I am a mother of quadruplets

I am a mother of quadruplets.  The excitement over carrying four babies carried me through a miserable pregnancy.  I dreamed of four cribs, four bouncy seats, and of four children playing ball in the backyard.  Everyone was so excited.  We had tried for three years to have a baby, and God blessed us with four.

I started having contractions at sixteen weeks, and was in the hospital more or less for two months.  I prayed and asked others to pray that I could hold my precious babies inside “just a little bit longer” and for a while…I was able to, but then what was meant to be…happened.  At 25 weeks Alexander, Benjamin, Callie, and Donovan were delivered by c-section into a world that was not ready for them.

I was told that my babies probably would not live through the night.  If they did live through the next three days, they had a thirty percent chance each of leaving the hospital.  As much pain as I was in, I forced my husband to bring me my wheelchair…call the nurse…and [we] went up to the NICU to see my babies.  I had to see them…in case they did not make it…

For three weeks, our little fighters were incredible…inspirational…and wonderful.  My husband and I were so proud of our little darlings.  I lived at the hospital…literally..for those three weeks.  I occupied a room right beneath the NICU.

We got news that our Alex was very sick.  They ran antibiotics..and he seemed to be responding…but then took a turn for the worse.  He had renal failure…and was bloated up to three times his size.  (He was one pound and four ounces at birth…and was close to three pounds at this time.)  The ossillator’s oxygen and pressure levels were so high, they talked about using another machine.  Finally, it was determined that the infection was in his central line.  They pulled it.  The infection went to his heart, where it made an enormous blood clot.  All organs began shutting down.  His brain swelled.  My husband and I agreed to take him off of support.

Our family waited in a sterile room, private from the NICU.  It was the room surgeries were performed in.  The same room two of my babies had the opening between their lungs and heart closed….just hours before.  It was so quiet…so final.  A nurse in tears brought my swollen baby boy to me in a blue gown and blanket.  He was off the ventilatior.  He was dying.  She tucked him in my arms. The room exploded in sobs, but I was so numb…that I just held him…kissed him…and said goodbye.  He sucked his last exhausted breath in my arms.  He smelled like death.  He was cold.  The doctor came in to pronounce the time of his death.  My husband and I passed our son’s body around the room to same family members who were unable to see him in life because of the restrictions in the NICU.

We had the funeral two days later.  Our three survivors made it home.  They have an Angel in heaven.

Melissa, Texas

Someday he will learn that he has two angels, Alexander and Cameron

I had my first ultrasound at 15 weeks. To my complete surprise I found out I was having triplets. I was in shock, I was actually going to have three boys. At 18 weeks, I found out that I had TTTS. Babies A and C were the ones affected but baby B was progressing normally. I was then faced with the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I could opt for a surgery that would eliminate baby A which may or may not help baby C, but would put me at great risk for pre term labor. Even if I could save one of the affected babies, there was a strong possibility of heart and brain defects due to the TTTS. My biggest concern had to be for baby B. He needed to have time for his lungs to develop. For him, I needed to make it to 30 weeks.

I had numerous therapeutic amnios to remove the excess fluid that continued to build. I had been told that babies A and C probably would not make it, but I still held out hope. I found out at 26 weeks that baby A’s heart had stopped. It wasn’t a complete shock, but devastating nonetheless. The only thing that was keeping me going was the desire to hold it together for baby B. And it worked. At 30 weeks I went into labor.

Baby C was too small and his organs never had the chance to fully develop. He died shortly after birth. But by the grace of God Baby B had fought his way into the world. He had to stay in the NICU for 2 months, but he is doing great. His name is Riley. He is 3 years old now and aside from being on the small side, he is absolutely perfect.

Someday he will learn that he has two angels, Alexander and Cameron, that are watching over their brother and keeping him safe. It was very difficult to receive congratulatory and condolence cards at the same time. Mourning the loss of what might have been had to take a back seat to what could be. I promised myself that I would stay focused on what I was blessed with instead of what was taken from me. I firmly believe that Riley made it to this earth for a reason. Someone has plans for him and I am going to do my best to make sure that they are realized.

I know in my heart that Alexander and Cameron are being well taken care of until I can be with them. I visit their grave every week and tell them how much I love them. But I have to be thankful for being able show Riley how much I love him everyday.

Christine, St. Clair Shores, MI

I thank God everyday that I have my daughter Amanda

MY NAME IS DIANE. THE YEAR OF 2002, WAS NOT A GOOD YEAR FOR ME. IN MARCH I LOST MY UNCLE DUE TO CANCER, THEN WE GOT A BLESSING THAT I WAS PREGNANT EVEN THOUGH I WAS ON THE PILL. OUR 6 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER WAS HAPPY AND SO WERE I AND MY HUSBAND. IN JULY I WENT FOR AN ULTRASOUND AND FOUND THAT I WAS PREGNANT WITH TWINS, A BOY AND A GIRL.

WE BOUGHT A BIGGER HOUSE, MOVED IN AUGUST AND IN SEPTEMBER THE SAME MAN THAT BLESSED US WITH TWINS, TOOK AWAY THE GIRL.

I WAS UPSET. AT 20 WEEKS I LOST OUR DAUGHTER. I WAS ADMITTED TO HOSPITAL BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF INFECTION. I WAS IN AND OUT [OF HOSPITAL] FOR THE REST OF MY PREGNANCY. AT 36 WEEKS OUR SON WENT INTO DISTRESS SO THEY DID AN EMERGENCY C-SECTION. HE WAS NOT BREATHING SO THEY TOOK HIM TO THE NICU UNIT. MY DAUGHTER WAS BORN AND SENT FOR AN AUTOPSY.

JOHNATHON (NAMED AFTER MY LATE UNCLE) WAS BORN WITH A CYST ON HIS BRAIN. GOING THROUGH REHAB, WE FOUND OUT THAT OUR SON AND DAUGHTER BOTH HAD STROKES INSIDE OF ME. AND BOTH SHOULD HAVE DIED.

I THANK GOD EVERY DAY THAT I HAVE MY DAUGHTER AMANDA AND MY SON JOHNATHON. HE WILL BE 1 YEAR OLD JAN 8 2004.

YOURS TRULY,

DIANE

A lot of pain mixed in with far too little joy…

Dee and I are two of the luckiest people we know… great jobs, surrounded by a wonderful family, great friends and absolutely emphatically in love with one another after 5 years of marriage … however, there is still one thing that continues to elude us… to have our own family. We tried having a family the old fashioned way and after 4 miscarriages, relied on a little help from the medical profession… as a result of Gonal-F, progesterone, heparin and a little good luck we were elated to see 3 fast beating hearts at 8 weeks… we were very excited…

We would be able to have our whole family at one time and be able to be part of a wonderful club of multiple birth parents… most importantly we thought that this would allow us to put a lot of our pain behind us and never have to go down that scary road again…

At 16 weeks, our excitement grew even larger when we found out we would be blessed with two boys and a girl… we felt that if this would be our family it would be great to parent at lease one child from either sex…. During the course of the pregnancy Dee had been lucky enough to become connected with a local group of triplet moms… they took her under their wing and helped to prepare her mentally for what was to come… Dee had done everything she could for out children… she gave up a great deal, all without complaining, always knowing and looking forward to her final goal… various books had told her to take on a significant number of additional calories and so she ate when she couldn’t eat any more… sometimes getting out of bed at night just to eat a granola bar and glass of milk…

On September 16th, Dee began to feel a mild and unusual pressure that was new… thanks to the warnings of the other triplet moms, Dee knew that it was best to contact the doctor… he instructed her to go to the hospital where they then hooked her up to a contraction monitor… upon seeing that she was having some contractions they began to do all the things they could to get them to stop… magnesium sulfate, antibiotics, everything… after 48 hours her contractions had appeared to have slowed and they backed off on the mag drip….

On Friday morning Dee’s water unexpectedly broke… she had dilated to 10 centimeters and there was no going back… at that point, 21 weeks, there was nothing that she or I or any of the doctors could do… our triplets would not remain in the womb… Declan, Noelle and Wyatt were born in the early afternoon of Friday… this was, without a doubt, the most horrible thing that has ever happened in either one of our lives… our children were just too small… their lungs were not developed… they could not breath… they tried… they tried so very hard… my wife and I held and cried and talked to and soothed and touched and loved our children from the very moment that they came into this world until they passed into the next…

Wyatt, the smallest of the three, held out the longest… even when he was in utero we knew that he’d be a scrapper!!! I don’t know what we would have done without the help of our nurse Fran… she shepherded us through this difficult day… she encouraged us to hold, to talk, to bath, and to cloth our babies… she gave us the chance to parent our children if only for a little while… we got to hold their little hands, to kiss their little feet, to give them all the love we had… I can’t imagine going through that day without being encouraged or able to parent our children… the grief and pain has, at times, seemed insurmountable but at least when I cry I can still feel their little hands curled around my finger, see my wife kiss their bums… just like she promised she’d do when they came into the world…

There is nothing anyone can say to ever make it easier… our lives, our hopes, the plans full of love and anticipation all evaporated and were replaced with emptiness, loneliness and fear… even as someone who has been there I can’t tell you that it will get better or that time will heal your scars … it still isn’t better for us… it still hurts as bad some times now as it did on that terrible September 19th… but hopefully time will take a little bit of the sting out of the memory and hopefully you were left with positive images that do not fade… and if we get a little lucky and the stories are true, we’ll all be together again someday in a place of love and warmth… and get the chance to hold their little hands again.

Thank you for this opportunity.

Nigel and Dee, Buffalo, New York

Angels in the Kitchen

It wasn’t but hours after the unexpected homecoming of our precious daughter, Susie, that we began to notice the presence of angels in the kitchen. Susie, the first born of our triplets, went home to be with the Lord on September 29th, 2002. She was just 22 months old. She had a brief bout of pneumonia that quickly and suddenly claimed her life. Susie’s death left us all struggling for answers.

Born at just over 27 weeks, our triplets were a miraculous story of survival. Susie, in particular, had numerous breathing difficulties that ultimately led to a tracheotomy and ventilator dependence. She was hospitalized for 10 months, 8 of which were spent in ICU, prior to coming home. Caring for Susie at home had its challenges, but we embraced it with great joy. Watching our precious children get to know each other again and watching them grow together was an enormous blessing.

Despite the challenges and a rough start Susie grew into a beautiful bright toddler. She was the happiest little girl you’d ever want to meet. The living room of our home was Susie’s bedroom. It provided easy access for the nursing staff and suppliers. Susie always greeted everyone with a big HI when they walked through the front door. She talked with the most charming southern drawl. We chased her around the house with all her equipment. She was as energetic as her siblings, Katie and Eddie. Slowly, with God’s grace, Susie began to heal.

The summer of 2002 was filled with lots of new adventures for us all, and especially Susie. We were able to enjoy simple pleasures like trips to the park, the pool, eating out, shopping, going to grandma’s house and much more. Susie’s favorite song was Itsy Bitsy Spider. Showing off Susie’s spider was her ice breaker. Whenever she met someone new, it was the first thing she’d show them. Susie was almost completely off her oxygen and off the ventilator nearly 22 hours a day when she suddenly became ill in mid September 2002.

In the hours following Susie’s homegoing we began to notice that Katie was fixating on the upper corner of our kitchen ceiling. This was something she’d never done before. Not only was she staring, but singing, talking and carrying on a conversation. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but it was always the exact same place every time. Then one day while I was feeding her, she began laughing and singing again. When she began to do Itsy Bitsy Spider to the ceiling, the exact same way that Susie did, I knew Katie had new friends. When asked where Susie was, Katie pointed to the spot in the kitchen corner. There were angels in the kitchen!

Since the beginning we have kept a few pictures of Susie in plastic frames down low where Katie and Eddie could reach them. They often pick up her picture, kiss it and carry it around. In the days following Susie’s homegoing, Eddie would often lay her picture on the floor of the living room where her crib once stood. Today, Katie and Eddie bring us the pictures and ask us “who’s that?” At first my husband and I were heart broken at the thought that they’d truly forgotten, until we realized “who’s that” didn’t mean they’d really forgotten, but was rather “tell me the story I love to hear so that I don’t forget! ”

Just the other day, Eddie was talking to Susie’s picture. As he called her by name, he shared his prized trains with her, tucking them in and out behind her picture, all the while continuing to talk to her. It was precious and heart warming.

Almost a year later, although much less frequent, we are comforted to know that our Lord allows angels in the kitchen. Perhaps in some small way, this is God’s way of comforting not only Katie and Eddie, but Mommy, Daddy and big sister Becky too!

Mourning

Alicia shares her story of loss. After losing her second twin, she is mourning the loss of one child while trying to be present for the one she is still carrying.

I have been blessed with a 2 yr old daughter whose name is Abigail. 4 weeks ago my husband and I were having a ultrasound (I was 6 wks) and discovered two babies with heartbeats! We laughed and joked all day.

We were told [it was] early [in our pregnancy and] not to get overjoyed just yet. It looked as if they were in the same sac which can lead to problems later (cord entanglement, twin to twin transfusion etc) so for the next 4 weeks we worried and waited. I just had my second ultrasound yesterday at 10 weeks…

The first twin [was] actively moving and with a strong heartbeat….we saw what we had prayed for…two seperate membranes…(two seperate sacs). However, the second twin was one week smaller and had no heartbeat…

I am now mourning the loss of one child while trying to be happy for the one I am still carrying but it is very difficult. It has been nice to read the other stories and I thought I would share mine as well.

Alicia

Memories to Cherish

My name is Cynthia and I’m the mother of two precious angels. I was pregnant with fraternal twins and at 18 weeks, my cervix started to dilate and I was rushed to the hospital so a cerclage [Editor’s Note: a method of binding or stitching the cervix closed in the hopes of prolonging a pregnancy] could be put in place. I was told the risk of miscarrying was still high because the membrane was showing when I went to my doctor’s office.

Therefore, my doctor had to push my amniotic sac up to insert the stitch. If an infection started because of these procedure, my body would naturally abort my baby. I was kept at the hospital for a few days after the procedure ( which is normally and outpatient procedure) for safety precautions. I was sent home and my water ruptured. I went to the emergency room and again was admitted to the hospital after a couple of days, I lost Jacob when I went the restroom with no signs this would happen. They had just taken me off the contraction monitor and nothing registered. I didn’t know what to expect a 19 week fetus to look like so I was extremely scared. I had an awesome nurse that convinced to look at my baby and hold him did and my parents arranged a funeral for him.

I stayed in the hospital because I still had my other angel to hold on to. Everything looked fine and my doctor was positive that she was a keeper. Unfortunately, after 11 days of being in the hospital I was sent home and after 3 days my water broke. The cerclage was kept in so I could try to carry the baby a little longer but I was 21 weeks and the percentage was 0% that a baby that young would survive. I started running a fever so labor had to be induced and my precious Celeste was born. I was asked if I wanted to put her on a respiratory monitor and hold her until she passes on her on.

It was a tough decision but I held her until she passed. Seeing her breath and move in my arms was tough but I will always have those memories to cherish. They are buried side by side in our family plot and I’m writing these to inform those if you experiencing loss that life does go on. Take it day by day and you will become stronger. Take pictures of your babies and hold them to tell them good-bye. Contact me if you’d like at cinzia6801@yahoo.com, I’ll be your support and you can be mine.

Take care and God Bless,

Cynthia mother of Jacob Preston born 4/22/03 and Celeste Marie born 5/7/03

Loss of Hope

Finding out I was having twins was not a big surprise since multiple sets run on my father’s side of the family. Everything went extremely well for this, my first pregnancy. I couldn’t complain at all. My cravings were fruit and popsicles. At 24 weeks at a routine ultrasound it was noticed that my cervix hadopened quite a bit and I was admitted into the hospital on strict bedrest. At 28 weeks I woke with a lot of pain and tests showed my babies had ‘twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS)” and Baby B was not recieving any fluids. I had an emergency c-section and had two beautiful identical girls, born May 2, 2002.

Fayth weighed 1 lb-15 oz and Hope 1 lb-12oz. They were beautiful despite all the wires and tubes connected with them. There were no real problems right away but rule of thumb for TTTS is that Baby A will have the most severe problems since it had to work so hard to get fluids over to Baby B.

On Mother’s Day the doctor’s told us that Hope was ill and they were going to have to operate. The doctors had found blood in her stool and she was very weak. It was such a horrible feeling, knowing there was nothing I could do to help.

As it turned out, Hope’s large intestine was removed due to an infection called NEC. She had a colostomy which I knew I could handle as long as I had my little girl. But she was not getting any better and the doctors came to us a week later stating that there was nothing they could do and we were going to have to let her go.

I just sat there. I had no idea how to react. My head was spinning and I was feeling sick to my stomach. The doctor explained all her health problems and that she wouldn’t make it through another operation, even if they tried. After a few minutes, he began to tell us that Fayth was sick as well and they suspected the same illness. I just could not believe this was happening to us! I had done everything right and could feel just how spunky they were when they were inside me. How could this be happening now?

Fayth ended up having the operation that evening, taking out her appendix. She seemed to be handling it very well. A couple of days later, Hope was removed from all of her tubes and we held her as she left. Just before she left she looked up and gave me one last smile. I can still see that smile. It will never go away. We lost her at 26 days old. I have never felt so helpless in all my life. But I now had Fayth to keep strong for. How is it [possible] to grieve and be happy both at the same time? I will never know how we got through it.

Fayth got well really quickly which we felt was too good to be true. Those couple of weeks are a blur and I had huge ache in my heart, knowing what the two of them had gone through.

Fayth is now 13 months old and is doing great. She is doing all the things she is supposed to do at her correct age and has had no problems thus far. Again, too good to be true. We have just passed the first anniversary of Hope’s passing and it was an extremely hard day. The guilt is so strong. As mothers we automatically feel as if we have to protect them and when we can’t, we feel it’s our fault. I’m not sure that it [this feeling] will go away. I go over and over all the things I feel I could have done in my head and wonder if…….? But I have Fayth now and seeing her makes me smile all the time. I love being with her and am glad I have her. Fayth being an identical twin, I can picture what Hope would’ve looked like as I watch Fayth grow. Despite how much it hurts – it’s also very heartwarming to know that Fayth now has her own Guardian Angel.

Norma-lee from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Tragic Loss

My name is Elaine and in October 2000 my husband and I went through IVF and conceived triplets (identical twins + singleton). We were thrilled, yet cautious because I knew the risk went up significantly with multiples. I was very very ill with OHSS* and in hospital for one month with blood clots in my lungs.

I eventually recovered from the OHSS and things seemed to be going along okay when, on February 20, 2001, one of the waters broke and I discovered that I was in labor (no real symptoms other than back ache which I was told was probably going to be normal for me during this pregnancy). Unfortunately, all three of our precious boys were born that day and lived for just a few hours each. We did not see or hold them because we just had no idea what to do and no one really came to talk to us and tell us how important this would be to us or gave us some idea of what our boys looked like. Fortunately, the NICU nurse took pictures, footprints and handprints, and kept their wristbands, etc. so we do have these precious momentos.

In the past year and a half I have done a lot of reading and research on tragic loss, grief, and perinatal bereavement and wish there were some way I could get more involved in helping people in this situation and educating the public. I am doing some volunteer work right now with planning a Walk To Remember to be held in October and I am part of the Parent-to-Parent Support Group in my hometown.

My beautiful boys have taught me so much. Thank you for listening.

Yours truly,

Elaine, Mommy to Rem, Declan and Dawson (b/d Feb 20, 2001 at 21 weeks)

* OHSS is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome which can occur with IVF. It is caused by the hyperstimulation of the ovaries through medication. When the eggs are harvested the fluid in each follicle leaks into the abdomen (this happens naturally during ovulation). Because of the number of follicles produced, a significant amount of fluid results. When severe, it can cause the body to dehydrate and the blood to thicken. This is why I developed blood clots that went into my lungs (pulmonary emboli).

Elaine has created a website for her sons at: www.geocities.com/fawns2001

Three

The birth of my triplets, and the subsequent loss of one of my three sons occurred in 1998. In my mind, it seems like only yesterday. I gave birth extremely prematurely at 24 weeks gestation shortly after my water broke. My first of three sons was born on April 26th, 1998 at 9:00pm, and he needed to be resuscitated following delivery. I held on to my other two sons for one more day, but then labour started.

I went in for an emergency C-section (because of their positioning) on April 28th, 1998 at 2:30pm. My second two sons had to be ventilated immediately after birth and they were taken to NICU.

Our first son survived for three weeks. He encountered almost every complication related to prematurity it seemed. He fought hard and endured as long as he could. After three difficult weeks, our first baby boy died peacefully in his father’s arms. I still remember that day. It sunk in that we no longer had three sons. Our other sons survived the crucial weeks ahead and we took them home 102 days later.

Thank you for reading my story about my three sons.

Carole, Calgary, Alberta