It's been nearly 3 weeks since two of my triplets' hearts stopped beating inside me from twin to twin transfusion syndrome. Their sweet little bodies went from wiggling with joy to being pulled down by gravity, right on top of my cervix, slumping over and starting to curl into little balls. Still recognizable as my sweet little babies, with perfectly formed fingers and toes, just no more flickering of their hearts. Hope and Hailey were meant for heaven after 16 weeks of love here on earth in my belly. Their identical sister Hannah continued and still continues to grow despite all odds. Medical odds for something so rare that it's hard to fully grasp, but I don't regret being open to life, and saying adamently yes that I want to continue my pregnancy even when we were informed of the dangers and urged to terminate. The chances of my entire pregnancy being non-viable by 20 weeks was extremely likely, we were told. I hoped we'd beat those odds, but ultimately put my trust in God. He gave us these babies and He knows His plan. And still, we are beating those odds since one of my identicals is still fighting and growing right now. Just not quite how I had imagined it.
I check in on Hannah via doppler daily and her movements are becoming more distinct every day. She, my baby C, has always been on my right side. Once my body released the water from my babies A and B, she was able to move more towards the center of my belly but she still very distinctly is only on my right, laying transverse and flipping back and forth, sucking her thumb and growing with joy. On the left lay Hailey and Hope, whose bodies are now slowly hardening within their amniotic sacs. That side of my belly is deflated compared to before, no longer the big triplet tummy I once had. I treasure those few weeks I got to feel all 3 of my babies alive inside me. I continue to be on modified bedrest, and pray that this helps. Today I'm 18w5d... but who is counting? ;)
God has given me great peace despite how challenging these last few weeks have been. I've been told by many that I seem to be very calm, and I am, because I can be. My outer peace doesn't always match my interior, but it often does. What do I control here? Very little. I can control how I respond to my family and friends, and still being there for my other children. Being overly consumed by my grief, fears, and anxiety is only going to cause more fears and anxiety surrounding me. God is in control. He was in control when he put this rare miracle of identical triplets in my belly at conception, and He continues to be in control. All I can do is continue to care for the baby growing in my belly the best I can, and pray she will get to join us outside my belly. Regardless what happens though, all of our triplets are deeply loved. ❤💔💔
My sweet children have taught me so much, and as we've had to comfort them as they process losing two sisters, they've all taught us more about love than I can really express here. I've lost many babies before, but we chose to not tell our kids about those losses at the moment they occurred. Joey was just beginning to understand about his saintly brothers and sisters, as he matured and could understand what a miscarriage was too. But this is different, they were happily expecting triplets and would tell literally any stranger that would hear them that I was pregnant with triplets. The telling of people was one of the hardest things for me, and then I'd think to situations where Joey or Ina were alone and might have to tell a friend or a teacher or anyone about our losses, and my heart broke for them having to do this -- such a painful thing for even an adult to do, and they'd be faced with it too.
When we told our kids that evening, I fully expected sadness. I didn't expect Ina to cry the saddest guttural cry I've ever heard for over an hour -- in fact Joey is my most emotional child, so if I expected it from anyone it was him. He was of course, too, very sad, but I'll never forget Ina's cries. I don't think Emmy would have even "got it" that the babies had died, except she was so shocked by Ina's crying and tried to comfort her. Emmy has always been my very empathic child though, just like I am. In the days coming, the few times we'd see a friend or family member, Emmy was almost always the first to tell them after "hi", "babies died." Most people didn't even know what to say to my little 30lb Emmy telling them this, even though they already knew from us. In her own 2 year old way, she was processing their deaths differently than my older two. She does have advanced speech for her age, but she doesn't really have the language skills combined with the emotional ability to ask me questions that she wanted answered, like Joey and Ina did. Instead, her processing the loss of two of her baby sisters that she barely had understood and embraced them growing in my belly came in waves of love and empathy. A few days after they died, Emmy was innocently playing with her dolls just like she always does when she stopped, looked very sad, wrapped her baby in a blanket and brought her to me. "My baby is dead like the babies in your tummy. She needs you to hold her and rock her. Rock my dead baby." With shock and love, I cuddled my Emmy and her baby and we rocked together. She'd innocently kiss my belly throughout the day, and she'd stare in confusion and horror when I was puking and ask "Why you puke? Babies dead." I realized a week after on the day of my ultrasound that she had been so consumed by the sadness of our reactions that she didn't realize that one baby was still alive in my belly. I had gotten home and asked her if she wanted to see pictures of the baby. She looked at me surprised and then looked at the strip of ultrasound photos and said, "One baby is OK?" Thereafter, her phrase she told friends and family was, "Babies died. One baby is okay!" I can't even imagine how confusing this is to process for her, but she's amazing and has done so well.
One of the things I mentally really struggled with when Hope and Hailey died is the mental horror that I would have to carry their dead bodies inside me for as long as this pregnancy continues. Of course I want Hannah to live, but thinking about the fact that her sweet body is growing next to the bodies of her sisters is hard to mentally wrap my head around. As she grows bigger and stronger, at the kick of her foot or reach of her hand, her sisters' bodies are right there, once a vessel for their soul, slowly degrading and becoming more and more unrecognizeable. How can I be both a vessel for life and a vessel for death simultaneously? In the other times I've lost babies in pregnancy, I've felt the beginning of closure and peace when I knew their bodies were no longer within mine. But I couldn't have that this time -- and of course I don't want it because I want Hannah to grow and thrive. So I've had to search and pray for peace differently. Emmy brings up Hope and Hailey and Hannah multiple times a day to me, sometimes with sadness, but usually just in passing and sometimes just in complete 2 year old silliness. A few days ago, I had just taken a shower and I was drying my belly and Emmy pokes my belly and giggles and says, "You just took a shower with your dead babies. And your baby alive." She and her sister love the brand dolls "baby alive" and they both recently got their first actual baby alive dolls, so her calling Hannah my baby alive made me giggle. But something else, as much as her saying this again tugged at the sadness in my heart, reflecting on it made me realize what a blessing it is that I get to have Hope's and Hailey's bodies right here, with me, for so long. So often when moms lose a baby in miscarriage, it feels abrupt - I was pregnant and now I'm not and my baby is gone. So much so that some hospitals use special things like cuddle cots so that moms of stillborn babies can spend more time with them and be with them even longer. My sweet Emmy has made me realize that I'm blessed to carry their bodies with me in my love as their sister grows. Just like I was blessed to carry them in perfect form for 16 weeks... I am blessed for each of them. And no longer do I feel a bit of horror when I feel the hardened left side of my belly or pressure on my cervix from their bodies, I only feel love.
So much of this processing is difficult, but all I can do is just keep moving forward a moment at a time and focus on love and joy and God. I hear Hannah's heartbeat and don't know if it will be the last time, or if it will still be beating hard tomorrow. But for every moment, we are blessed abundantly.
In loving memory of all our babies that have left this earth too soon - Hailey Marie, Hope Catherine, Louis Paul, Lydia Marie, Simon John, Clementine Sarah, Alexius Timothy and Jude Harper. I know you all surround our family with love daily and pray for us, especially your siblings here on earth, Joseph Michael, Ina Beth, Emily Louise, Robert Henry, and Hannah Grace. All glory to God for all of his beautiful blessings, may our family continue to be surrounded with love and peace and joy.
Thank you to all the friends and family that have helped us while we continue to heal and look forward as moments continue to pass, life continues to move, and we just hope and love and pray.