Meet Katie Uniquely Blessed by MotherhoodJuly 24, 2015 by Artworks Tulsa Photography | Blog
Today we are featuring a very dear friend of mine, Katie Schauf. I had the privilege of meeting her a few years ago and shortly after I photographed her sweet family. Katie is one of those women that surprised me by how she jumped in and whole-heartedly supported my adoption journey. I am so grateful for this woman, she is strength and beauty. She understood my yearning to be a mother and now we journey the trials of life together. This year Katie lost a little one named Audrey, but I would like you to hear her story from the beginning.
“When Kyle and I got married, we opted not to use birth control and instead used a fertility monitoring method called the Creighton Model. It was through that monitoring that we learned 3 months into our marriage that starting a family might not be as easy as we had thought. After some testing, I was diagnosed with PCOS and we started trying, not knowing how long it might take.”
When I asked Katie how she felt at the PCOS diagnosis, this is what she said.
“When I was diagnosed with PCOS, it was actually somewhat of a relief. It was depressing, but still a bit of a relief. I had always had this gut feeling that it wasn’t going to be easy for me to become a mom and been told by several people that I was being ridiculous, that I had no reason to think that. So when I was diagnosed it was like “Ok, here’s the problem, here’s what we can do to try and fix it.” I did get really depressed for a long time. I wanted so desperately to be pregnant and even more so to be a mom. And it was all beyond what I could control. I couldn’t get pregnant and we looked into adoption and were actually turned down by 3 different agencies for various reasons. One said we hadn’t been married long enough, which I understood. One said that we didn’t make enough money, which was frustrating because Kyle was in medical school and it wasn’t always going to be like this. And the other wouldn’t allow us to adopt unless we were “born again Christian” which didn’t coincide with our Catholic faith and that really just made me angry because I really thought Christian was Christian. So we just kept plugging along and it felt really hopeless at times. The ONLY thing I wanted in life was to be a mom and it was denied me at every turn.”
“To me, being a mother means unconditional love, and I mean that as a 2-way street.
You see why I love this family, Katie is an incredible mother who longs to have more children.
“In September of 2014, we felt that our family just wasn’t complete yet, so we decided to try for baby #3. We repeated exactly what we did to get Ella and Adam and amazingly, found ourselves expecting by November. At my 20-week anatomy scan, they noticed that she was a little small, but that probably wasn’t anything to worry about. My doctor ran some tests to see if there was a genetic anomaly that was causing growth delay or to see if I had gotten some kind of infection that could have interfered with growth. All of those tests came back normal and they sent me on to see a high risk specialist since her growth was continuing to lag. At 23 weeks, I was diagnosed with severe intrauterine growth restriction, although none of my doctors could figure out why. At 25 weeks, an ultrasound detected reverse diastolic end flow, which basically meant that the umbilical cord and placenta were about to give out. The only solution to that problem was to deliver but because of the growth restriction, she was so tiny that if we delivered there would have been nothing that the NICU could have done to help her. We were advised to go home and wait for a stillbirth but given the option to go into the hospital for continuous monitoring and do an emergency c-section at her first sign of distress. We opted to go into the hospital. I was monitored for just under a week, when around 4:30 am on April 2, Audrey moved away from the monitor during a period of distress. The nurses were unable to find her with the monitor so they brought in the ultrasound to help find her and we watched the last few flickers of her heartbeat.”
“Seeing the last few flickers of Audrey’s heartbeat was actually a very peaceful moment. I just knew when they were having trouble finding her that she was going.”
“And it was really scary being in the hospital waiting for her to be in distress and have to have an emergency c-section. The surgery was going to be very risky for me for various reasons. I was at risk for bleeding out and several other complications that could have killed me and if that didn’t happen, I was at a very high risk for having to have a hysterectomy and risk not being able to get pregnant in the future. And I still had 2 other kids that needed me. I was really terrified, but I knew that I had to do whatever I could to give my little girl a chance. When we watched her last few flickers, there was such a sense of relief because we didn’t have to make any of the hard decisions. We didn’t have to choose whether to do the surgery. We didn’t have to watch her suffer. We didn’t have to make to decision to just make her comfortable. We were heartbroken and sobbing, but it could have been so much worse. We could be spending the rest of our lives wondering if we could have done more to save her and in our hearts we know that we did absolutely everything we could. The name Audrey means “noble strength” and that is 100% the character she displayed. She spared me from having that horrible surgery and she said “no” to the pain and agony that awaited a body as tiny as hers after delivery. I am SO grateful that they brought in the ultrasound and we were able to see her go. We got to be present in that moment with her. And her entire life all she knew was the warmth and safety of being with me and unconditional love. It wasn’t until later, thinking back on that moment that I began to wonder how my heart continued to beat when hers stopped because it truly shattered my heart into a million pieces.”
“When Audrey left us around 4:45am, the doctors and nurses left us alone for a while, just to have some quiet time to ourselves. We just held each other and cried and then we talked about how amazing our little girl was and all the incredible things that she had brought to our world in her short time. Around 7:00am, I think, the nurse came in and began administering drugs that would induce labor. The whole day was kind of a blur. We hadn’t slept much and they also gave me pain medication that made me sleepy, which I was grateful for. At some point that morning, my mom or Kyle, I’m not really sure who, called Shannon Ledford, the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep photographer to let her know. She said to keep her updated and as it looked like things were getting close to let her know and she would head up to the hospital. Someone called our friend (who happened to be the funeral director) and our priest to let them know and get things going for the coming funeral. Our kids came up and visited. We told them that Baby Audrey had gone to heaven and they had so many questions. We spent some time just snuggling them and trying out best to explain in a way that a 5 year old and 3 year old could understand why their baby sister didn’t get to come home and live with them. I spent the majority of the day in and out of sleep as labor progressed. By late evening, delivery was imminent and someone called Shannon. She showed up at the hospital around 10:30pm and got everything set up. At 11:12pm, Kyle, my mom and I were the only ones in the room besides the doctor and nurse when Audrey was born. The silence in the room was deafening. You are supposed to hear a cry, but there was nothing and it broke my heart to see her tiny body there, lifeless. I was completely in awe of how something so tiny could be so completely perfectly developed. She looked just like her big sister, but with her big brother’s nose. She had just the tiniest bit of blond fuzz on her head. She was perfect and beautiful. Shannon came in and took pictures of Kyle and me with Audrey. Then the kids came in and got to meet her. They held her and kissed her and talked to her. They were so gentle with her tiny body. It was heartwarming to see how much they loved her and heartbreaking to see the tears in Ella’s eyes. Shannon was so unobtrusive, I almost didn’t even know she was there. She just allowed our family to have our precious few moments with our girl and captured them so beautifully.”
“My husband asks me why we are having family portraits done again this year. I remind him that they tell the story of who our family is. Our family is constantly changing and family portraits give us to the opportunity to freeze that moment in time. When we put them all together, year after year, we get the bigger picture of how our family has grown and changed.In my living room, I have a 20×30 print that I walk past at least 50 times a day. And I never get tired of looking at it. It never fails to bring a smile to my face. It is a constant reminder of what is important in my life; my family.”
Katie, I adore you and your sweet family! Thank you for sharing your journey with us and for reminding us that even in the midst of tragedy living life to the fullest is so important. Thank you for holding my hand through my infertility battle. Thank you for being a client and my friend. I love you! Love, R