Monday, October 15, 2012

The best and worst days of my life

On August 29, 2010, I gave birth to my beautiful triplets.  They were perfect in every way, in the eyes of my husband and me.  We had been so excited, throughout the pregnancy, that we would be adding three babies to our family.  My son (almost 3 years old at the time) was excited that he would be getting siblings to grow and play with.  Throughout the pregnancy we had decided that we did not want to know the gender of the babies as we wanted it to be a surprise at the birth.  So after 2 days of labor, I delivered our sweet baby girl, Angel Michelle, at 12:00pm; Nathaniel James and Matthew Marcus followed at 8:00pm and 8:05pm, respectively.  They were so small and perfect and I could only image what life would be with 4 kids running around.  This was one of the best days of my life.

On August 29, 2010, I mourned the death of my triplets.  While they were perfect in every way in the eyes of my husband and me, they were born too early.  At 22 weeks and 3 days, they had very little chance of surviving.  At 2:00pm I watch Angel Michelle take her last breath as I held her close to me.  But, I had to remain strong as I still had two babies inside of me that had a very slim chance of surviving, but still a chance.  If I could make it 4 more days, they would be old enough to have interventions performed on them and may have a better chance of surviving.  But, at 7:30 pm, I began running a fever and I was septic despite the continuous antibiotics being pushed through my IV.  I knew that this meant that I had to lose the other two babies or lose my life as well as the babies’.  After delivery the two boys, I held them in my arms just as I had their sister and watched them take their last breaths several hours after being born.  We would never know the joys of life with our 4 children running around.  This was the worst day of my life.

I wanted to share my story of joy and sorrow so that those that may be going through or have gone through a similar situation will know that life does go on and there can still be joy in your life even after losing so much.

I have suffered with various gynecological issues throughout of my life.  My doctors were not sure how this would affect my ability to have children.  My husband and I knew that we wanted children but if we were not able to have children, we would be content just loving each other.  Shortly after getting married, we began trying to get pregnant.  After a year, we started talking about what avenues we would be willing to try in order to get pregnant.  Just before we decided to make an appointment to discuss with my doctor the various options, I got pregnant.  But, unfortunately, I had a miscarriage.  Shortly after the miscarriage, I got pregnant again.  My doctor wanted to see me right away and then we continued close watch of me and the baby throughout the entire pregnancy.  And through the blessing of God, my son was born on November 16, 2007 a little early, but healthy.

Right after my son was born, we decided that we wanted to have more children and since we had no major complications with the pregnancy with my son, we thought that we would not have any problems.  We were determined to get pregnant as soon as I was cleared.  Our thought process was that we might as well stay in a state of no sleep by having babies back to back.  But, to our disappointment things were not that easy.  For a year we tried, but no luck.  Then we tried another year with medication and medical interventions; but once again no luck.  So at this point my doctor suggested that we go to a specialist.  The specialist visit was followed with several tests and ultimately no explanations for why we could not get pregnant.

So, we decided to do an IUI (inter-uterine insemination).  We are Catholic so IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) was not an option for us.  We were told that we might need to do several rounds in order to get pregnant, but to our pleasant surprise, I got pregnant after the first round.  And to our wonderful surprise, we found out we were pregnant with triplets.  Being pregnant with triplets made me feel so special.  Not very many people are pregnant with triplets, twins yes, but not triplets.  Our families were ecstatic and we felt like we were super-humans.  So, to lose this all was a very devastating situation for us and our families.

Despite our pain, we decided that the best thing to help us recover from our loss was to try to get pregnant again as soon as possible.  So as soon as we were cleared, we went back to the specialist to have another round of IUI.  We figured it worked the first time, we should not have any trouble this time.  After the first attempt failed, we chalked it up to the fact that the specialist had decreased the medication was I taking to prevent another pregnancy with multiples.  So round two, we decided to go back to the original dosing, despite the risk of getting pregnant with multiples.  But, that round did not work either.  So after 4 rounds we were financially and emotionally drained and still not pregnant.  So we decided that we would take a break and if we get pregnant again, we get pregnant and if we don't, then we will just have to learn to be fine with that too.

So, it has been two years since our tragic event.  We have been through difficult times, have pushed our marriage to its limits and have had to find reasons to get out of bed each day.  One of the hardest things for us to deal with is that we not only lost a child that day, but we lost three on the same day.  And while many would find it very difficult to find joy again, we cannot but feel lucky that we have what we have.  I have heard many stories of loss and pain and many of these stories are from couples that want nothing more in the world than to have a baby.  So for us, even though this was a huge loss, we are so very fortunate to have had a child already.  And our son is the reason that we forced ourselves out of bed each day, that we were determined to stay together as a family and to find joy in life again.

Looking back, I feel the pain for what I have lost, but I see the blessings that God gave us during this time.  And many might find it hard to find blessings in something so tragic, but in order to be able to enjoy life again, you have to look for blessings even through the most difficult situations.  One of our blessings that day were that our babies were born alive.  We were able to hear them cry and feel them clutch our fingers in their hands.  And with them being born alive and living for a couple of hours, they were able to enjoy the love that we had to offer them as well.  Another blessing was that they were born too early for interventions.  Had they been born 4 days later, they would be placed on life support and we would have to make the decisions on how much interventions we wanted to maintain and for how longs.  This would have been decisions that, no matter what we decided, would never be the right decisions.

So how do you overcome the pain and find joy again?  By celebrating the lives of our babies, not mourning their deaths.  We are fortunate to have been able to stay together as a family.  Many couples who have gone through similar situations end up getting divorced.  And although we had some marital trials, we were bound and determined to make it work.  And we have a great son that deserves to have a life without mourning.

So today, we still have our moments of grief, but we are stronger than we have ever been.  We are a super family.  We have been pushed to the brink of destruction and survived.  We enjoy ever day that have with each other and look forward to all the joys of life that are to come.  And while we still have a hope that someday we will be able to have more children, we are content with our lives we have and the wonderful child that we share it with.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, a special time for bereaved parents to honor their losses.

Stephanie Knox is director of the laboratory at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen.

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