In 2010, Sara Walsh realized her childhood dream of becoming an anchor on the most well-known sports show in the nation: ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
The University of North Florida alumna’s journey to the summit of sports broadcasting took nearly a decade and included stops in Georgia, Tennessee and Washington, D.C.
Walsh, now 43, admittedly used to prioritize her career over her personal life. Marriage and children weren’t on her radar when she was younger.
“To be honest, having children never really entered my mind. I’m not one of those girls who grew up wanting to be a mom,” recalled Walsh, who hails from New Port Richey, Florida, and played college soccer at UNF. “I thought it would happen when the time was right.”
Two years after her ESPN debut, Walsh started dating then-professional baseball player Matt Buschmann. The couple married in 2014 and quickly decided to start a family.
“I knew being a dad was very important to Matt, and that changed my perspective on having kids,” added Walsh, who now works as a sideline reporter for FOX Sports and the NFL Network. “But due to our crazy work schedules, it became very difficult for us to conceive.”
‘A timing problem’
After suffering multiple miscarriages, Walsh was referred for intrauterine insemination (IUI), a procedure that involves placing sperm inside the uterus to facilitate fertilization.
“A doctor told me I didn’t have an infertility problem, I had a timing problem,” said Walsh, who underwent IUI twice before trying a different method of assisted reproduction called in vitro fertilization (IVF).
During this process, an extracted egg and a sperm sample are manually combined in a laboratory dish and then transferred to the uterus.
“It was a lot of appointments in a row,” Walsh recalled. “You are going every day so they can check follicles and egg growth.”
After several rounds of IVF, two viable embryos were frozen for future implantation. For all practical purposes, those two good eggs amounted to her last shot at conception.
Weeks after the egg transfer, Walsh bought a home pregnancy test and spent a few harrowing minutes waiting for the results.
“I was walking around my house in the most panicked state I’ve ever been in,” she recalled.
The test was positive; Walsh was pregnant again. A sonogram would later reveal she was having twins, a common occurrence with IVF treatments.
Due date moved up
Two months later, Walsh started bleeding, necessitating an overnight stay in the hospital. At first, she feared the worst – another miscarriage. But a trip to the fertility clinic confirmed the babies were fine.
Late in her pregnancy, Walsh developed preeclampsia, a complication characterized by high blood pressure. She was advised to have her babies six weeks before her due date.
“I was oblivious to how dangerous the situation really was,” said Walsh, who delivered at a hospital in Tampa. “There were about 20 people in the delivery room because they knew the babies would go straight to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I didn’t get to see them for three days.”
Baby girl Hutton was born first at 1:37 pm on Jan. 30, 2017, weighing 4 pounds, 4 ounces. One minute later, Brees, a boy, came in at 4 pounds, 8 ounces.
“The first time I saw them it was very upsetting because they were so tiny and hooked up to what looked like a million monitors,” Walsh said. “But the NICU nurses were miracle workers.”
Hutton and Brees stayed in the NICU for two weeks before being discharged together.
Sharing her story
On May 14, 2017, Walsh posted a picture of herself on Instagram cradling her twins while lounging in a backyard hammock. The moving Mother’s Day post took on a life of its own.
“We realize we are beyond fortunate to have gotten past a ton of disappointment, a lot of loss and utter anguish, to end with twins who were truly medical miracles,” Walsh captioned the post. “And that’s why I have continued to share our story with the hope that someone enduring this right now feels a little less alone in what can be an isolating struggle.”
Sara Walsh will be the keynote speaker at the seventh annual Sisisky-Kleppinger Endowed Lecture for Women’s Health on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, at WJCT Studios, 100 Festival Park Ave. If you would like to learn about the lifesaving care provided to newborns in the new Neonatal Intensive Care Center in the Borowy Family Children’s Critical Care Tower, visit wolfsonchildrens.com/tower.