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.