Our Triplet Birth Story

The week leading up to the babies being born was physically painful. I could barely move. One night I had pretty bad contractions but they were irregular and eventually stopped so we ended up not going in to the hospital, although we probably should have. Then, a couple of days later, I barely moved to the left while sitting down to make room for Turbo, and I pulled a muscle and it hurt really bad. Turbo (our dog) sat with me everyday and some nights when I was sick and hurting.

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I had to go in every other day that week to get heartbeats checked with this crazy machine. I had to sit super still and they had to place monitors on each baby and get consistent heartbeats from each one for 20 min. It was almost impossible. If I moved a muscle or breathed too hard, or if the baby moved at all, the monitor would get off and we would have to start over. I was so uncomfortable and sweaty. Haha It was a mess.

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But they still thought everything looked good, and that I was on track to make it to 35 weeks (full term for triplets). The babies had other ideas though. The night before the babies came, I couldn’t sleep again (I got very little sleep those last couple weeks), so I went downstairs to lay on the couch and tried to read or get comfortable. Contractions started again but they were still irregular. Throughout the night, they got worse and closer together. Finally in the middle of the night, I went to wake up Derek. We decided to call the on-call doctor this time and have it checked out. We drove to the hospital with our bags packed but hoping that we still had a couple of weeks to wait. We called our parents and told them not to come yet, and that it was probably false contractions again. We got to the hospital around 4am. They got us settled and put me on magnesium to slow the contractions. They also went ahead and gave me a steroid shot which helps with the babies’ lung development. Ideally you get this shot 48 hours to a week before giving birth. Derek called school around 5am and told them that he would be coming in late, but would probably still be there. And we waited. The contractions never stopped. They just kept progressing. They wheeled me down to my MFM and she confirmed that it was probably time to take them out. I had started to dilate so we couldn’t wait much longer. I was so scared because I wanted the steroid shot to be in my system longer, but if we waited, then Oliver would have tried to come out on his own and it is extremely dangerous to have a vaginal birth with triplets. Plus, the other 2 babies were breached. I was also scared of them being so small and just not ready to be in the outside world yet. I had no idea if they were ready. Ready or not, they gave me an epidural and got me all good and numb. I remember minutes before they wheeled me into the operating room, Derek stood me up and said, “We will not bring these babies into the world in fear. We are rejoicing, and we are happy. This is a moment that we have been waiting for, there is no room for fear.” I love that man. He was so right, and he helped me stay calm throughout the whole process. First they pulled out Oliver at 2:01pm. He weighed 4 pounds and 1 ounce. I was awake, but I had a sheet between me and the doctors working. Derek later told me that Oliver came out with the cord wrapped twice around his neck. His Apgar score was much lower than they wanted. Derek saw Oliver grey and not breathing but thankfully didn’t tell me until much later. His Apgar score started out at a 5 (this is not good). After about 5 minutes he was only a 6 (which is still not good), but by 10 minutes he was up to a 9 (this is much better). Then they yanked Shepherd out so hard by his feet that he had this dark black bruise on his whole foot for the next week. He also came out at 2:01pm, and he weighed 3 pounds and 15 ounces. The doctor said later that it was the worst bruise that he had ever seen on a baby. Shepherd’s Apgar started out as a 4 but quickly jumped to a 9 after 5 minutes. Then came Lucy, last but not least. She was born at 2:02pm and weighed 4 pounds and 1/2 an ounce. She was on room air from the start and had an Apgar of an 8 to begin with and was up to a 9 after 5 minutes. Lucy was the first to cry, and only one to cry in the delivery room. Thankfully, I couldn’t see much, but Derek was terrified the whole time. The boys were grey and not crying. After 10 minutes though, they were able to wrap all 3 up real tight with oxygen and bring them over for a picture one at a time. Then began the longest hour of my life. Derek got to go up to the NICU with the babies, and I was wheeled to a recovery room where I sat by myself not knowing how the babies were doing. No one could come back there except Derek, and I wanted him to be with the babies. So I sat. I sat and I prayed. Each year I pick a theme verse to memorize and repeat throughout the year. And this year my string of verses is Mary’s song. I sat in that recovery room and repeated over and over to myself:

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Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her! 

And Mary said:

“My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

These verses got me through that hour. I found comfort in knowing that God was watching over me and my babies. I rejoiced in God in that moment and chose not to fear, but oh how I rejoiced even more when Derek came back to report that all 3 were doing well up in the NICU. I could not go see them until I was able to sit in a wheel chair. So together we went to another recovery room where family could join us and we rested and slept until we could see our babies again and hold them for the first time. It’s a weird feeling knowing that these extensions of yourself are no longer inside you but you can’t see them or hold them. You just have to wait and take care of yourself and be thankful for the amazing doctors and nurses that are helping them breathe. We had to learn quickly to really trust and be thankful for people helping us with our babies from the very beginning. It has never been just us. It really takes a village, and the nurses and doctors in the NICU were a part of our village. By God’s spirit alone we had so much peace. Next week I’ll start sharing about our NICU experiences. I still can’t believe how healthy our babies are. We are truly lucky and never take for granted the fact that SLO are here and well. That was a big prayer that God answered YES to.

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Triplet Pregnancy reflections

Looking back I wish that I had taken more pictures of me, massive me, pregnant. I was trying to find a picture the other day that showed just how massive I was, but honestly I didn’t take many. Infertility took such a toll on me emotionally that I didn’t really want pictures of me pregnant. I had spent the last couple of years aching every time I saw a picture of a pregnant woman. I was really mindful about posting pregnant pictures because it hurt knowing that I was pregnant but so many others still weren’t. I also don’t know how to fully explain the dangers and risks involved while carrying 3 babies. Each week was hard, and each week brought new risks and questions. Derek especially carried a lot of this uncertainty. I tried not to think about what could go wrong and to stay as calm as possible. I stayed off of google and refused to look up “what if” stories. The TV show “This is Us” became a big hit, but we had to stay far away from it because the reality of something going wrong with 1 or all 3 of our babies was so real. I had dreams about something happening to them and even dreamt about the 3rd blastocyst splitting into a 4th.

Derek felt really isolated because he didn’t want to stress me out, and he couldn’t talk about the real possibilities of losing one baby (or all) to many people. While for most couples doctors’ visits are fun and exciting, for us each time we went we were sick to our stomachs wondering what might possibly happen. Now don’t get me wrong, we rejoiced and were thankful everyday for our blessing of 3 babies, but we were also all to familiar with the pain of knowing that sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to go. Infertility and my ectopic pregnancy and a failed IVF created this predisposition that something could and probably would go wrong at any moment. For this same reason, we decided not to do a maternity photo shoot. We didn’t do a gender reveal. We didn’t post monthly bump pictures. When we did post our birth announcement, it was with carefully chosen words that spoke about the pain of infertility. We were just so nervous and broken. Thankfully we had a wonderful community and support through this experience. We had so many people speaking and praying truth and hope when we were unable to. I really think though that Derek was skipped over a lot with how much of a weight he had to carry. I got asked how I was doing regularly, but Derek rarely got asked. I got to feel the reassurance of the babies moving because I was carrying them, so I felt confident that we were doing everything we could physically do to take care of them. Derek just had to watch. He watched and worried and encouraged. He fed me so much food!! But it was really hard on him to watch me in pain and know that there was little to nothing that he could do. Thankfully, everything that could have gone right did. We are very lucky. Yes, God had his hand all over this pregnancy, but He also has his hand on the many babies that are born too early and in the lives of those that lose their little ones.

Now looking back, I’m realizing that in those months of scary pregnancy, in those months of so many unknowns, in the months of feeling alone, I was still very angry at God for our infertility (even though I was pregnant). Ok, real truth, Im still angry at God sometimes. I am angry at God for what we went through with infertility and also angry that even when we did get pregnant it was different and hard and terrifying the whole time. I was and am afraid to pray because I didn’t see how it would help. I figured whatever was going to happen, was just going to happen, so why ask God to fix it.

After processing, I have realized that it’s not prayer in general that I’m struggling with. I still love thanksgiving and praise in prayer. Even in the darkest days, I did have things to prayerfully be thankful for. I understand and find purpose in meditative prayer and centering prayer. I think prayer is good when seeking forgiveness and confession. I even see the beauty in praying for gifts of the spirit to come more fully (give me peace and kindness, etc). The place that I am struggling is in intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is when I ask God to heal, fix, save, change, take away, etc. Often when asking people for prayer requests, this is the type of prayer that is being used. Heal my sick Grandma. Help me to get this job. Take away this pain that I am suffering through. Heal a relationship. These are all forms of intercessory prayer. I know now that I had believed the purpose of this type of prayer to be straightforward – God do these things for me. I wanted Him to take away my pain. That was the point. But if that is the point of intercessory prayer then at some point in your life, if it hasn’t happened already, God will say No and the pain will remain. The person will die or you will still lose the job. So if the point of intercessory prayer is for God to fix things, then He isn’t doing a very good job. I know that God is good and keeps His promises so He must not promise to do what we ask. There must be a different and better purpose. These verses messed me up. Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose.” Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

But here’s the deal…I was not getting the desires of my heart met. Whatever I was asking for in prayer, wasn’t mine. Things did not look like they were being worked for good. And yes there is an argument to be made for the fact that my beautiful triplets are here and amazing and healthy, and I love them so much, BUT what about the thousands of children dying in Africa from diarrhea because they don’t have clean water? What about the family that is homeless after countless efforts to find shelter and a job? What about the refugees that are dying every day as they are doing everything in their power to find safety? What about the triplets that I see everyday on my Facebook group that lose one or all of them or even just have major complications? I could go on and on. As a white American these verses seem to mean, pray and you will get what you want because most of the time, we get what we want. But if you look beyond yourself and look into the pain of someone that is suffering, someone that is doing everything “right” but the situation is not working for good, you have to question. Is there more to intercessory prayer than a genie granting wishes? What do these verses really mean?

Now don’t get me wrong, I do think that sometimes God says YES and he does fix, heal, save, and change. God is so powerful and we should rejoice when healing comes! But if that is our only goal in intercessory prayer than we are missing something HUGE. We are missing the main point. The point is not for God to give us what we want, but for him to know our hearts and for us to know his. As Shepherd, Lucy, and Oliver grow up, I hope that they tell me about the bully at school. I hope that they tell me about the huge chemistry test that they are scared about and the teacher that makes them nervous. I hope that they share their fears. I hope that they tell me when they struggle with lust or with self worth. I hope that they ask me to take care of them when they get hurt. I hope that they call me when they are in uncomfortable situations. I hope that they ask me to be a part of their problems. BUT I won’t be able to fix or heal or change everything, and I don’t want to. I hope that they learn that my job is not to bulldoze away their problems. My job is not to make all of their pain disappear. But I still want them to tell me. I still want them to lay their head on my shoulder, to cry, and to share their deepest fears, even if I can’t make them go away. Because in sharing, in voicing the pain and the fear, there is comfort. I know that there is a difference between me as a mom and God the Father. God has the power to fix anything while I do not, but the question still remains, should He? A lot of this falls into the topic of theodicy which is a whole other post that either Derek or I will write sometime. My conclusion today though is that the beauty of prayer is not in the answer but in the conversation. Sometimes I will jump up in action when my kids ask me to do something, but other times I will just sit and listen and talk with them and hold them. One of those is not greater than the other. The desire of my heart cannot be for God to take away my pain. The desire of my heart should be for God to sit with me in the highs and lows and let me rest on his shoulder. My burden is heavy, and I’m ready to find rest for my soul.

I strongly believe that my babies are not healthy because I deserve it or did something right, but it is a beautiful part of this crazy wonderful story. I am very thankful for all the people that carried Derek and I through those 32 weeks and 5 days. I am the most thankful for Derek who went above and beyond to help me feel comfortable and loved and at peace every step of the way. God is good. All the time.

sidenote: I did take a few pictures of my belly because both my mom and Derek’s mom begged us for them which I am now thankful for.

Derek’s thoughts on PGD

This is Derek! Welcome to the blog post with lots of abbreviations.  IVF is full of ethical implications; one of which is the practice of genetic screening or Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). During the IVF process, doctors fertilize eggs in a petri dish and then implant one or two into the woman after waiting 4-6 days. However during the PGD process, the development of the embryos is halted around day 4 or 5 when they become blastocysts. Doctors then remove one of the cells off of the newly formed blastocysts, and this removed cell is then tested genetically for diseases such as Down Syndrome, Trisomy-18, Tay-Sachs Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Osteogenesis Imperfecta etc… If the embryo tests positive for one of these diseases, then that embryo is discarded and only healthy embryos are implanted into the woman.

PGD offers hope for communities like the Ashkenazi Jewish communities where Tay Sachs is drastically more common compared to the rest of the United States population. This terrible disease causes the death of young children and is recessive as well which means many parents risk having children with the disease if they come in contact with another carrier. This disease is so terrible that the Ashkenazi community has actually set up a registry where romantic couples can check and see if both of the people are carriers before beginning to date. PGD however offers hope for carriers of these diseases because it allows for the removal of embryos which would have this disease.

I find the whole topic of PGD particularly fascinating, not only for the hope it gives some couples, but also for the ethical implications of using this technology. Megan and I became more aware of PGD not only through our journey of IVF but through reading a book titled No Easy Choice by Ellen Dollar. The book chronicles Dollar’s journey with the disease, Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) or more commonly known as brittle bone disease. The most extreme cases of children with OI cannot even survive childbirth, however for many people with OI they are able to live relatively normal lives albeit with extreme pain and scores of fractures. For children with OI, learning to walk is a terrifying ordeal as every fall or stumble possibly results in spiral fractures of the femur or broken hips. Painter herself suffers from OI and writes that by the age of 14, she had around 60 broken bones. Thankfully, after puberty these fracture rates plummet due to different biological factors, but the scars and pain remain.

Dollar discusses her family’s journey as they debated whether or not to use PGD on their future children. The dangerous part of OI is that it is a dominant genetic mutation which means that Ellen and her husband have a 50% chance of having a child with OI. While Megan and I are not carriers for diseases such as OI, PGD is a question that Megan and I had to wrestle with for our embryos in the IVF process. Is it ethical to use PGD upon our embryos to pick the healthiest of them?

Dollar and her husband had no fertility issues, and PGD wasn’t quite to the level it needed to be when they began their family the old fashioned way. They eventually discovered that their first daughter Leah had OI.  What followed is a series of tragic falls and hospital visits.  Ellen records that Leah didn’t learn to walk until she was two because of complications with OI.  When she did learn to walk, she broke her first bone at the age of two and a half.  She then broke three bones in three months.  After going another nine months, she fell and broke both her tibia and her fibula and her arm in one fall.  Due to OI, these are not simple fractures but compound fractures with bones sticking stomach curling angles.  Leah broke six bones between the age of two and four.

By the time Ellen and her husband decided to have a second child, PGD was further along and an option for Ellen.  The rest of the book is Ellen dealing and wrestling with whether or not they should use PGD to select their second child.  However because of Leah, she asks “By using PGD to ensure OI-free children, were we diminishings the inherit value of people like me , Leah, and others living with disabilities?”  Furthermore, she also wrestled with her moral obligation to her future children to alleviate their suffering.  What role does PGD have in our future world?

I think there are two questions at hand in this conversation: Is it the moral obligation of parents to relieve suffering of their children by any means necessary? And what role do those with disabilities have in society? When we partake in PGD and other means to remove the disabled from society, what are we saying about those with disabilities for example? Is it better for people with disabilities to simply not exist? Is there any benefit they bring to the world. Is it better to exist with OI than to never exist at all? The potential of PGD is forcing families to ask this question. When we engage in practices which remove disabilities from the world, we are subtly saying something about what it means to be disabled. Diagnostic techniques such as PGD and Amniocentesis make a statement about life with disability. Megan and I tested ourselves for these diseases and neither of us are carriers, so we forwent PGD in our embryos. As I write it, it feels like a cop out. I feel inadequate to tell those who have to make these decisions what they should or should not do. However, I know from my experiences with those who are disabled in some way that a disabled life is a beautiful life and one worth existing. Disability challenges our “abled” concepts of independence. It challenges Christianity’s hyper-intellectualization of faith by questioning what it means to have faith. There is much that our world gains from engaging those with disability. People with disability help those of us who are abled to realize that the value of life is far beyond what we produce.  A world without Down’s in not a utopia but a dystopia. By removing all disability, we remove the beauty of diversity. I write that all to say also that there is a place for relieving the potential pain of potential people, however before making these decisions, we must pause and contemplate what we are saying about life.

The second question is more difficult. Robert Edwards writes, “Soon it will be a sin of parents to have a child that carries the heavy burden of genetic disease.  We are entering a world where we have to consider the quality of our children” As parents, are we morally obligated to provide the best life and to remove the most suffering from these potential lives? I believe the answer is no. I have a moral obligation to not be negligent, however we are seeing an onslaught of hyper parenting. Parents feel the need to ensure that their children have the “best” whatever the best will be. The best school, the best tutor, the best whatever, and now there is the potential for children to have the “best” genetic makeup. I believe this desire for “best” is what is creating the rise in anxiety disorders among our children. When you are given the best, you are expected to be the best, and so you feel this ever increasing anxiousness to arrive. As parents we fail to aide our children when we bulldoze a path forward for them that eliminates all suffering. Especially as a Christian, I see potential in the redemptive nature of suffering both in my life and in the lives of my children.

PGD is a burgeoning technology which is only growing in its reach for future couples. It is a technology with both potential for great good but also for potential to shape how we view those who are disabled. In that context, it’s an issue that we should be thinking about and discussing

A Triplet Pregnancy

The next few weeks after finding out that we were pregnant with triplets were crazy. I had to tell my administration at the school where my husband and I have both taught for the last several years that I was pregnant with triplets. They were amazing in their response. They immediately helped me figure out my teaching schedule so that I had fewer responsibilities, less stress, less standing, and made it possible for me to be able to teach as long as possible and then step out and allow other teachers to take my spot. This allowed me the freedom to leave whenever I needed to, but relieved me of the stress involved in sub plans. Then, I had to find an MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine) or perinatologist and a new OBGYN. I wanted to find both near the best NICU since most triplets are born very early and usually need some time in the hospital after they are born to finish growing. Both Derek and I knew there is a lot that can go wrong with triplets, and with so much outside of our control we wanted to make sure we controlled everything that we could. Thankfully, Atlanta has one of the best NICU hospitals around – Northside. After finding my new doctors, I had to drive down there regularly for ultrasounds. Most “normal” pregnancies have about 2 ultrasounds. We had more than I can count. I just tried to count, and it was too confusing. haha It’s probably around 20 times. I went to my OB about every 6 weeks and had to have an ultrasound each time there but just to check heartbeats. It’s hard to check a heartbeat without an ultrasound when there are 3 babies. If you just listen with a stethoscope it would sound like a very unorganized drum line. They had to make sure that they were correctly hearing all 3. Besides checking for heart rate and just asking me questions, the OB appointments were pretty easy. I went to the MFM about once a month and even more often the further along I got. Each of those appointments were pretty intense. We adored our doctor. She was fantastic. She explained everything and was calm and genuinely enjoyed when we came in. Plus, she is brilliant and really good at her job. At each of these appointments they would go over the risks in the near future. The possibility of losing one or all 3 of these babies was very real. In the MFM appointments, I had trouble breathing because of the high risk involved. Even more common than losing the babies is the possibility of one or all of the being born with extreme complications. So, while the ultrasound tech measured the babies, I literally held my breath, praying that everything was ok. They would measure each baby (arms, legs, head, stomach, etc), they would check the fluid in each sac, and measure my cervix. This usually took about 2-3 hours. They would check everything on baby A (Oliver), then everything on baby B (Shepherd), and then baby C (Lucy). Finally after they finished with Lucy, I could breathe. Thankfully Derek came to almost every one of them with me and held my hand the whole time (even though holding my hand put him at an awkward angle to see the screen). The biggest fear at the beginning was that the boys wouldn’t share nutrients. Twin to Twin transfusion is a really scary thing among babies that share a placenta like our boys. If one takes too much, than it leaves the other baby too small and they would have to go in and do a procedure to try and cut some of the chord and a whole lot of other scary things that I don’t even understand. They had to check my cervix and the fluid in the sac because early labor is extremely common when pregnant with multiples. The longest that I was allowed to go was a little over 35 weeks (40 weeks is “normal” for singletons). The risk after 35 weeks is the placenta detaching because everything gets too heavy. And let’s be real, there is no way that I am giving birth to three 7-8 pound babies. Each week was a milestone though. Making it to 24 weeks was the first big milestone. At 24 weeks the babies are considered viable with about a 50/50 chance of survival. Every week past that was less time that we would have to spend in the NICU. I am on a triplet Facebook page with hundreds of other triplet moms that gave birth this year. I am learning more and more that our babies are an exception. More often than not, triplets are born early, born with major physical complications, have developmental delays, spend many months in the NICU, and more. I ended up making it to 32 weeks and 5 days. Towards the end it was really hard to walk. I was nauseous the entire pregnancy, but thankfully there is a medicine now that is very safe with pregnant women and it was a GAME changer! Diclegis for the win. haha I took it every day until I gave birth. I also took about 10 vitamins and prenatal supplements. I needed a lot of extra ones because, well I had a couple extra babies. I also took a low dose aspirin everyday to help reduce my chance of pre-term labor. I even had to have my progesterone shot in my hip until I was 10 weeks pregnant. Most days I was taking around 10-15 pills. I tried to stay off of my feet as much as possible. I was thankfully able to teach the entire fall semester (until about 28 weeks), but taught everyday from a chair. By the end I was so big and unable to bend over. If I dropped my marker or a pen, I had to get a student to come up and get it for me. It was pretty entertaining. I couldn’t exercise because of the obvious difficulty moving, but more importantly because I couldn’t afford to use any of my calories. One of the few things I could do to keep the babies healthy and to prevent pre-term labor was to gain a whole lot of weight and drink a whole lot of water. This is difficult when most things made me nauseous. Derek would make me drink these terrible protein shakes everyday. He would mix ice cream, peanut butter, instant breakfast, protein powder (the organic nasty kind) and milk. It sounds tasty and may have been if I didn’t want to puke. This was my morning snack by the way. He made me eat breakfast, my protein shake, peanut butter crackers (with like 3 Tablespoons of peanut butter on each one), lunch, dinner, ice cream for dessert. It would be any other person’s dream, but I had morning sickness times 3 the entire pregnancy. Eating that many calories when all I wanted to do was throw up was actually incredibly difficult. Those protein shakes were the worst and the best though. They really did help me gain weight. I gained a total of 60 pounds throughout the pregnancy. And I lost 40 pounds the moment the babies were born!! I had always looked forward to the actual pregnancy part, but having 3 was painful and stressful and scary. However, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat for these 3 beautiful babies. Sometimes Derek and I look at them and can’t believe that I carried them at the same time and that they are ours.

Another fun fact about the pregnancy is that I knew which baby was which the whole time. Baby A was always Oliver and he was head down on the left as low as possible. By the end, he had wedged his head into my pelvis and made me have to pee about every hour. Baby B was Shepherd (except his name was Samuel for a while in my belly) and he was on the left side like Oliver, but he was always a little higher. He was my kicker. He was always an ounce or 2 smaller (not much though! Thankfully they shared nutrients really well!), but he was the one that by far kicked me the most. He also was the only one that got hiccups. Lucy, Baby C, had the whole right side to herself. Even so, she would try to move as far away from the boys as possible. She would try to put her head under my rib cage. It was tight in there. I loved that Derek and I could place our hands on my belly at night and pray for each one specifically though. It was a hard and wonderful 32 weeks and 5 days.

It’s TRIPLETS

Transfer day came and again Derek got to be in the room as the doctor placed both blastocysts inside my uterus. Then the 10 day wait came. We waited to see if one or both of them would attach. (sidenote: while we waited, we went to the lake and Derek was tubing and broke his jaw…It is never a dull moment around our house). Day 10 came, and I went in for blood work that morning. We went home and tried to stay as distracted as possible while we waited for the doctor to call and let us know if my numbers were high enough for the possibility of a pregnancy. I will never forget that moment. We had just pulled our car into the carport and Derek was walking to get the mail. I yelled for him and we sat on the driveway and listened to the doctor tell us that my numbers were really high. He mentioned that twins were even a possibility since the numbers were so high. We sat on the driveway and cried and prayed and cautiously guarded our hearts for the possibility that this news was too good to be true. After experiencing an ectopic, miscarriage was very much on our minds. We waited 2 weeks before we got to have an ultrasound. At that point I was 6 weeks pregnant. We found out at this ultrasound that is was in fact twins. We were overjoyed. We went back one week later for one more ultrasound with the fertility doctor and this time he paused in the ultrasound and acted like something was wrong. Our hearts sank thinking that we had lost one or both of them. Thankfully the pause was because we had actually gained a baby instead of losing one!! haha We never even considered the possibility of triplets. It was less than a 1% chance. I mean we only put in 2 blastocysts so the idea of getting out 3 babies hadn’t crossed my mind. I have since learned that identical twins are not genetic. Identical twins are created when one embryo or blastocyst splits into 2. Our twins were mono/di twins. This means that they shared a placenta but had separate sacs in the uterus. In order for this to happen, the blastocyst must have split before day 7. We inserted them on day 6, so it happened pretty much instantly. When they split after day 7, they become mo/mo twins and share a sac, or they become siamese twins. Both of these options are much more dangerous. It is amazing that ours split at just the right time. So we had one set of identical twins and a third fraternal baby. I was immediately terrified. I was scared for the babies because I knew that carrying 3 babies must be incredibly dangerous. I was scared for me and my body and scared for how Derek and I would physically take care of them. I was scared of skipping straight to zone defense from the beginning with 2 parents and 3 babies. How would we hold them or feed them or comfort them with only 2 of us?!? My mind was spinning. Derek promises he almost passed out, but all I remember was him grabbing my hand and gently whispering, this is great! We can do this! These are our babies. We can do this together. He was and remains to this day such a rock in our whirlwind days. I love the way he balances me. The doctor immediately jumped into explaining that I would most likely be on bed rest for several weeks or months. He explained the dangers but also encouraged us that this was very doable. Honestly though, I don’t really remember much of what he said. I was in a complete haze. If you have ever watched Parks and Rec, we are Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt. *Spoiler Alert* Go back and watch the scene where they find out that they are having triplets. That is very similar to how it went down. We were terrified and excited and confused and so many more emotions all at one time. And just so you know, zone defense is very doable and so much fun. Now I can’t begin to imagine life without one or all of my 3 very different babies.

While this was and will always remain a beautiful moment in our story, it still took me 15 weeks before I could actually say the words “I am pregnant” or “I’m going to be a mom” out loud. I would get seriously mad at Derek when he would make me say it. I’m tearing up as I type this because of how scary and emotional those first few weeks were for me. I had been in so many doctor’s offices when bad news was presented. I had believed that “I’m pregnant” moment to be real so many times only to be disappointed. Why would this time be any different? Surely the shoe was going to drop at any moment, and I would wake up to discover that again something was wrong and this was not going to happen. I felt like saying it out loud would jinx it. I thought it was too good to be true. I was so scared and so numb at the same time. It’s hard to explain what shape my head was in after 3 years of hearing “No” from God over and over. Those heartaches didn’t just disappear. The pain didn’t magically turn into rainbows. It was hard. It still is hard sometimes. In the few weeks after we found out, I actually spoke at our school retreat. The topic was about seeing God in the midst of pain. I looked at almost every story in the Bible that summer in order to gain insight into why God says no and what happens later after He says no. As I examined scripture for my talk, I came up with 3 main reasons that God says no. The least common reason was for punishment. It was actually very rare. The second reason God said no was so that He could say yes to something else, or He just waited for a while to say yes. The third and most common reason that God said no was just because this world is broken and bad things happen (message me if you want more info on scripture references). My talk centered around how I believe that God does not make the pain and suffering happen in this world, but that He is so good at taking the ugly and broken and turning it into something beautiful ( I feel like that is a recurring theme in this blog). In fact, He is so good at this that it often looks as though He planned it all along. I could have ended my talk by saying, “I’m pregnant!” But I didn’t. I didn’t want the people in the audience that are still hearing “No” to think that something is wrong with them. We didn’t get pregnant because we prayed hard enough. We didn’t get pregnant because we pleased God or did something to deserve it. We didn’t get pregnant because we waited long enough. I don’t think that God planned on my fallopian tubes being messed up. But I do know that even in the darkest days, even when all feels lost and you feel incredibly broken, God is there, and if you allow Him to, He will use your brokenness to create something beautiful. So many of our friends and people we know, still don’t have their babies. Many people try IVF 1, 2, 3, 4, …10 times and it never works. Some people are still waiting. I hurt with you. I don’t understand why God says No still, but I do believe that even when He does, He is still good. A good Father does not clear a path of perfection for their child.  A good parent lets their child fall and hurt and while the good parent comforts them in the pain, they don’t take it away because life has good and bad. I could go on and on about my thoughts on this issue. I could go into my thoughts on Jeremiah 29:11. I could go off on why I think suffering exists. I could go off on story after story of God turning ashes into something beautiful, but instead just know that I am not blessed because I got pregnant. I am not whole because I got pregnant. God is not good because I got pregnant. God is good, I am blessed, and I am whole because I serve a God that transcends the pain and loves the broken, the lonely, and “the other.” God was good before I got pregnant. My story didn’t begin or end with our pregnancy. It is just part of our story, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.