One can't help but chalk up dates, milestones, anniversaries in the process of conceiving, bearing, praying over and loving triplets.
We have their birthday (of course), the day the ventilator was no more, the first day of milk fed nutrition, homecoming day, tell our friends and family day, share it on my blog day, and the day, THE DAY, when we found out our lives we're about to be changed in triplicate.
The day we found out there were three tiny sacks housing three tiny heartbeats inside me was quite significant. I can't say I was jaw dropping shocked. It sounds strange, but in some way I was kind of prepared for what the sonographer found. It's really not something I was expecting. Of course I was surprised! But there were a lot of little things that happened the past four years that kind of prepped me for this potentially heart stopping news.
I know it would be classic and sentimental to remember my exact emotions and how I felt and how I looked at Chris, but I was just, well, thankful.
I was thankful that four weeks after we first found out the IUI worked, there was still a life inside me. Then to find out there were three - gratitude beyond measure. Of course I was worried and anxious and wondered how we were going to manage. But at that moment, when we knew, my heart just felt joy.
The two doctors that helped us conceive were really quite wonderful. We felt they were thorough and competent, had been helping families realize their dreams for twenty years and even sometimes had a sense of humor. However, when one of them called to go over the details of what it meant to be having triplets, he was quite humorless and I dare say a little joyless.
The day he called, my husband and I had talked about everything you can imagine two people in love who just found out they were having three babies at once were can talk about. The nagging anxiety was there (still is, I've learned to live with it) but our conversations and day had been filled with light hearted musings and plans and aspirations of coaching a four year old soccer team. Then the doctor called.
It was a year ago, so I don't recall our conversation word for word. So I'll sum it up in bullets.
- You could lose one or all of your embryos. (We had been calling them babies.)
- One or all could be severely handicapped or have a birth defect.
- One could be in danger because of competition for nutrients.
- One or all could die in childbirth.
- The cost of three babies is alarmingly high.
- One or all could be in the NICU for a while.
- This pregnancy will be extremely hard on your body.
- You could be on bed rest the entire time.
- Raising kids until age 2 is extremely taxing, you will have three of them.
- I don't consider this a successful pregnancy. (That one hurt.)
- You are at a higher risk for developing preeclampsia and other potentially life threatening conditions related to this pregnancy.
- You are a higher risk for premature births.
- Have you ever heard of selective reduction?
However! And I mean HOWEVER!
He didn't know.
He didn't know we had been praying almost everyday for 4 years for a family. And when that prayer was hard to utter again, we prayed for understanding. When we couldn't understand, we prayed for patience. (Warning, be extremely careful when praying for patience.) When we grew inpatient of praying for patience (yes, I know) we prayed that we would enjoy our time together without thinking about what we don't have. I think our hearts were a little prepped. But he didn't know that.
This picture was Chris' idea. He loved seeing three bands on each of us. I had not seen the kids yet at this point. He had seen them briefly in the operating room before they were whisked through the NICU window.
He didn't know we had a small army that we called our family that were going to support us. The word 'support' is weak sauce compared to what we have. If support were a landscape, we have the ocean, the Sahara, the Andes Mountains and the Grand Canyon. Every ocean and sea. Even the ones that are dead.
He didn't know that we put the Lord in charge of our lives a long time ago and whatever happened to our family was because He is our master architect. Maybe I would lose one or all. Maybe I would be on bed rest the whole time. Maybe birthing three babies wouldn't go well. But it was okay. It wasn't ours to plan.
He didn't know the millions of prayers that were sent to heaven in our behalf. He didn't know people who had never met me or my husband would pray for us and send good thoughts our way.
He didn't know I had people in my life that would sacrifice time away from their own families and lives to help keep mine together when things were unbearable. He didn't know that I would still find it hard and emotional to put into words what others did for me when things were at their worst.
He didn't know I would end up with the most amazing and caring doctor in the state of Utah who specializes in multiples. That he made sure he was there to deliver our three little miracles and made sure I was okay weeks and weeks after they were born. Who called me at his son's wrestling match because he thought he recognized my own wrestler brother from our conversations. Doctors like Dr. Draper are one of a kind. I'll always be grateful for his kind ways and happy heart.
He didn't know that we would end up in one of the most compassionate and caring NICU units in the world! He didn't know about the nurses who loved my children and did things for them I couldn't. Even some nurses that for some reason or another could not have their own babies. But they loved my three without guile or jealousy. He didn't know about the staff of occupational therapists who despite having many, many babies to help, made me feel like mine were the only ones on their schedule. He didn't know the friendships and bonds I would form with other mothers who had babies tinier and sicker than mine. Friendships formed in the midst of shared chaos and heartbreak are special. He didn't know that would happen.
Christian on day two of life. He still love to sprawl and lounge. I think he is the one who led the charge out of the cramped living quarters inside my body.
Our little Gabe 12 hours after he was born. He was on the vent in this picture. He would go back and forth between the vent and CPAP until he was about 31 1/2 weeks gestation.
Seeing my daughter Sunny for the first time. It would be close to a month before I would be able to hold her. She is on CPAP in this picture but would be on the ventilator shortly after this for a while.
He didn't know that when my heart was heavy and I couldn't find the strength or words to pray that my 2 pound babies would make it through pneumonia and a chest tube and machines to help them breath and stay alive that I would feel the prayers of those that could find the words. That my strength would come from their kind thoughts, words of hope, visits, homemade baby blankets, a clean house, shared tears, meals, little texts, a quiet vigil over my wordless fear, and love. He didn't know the power of all that love.
We both loved our cuddle time together. Even if I was in a hospital gown and she was attached to monitors.
He also didn't know that my hope was greater than my doubt. Because I learned that when you doubt, there is no room for hope. Hope was a lesson that I learned along the way of not knowing why a baby could not survive in my womb for longer than 6 weeks.
But they did survive. Chest tubes and monitors, blood transfusions a giant belly, swollen ankles, sighs accompanied with bad news from NNPs are all in the distant past.
On our one year anniversary of 'finding out' three are on the way, we are still full of joy. We have chubby babies. (Okay, chubby baby. The other two in my opinion are still on the thin side.) We have babies that laugh and cry. We have babies that roll over and grab toys. We have a happy family.
Yes, raising three children the same age is hard. I am tired a lot. But I asked for this! (Well, I didn't order three, let's be clear. You can't do that, despite what you might hear.) I asked for a family. However that family was going to come to us, it didn't matter. So the permanent wet spot on my shoulder from drool or spit up or snot makes me smile. The constant cacophony of cries at the end of the day is like a symphony. Changing nine stinky diapers in one day is cake. (I bet there are some moms who do that anyway! Without multiples.)
So I forgave him of our conversation before it was even over! Because he didn't know. He just didn't know.
Okay, three little cookies. Thanks for caring about our family.