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.

15B66034-C186-4DA0-BC52-3C368D7688A8

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.

IMG_8213

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:

Luke 1:44-53

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.

IMG_3800

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.