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BOY x 3: A true story of 23-week triplets

Updated: Oct 4, 2019

Mornings for me are hardest. The pain from my c-section scar and from my overly swollen boobs wake me up like an alarm clock, telling me to take my ibuprofen and to pump. But, there are no babies to feed.

Since my C-section was tentatively scheduled for August 21, 2019, neither my brain nor my hormones have caught up yet. So every morning, I go on to remind myself that I’m not pregnant anymore, I can have a cup of regular coffee, and there are three empty cribs in the nursery across the hall.

This is my story.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The day I found out I was pregnant I was completely taken by surprise. I had taken a test just a few days prior and it was negative. I ran out later that day and found my husband a card that said “Congrats! You nailed it!” and a newborn onesie. I could not wait for him to get home from work. When he finally got home that evening, I told him I got him a gift to apologize for all of the terrible things I said to him just a few days before while in an argument. Looking back, those things were likely caused by my sudden and rapid surge of hormones, but, at the time, I’m pretty sure he thought I had officially lost my mind or was possessed.

We were both over-the-moon excited. I had an appointment scheduled with my GI doctor 2 days later and told her I might be pregnant. She threw in an hCG test in with regular my blood panel and messaged me the next day to tell me that I was definitely pregnant and that my hormone levels were through the roof. Of course, I immediately started looking up what that could mean. The Internet, of course, was very reassuring of 2 frightening options: 1) massive complications and an inviable pregnancy, or 2) multiples.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The day of my first prenatal OB-Gyn appointment, I couldn’t do anything but be excited. I’m pretty sure the “work” I accomplished that day was staring a hole through my computer screen. When we got to my appointment that afternoon, my doctor began the ultrasound and showed us our little black and white fuzzy blob. I immediately loved that blob. After a few seconds, she said “But wait! He or she isn’t alone in there.” Then she proceeded to show us a second black and white fuzzy blob. I immediately loved that blob as well and thought twins would be amazing. Then my doctor proceeded to show us yet another black and white fuzzy blob and told us we were having triplets. I didn’t know how to respond so I pulled the white sheet they had draped across my legs over my face and started laughing...and crying a little, but I immediately loved that third black and white fuzzy blob as well.

Monday, February 25, 2019

With having a high-risk pregnancy, I also got a second set of doctors: the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctors. My first appointment there included a very in-depth ultrasound that showed us our tiny blobs one at a time. After this beautiful moment, they then proceeded to very calmly and professionally scare the hell out of us. We were given a printed document with statistics and numbers of every terrible thing that could happen during a pregnancy and how the chances of those terrible things increase with every baby you’re carrying.

After that, the doctor then discussed the option to reduce the pregnancy down to one or two fetuses. This conversation became more appreciated in hindsight, but at that moment I felt slightly insulted. How could someone possibly suggest that I just knock off one of my perfect babies? If for some reason I could fathom doing that, how could I choose? Draw straws? I decided not to dwell on that conversation too much, but I did store it in the back of my mind.

The Next 2 Months

Everything was progressing normally. I was puking all day, every day, my heartburn and acid reflux were making me miserable, but most importantly my babies were growing right on schedule and looking more like babies than blobs every day. My ultrasound appointments became my favorite days because I got to see my babies dancing and flipping around. It was my way to spend some quality time with them.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Since our triplets were all fraternal, we had long wondered and hypothesized what combination of genders we were having. I was convinced we were having 2 girls and 1 boy. Also, at that time, we only had 2 girl names and 1 boy name that my husband and I agreed on. Having all boys was my biggest fear. The thought of them wrestling during every family picture and devising plans to climb onto the roof stressed me out. “Please Lord, let there be at least one girl,” I remember praying.

And then, on the day of our 18-week anatomy scan, he replied to my prayer with each between-the-legs shot the ultrasound tech showed us. “No doubt about it, ALL BOYS,” she said. Once again, I felt myself reaching for the sheet to cover my face so I could laugh…and cry a little.

The shock of all boys quickly turned into pure excitement and joy. They were beautiful and growing and perfect. As soon as we got home, my husband and I sat down at our breakfast table, and within an hour had decided on the full names for all three boys. My husband had read a book last year about the Wright brothers and was constantly telling me about the fascinating things he was learning about them and their flight experiments. And, since we live in North Carolina, I had held onto that knowing what I would name a little boy if I ever had one. From there, we decided that all of our boys would be named after American inventors in some capacity. So, Wright Anderson (Baby A), Graham Franklin (Baby B), and Ford Austin (Baby C) were named. We kept their names a secret, telling people we hadn’t decided. I didn’t want any other person’s opinion because those names were the perfect names for my perfect babies, chosen and given to each baby specifically based on the little personalities we saw evolving through ultrasound photos. Throughout this entire journey, their names are the only thing I have never questioned or second guessed.

May (Part 1)

Soon after the anatomy scan, my husband and I started to come up with gender reveal ideas and plans of how to tell our families. During the first 2 weeks of May, we shot off blue confetti cannons and lit up a Ferris Wheel all blue at the beach; we were going all out for our babies. Until that moment, we had kept the pregnancy fairly under wraps because, though we had no reason to be fearful at the time, that paper with all the frightening numbers and stats was always in the back of our minds.

I hit 20 weeks in stride. The puking subsided, the heartburn, though still bad, was manageable and I was noticeably pregnant and loving it. “Why yes I am pregnant... with triplets. They’re all boys and they are beautiful.” We finally decided to make a public announcement with a cute beach picture where I sat in the word “BOY” that my husband carefully wrote in the sand using his flip flop with “X3” underneath it. This picture was and will probably always be my favorite picture. I posted it on social media a few days later and people responded like crazy with “Congrats!” and “OMG TRIPLETS!!!!!” At one point I had to turn off my notifications because the dinging of my phone was driving me crazy, but I still looked at it every 5 minutes because I am a proud mama and my boys deserved all of that attention.

It was also during this time I started to feel the babies. Wright was the lowest and liked to use my bladder as a trampoline. Graham was stuck in the middle and I felt like he was pinching me from the inside on a regular basis. Ford lived in my ribs and was practicing hardcore to become a UFC fighter. Every night around 11 p.m. when we’d turn off the lights to go to bed, that’s when all of the boys decided it was time to party. It didn’t matter that I didn’t get much sleep, my side was sore, and I had to pee every 30 minutes, every time I felt them it made me laugh…and cry a little.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

At the end of May, it was full steam ahead with baby prep. I was ordering things for the nursery and my husband was well on his way to becoming a Master Allen Wrench User after putting together 3 cribs and 2 rocking chairs. Our routine follow-up appointment with the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) group arrived and we were pumped, as usual, to see our little boys. The ultrasound tech did her thing and told us that all of the boys were weighing in at a pound or just over. They were perfect and a great size for 22-week old triplets.

Then the doctor came in. My usual MFM doctor was not in at that time and I had never met with this particular doctor. He proceeded to tell us that boys were doing well, but my cervix was not. I was dilated 1-2 cm and there was severe shortening. He said they wanted to look at doing a cerclage (basically sewing my cervix shut) but they needed to rule out an infection first, which could be the reason for the state of my cervix. He performed an amniocentesis and then immediately sent me to the hospital where I was checked into the antenatal unit.

We sat in the hospital room for what felt like forever waiting to hear whether I was going into surgery or not. Finally, we got word that my amniocentesis results were inconclusive. There were no immediate signs of infection, but the glucose levels in the fluid were low, which meant that there could be something brewing somewhere. The doctor then explained if they were to go ahead with the cerclage and there was an infection present, things could quickly turn septic and it would not only be the worst thing for my babies, but could also threaten my life. They needed to further test for infection before we could discuss the next steps. If there was an infection, it would be best for all parties involved to go ahead and deliver.

Friday, May 24, 2019

I stayed in the hospital overnight for monitoring and a neonatologist came in the next morning to talk to us about all the possibilities that could quickly turn into reality for us. She explained to us the age of viability for a fetus was at the 23/24 week mark. Thus meaning, the earliest a baby can typically be born and have even a shot to survive outside of the womb. She then went on to explain the dangers and struggles 23/24 week babies would face. They would have breathing tubes and feeding tubes. They would be given doses of surfactant — the miracle substance that works like WD-40 for the lungs and is one of the medical advancements responsible for the increase in micro preemie survival rates. If our babies were born at this time, they would likely need blood transfusions several times as their little bodies wouldn’t be able to make enough blood to support the blood tests they would regularly need to draw. Additionally, their skin wouldn’t be fully developed, and they wouldn’t be able to be touched or held for a while due to the risk of infection or causing them pain because their capillaries would be so close to the skin’s surface.

I was released from the hospital later that afternoon with instructions to return on Tuesday for another examination at the MFM office and for the results of the additional testing of the amniotic fluid. They provided me with progesterone and instructions to take it easy in attempts to keep me from going into labor over the weekend. The doctors were amazing and supportive and prepared us in so many ways for what was coming — once again, very calmly and professionally scaring the hell out of us.

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

I’m a big fan of making sets of small, achievable goals in order to accomplish a much larger goal. And I had put a check mark next to my goal of making it to my Tuesday MFM appointment without going into labor. That day also marked my 23rd week of pregnancy – the age of viability. My husband and I got there and met with the doctor who performed the amniocentesis in the consultation room. The doctor told us the culture they were performing on the amniotic fluid had not grown anything so there was no reason to believe there was an infection. He then performed an exam and there was no noticeable worsening in the condition of my cervix. It was the best news we could’ve hoped for at the time. Now the plan would be focused on keeping the babies in instead of getting the babies out. The doctor went on to explain that at this point in the pregnancy a cerclage would likely do more harm than good for both me and the babies since we had reached the age of viability. The best plan of action was to keep taking progesterone, taking it very easy, and routinely coming in for cervical exams.

We made a follow-up appointment for 2 days later, Thursday, May 30th, where we’d once again look at the state of my cervix and discuss whether I needed to become a temporary resident at the hospital and receive steroid injections to help speed up the development of the babies, or if my cervix looked like it might hold up for a bit and we just needed to stay the course.

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

I didn’t achieve my next goal of not going into labor before my Thursday appointment. Wednesday morning started like every other morning for me. I got up around 7:45 am, made myself a bowl of cereal, and then sat down in front of my computer to begin work. Things were fine. I felt completely normal. A little before 10 am, I felt the sudden need to go to the bathroom (which being 6 months pregnant with triplets, was normal for me). Except there was nothing normal about it this time. I suddenly felt like something was desperately trying to come out of me, and I will spare you the gory details, but something was desperately trying to come out of me. For some reason, my body told my cervix that whatever was taking up residence in my uterus needed to evicted effective immediately.

This is where things start to get a bit blurry. I started screaming from the bathroom for my husband who came in and helped me crawl into our bathtub. Because I am ridiculously Type A, my first thoughts were to contain the mess should I have these babies in my house. My husband then proceeded to call 911 while I screamed and cried from the bathtub, not because I was in any pain, but because I was freaking out. Then, because I am me, I started freaking out that the bathtub and bathroom were dirty and I didn’t want anyone to see my dirty bathroom so started trying to wipe down the tub with a towel I had sitting close by.

The firefighters were first on the scene. I’m not sure how long it took but I remember being surprised with how quickly they got there. There were 3-4 big burly men in my bathroom and, though I was the one sitting half-naked in a bathtub, I felt bad for them. I was wondering if they were reflecting on when they signed up to be firefighters and were excited at the thought of rushing into burning buildings, but here they were today with a woman, wearing only a black and white striped tank top, going into premature labor in a bathtub.

The paramedics quickly arrived after that and a whole team of people picked me up out of the bathtub and put me into some sort of sturdy bag and carried me downstairs and into the ambulance. I’m not sure what this bag was made of or looked like, but I remember it feeling like it was made of whatever they make IKEA bags from. After getting me into the ambulance, they strapped me in, put an oxygen mask on me and put in an IV. Then they told me there was another ambulance following us in case the babies started coming and they needed to pass them off. Luckily, that didn’t happen and we made it to the hospital.

They took me to the trauma center when we got there because they weren’t sure we had enough time to get to Labor and Delivery. I’d have to see it under different circumstances for an honest evaluation, but at the time I was sure there were 100 doctors and nurses in there all running around like crazy people. Finally, a moment of reassurance came when my regular OB-Gyn appeared and grabbed my hand. She then told me that Baby A’s (Wright) heart rate was dropping and that they needed to get me into surgery quickly. I just nodded. My second reassuring moment was when somehow my husband found me in that room of 100 people just moments before they wheeled me to wherever Labor and Delivery is. They had me on my side facing away from him so I couldn’t see him, but hearing his voice was everything to me at that moment.

When we got to the operating room, I felt like there was a sea of faces, each popping up to say, “I’m Doctor So and So and I will be doing X, Y, and Z to you.” I just prayed that they would get to the part where they’d knock me out. My body and my mind had had enough and I started violently shaking on the table as they were scrubbing me down and inserting a catheter. Also, once again I’d have to evaluate under different circumstances, but they should really put anyone to sleep who’s having a catheter put in – highly unpleasant.

My next memory is waking up in a hospital bed in some sort of recovery room that was divided up by curtains. I could’ve sworn it was just a big hallway, but my husband assured me it was indeed a room with a door and everything. As I awoke, there was a nurse there putting drugs into my IV and then began telling me how to express milk. She may have said other things to me besides that, but that’s honestly all I remember. At that moment, I had no idea where I was or what had happened.

My husband then arrived in the recovery room and told me that all the babies were doing as well as could be expected for being delivered at 23 weeks and 1 day and that there were all born alive, transported to the NICU, and successfully intubated. Wright Anderson and Graham Franklin were both born at 10:41 am, Ford Austin was born at 10:43 am; all weighed a little over a pound. Graham was the smallest at 1lb., 1.5 oz and Ford was the largest at 1lb., 3.8 oz. Good sizes for 23 weeks and 1-day triplets. For a brief moment, it seemed as though things could possibly turn out okay and I could breathe for a bit (but only shallowly because deep breaths are painful after a C-section).

They then wheeled me to my hospital room, 4c-08. My husband told me that my parents were on their way, driving the 6 hours from Tennessee and that his parents were already close, driving 3.5 hours from South Carolina. I don’t know what time in the late morning/early afternoon I arrived at my room, and I’m not sure of the events that occurred between that and this next part.

At some point later in the day, they informed my husband that baby Wright was having issues breathing and that they needed to put stents into his lungs. We were prepared for this as this is a normal procedure for micro preemies. I was still recovering and coming off of my anesthesia high so I hadn’t made it to the NICU yet. C-sections are no joke. I was certain I had been sawed in half.

A little later, a woman came into the room and calmly got Jonathan and took him to the NICU. I wasn’t aware at the time that anything was wrong. A few moments later, the same woman came into the room with a wheelchair for me and said that I needed to get to the NICU quickly. She wheeled me down the hallway (IV and catheter in tow) in through the NICU doors where I saw my husband holding Wright. My heart sank. I knew that baby shouldn’t be out of his isolette and that he shouldn’t be held. I started weeping. I had no idea where I was, what time it was, or what had happened, but I knew my baby was dying. My husband handed him to me as he drew his final breaths. The first time and last time I held Wright, he was well on his way to meeting Jesus.

The doctor came a few moments later and listened for a heartbeat. He was gone. She then explained that after putting a stent in one of his lungs, his other lung started to collapse and they had to put a stent in that one as well. All this was just too much for his little system and he started crashing. There was nothing left to do for him except let him pass in the arms of his parents.

I’m not sure I will ever not feel guilty for not seeing Wright sooner. I didn’t get to know him, see him, touch him before this moment. How was he supposed to know how much I love/loved him and how much he was wanted? My parents arrived at some point during all of this. They never got to see him.

The same woman who wheeled me to the NICU, I later learned, was our Family Navigator. She and a nurse helped us give Wright a bath and take pictures. At first, the idea of doing this was repugnant to me. I did not want to give our dead baby a bath or take his picture. However, it quickly became almost comforting. I couldn’t stand yet so my husband bathed him. They then brought out this tiny white gown for him that was made out of donated wedding gowns and dressed him in it. They took pictures of him and then with us holding him and even took photos of him with his 2 brothers. Afterwards, they made us a card with his hand and footprints and created a memory box for us that’s filled with his blankets, hats, and a memory card with his photos on it. They then explained that the chaplain would come to make a mold of his hands and feet for us and then they would send my baby to the morgue. I knew I would not be able to handle watching my baby being taken away so we went to see my other 2 babies for a minute and then returned to my hospital room where I laid in a bed, hurting both physically and emotionally, and tried to wrap my head around what was happening. I never slept. All night I heard babies crying down the hallway and mothers trying to soothe them. I was jealous. I prayed that one night a baby would keep me up all night.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Finally, the morning came. I was never so glad to see the sun in my life. What I thought was the worst day of my life was over and I knew I had 2 babies that needed me and it didn’t matter how much pain I was in, I was going to get up and go see my babies. The nurse came and removed my catheter and capped my IV so I could more easily get around. My husband and I spent the morning in the NICU and talking with family. When we got to the NICU that morning, I went over to see Graham and I asked him how he was doing. He put his hand up in the air and proudly showed me his middle finger. I knew at the moment he was my child. Both of our remaining babies were doing well and for a moment we thought things were looking up. However, sometime later in the day, we were informed that Graham was having some breathing issues and also needed stents placed in his lungs. They performed the surgery and he did well. I went to see him afterwards and give him “hand hugs” through his isolette. Hand hugs are a somewhat firm pressing at the head and feet of a NICU baby and the only way I could hold my little ones. I wish I’d gotten to give more of these.

Graham and Ford were in the same room, so I could see them both at the same time. Ford had been doing well the entire time and I found myself apologizing to him throughout the day because he hadn’t yet gotten the attention from mommy that his brothers had gotten. It was at this time we learned from the nurses that 23-week triplets was sort of a running joke among them. They told us when they wanted to freak out another nurse they would tell them that they should probably cut their breaks short because it was rumored that 23-week triplets were likely to come in that day. Apparently the day we came in, it took a minute for the NICU staff of nurses and doctors to register that this was not a joke.

Thursday evening, my husband and I went down to the NICU to spend time with the boys before bed. We were informed by the neonatologist when we got there that Graham’s stats weren’t where they needed to be so they were going to make some adjustments to the stents they had put in earlier. We talked to both our babies for a few minutes and then went back to the room so they could make the adjustments.

After an hour or so, my husband walked back down the NICU to check on Graham. He was gone awhile, so I knew the news probably wasn’t good. He finally returned and told me that little Graham wasn’t responding very well to the adjustments. I couldn’t believe this was happening…again. My husband wheeled me down to the NICU where the neonatologist explained that not only was our baby just not getting the oxygen he needed, his last brain ultrasound revealed he had “catastrophic brain bleeding.” The machines were maxed out to keep him breathing but he was stable. She recommended we spend as much time holding him as possible. And that’s exactly what we did.

As it was very late at night or perhaps it was very early in the morning, the nurses brought in 2 recliners for us along with pillows and blankets. They then took Graham out of his isolette, still with all of his tubes in, and laid him on my chest. I proceeded to rock my tiny baby and sing to him.

I know that they say classical music is what you should play for your babies when you’re pregnant, but the classics to me are the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Led Zeppelin, etc. Golden Slumbers was always what I would sing to the boys as a lullaby when I was pregnant, so that became our final lullaby as well. Every few minutes I could feel Graham move around on my chest, just like he would do in my belly, and it would make me laugh...and cry a little.

Friday, May 31, 2019

There was no clock that I could see but time stood still as long as I was holding my baby. After what seemed like forever (and somehow only a few minutes at the same time), the nurses and neonatologist came in and said good morning — we had made it through the night. Then we were told that Graham’s levels were starting to decline even more and we needed to consider taking him off the breathing tube in a bit to prevent him from being in pain before he passed. I then changed chairs with my husband and he held Graham for an hour or so while I went back to my hospital room and our family came in to say “goodbye." I hadn’t eaten, used the bathroom, taken my meds or moved for probably 6-7 hours. I needed to pull myself together for my baby before saying our final goodbyes.

I returned and took over for my husband who also needed a moment to take care of himself as well. When he returned, we told the neonatologist we were ready (or as ready as we could possibly be for such a thing). They came in and removed his tubes while he was on my chest. I rocked him some more and I sang and talked to him until he passed. The doctor came in around 3 pm to listen for a heartbeat. He was gone.

Graham had such a calming nature. No matter what was going on with him or how many tubes he had attached to him, he never made a fuss. He was only on this earth for a couple of days but managed to fulfill one of my wishes. I got to stay up all night with my baby, holding him and rocking him until the sun came up.

We did the same postmortem rituals with him as we did with Wright, except this time I was physically able to help. We bathed him, changed his tiny little diaper, and then placed him in a white gown and took pictures of him with us and with his brother. His nurse made hand and footprints on a card and the Chaplain came in to do his hand and foot molds. We said our final goodbyes and went to talk to Ford for a bit who was still trucking along and doing well before we went to take a break to eat and rest. We returned later that night with family to keep Ford company until we couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore. I then went to shower, try to squeeze a few drops of milk out for Ford, and then finally fell asleep after much praying to thank God for all of our babies, the time we had with them, and for Ford’s continued improvement.

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

This was the first morning I could truly focus on pumping. I needed to focus on Ford and making him food. I met with lactation consultants who were very helpful and I began making the few drops that they would swab his tiny cheeks with so he could absorb the vital antibodies that come with early milk production. They had started him on donor breast milk the day before and he was eating like a champ. I’m not going to lie, until that point, I never looked forward to breastfeeding and wasn’t 100% sure I was going to do it, but Ford was 1 million times more important to me than my fear of sore boobs or being chained to a breast pump. If it would help my baby, I’d gladly stay hooked up to a breast pump all day.

One of the staff OB/GYNs came in early to inspect my incision and check my vitals. He said physically I could go home if I wanted. I did not want to. The idea of going home, even though we only live about 5 miles from the hospital, was frightening. I was trying to figure out some sort of plan where I could stay indefinitely by moving from empty room to empty room or camping out in the air ducts.

I spent most of that day with Ford. The nurses were probably sick of me, but there was no way I was leaving that baby’s side. I wanted every second. I didn’t need to eat, I didn’t need pain medication, I just needed to be with my baby. I just sat in a chair in his room and talked to him all day. He was very responsive to my voice. Even with all of his tubes, you could watch his face light up when I talked to him. Which, in turn, would make my broken heart feel a lot less broken.

Ford, like his name would suggest, was steady and reliable; however, he also had the most attitude of the three. They put him under blue lights to help with jaundice and gave him tiny sunglasses that just laid across his face. He hated it and he wanted everyone to know. He would take his feeding tube and start swinging it around until he’d knock the glasses off his face. A few times they ended up at the other end of his isolette. He was such a fighter and quick to let a doctor or nurse know if they were bugging him. He just wanted to be left in peace.

My husband and I stayed with him until bedtime, then went back so I could pump and shower. This time, I made almost 2 full milliliters of milk. That would be an entire meal for Ford. I have never been so excited over such a small amount of liquid in my life. After that, my husband and I prayed. Once again thanking God for all of our boys and asking for Ford’s continued improvement.

Sunday, June 1st, 2019

I woke up early to pump and to go see my baby. He got a good report from the night nurse and we were told they were going to cut down on the number of times he was being tested and the number of X-rays they were giving him because he was doing so well. They also told us they would expect his first poopy diaper soon. I told Ford I couldn’t wait to change his poopy diaper and encouraged him to eat more so I could do that soon.

We hung out with him for several hours and then went back to the room so I could get discharged and packed up. Right before we left around 2 pm, we signed the birth certificates for all of the babies and they set me up with a loaner breast pump. I was then wheeled down to the exit with all of our stuff and my parents took me home so I could shower, rest and pump. My husband stayed behind for a bit with his family so they could see Ford one last time before heading back home.

I rested for a bit once I got home and again pumped just enough for a full meal for Ford. My husband arrived home about an hour after I did and we hung out at the house a bit with my family, ate dinner, then headed back to the hospital around 7 pm. We all scrubbed in and hung out with Ford and his night nurse. He was rocking his sunglasses and knitted cap and being perfect. He’d even managed to gain a whole ounce. For the first time in 4 days, I felt hopeful. I missed my other babies terribly and would find a moment to myself here and there to mourn them, but Ford was still here and I needed to be strong for him. He deserved that.

We told Ford “goodnight” around 10 pm and all went home to get some rest. I knew that my boobs would wake me up very early so I’d be ready to head back to the NICU first thing in the morning. We left the hospital joking about how chapped our hands were going to be over the next few months from scrubbing into the NICU. That night before bed, my husband and I prayed again, thanking God for each of our babies and for Ford’s continued improvement, and then we went to sleep.

Monday, June 2nd, 2019

Around 1:15 am in the morning, my phone started ringing. It was Ford’s night nurse. She told me that his numbers started to drop a bit and they were bringing in a specialist to see him. My husband and I hurriedly got ready. I knocked on the guest room door to tell my parents we were heading to the hospital and we rushed out of the door.

When we got to the hospital, I got in a wheelchair and my husband pushed me to the NICU; I knew it would take me forever to walk on my own. We arrived at the NICU and started to scrub in. Then a nurse popped the door open and told me not to worry with scrubbing in. I knew at that moment I was probably going to lose my last baby.

There was a whole team of people working over him. The specialist came out and told us they were doing everything they could but it looked like he had pulmonary edema and it was putting pressure on his heart. They can’t really give CPR to 23-week old babies without doing more harm than good so they gave him coagulates and replaced his breathing tube, but his heart rate and blood pressure were tanking.

At this point, my body and my spirit had reached maximum capacity. Ford was the only thing giving me strength and as he was dying, I felt like I was, too. I collapsed to the floor and as doctors and nurses tried to pull me up, I told them to leave me and go help my baby. I sat on the floor as they waited to see if his numbers would pull back up and tried to make a deal with God. I tried to remind him, in case he’d forgotten, that he already had two of my babies and that I really needed him to leave me one and that if he would, I’d never ask for anything again. I tried asking to take my baby’s place. The answer was “No.”

Once again, I found myself holding a baby for the first time that was well on his way to meeting Jesus. Once again, I found myself performing the same rituals: the bath, the photos, the hand and footprints, the changing of the diaper. But one thing was different this time, my sweet baby gave me the one thing I asked of him – the chance to change his first poopy diaper.

We left the hospital around 5 am in the morning, silently. I could barely manage to keep breathing much less speak. I’m not sure I will ever understand what happened or why it happened, or how we got from putting together rocking chairs to selecting urns in a week’s time, or how the jokes we used to make about the hospital bills we’d have to pay turned from source of joy to a point of pain. The only thing I’m sure of is that my babies were too good and too perfect for this world. The whole situation still seems surreal, and every morning since, this entire story replays in my head and I again find myself reaching for a sheet to cover my face – this time to cry…and pray, that one day, I’ll be able to laugh a little.


We’ve recently set up a fund in our boys' memory that will be used to help other preemies and families in the NICU. If you’re interested in helping, please visit our fundraising page here

Things You May be Pondering

Why would someone write this so soon after experiencing tragedy?

Everyone deals with things in his/her own way. I’ve always used writing as a way to process and organize information. Writing this has been the most cathartic and effective form of therapy for me. Also, I wanted to ensure everything is as accurate as possible and not faded by time.

Why would someone write and share this at all?

Once again everyone experiences grief differently, but it’s not within my nature to sit and be idle. Being stagnant will not honor my babies or help anyone else going through similar situations. I want everyone to know Wright, Graham and Ford and how wonderful they were. I’m not sure how it will happen, but beauty will arise from these ashes... I just may have to do some work, which I’m more than happy to do.

Additionally, I keep seeing happier stories of micro preemies being used as click bait and ways to advance political agendas. First, let me say that these babies should be celebrated, and that we as humans need these stories to give us hope and remind us that miracles do happen. However, for every mother who eventually gets to take her baby home after months in the NICU, there are several others whose first time holding their babies is the last. There are also several mothers who eventually take their babies home, knowing that they’ll never make it to adulthood or have a regular life because of the severe injuries and trauma they incurred as micro preemies. We all need to be aware and sensitive to the fact that there are things that can happen in this world that cannot be fathomed unless you personally experience them. Be gracious, be kind, and love everyone; you have no idea what pain someone is secretly carrying with them.


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