjustment problems.
Once again, we were crushed. I couldn’t help but wonder how our little girl’s peers would treat her if she had the condition. We immediately did the worst thing and got on the internet. We read all the horror stories. The nurse told us the blood tests had a high rate of false positives and directed us to a specialist. Our first appointment was at 16 weeks.
So much for being in the clear after 12 weeks, right? So, my internal clock reset and counted down to week 16. I would find myself having anxiety attacks in my car on the way to work just thinking the worst for my baby. I was supposed to be enjoying the process of pregnancy, watching my wife’s tummy get bigger and bigger. All I could think of was the worst.
Week 16 arrived. The specialist couldn’t find any markers for TS. We went back at 20 weeks. The doctor once again didn’t see anything unusual.
Twenty-four weeks was big. That’s when the specialist could take a good look at my little girl’s heart. Everything looked good. All that being said, only an Amniocentesis could tell us definitively if the baby had TS or not. Tiffany and I decided against that for the safety of our baby in the womb. By this time we had learned a lot more about TS. We read about so many women with TS that lived happy and normal lives. The worry was starting to fade away. We knew a baby was coming and we had no control over anything.
All we could do was wait for little Aria to come into the world to find out for sure if she was healthy.
Then came August 12, 2017. Tiffany’s water broke in bed at 1130 at night. We got in the car and rushed to the hospital. Tiffany was in labor for eight hours. She was so strong and resilient. I was so proud of her. Aria Grace Lupher was born at 7:55 a.m. on August 13, 2017. Aria looked perfect. Doctors immediately took a blood sample from the umbilical cord. For the first time, I didn’t care about what the test results would show. I was going to love my perfect daughter no matter what. The day Aria was born was easily the greatest day of my life.
One week later we got the results of the blood test. It came back negative for TS. The original blood test ended up being a false positive. After nine grueling months of worry, my daughter never had anything wrong with her.
My road to fatherhood was nothing like I expected. When I look back, I feel guilty. I thought I was the victim through it all but now I know how lucky I actually am.
Just before Aria was born I did a story on two mothers who had their babies at 23 weeks. That’s right, 23 weeks. Both their babies survived. I can’t imagine what those mothers went through.
What about the couples who have lost their babies? What about the moms who can’t have children at all? I can’t fathom what kind of heartbreak those scenarios bring.
I know now that parenthood is a privilege and a blessing. I will never take it for granted.