Fabi's husband Josh Powell, who died 31 days after their wedding, had frozen his sperm before starting his cancer treatment.
Josh and Fabi Powell of Tennessee were informed in August 2016 that Josh's metastasized cancer would not let him live to see their scheduled May 2017 wedding date. The couple rescheduled their wedding for November, but sadly, Josh passed away 31 days after their wedding.
Before beginning his cancer treatments, Josh had stored some of his sperm because radiation and chemotherapy might affect fertility. “He was very intentional about having this conversation — that’s when he shared about (wanting) babies and he said, ‘How cool would it be to have a little piece of me live on forever and you would be the best mom,’” Fabi tells TODAY. “He intentionally planted the seed … it was the only time in our relationship that we talked about him possibly not being here.”
Josh, a West Point grad who was still in the military, got some awful health news just two months after the couple first met in 2014. The doctors determined that Josh had synovial sarcoma, which according to the National Cancer Institute, is a type of cancer that develops in the body's soft tissues. Josh had surgery and several rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. “What this cancer diagnosis was able to do is bless us with this beautiful full perspective that life is short and to not sweat the small stuff,” Fabi says. “We tried to pack our lives and our days with as much living as we possibly could when he did feel well.”
After Josh passed, Fabi had many difficult decisions to make, but she knew that for the first year, she should refrain from making any significant decisions. “I wanted to give myself time to process my grief and allow life to take its course,” she says. She tried dating for a while, but the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown helped her refocus and made her realize how important family was to her. “I’ve given it more than a fair shot so why am I not just moving forward with IVF to have a baby?” she says.
Fabi had two unsuccessful egg retrievals and embryo transfers at the first clinic she visited. The embryos go through a harder selection process to make sure they don't contain a cancer gene. “By far, aside from navigating life without my husband, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.”
Fabi began in-vitro fertilization four years later in an effort to conceive her late husband's child. She has overcome many obstacles in her quest to become a mother, but she is sharing her story on social media to make other people using IVF feel less isolated. “Most people suffer in silence while going through IVF,” she says, adding that it is rewarding for her to have messages from other “IVF warriors thanking me for being so transparent with the journey.”
Most of all, Fabi is happy to undertake the dream that Josh had left behind for them. “Josh laid this dream on my heart and it’s not something that I can just give up,” she says. “I like to live my life where I can look back and have the least amount of regrets I possibly can. I know this baby is supposed to be here and because I feel so strongly about that, that’s what gives me the energy and the courage and the strength to keep fighting.”
Cover Image Source: Instagram | @fabipowell