In my early 20s I was diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis. I underwent several surgeries and tried using medications to suppress it, but I knew I was going to have trouble conceiving. When I was 26, after thorough fertility testing, my husband and I made the decision to begin the in-vitro process. We had 2 unsuccessful rounds where we had 2 embryos implanted each time. On our 3rd round, we opted to implant 3 embryos… ALL 3 TOOK!!! We found out in August of 2011 that we were having TRIPLETS!!!
My pregnancy was uneventful for a triplet pregnancy. Aside from being super sick and needing medication to even keep water down. I was seeing high risk doctors, a maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) group at our women’s hospital which also has a level 3 NICU. And they were monitoring me closely. But when I went in for a check-up on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at exactly 24 weeks, our happiness started to diminish. The doctor discovered that I was 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I had absolutely no labor symptoms at that point.
I was rushed up to Labor & Delivery (L&D) where they started drugs to try to stop my labor, as well as steroids for their lungs. Then the neonatologists came in to tell us what we could expect should the babies come right then. With just 1 baby, 24 weeks is the very cusp of viability…and we had 3. They were not optimistic to say the very least and even brought up “comfort care” as an option as opposed to “life saving care.” That was never an option for us.
I was on strict bed rest in L&D. They finally slowed my contractions and I didn’t dilate any further, so 2 days later I was moved to a step down unit. We thought I would just stay there for hopefully a few more weeks on bed rest and close monitoring. But then around 8 pm on Saturday, January 28, 2012…at just 24 weeks 4 days, Baby A broke her water. by the smell they could tell there was an infection, so they had to take all 3 babies immediately.
They began closing me up, and the pain from all the pressure was becoming unbearable, so they kept giving me drugs that slowly knocked me out. They told my husband to go ahead up to my room and that I would be up in a half hour.
Then I hemorrhaged. I ended up needing 8 units of blood plus blood products. I crashed and needed to be intubated. My husband was told that they didn’t know if I was going to survive. But I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) the next evening, still intubated. I had to stay in ICU for another day, which meant I couldn’t yet see my babies. I was told that they were doing as well as could be expected, but I was very impatient to meet them.
When I finally got to meet them, it was such a shock. So many machines…such tiny babies. All three were lucky enough that their periventricular leukomalacia’s (PVL)
closed with just medication. Wyatt did need a central line put in, but that went smoothly. They had their head ultrasounds and Sophie’s came back with no bleed whatsoever, rare for a 24 week triplet. Miranda’s was negligible. But Wyatt’s was slightly concerning at a grade 3. It did start to regress though.
For over 3 weeks I was at that hospital almost non stop bouncing from cubicle to cubicle to cubicle, while my poor husband tried to balance working as a police officer and being at the hospital. I had only been able to hold Sophie and Miranda, and even then not for long, because of their instability. Our girls seemed to be slowly moving forward, but Wyatt just was not making progress. He would not poop and was unable to tolerate feeds so they kept suspecting necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)
, but it never was.
On Night 23, we didn’t sleep much, the doctors were calling to get permission to treat for infection. We should have gone then, but were told to rest, that they would call us if we needed to be there. When we were on our way early the next morning, we received a call…we needed to get there ASAP. I just looked at my husband and said, “Oh my God, he’s going to die isn’t he?” When we got there, we could tell his dr. had been crying, which is never a good sign. The cultures for infection they had taken had finally showed something, only it was too late. He had become septic. He was not going to make it no matter what they did. So we had him baptized by our minister, and that was the first time we held him. Then they took him off of the ventilator, and he died in our arms at 24 days old. Our hearts were broken, but we had to keep moving forward for our girls… they needed us.
We moved on auto pilot for days, trying to grasp what had happened, and never expecting it to happen again. They treated the girls with antibiotics just to be safe, and we breathed a little easier. But 9 days later I noticed Miranda’s belly was a little firm. The nurse practitioner said not to worry, it was probably just a little gas, but they would watch just to be sure. We left to get something to eat and to try to rest some. A little while later they called us to tell us that they thought Miranda had NEC and they were going to start treating it.
We had gone home to rest…and they called again. She had already gotten so sick and unstable that they were going to have to transfer her to our Children’s Hospital for surgery, but she was so bad they weren’t sure she would even make the transport. We raced to Children’s, and beat them there. She survived the transport and even stabilized enough that they just put a drain in her tummy to relieve the pressure until morning, and hopefully hold off on all out surgery till she stabilized a little more. But by morning, her tummy hadn’t drained as much as they wanted so they prepped her for surgery. We were told that it would take about 4 hours. They were just going to remove the infected portion of her bowels and she would have an ostomy for a while. But an hour into it they came running to get us. Every last bit of her bowels were dead…and then she crashed on the table. We ran into the room, with her still open from surgery and them doing CPR to just revive her enough, so that we could hold her as she, too, passed away. We couldn’t believe it, 10 days after we lost our son, we had lost one of our daughters too. Once again we were heartbroken, but had to keep pushing forward for Sophie.
Sophie was plugging along slowly but surely. At 3 months actual age, it took 2 rounds of steroids to get her off of the ventilator, but once she did it she progressed from cpap to high flow cannula to regular flow cannula to all on her own quickly. She needed laser surgery for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)
. Then we found she was aspirating when she bottle fed, so we had to stop giving her anything by mouth for a month and then repeat the test. Since that was all that was keeping her in the NICU, we had her transferred her to a transitional infant care home. Still our same neonatologists, and still nicu nurses, but we could stay with Sophie in rooms by ourselves almost every night, and take her outside!! A month later she passed the test and we were able to start oral feeds again. We soon realized she wasn’t able to take enough by mouth to gain weight and go home. So we had to head back to Children’s to have a G-tube put in, as well as a fundoplication
to help with her severe reflux.
After 166 days in the hospital…. 1 week and 1 day after surgery, on July 11, 2012…..SOPHIE CAME HOME. Weighing 10 lbs. She has since become mostly g-tube fed due to oral aversions caused by reflux, and she needs glasses to prevent a lazy eye, but otherwise she is a wonderfully healthy and happy little girl. Now almost 13 months real age, 9.5 months adjusted, and weighs 21 lbs. She is in the 30th percentile for her actual age!
We are finally trying to come to terms with everything that has happened to us…trying to move forward celebrating Wyatt & Miranda’s short but meaningful lives, and facing the very rewarding challenge of raising our beautiful preemie Sophie. Despite it all, we are so incredibly blessed to have her here with us and cherish every single day.