Jason Wells and his daughter Hayden

Jason & Heather Wells | Be Still
Story 11

Jason Wells, Adventist Health's Chief Strategy, Consumer & Innovation Officer, still remembers what happened 10 years ago vividly. When his wife's pregnancy became dangerous to both her and their unborn daughter, their family was forever changed. In his own words, "I now look at every single person at our clinics, in our hospitals, knowing they're in the middle of some story that to them -- is everything."

Jason Wells: Being on that side of the experience in such a long, intense journey. I now know exactly what it feels like to be afraid. February 2011, she shared that the news wasn't great, that our daughter, third pregnancy, was in a really tough spot.

Heather Wells: My placenta had kind of split in half. In between that tissue, all of the veins and arteries, the blood flow between mom and baby are exposed.

Jason Wells: And on top of that, we hit the jackpot of all jackpots. Not only was it vasa previa, but one of those placental lobes was growing through an old C-section scar, and it was now this vascular tissue just growing through her body, all into her bladder, and it was worst case scenario.

We spent a couple of weeks at home, and then Heather started having some additional complications. And I said, "You need to come in right now." The stress on Heather and I through this was tremendous. We had a two-year old, we had a five-year-old, they wonder where mom's gone, I am trying to serve as vice president of a hospital. And when you're just laying there worried about so much, knowing that right inside your body all hell is breaking loose, how do I give Heather something else to think about?

Heather Wells: All of a sudden things started coming in the room, a load at a time.

Jason Wells: I kind of went all in and printed off hundreds and hundreds of photos and just covered the walls of her entire room with stories. The waterfall in the room, the bulbs growing in the windowsill, I think it became quite legendary throughout the hospital, and people would just stop in and say, "I was told I had to come see this room and meet this family."

The incredible decision through all this was, on one hand, the longer the pregnancy goes, it's better for Hayden. But every day we added onto Hayden's life is more risk for Heather.

Heather Wells: As a mother, your instinct is, protect my baby. And as that day got closer, every day for me, the question in the back of my mind was, is that one day less that I get to be a mom to my other two kids and a wife to my husband?

Jason Wells: It probably didn't become full reality until you watch Heather write goodbye notes to her kids, just in case. You trust science. We prayed. But the hardest thing in this whole journey for me was those six weeks in the hospital, in that room, knowing that even though I live in a profession and I'm wired in a way that controls and drive outcomes, this is not an outcome that I could orchestrate, that I could guarantee. “Be still and know that I am God” became such a powerful phrase.

It was about 11:00 a.m. I was standing next to Heather's dad in Heather's room, and she'd been under surgery for probably three and a half hours with no word, and I finally got that first text message that said, “Heather's going to make it.”

Heather Wells: And I woke up to Jason walking towards me with his phone ready with videos of Hayden from the NICU. He took a picture of her right as they brought her out and then he showed it to me. And it showed the doctors holding Hayden up and she has her fist clenched like, "I made it." That's my first memory of waking up.

Jason Wells: Hayden is doing great today. She has a t-shirt that says, “Though she may be small, she is fierce.”

Heather Wells: What an addition to our family she is.

Jason Wells: I can't imagine not having her a part of our world, and knowing how close we came to that scenario, it is just incredible to have her as the third kiddo in this family of five. What I learned going through those weeks in that room with Heather and then the recovery weeks afterwards, I now look at every single person at our clinics, in our hospitals, knowing they're in the middle of some story that to them is everything.

I can remember a time when a family lost their child in a swimming pool. And you're sitting with those parents in the chapel. What do you say in that moment? But just loving them, praying with them. There's nothing else that you can do other than just be present. And I think I learned that from my time with Heather, being present and watching so many people choose to be present with us. And it's something that I will forever in my career strive to give back