The Road to Champ

De and Leah’s journey to their miracle girl started in 2013. They tried naturally for 2 years before Leah had laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis. She was told if they didn’t get pregnant within 6 months of that surgery they would never get pregnant on their own.

I asked Leah to tell me about their journey to becoming parents:

“Another 4 years of guilt, embarrassment, and heartbreak followed as so many friends were making their pregnancy announcements. We were ecstatic for all of our friends having babies because we completely understood each baby is a blessing, but we also wondered…”why not us?” through all those years. Our turn finally came Easter of 2019, so we thought. We finally received a positive pregnancy test for the first time ever and were both over the moon. Our due date would’ve been Christmas 2019 and what better 2 holidays to celebrate the gift God gave us after all the struggles. Unfortunately, 2 days after finding out we were pregnant I had excruciating pain. I made an appointment with Megan and she informed me there’s a baby but it looks like an ectopic pregnancy. We had to go back the following day for the doctor to confirm our fear that “there’s baby, but baby isn’t in the right spot”. We went over options and decided on shots of methotrexate (chemo treatment) to terminate the pregnancy. De and I tried to stay positive by telling each other “we got pregnant on our own” and keeping the faith that our time would come. Fast forward 6 months and we again got a positive pregnancy test in the fall of 2019. De was gone hunting but I told him as soon as he got home. Again, we were beyond excited but skeptical because of what we went through last time. Since we previously had an early miscarriage we got in to see Megan a couple weeks later. Megan was familiar with our backstory so when she emphasized, “there’s baby and baby is in the right spot this time”, I turned to De and we shed tears of joy!

Megan then let us listen to the heartbeat and it was a moment/feeling I could never describe after loss. Baby Mashburn was given a due date of July 2020! Everything was smooth sailing and we announced our pregnancy to family on Thanksgiving 2019 with the best video reactions. We had an ultrasound in December with everything right on track with baby’s heartbeat at 160. We even got ultrasound pictures of baby Mashburn doing sit ups and blowing bubbles. Later that day I had some bleeding and called the doctor. He informed me that I had a blood clot close to my cervix and the placenta was fairly low, so he placed me on a 2-3 day bed rest. I got an appointment with the doctor in early January and we got to see the baby, who was still on track with a heartbeat of 157. The doctor gave me reassurance of the bleeding and said he wasn’t concerned so I was trying not to be concerned as well. Fast forward to January 15th, 2020, around 2:15-2:30 in the morning, I woke up to go to the bathroom and had mild cramping. It wasn’t anything different than the pulling/stretching I had been feeling…so I thought. I went back to sleep and around 8 that morning I had a sip of black coffee and everything changed. The cramps became unbearable, my face went pale, and I was drenched in sweat. Luckily I had a friend staying the night and she rushed me to the emergency room. She called De and informed him of what was going on so he met us at the ER doors. After what felt like a lifetime to get into intake at the ER, I was still in the worst pain. After about 5 hours of sitting in the ER bed, a PA finally made his way in to see what was going on. About an hour later we got an ultrasound. I knew immediately that something wasn’t right so as soon as the ultrasound tech left, I began to sob. A doctor came in to give the results and we heard “well, this second ultrasound doesn’t look good at all, and there’s no longer a heartbeat”. At 15 weeks pregnant, in the 2nd trimester when we thought we would be in the clear, we get the most heartbreaking news. “There’s no longer a heartbeat” just echoing in my head as I look around the room. And in the blink of an eye, I wasn’t a mom anymore.

The hours following were a blur as the anesthesiologist came in, I went for a D&C, off to recovery, then taken home surrounded by family. I had plenty of moments sitting in the floor of the unfinished nursery asking God “why” while my husband was holding me. After a long talk and consideration, we started the IVF process in January 2022. I had 2 back-to-back egg retrievals in April and May. The doctor said this was our best options, to embryo bank, due to my geriatric pregnancy status. IVF had consumed our lives with appointments, ultrasounds, bloodwork, scheduled injections and trips to the IVF clinic so we decided to take a vacation. We went to Port Aransas summer of 2021 because we knew we would do an embryo transfer in the fall. Little did we know, I was pregnant that trip! We came back, I took a test and sure enough it was positive. Now what?! We were scheduled for a transfer. I had called the fertility clinic and let them know I was pregnant. I couldn’t tell you what all emotions I was feeling at this time, but I know my track record with getting pregnant on our own so I asked if we could keep the scheduled transfer. We had an appointment at the fertility clinic and it was confirmed, we heard a heartbeat. Went back for another appointment and then heard the news, it was a missed miscarriage. No signs or symptoms, no warning to let us know something was wrong like the other pregnancies. Just blindsided this time with horrible news. I had another D&C in August 2021.

Devastated, overwhelmed, hormonal. I had so many emotions going that I didn’t know how I was going to manage. I questioned everything and told myself these are signs I wasn’t meant to be a mother. I contacted the fertility clinic and informed them of my miscarriage. The earliest I could get back on the schedule was a November transfer. The next few months were spent taking medications and timed injections to increase our chances of having a baby. This meant waking up in the middle of the night, running to the weight room directly after football games, or stops in a public restroom for injections because everything revolved around timing. Although the original transfer was planned for November, I got a call from the clinic in September saying there was a spot available in October at their St. Louis location. I quickly contacted De and we officially moved the transfer day up. Emotions were running high as this was about to be it and a transfer in the fall is not conducive for an Oklahoma football coach. The transfer day just happened to land on game day! With De needing to be at an away game and us not telling anyone about the transfer date, I didn’t have many options on support. I obviously couldn’t drive myself because I would’ve been a nervous wreck, so I texted my sister. She immediately took off work and drove me to St Louis, stopping in the convenience store parking lot on the way to give me an injection. We stayed the night and the next morning went in for the transfer. As soon as we walked through the doors the receptionist said “happy baby day” and my sister began crying. I was gowned up and ready to go back for the transfer when the nurse came to walk me into the room. I turned to my sister and said “aren’t you coming?” She was shocked and said “I get to go?!” She filmed the entire process so De could watch it later. I had acupuncture following the procedure then we left for breakfast and salty fries….if you know you know. The 2 week wait was the longest 2 weeks of my life. Even with the embryo banking we only had 1 embryo make it past genetic testing,

this one chance.

Time is the slowest when you’re waiting to find out if you’re pregnant, minutes seem like hours and hours seem like days when you’re waiting for that phone call. Leah was at work the day her clinic called her and she missed the first call!

” I attempted to return the call but I knew the clinic was closed so I didn’t expect an answer. Much to my
surprise the nurse on the other end said, “I’m sure you probably already know this but you’re
pregnant!” The nurse said most people test before the 2 weeks are up but I hadn’t so I actually had no
idea I was pregnant! The nurse talked me through everything. She said the doctor wanted BETA 1 to be
more than 5 (it was 32) and BETA 2 to be double of BETA 1 (it was 119). I couldn’t wait to get home and
tell De the news! I ran home and took a pregnancy test so I could show De when he got home from
work. He forgot I was getting the call this day so he was caught off guard with the pregnancy test. He
knew I was waiting to test until I got the call so he kept asking if I was showing him an old positive test. We were both feeling every emotion possible at that time but mainly in disbelief.

When I received an inquiry email from Leah about photographing their maternity session, birth, and newborn session I was ecstatic. There is something so special about documenting a family’s entire journey to becoming parents from baby bump, to birth, to baby and then once I heard their story I knew this was going to be extra special. Leah and De kept their pregnancy news a secret and also not find out the sex of their baby – this birth was going to be full of surprises!

June 20th, 2023 was the big day!

” I was anxious throughout the entire pregnancy and that didn’t change once the time came to welcome
baby Mashburn. We waited all pregnancy to find out the gender and I kept saying I didn’t care as long
as the baby was healthy, but De tried to find out at every ultrasound. With it being an IVF and geriatric
pregnancy as well as my swelling getting worse, the doctor admitted us around 7:30 pm on Monday
June 19th, 2023. The nurse asked if we knew what we were having and we said no. She was so excited
and told the other nurses working that night because it’s not very often parents come in not knowing
the gender. She then asked if we had any names picked out. De told her we’ve nicknamed the baby
“Champ” because it was our one and only embryo and made it! The nurse proceeded to write “happy
birthday baby Champ!” on the board in the room.

I received the first round of Cytotec around 8:30 that night and contractions picked up around 12:15 am. I had a cervix check around 12:30 am when the nurse said the Cytotec was causing my contractions to be off the charts but nothing was happening. I was up all night going to the bathroom and having the nurses come in to adjust the fetal monitor any time I moved. De attempted to get some sleep on the couch but wasn’t successful either. The doctor came in around 7am on Tuesday June 20th to do another cervix check and at that time broke my water. I started Pitocin at 7:20am and walked multiple laps around the room. I got the epidural around 9:15am and was dilated to an 8 at 11:08am. I was stuck at an 8 with contractions slowing down for a while then around 1:55pm the contractions started picking back up and I started pushing.

I pushed for what felt like a lifetime and the doctor said any time I would push the baby’s head would start to come out then stop. He said we had a couple options; a c-section which he would hate to do at this point, forceps, or the vacuum. He said he would let me know which option he chooses with my next push. He immediately said “we’re doing the vacuum” and an entire swarm of people entered my room. I pushed
longer and although baby’s head was turned sideways and we had to use the vacuum, baby Mashburn
was born at 3:38pm. The Champ was finally here! The doctor held up baby and De said


Baby Kaia was finally here! Leah and De wanted Leah’s grandma to be the first person to meet their new little girl and this ended up being one of my favorite photos from their birth.

” De and I were frustrated and angry throughout our struggles to become a family. We couldn’t
understand why it wasn’t happening for us but seemed so easy for others. I personally was angry with
God and questioned everything. I know De was feeling the same but would show his emotions
differently than I would. It was important for me to remember he was going through this journey with
me; we were in this together. Once we were pregnant with our IVF miracle, I continued to question
everything and waited for the bad news to come with each visit to the doctor. We graduated from the
fertility clinic but I still had my doubts that this was actually happening for us. I set mini milestones to
meet because I fully knew that IVF was a chance and not a guarantee. I began to slowly place my faith
back in Him with meeting each milestone. I would read affirmations to myself and to my growing belly
to help me with the harder days. The entire process from deciding to go forward with IVF, to the
injections, to the struggles, to the anxious months of being pregnant, to holding my baby girl in my
arms, to seeing the joy and love my family and friends have for her is everything I have ever wanted.
This isn’t to say that every person going through IVF will have a success story because that’s not the

But I do believe that God assigned this mountain to me so I can show others it can be moved.

Thank you Leah and De for allowing me to document this incredible journey for you. I’m so grateful to be able to tell your story through photographs and can’t wait for you to tell Laia one day the story of how she became

The Champ.

  1. Ernest Trujillo says:

    Moved to tears! God bless the CHAMP! Thank you and De for having the courage to share your story! Love you all!

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