Triplets: Luke, Trent & Brandon Clawson

Dave and I had been trying for over 2 years to get pregnant. We were on our 6th try of artificial insemination with fertility medication. On this magical 6th try I had been told that we would get on the waiting list for invitro 5mths early. Just hearing this made my stress level drop tremendously. Finally, I felt the pressure lift. Like every other time

I went into the clinic with Dave’s magical swimmers hoping it would work. I had 7 eggs ready and I felt like that was a heavenly number. So on 30Mar07 I was inseminated with Dave’s swimmers. I went home and went about life just like I had before, but this time it was different. I had 4 babies growing inside of me. At exactly 2 weeks later, I took a pregnancy test at 0615 in the morning. I didn’t wait to miss my period like I normally did because I actually had a symptom of being pregnant, wait make that 2 symptoms. I was unusually tired and my breasts were tender and sore (which hadn’t happened since we started the fertility treatment). So as I watched my urine absorb across the result window I noticed 2 lines and not just one. I immediately ran to Dave and woke him up and exclaimed “We are Pregnant!” He asked me “are you sure, you better take another one to be sure” I knew I didn’t need another one because as a lab tech I know that false positive pregnancy tests almost never happen. I told him I would get another one done when I went into the doctor

I immediately got dressed and went out the door to the OB clinic at WHMC. It wasn’t even 7am when I arrived at the clinic. I was then told I had to wait until 0830 to have the test ordered. So, being a lab tech I just marched upstairs to the lab and went ahead and had them draw my blood so I wouldn’t have to wait to have it done later. Once the test was ordered I had to wait one hour for the results. I wasn’t worried, just excited to see the results in the computer that I was officially pregnant. A quantitative test was ordered and when the results came back I almost fainted because the number that came back was a sign straight from God to me that everything would work out. The number was 714 which is my birthday. All of my life that number has meant good things for me and I knew this case was no different. The reassurance that number gave me made me feel so loved by God. At this time, we had no idea more than one baby was growing inside of me. To confirm pregnancy a scan was done on me at 7wks and while we were waiting to hear word from the doctors doing the scan I felt worried something was wrong. Instead of asking what is wrong I decided to take a positive approach and ask if there was more than one baby and they said “There are 3 babies” At that moment I felt great, not overwhelmed at all because I knew it was a blessing. Then Dr. Retzolff did the scan again and found a 4 th heart beat. All of a sudden I was terrified. I had known many triplets to carry a long time, but quadruplets? I wasn’t sure how long they could be carried and what problems could arise. He called the high risk clinic right away and let them know my situation.

My first appointment at the high risk clinic was the next day. They explained to me all of the risks and problems associated with quadruplets. They also explained to me that it might be better to selectively reduce to triplets or twins. Deep with in me I knew there was absolutely no way I could do that and once I confirmed Dave felt the same way I knew we would have 4 babies. At 9 wks the infertility clinic did another scan to confirm multiples and at this time we learned that the 4 th baby had reduced on it’s own. We felt very sad, but we knew it would be for the best. Triplets are born so much healthier. We trusted that God knows best and in our situation it must have been best for us to have triplets and not quadruplets. We did mourn the reduced baby and Thanked God it happened as early as it did instead of later.

We had our next appointment at 13wks and everything was going great and from that point on we had appointment every 3 wks until 20 wks. At 18wks we got to find out that we were having 3 Boys!! We called everyone we knew to tell them about the boys growing inside of me. I felt much better about telling people that didn’t know at this point. I was already showing so much, so everyone I worked with and came across could tell. I would kindly ask everyone that knew to pray for us because we needed it. I know prayers get answered and the more people that prayed the same prayer of healthy 36weeker triplets, the more attention God would pay to our prayers. At 20 wks I started to feel them move on a regular basis which to me was the best part of being pregnant. It is a connection I know I will never feel again (unless I get pregnant again).

At 25wks I felt a dull constant pain in the left side of my upper belly for over an hour. I decided to go in to the triage nurse and get checked out. I was not sure if I was having contraction and Thank God I wasn’t. It was too soon to be having our babies. I was sent back to work and told that if I felt tightening of my lower stomach that would be contractions. Once I got back to work, my boss decided it was time for me to be on half days. The half days were an absolute blessing because I was so tired. I would take a nap everyday after work as it was.

At 29 wks I started having contractions regularly at work, so I walked over to the hospital to get checked out again. This time I was indeed having contractions and they decided it was best to admit me and monitor me for 24hrs. My contractions were not regular enough for them to think I was in active labor, but they were concerned. They gave me Turbuline to stop the contractions. The medicine worked and I stopped having regular contractions, so the next morning they released me to bed rest at home. Dr. Striteman informed me that if I came back in for contractions they would admit me.

I was thrilled to be on bed rest, but I knew it would be very boring. I wasn’t suppose to do anything but lay around, go to the bathroom and sleep. I of course could not follow the strict orders I was given. I still cooked for myself and Dave sometimes. Dave did most of the work though; I really couldn’t do any house work. I would usually go outside and sit in the sun for about 15 minutes a day (this helped my mood tremendously). I watched a lot of TV. I got hooked on TNT which had Prime Time in the day time, so I was not watching soap operas. The babies moved all the time so that kept me entertained most of the time. If they didn’t move for awhile, I would push on my tummy where I thought they were to make them move.

During my 33rd week I got up to go to the bathroom and as I was walking to the bathroom I slipped and fell on my side. Thankfully I did not fall straight forward. I was still worried something could have happened inside to the babies, so I called the triage line. I was told to come in and get checked out and be observed for 4 hours. My mom was visiting, so we all went into the hospital. I thought for sure they would have to admit me. I had my bag and everything. I was having some painful contractions, but after an hour or so they subsided. They released me after about 6 hours. My blood pressure was a little high so I had to do a nasty 24-hour urine collection to check for protein. Thankfully it was normal and I did not have pre-eclampsia at the time. I was good to stay on bed rest at home. Every day I stayed pregnant was so good for the babies. I was at the point of average delivery for triplets.

I had one more growth scan to check on the babies at 34wks. Each baby estimated about 5lbs which was mind blowing. We were so blessed. Just had two more weeks to go to reach our goal of 36wks. Plus my mother-in-law would be here during the 36 th week so we really hoped I would have the boys during her stay. She arrived on Sat. the 17 th to stay until Sun. the 25 th

We all went into antepartum testing on 20Nov07 to make sure everything was ok with the boys. I was 35wks and 5 days along. Upon checking my blood pressure, they discovered it was a little high (which can indicate pre-eclampsia). They had us wait in the waiting room. Dave went to the chow hall and got us some lunch, Thank God because unknown to me it would be my last actual meal until Friday. The doctor’s decided to admit me and run a 12hr urine protein. Before I even started the test, Dr. Shields decided to induce labor that night. I still completed the urine and it indeed came back high, so I had pre-eclampsia. I called my mom to let her know what was going on. She decided to leave early the next morning to get here to be with us. She arrived the next morning around 9am.

Around 9pm on November 20 2007 I was given prosatglandins to start the induction process. Early the next morning they decided to do a foli-bulb because I had only dilated ½ a centimeter. Once the foli-bulb came out on it’s own that would mean I was dilated 4 to 5 centimeters. The foli-bulb process was pretty intense and it took a good 6 hourrs for it to come out.

At 330pm on 21Nov07, the doctors decided it was time to try and speed the process of labor up, so they broke Luke’s water. Around 7pm I got my catheter and epidural put in. They started Pitossin as well. The epidural stopped working around 4am on 22Nov07 and I really felt the contractions. The contractions would start in my back radiate around to the front. It was beyond any pain I had ever experienced. Before the shift changed at 0630 the doc came in and told me I was 7 centimeters dilated which was good. Then, around 0830 the next shift of doctors arrived and the doc that examined me said I was only 5centimeters. I asked how long I could go without delivering and I was told a couple of days. I was really worried about infections for Luke at this point and in so much pain. I asked for pain medicine because my epidural was not working no matter how much medicine they gave me in it. I received the pain medicine around 0900 and at 1000 Dr. Retzolff came in and told me it was decided that a c-section would be best since I was not progressing. I felt so relieved because I knew the longer I had waited for labor to progress the higher the chances for Luke to get an infection. I hadn’t showered in 2 days, so I knew my normal flora was getting out of control. The last thing I wanted was for my newborn baby to have an infection that could have been prevented.

At 1115 I was taken to the OR to get set up and have the c-section. Dave was able to walk down to the room with me, but he had to wait until I was prepped to enter the OR. When I was wheeled into the OR, there must have been 20 doctors in there and it was not a big room. They had 3 warmers with a team of doctors and nurses for each baby ready for them. They switched me from my hospital bed to the operating table, had me place my arms down and placed blankets on them so I wouldn’t accidentally raise them during the surgery. They cleaned my stomach with iodine, shaved my pubic region, gave me all kinds of numbing medicine thru my epidural, gave me another iv for more anesthesia and once I was all set up they let Dave in the room. They checked to make sure I was numb enough. My right side was completely numb, but my left side was not. They decided I was numb enough to perform the surgery. I remember feeling the sensation of being cut open, but not any pain.

Once I was cut open, they started pulling and tugging on all of my insides to get to the babies. Then at 1149am my first baby was born and like the most heavenly music to my ears was my Luke’s cry. They showed him to me and not even one minute later Trent was born and again I heard his beautiful cry. It seemed like forever until Brandon was born because I was so tired from the pain medicine, anesthesia, epidural and the process of labor. However, only 2 minutes had passed since Trent’s birth to Brandon’s birth. And once again I heard the beautiful cry of another healthy baby boy. After Brandon’s birth I fell asleep for a few minutes and woke to the slight pain of them cutting out Brandon’s placenta. I fell back asleep and woke up in the recovery area. All of a sudden I was so thirsty and all they could give me was a couple of ice cubes because they were waiting to see if I was going back to the OR. My uterus was so stretched from having 3 big babies in it that it was tired and wasn’t contracting and clamping down like it should.

So, I was bleeding and not stopping. I must have been stable enough to make it to the recovery room, but things could change at any moment. I am not sure how long I was in the recovery room because time seemed to stand still. I just wanted to see my precious babies and hold them like I knew everyone else was getting to do that was there at the hospital with me. Not that I didn’t want anyone to hold my babies, but I wanted to hold them. I had worked to hard to have them and I felt jealous that everyone else was getting that chance and not me. I knew I was so blessed that they were born healthy and at that point in the recovery room I didn’t even know how healthy they actually were. I wanted to get out of the recovery room and get to my room where someone could tell me what was going on with my babies. If only I could have gotten out of my bed by myself. Plus, I knew once I returned to my room I could get something to drink and I was so thirsty that if I was able to get up from this bed I felt trapped in I would walk to my room demand to see my babies and get something to drink.

The ladies in the recovery room were very nice and only doing what was best for me. They checked my blood pressure again and I stabilized even more so they called the docs to find out if I could return to my room to continue my recovery there. They got the okay from the docs, gave me a few more ice cubes to suck on and wheeled me up to my room.

Once I returned to my room, only my Mom was there because Dave had taken his Mom to see and hold the babies. I felt so tired that I fell asleep and woke up to 2 doctors telling me how low my hematacrit was (21%) and that I needed blood. So by all means give me the life-saving blood I needed; they was no need to ask me. I received two units and while receiving the second unit I woke up and as the blood was going in it stung. I informed the nurse and she said that was normal, so another sigh of relief. Once Dave returned he told me all about our beautiful sons. I wanted to see them so badly, but I didn’t have the energy to go to the NICU. I asked how much they weighed. What a Miracle They all weighed over 5lbs. Luke weighed 5lbs 4oz, Trent weighted 5lbs 14oz and Brandon weighed 5lbs 7oz. I was absolutely amazed and so Thankful to God. I made it to 36wks exactly. We were told that our triplets were the healthiest triplets ever born at Wilford Hall. Since they were so healthy, they got to room in with us after only 12 hours in the NICU which is unheard of.

My sister, Dione, and my brother, Matthew, arrived around 8pm. Dave’s brother had been in San Antonio for 4 weeks so he was also at the hospital.

The babies finally were brought to my room around 11pm so I could hold them. They were so beautiful! They were wearing crocheted Christmas hats, little Wilford Hall t-shirts and all wrapped up in blankets. They were wheeled in a cradle. So, sweet and tiny! How could anyone love so much? I was so happy to finally see and hold our baby boys. They were so sleepy. I didn’t blame them, we had a rough few days. We finally had our family.

The nurses had to take the babies back to the NICU for another hour (hospital policy). Dave had to go down there to prove he could take care of them. It took him 52 minutes to change all three diapers! I even called him to see what was taking so long. He finally brought them back to the room. The NICU nurses were so nice and helpful. They came to our room every couple of hours to check on the babies. The hospital staff was absolutely wonderful to us. We couldn’t have asked for better. We were released together 3 days later on Sunday Nov. 25 th. When we got home Dave, Dione, Chris and my Mom started moving furniture so we were better set up to take care of our new babies. Dione left later that day. My Mom stayed for one week. Then Chris went back to Germany on December 6 2007.

After that we were on our own. We handled it pretty well for about a week, then it got too hard. We decided to go to New York for the Holidays and get help. We were absolutely blessed we were able to go. We had a wonderful time there and we got the help and rest we needed. We came back to Houston so I could stay with my family and Dave could go back to work and get the house ready for us to come home. We finally felt like we could take care of them ourselves once we left Dione’s. We have been doing great ever since.

We thank God everyday for the blessings he has given us and our beautiful family. We are so very happy.

Mommy (Destiny) and Daddy (Dave) Clawson

One, two, three…and then one Andrea Berg

After trying for only a few short months to get pregnant I went in to see my doctor. I had been pregnant once before but it had ended in a miscarriage at 13 weeks and we had to wait until I was able to try again, it seemed like forever…. It actually didn’t take that long, compared to some people. I used the Basal Body Temperature charts and took my temperature every day, but my charts didn’t look right to me, at least not the way that the sample ones from the internet looked.

So after five months of chart taking I brought them in with me when I went to see my doctor. She looked at them and said that I was clearly not ovulating and since she knew I could get pregnant, she would prescribe a fertility drug for me to try.

I went to the drug store to fill my prescription for Clomid and immediately went home to take the first pill, as they have to be taken in the first days of your cycle. From there it was a waiting game. Even before my next cycle was due I knew that I was pregnant. I started to feel the same way I had the first time I was pregnant, so I went out and bought a pregnancy test kit. It was positive! Then I went to see my doctor to confirm that I was definitely pregnant and I was! I was so excited to be pregnant. There was no way that I could wait for 3 months to tell people. My friends at work started to dote on me, telling me not to pick up heavy boxes, or to play baseball with my students (I am a teacher). Little did they know…but taking their advice my have saved my pregnancy.

One night, at 10 weeks, I began throwing up and couldn’t stop. I was feeling very exhausted and so my husband took me to the hospital. There they gave me 2 bags of fluids to rehydrate me. While there a resident checked for the baby’s heart beat; we heard a faint heart beat and I was very relieved as I had never heard a heart beat with my first pregnancy. At 12 weeks I began spotting and was immediately worried that I was having another miscarriage. I went to see the doctor as soon as possible. She told me that it was probably old blood and not to worry too much. She gave me a requisition to get an ultrasound done anyway and so when I was 13 weeks my husband and I went for the ultrasound. Lying on the table and looking at the monitor I immediately saw what I thought was two babies. I was so thrilled! Twins run in both sides of my family and my husband and I were ready for the possibility of twins. The doctor doing the ultrasound continued to move the image around and then said, “You know you’re having triplets, don’t you?” WOW! I thought having twins would be great, but triplets…even better! My husband and I were thrilled!

As soon as I saw my doctor after the ultrasound she said to me that she was hoping that I wouldn’t be working at all anymore. I mentioned to her that I was only going to be substituting and therefore wouldn’t be working every day anyway. She said that was fine but that I would probably have to quit around 20 weeks. (At 15 weeks I ended up in the hospital again for dehydration, but that time I had to stay over night. I know I was dehydrated and completely out of it because when a nurse asked me if I was pregnant though IVF I said I didn’t know!) When I began subbing at the beginning of the new school year, I soon decided that working full days were getting too hard so I resigned myself to only working afternoons. A few days after that I was told to quit altogether, which was fine by me as I was too exhausted to work anymore. I was never told to have strict bedrest, but rather it was recommended I stay at home and rest as much as possible. When my husband and I wanted to go out Christmas shopping that November he pushed me in a wheelchair! I did what I knew I needed to do.

My pregnancy was going fairly well. Nothing too out of the ordinary for a triplet pregnancy, or so I thought. At 29 weeks I began to have some symptoms of early labour (back pain and diarrhea) and after seeing my doctor was admitted to the hospital. I was already 2cm dilated. Once I arrived I was immediately hooked up to a monitor for contractions and fetal heart monitors. Indeed, I was having contractions. I was given something to stop the contractions, which soon worked and they stopped. My doctor told me I would have to stay in the hospital for a few days, possibly until the babies were born, which she was hoping would be 6 more weeks. That wouldn’t be the case.

One early morning, at 2:00am, I began to have contractions again. This time the contractions were not as easy to stop and I had become 3cm dilated. Around 2:00pm the doctors were satisfied that the contractions had stopped and I was finally allowed to eat! (They wouldn’t let me eat all that day in case I needed surgery). An hour after I had lunch I went to the washroom and began to bleed – LOTS. My contractions couldn’t be stopped this time and I had dilated to 6cm. The babies had to be born. At only 30 weeks I immediately went in for an emergency c-section. On December 11, 2002 at 4:29pm Max Austin Berg was born weighing 2lbs 11oz, 14 3/4″ long; at 4:30pm Dexter Calvin Berg was born weighing 3lbs 1/2oz, 15 1/2″ long; at 4:31pm Joshua Ivan Berg was born weighing 2lbs 13oz, 16 1/2″ long. Each of them were born breathing on their own. The steroid injections I received at 28 weeks for their lung development really helped. Their small sizes didn’t surprise us though; we were expecting that, but we were surprised by the fact that they were all boys!

After spending a few hours in recovery I still wasn’t feeling well enough to get into a wheelchair to go to the NICU to visit the boys. The next morning I couldn’t go due to the nurses’ shift change and then doctor’s rounds. By the time I was able to go, I decided to wait for the nurse to take out my IV and I was finally able to see them again around 2:00pm the next afternoon. I was told that Dexter had to be put on a ventilator for a few hours overnight but it was already out by the time I saw them. Joshua and Max were on oxygen as well as other tubes and monitors. Max was on some antibiotics as he had swallowed some blood during delivery and he wasn’t able to eat until his stomach cleared out.

Being in the NICU isn’t something any parent would want to do. It is very hard to be in there and have other people tell you when you can or can’t hold your children. It was a long 49 days until we were able to bring home our third baby, but we trudged in there day after day. I wouldn’t allow myself to take “a break” and not go visit for a day. There were the good, the bad and the horrible days. The first good day was when the boys were four days old and one nurse asked if I had held any of them yet. I had told her, “No, the doctor said maybe next week.” She said she would have to take them out of their isolettes later to weigh them, so why not hold them each for a little bit? I was so excited! That was one of the best feelings in the world. The bad days were any day when there was a set-back with any of the boys. Those seemed to happen often, but the boys nevertheless continued to improve.

My most horrible experience in NICU happened on Christmas Day when the triplets were two weeks old. It wasn’t just because that it was Christmas Day and my children were in the hospital, but I think it was because some of the nurses were short on compassion as they had to work on Christmas Day. I had previously held Dexter and Joshua almost every day. Max, however, was still having some problems with his stomach and they didn’t want me to hold him until they saw some significant improvement. I didn’t have a problem with that. My problem began the moment I walked up to their isolettes and saw that on top of each isolette was a picture of all three boys being held by someone – and this person wasn’t me!! I think that someone had very good intentions of trying to give us a nice Christmas present, but they have no idea of how much that hurt and still hurts me to this day [that these pictures of them being held were not of them with their parents]. The one thing I had been trying to patiently wait for since I knew I was expecting triplets [i.e. holding them all] was taken away from me by some nurse, a stranger. What’s worse is that even though all of them had obviously been out of their isolettes to be held that day already, I, as their mother, wasn’t allowed to hold them individually, except for Dexter. They still told me that Max was too frail to hold and Joshua’s nurse had to help out another nurse with an emergency. Some Merry Christmas, eh?

The boys continually improved with Dexter always being the first to accomplish each little milestone. He was the first to be in a bassinette, the first to be bottlefed, have his leads off, etc. Joshua was always next and Max always crept along behind. When the boys were one month old, my wish for holding all three together came true. We had a wonderfully understanding nurse that day and I asked to hold all three and she agreed! I don’t know what the doctor would have said, but I didn’t care! That was the first moment where it finally felt like we were a family.

At 6 weeks and 2 days Joshua (4lbs 14 1/2oz) and Dexter (5lbs 11 1/2oz) were allowed to come home. It was great to have them at home, but at the same time a little tricky with having to have someone to babysit them the day after their arrival home so I could go back to the hospital to visit Max. I was determined to visit Max every day too. I thought he’d be in there for about 1-2 more weeks, but five days after the first two came home so did Max, at just 4lbs 5 1/2oz. I think they let him go a little early just so it would be a little easier for me. I didn’t care about the reasons why…having all three at home was fantastic!

Andrea Berg