LAKE BUENA VISTA — Brandon Lowe had no words, only tears.
For most of the last three years, he and wife Madison had been on a heart-wrenching journey of miscarriages and multiple failed attempts at intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization to conceive a child.
And on Jan. 23, around 10 p.m., Emmett Dean Lowe made it all worthwhile.
“Obviously it’s terrifying when the baby comes because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Brandon said Sunday after reporting to Rays camp.
“When you heard the first cry, I broke. It shattered everything that I was ever thinking about. A couple of tears rolling down the face. I mean, it was an incredible moment.”
The sounds and sight of the 8-pound, 3-ounce healthy baby boy — who arrived three weeks early when delivery was induced due to his size and blood pressure concerns for Madison — eclipsed all the physical pain and emotional scarring the couple had endured since trying to start a family in January 2020.
Madison documented the details leading to the arrival of their “little miracle” in a candid October Instagram post titled “Our Fertility Story,” noting how the Lowes “experienced so much heartbreak with infertility and loss.”
• Feb. 2020: Miscarriage
• May 2020: Ruptured ectopic (emergency surgery to remove my tube that ruptured)
• Feb. 2021: Failed IUI
• May 2021: Miscarriage
• July & August 2021: Failed IUIs
• September 2022: Start IVF
• Feb 2022: Failed IVF transfer
• May 2022: IVF transfer WORKED
“To be honest the last 3 years have been TOUGH,” she wrote. “I think about each one of those pregnancies and all the time that has passed EVERYDAY. I don’t believe that time heals all wounds, but I do believe it allows you to process and understand.”
A change in perspective
Those experiences can be trying on a relationship. Brandon said it brought him and Madison closer and they put more trust in higher powers.
“It kind of drove us into our faith a little bit more, honestly,” Brandon said. “The big thing that I always kept falling back on is, you can get frustrated or you can understand that God has a plan.
Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene
Subscribe to our free Sports Today newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
“There’s a reason that we haven’t been blessed with a child yet. Maybe it’s not the right time for us; maybe it’s not the right time in our life. He has a higher plan. If this moment sucks, it’s not the end of it all. Like, there’s going to be a light and it’s coming.”
Having met at the University of Maryland in the early 2010s and been married since December 2017, the couple, Brandon said, are “stronger together now than we’ve ever been.”
And his appreciation for her strengths has grown even more.
“I can’t speak for what she went through,” Brandon said. “IVF is a brutal process. … She was going through three shots a day at a time, shots every day. It was something that is extremely impressive for her to go through and for her to just be an upbeat person going through something like that every single day.
“It was really incredible to watch her get through it and incredible to watch her to go through a pregnancy and bring (Emmett) into the world.”
Some more good news
Brandon, 28, has even more to be thankful for as he enters his sixth season playing second base for the Rays.
He has overcome a debilitating lower-back issue — diagnosed as a stress reaction, which is considered a precursor to a fracture — that limited him to 65 games last season and eight home runs, down from 39 in 2021 and a big part of the Rays’ overall offensive dropoff.
His breakthrough came after months of rest and rehabilitation, including a program of spine-centered exercises from the ELDOA system developed by French osteopath Guy Voyer. He was cleared to start swinging again Jan. 1. He couldn’t wait to try, heading to the training facility near his Tennessee home to test his back at 10 a.m. New Year’s Day, taking 10 cuts with a ball on a tee.
“My first set of swings, I really didn’t feel anything,” Brandon said. “That’s when I started to realize, ‘All right, it’s going to be healed, it’s going to be fine.’ "
He admitted that he had concerns when he felt soreness soon after — “It freaked me out a little bit” — but his physical therapist explained that it was muscular and could be addressed with soft tissue work.
“That kind of put my mind at ease a little bit,” he said. “I’ve done nothing but let it loose since then, and I’ve felt great.”
Brandon felt good after swinging Sunday, notable, he said, following a couple of hectic days of travel from the Nashville area to Tampa and then to Disney World.
He looked good to manager Kevin Cash, who was blunt about what a healthy Lowe — a left-handed slugger, which the Rays had been seeking to acquire — could add to a lineup that returns intact after a somewhat anemic 2022 showing.
“Forty homers,” Cash said. “He can hit a lot of homers.”
First things first
Brandon is excited about getting back on the field, helping the team again and taking on a leadership role.
But nothing matches the immense joy of his seeing, holding — even dealing with the middle-of-the-night cries — of his and his wife’s long-awaited baby.
“It felt like it was the longest thing ever; we started trying three years ago,” he said. “Everyone always says you’ll never look at your wife the same way again. And I had gotten to see kind of how strong of a person she was over the last three years.
“When things go wrong in a pregnancy, everyone says they’re sorry to the couple. But the husband really doesn’t go through it. … To see how she handles everything, to be the same person, to be as good of a wife and as good of a woman as she’s been, to go through what she did to bring this child into the world, it was a special day.
“And this is one special kid that’s going to be very, very loved.”
Contact Marc Topkin at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.
• • •
Sign up for the Rays Report weekly newsletter to get fresh perspectives on the Tampa Bay Rays and the rest of the majors from sports columnist John Romano.
Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.