She couldn't be happier about being a mother, but said, "It is bittersweet because I know that Scott would have been over the moon in love with him."
When Sarah Shellenberger, 40, lost the love of her life, she went through a whirlwind of emotions as she sold their farm in Oklahoma, got a new job, found a new house, and tried to cope with the immense grief of unexpectedly losing her husband, Scott. Months after his death, Sarah decided to give birth to her late husband's baby. And thanks to their frozen embryos, Sarah was able to become a mother to their child 14 months after Scott passed away.
In February 2020, Scott had a seizure and heart attack while he was teaching a class of college students. He was soon put on life support.
Within a couple of days, "I was holding his hand, sobbing my way through my final goodbyes, signing organ donation forms, and trying to figure out how in the world I was going to find the strength to give the ‘OK’ to remove life support," Sarah wrote for Love What Matters. On February 21, 2020, Scott passed away. Although his death was one of the most difficult things to do deal with, Sarah still had hopes of raising their children.
In the months before Scott's death, the couple was trying to have a baby and were told that IVF was their only option to have biological children. They traveled to Barbados to begin the process, and by December 2019, they had their first normal embryo. "We found out just before Christmas that he was a boy," Sarah said, as quoted by Mirror. "Scott and I were able to pick out names before he died and that was really meaningful."
The following February, Sarah had gone back to Barbados for their second round of the IVF process. As she was traveling back home to Oklahoma, she received the horrible news of Scott's heart attack. When she went to the hospital, Sarah saw her husband hooked up to a life support machine and was told that he was brain dead. "I couldn’t believe it," she said. "There are no words to describe that feeling."
A week after his funeral, Sarah found out that the second embryo was also viable, which meant she had two chances of becoming a mother to Scott's children.
"I was so hopeful that we had at least one more from the second round because I knew that was the last chance to have a child with my husband," Sarah said. "It was our biggest dream - Scott wanted to be a dad." About six months after Scott's death, Sarah traveled to Barbados for the embryo transfer and became pregnant within a week.
On May 3 2021, Sarah gave birth to their beautiful baby boy and named him Hayes Philip-Scott Shellenberger
Although she couldn't be happier to be a mother, Sarah added, "It is bittersweet because I know that Scott would have been over the moon in love with him and it is hard to experience these things without him."
"I absolutely see Scott in him. It feels like things are starting to look brighter and that maybe my life isn’t over and I have a purpose," she went on to say. Neither did Sarah ever imagine having fertility issues in her 30s, nor did she ever think she would lose the love of her life before raising a family with him. But her son, Hayes, became "the medicine my heart needed," Sarah wrote for Love What Matters.
As for now, Sarah does not know what the future holds for her, but she plans on going back to Barbados in 2022 for her second embryo transfer so that Hayes can have a sibling to grow up with. "I can’t see past today at this point in my journey, and that’s OK," Sarah said. "I am grateful to feel joy and happiness alongside my pain and sorrow and am thankful for the friends I’ve met along the way in this grief/infertility journey."
Cover image source: GoFundMe