How my college life changed-Brocks Beginning

baby brock

It’s not too shocking that we occasionally meet someone for the first time, and at some point in the conversation hear the words “ohh, you’re the ones with the little boy that we prayed for years ago.” This actually happened a week ago. Although I’m not a big writer, I’ve been wanting to write about Brocks beginning for a long time. Talking about it last week encouraged me to go ahead and write.

I’ll just start at the beginning.

It actually started with feelings of fear, shame, and embarrassment.  Along with being extremely nervous and anxious, we were initially ashamed that we had become “that couple.” You know- the one who gets pregnant outside of marriage.  I was only 19 and we were both still in college.  I remember being so upset that my “good girl” reputation was going to be tainted.  Ryan was nervous because it meant that he would be graduating college and immediately starting a family.

Thankfully we had an awesome pre-marital counselor who helped us realize that our baby was not a mistake.  He wasn’t an accident.  He was made and formed with a purpose by a God who loves us.  Being pregnant only sped up our marriage plans.  We also are so blessed to have an amazing family, and great friends who were supportive.

We found out mid-October that we were pregnant.  By the beginning of November we were engaged and planning a wedding.  Our wedding was to be in January. The plan was that we would both finish the semester at LCU with Ryan graduating, and me transferring to a different college.  New college.  New town.  Newlyweds.  Pregnant.  It was a lot to take in. November was mainly just full of wedding planning and school. December, however, brought a new challenge to the mix.

First Sonogram

Our first sonogram at the beginning of December was just like most couples first sonogram. Exciting and scary and unsure of what exactly to expect.  We were both thrilled when we first heard our babies heartbeat, and had measurements taken. We even thought that we could tell that it was a boy! Then came a moment that I’ve experienced a few times since then. Without saying anything, the sonographer got up and said “I’ll be right back.”  Instead of coming back with a CD or some sweet little pictures and saying “we will see you at your next appointment”, she came back in with a doctor.  A doctor who informed us that our baby had a birth defect.

Whoa!  Not something we ever dreamed coming.  Basically he told us that Brock had gastroschesis, and that we would need to leave for a couple of hours and come back to meet a High Risk Specialist.

I remember going to breakfast with Ryan, and neither of us having much to say.  Just prayers. And questions. And Why us?  When we went back, the doctor went over everything.  Information overload. The news was a lot to wrap our heads around.  Our baby would be born with his intestines outside of his body.  His abdominal wall didn’t close like babies are supposed to.

This news put a whole new twist on our wedding.  While we were (now) excited about a marriage and a baby and our future.  We were also afraid.  We were afraid of miscarriage.  Afraid of a NICU stay and surgeries.  We were afraid of how we were going to pay the bills.  Afraid of moving.  But we were in it together.  Brock only made us stronger as a couple.



January through April would be a pretty typical newlywed first few months.  These months we were discovering how to be husband and wife.  Learning to live together.  Who would do dishes and who would take out the trash.  Who would pay the bills and who would do laundry.  We were sorting through the little things.  We had found a great church family, who became a big blessing while Brock was in the hospital.  And we tried to not stress about what was to come.

Of course, I couldn’t not think about it.  Babies like these occasionally died in the womb and were stillborn.  So during Calculus 3 and Finite Math, instead of focusing on the instructor, I would keep tallies at the top of my notes on each time I felt the baby. We were meeting pediatric surgeons, and High Risk doctors, and had multiple sonograms and OB appointments each week.  We toured the NICU.

End of April our sonograms started getting scary.  Brock’s organs were all becoming enlarged.  Abnormally enlarged.  I still remember the first time it really hit me.  It was a Friday, I was about 32.5 weeks, and supposed to have a quick sonogram checkup and then head back to take a Probability and Finite Math test.  I went to my appointment alone because Ryan was working, and I had had so many by this point that he wasn’t coming to all of them.  There was no need to.  I would just go, do a quick scan, see that things were OK, and then leave.

The Not-So-Good Sonogram

This time was different.  This time wasn’t good, it wasn’t quick.  His already large organs were larger.  We weren’t sure if they would still function if they continued to grow. Again, the sonographer had to call the doctor in to meet with me.  Our doctor informed me once again that these babies are occasionally stillborn. She said that I would likely deliver soon, because now the complications of prematurity were less risky than the complications from the birth defect.  She told me that I had to count kicks hourly.  I was scheduled for another sonogram 3 days later and sent me off.  I was devastated.  Crying, I called Ryan and met him at work to tell him.  I ended up completely missing my test.

That Sunday I had a baby shower at my best friend’s house. This put my mind at ease.  It was small and it was most of my closest friends.  I felt peaceful, and the little baby gifts got me super excited again!

Monday I went back for my sonogram, and things hadn’t gotten any better. They sent me home to eat lunch and get my bags.  I’m a big time procrastinator, so of course I wasn’t packed at all.  Ryan and I took our time, went out for lunch, packed, picked up our apartment a little, and then headed back to the hospital to check in.  I was regularly monitored and we were scheduled to deliver at noon on Tuesday.

Brock was born Tuesday weighing 5 lbs 2 oz and with all of his large and small intestine outside of his body.  He also had hydronephrosis, which meant that both kidneys were severely enlarged.

The next 2 months were some of the hardest most challenging months of my life.  They were also the most rewarding.  I learned that I truly have no control over a lot of things.  All I could do was give Brock to God and hope and pray that Gods will for Brock matched up with mine.

Click here for part 2

12 thoughts on “How my college life changed-Brocks Beginning

    • Ashley says:

      Yeah we kinda moved off and it was while Facebook was mainly college only-lol no babies. 🙂 thanks for reading!

  1. Ruby Swindall says:

    Dear Ashley,
    First, let me apologize if I have misspelled your name, Although I have not met you , I feel as though I know you, mainly because I have known your Mom all her life. She and my oldest daughter were good friends through high school. Very sweet Julie and I loved having her around when she was here to see Melissa. I loved your story thus far and look forward to more. I have followed and loved all your sweet little boys (Melissa has 3 boys just about as close as yours, all grown) I have especially loved Brock because he reminded me of my oldest Garrett. I guess it’s their size and fair complexion, blonde hair, I don’t know why, he just does. His story is such a miracle that only God can take the credit, along with good doctors. He is precious and has grown up too fast. I didn’t know he had had these problems…..just makes me love him more. I enjoy all your boys, the twins are so sweet. I think they are typical twins, one thinks of something and they both do it. I can’t get over how your baby has grown, what with three big brothers he has just not been a baby long enough.
    Sorry this is so lengthy but I just enjoyed your writing and as I said earlier I look forward to the full story. God Bless you and your family.
    (I know so little about computers that I don’t know why this is double spaced, maybe it won’t print that way….probably will, lol)

  2. Rhonda Pool says:

    You and Ryan have handeled all of this beautiful mess so wonderfully!!! I have enjoyed watching your sweet family graw.

  3. Julie wilson says:

    I was and still am very impressed by the faith and strength Ashley and Ryan displayed through all of this.. I know it gave me a new trust in God’s plan in our life ..I had a friend who discovered she had cancer not long after Brock was born and when I asked her how she was staying so strong she told me “when I feel weak I just remember the strength Ashley has had for the last few months and continues to have now and I tell myself that if she can do it I can too”.. Very proud moment and words I will never forget ..a man very important to me, strongest man I know, told me that he really did not believe Brock was going to make it and said this event gave him a new and stronger faith ..God causes all things to work for good to those who love Him and believe ..Ashley and Ryan believe and all 4 boys will be strong Christians one day. …love yall very much

  4. julie wilson says:

    Ashley and Ryan showed so much faith and strength in the months before Brock’s birth and continue to today.. they have had an impact on more people than they will ever know.. a good friend of mine found out soon after Brock was born that she had cancer.. one day I was visiting her and asked her how she can stay so positive, she told me “whenever I start to feel weak I just think of Ashley and the strength and faith she as had for so many months and continues to have and I tell myself that if she can I can too”… a very strong Christian man that I love very much told me he did not believe Brock was going to make it, he said that he has a new faith in God also.. Ashley has so much more of the Brock story to tell and I know many more people will “renew their faith” thru this story.. Ashley and Ryan I love you so much.. we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and obey Him.. I know 4 very blessed young men.. God is good, no matter what His answer is…

  5. ashley says:

    Hello, I’m an absolute stranger, I stumbled on your blog from a friends post in Facebook. It was about your miscarriage. After 4years of infertility testing and doctors, we conceived my oldest daughter on our own(well weight loss and a diabe

  6. ashley says:

    Hello, I’m a perfect stranger. Stumbled upon your post about miscarriage from a friend posting it on Facebook. My husband and I tried for our first daughter for 4 years. Many doctors and testing, we conceived her on our own! I envisioned a blissful pregnancy. I like you, didn’t get that. My midwife at the time ignored my super high blood pressure and tests that showed something major building. I was due Dec 30th 2011, with a girl. Jillian arrived by emergency csection October 4th. 13 weeks early. My blood pressure had gone dangerously high, my kidneys were failing, and she was starved of blood flow and nutrients. She was a whole 1lb 11oz 13″ long. We only stayed in the nicu, uneventful besides normal preemie issues that resolved, 64 days. She’s now 3, small at only 30lbs. But healthy! I have lasting health issues, but had her sister 29 months after having Jillian. Addison was full term and healthy at 7lbs 6oz. I suffered an early miscarriage before having Addison.

    All of the things you said about miscarriage, is spot on absolutely true. I was also ignorant and thought it would be “just a period”. Thank you do writing what you have, to make others aware and bring it to light.

    Nicu stays are never easy, and I’m praying yours was not complicated and I’m glad to see threw family and friends comments that he is your miracle and did great and is around to remind you of your blessing. Getting to see them grow, from where they started. Bless you, and your family, and again thank you for sharing your experiences to help others.

    Have a wonderful day, and a happy New year! I pray many more blessings come to you!

  7. Rose says:

    I wanted to know how Brock was doing. I had to search your page. I just saw pics of smiling boys and kept thinking, “I hope one of them is Brock.” I finally found the family picture and wave of calm passed over me. I am so happy to see him look happy

    • Ashley says:

      Brock is so good! He is the oldest in the picture. I have written most of the rest of that story, but it seems soo long that I just haven’t posted it. Thank you for asking 🙂 he is such a blessing and is a reminder of Gods power!

  8. Amanda says:

    I am currently carrying a baby with the same diagnosis gastroschesis I’m 32 weeks found out he had it at 12 weeks I go to all my appointments alone now because me and the father are no longer together due to him lying and cheating. Now the best part is the fact that he denies the baby… I love my son and I charish every moment I feel him move I am delivering at the local children’s hospital so we don’t have to transport him to there. I am scared out of my mind and sit and cry randomly just thinking about how I am not going to get to bring him home when I come home. I am a single mom I have learned to accept it I will be there for him every step of the way and although I am going through it alone I still have my family and friends supporting me. I wish things were different but what mom doesn’t. Thanks for sharing this. It means a lot to know that I am not the only one

  9. Sadie says:

    Hi, I loved reading this story! You mentioned that you’d be posting another part of this testimony soon? I’m new to your blog and am having a little trouble finding it, could you share the link? Thanks!

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