CLIMB

Hailey, Timothy III & Dylan


Our story begins six years ago, when at 22 years of age all I wanted out of life was to get married and have children. It only took one try and we were pregnant. The day we found out was the scariest and most wonderful day of our lives! All of our dreams were going to come true. Our first doctors visit was the first gynecologic visit of my life and I am not a very good patient. My husband came in with me and I must have apologized to the doctor a hundred times, all went well though, I was 8 weeks pregnant. By the next week I began to spot. The thought of a miscarriage never entered my mind. After a call to the doctor and reporting no cramps or heavy bleeding just a light pink spot, my day went on as usual. Another week and another spot still never a thought something might be wrong. The week continued and so did the spotting. The doctor sent me for a sonogram. The tech would not let my husband in, which I felt was not a good sign, still never fearing there was really something wrong. We left the office and were told the doctor would call. Just as we returned home the phone rang. The doctor asked for me and without skipping a beat said, “It’s no good” –my response was “What’s no good?”. The doctor said, “It was not a good egg”, I could not respond to that. I dropped the phone and ran to the bathroom to get sick. The D&C was scheduled for the next morning. After the procedure and my pregnancy was over, all I was left with was the phrase “it was not a good egg”.

It took me five years to get over that. I found a new doctor and began to get myself in optimum health for pregnancy. I went for a few tests my doctor said they reserve for women who have had more than one miscarriage. His belief was no one should have more than one miscarriage if it is preventable. Armed with all my information and a new doctor behind me, I felt I could finally move on and try again. We did just that. We tried and tried and tried. Soon I began to think something was wrong. After six more months on Clomid, we went ahead with further testing. On New Years Eve 98/99, I had a hysterosalpingogram (the dye test) to see if there was a blockage in my tubes. The tech said the tubes were clear. I went back to my doctor for the final report that had said there was something wrong with the right tube. The middle of the tube was blown up larger than the rest which could make an egg “get lost” in the tube and increase the risk for a tubal pregnancy. My doctor recommends laparoscopy or I see a specialist.

My husband and I see a doctor we thought was a specialist in our area but upon entering the office I knew he would not be the one who would be able to help us. But, I figure another opinion couldn’t hurt, boy was I wrong. After reviewing my history and looking at the films I brought him, his opinion was to lie on my left side after “relations” with my husband since there seemed to be something wrong with the right tube. He told me I should see him in six months if I were not pregnant by then. Knowing this was not the medical opinion I was looking for we searched for another specialist. A nurse in my regular OB/Gyn’s office gave me the name of a doctor with his own clinic in a well-known hospital in our area I felt he was the one I would stick with.

Our initial consultation went well. He reviewed my history and examined me. He gave me the rundown on all of his required tests, citing all would be done within my next cycle and in the end we would know the treatment we would pursue. For anyone going for infertility testing this was great news. After all testing was done I was to meet with the specialist for the final report. My husband was away on business and I had to go it alone. Only one of my tests came back with a “problem”. My endometrial biopsy came back as eleven days where twelve is the minimum. (The endometrial lining must develop for at least twelve days before the start of your next cycle for implantation.) My lining was not thick enough to support a pregnancy. The diagnosis was “Luteal Phase Defect”. The eleven days was a good because they measure the degree of the “problem” by the amount of days. Since mine was only one day it would be an “easy fix”. The specialist also found endometriosis and suggests I have laparoscopic surgery. Hearing the word surgery makes me break down and start crying. The specialist who is very sympathetic schedules me immediately. Pre-op, I must go for a pregnancy test and blood work the day before. Although I am optimistic about the pregnancy test I start bleeding the night before surgery.

The next morning I am at ease. I feel everything will go well, and it does. I meet with the specialist a few days later to review the findings. He tells me the first pregnancy test came back negative, but as he entered my uterus he felt it was soft, which is an indication of pregnancy, he took another test, which came back positive, but there was nothing in the uterus. I had already miscarried. I was ok with this news because I knew I had already started bleeding the night before surgery. Had I not, I would have been wracked with guilt and what ifs. My first doctor once told me no bleeding during pregnancy is normal, and that too has stuck with me. It also turns out there was nothing wrong with my right tube it was the left! The tech had the left marker on the wrong side of my films. Which also means, if we had listened to the first specialist we could have increased our chance for a tubal pregnancy. The problem with the left tube was the “fingers” at the end of the tube were stuck together with endometriosis. Once the dye was injected into the tube it could not get out of the tube fast enough, causing the tube to fill up with dye like a water balloon. The specialist lasered the endometriosis away, the tube was fine.

Great news, we would start follicle stimulation the next day to help thicken the lining of my uterus. My husband would give me the daily injections for twelve days. We were so positive this had to work, and thank God it did. We were pregnant at last. I knew this was not going to be easy considering my past experiences, but we would just sit back and enjoy it while it lasted. Two weeks later the specialist would perform a sonogram. Again, my husband who was always by my side could not be with me but my mother was in the waiting room. I don’t know how I handled the news alone. We knew the risks for a multiple pregnancy were greatly increased and were fine with that, we had decided we would take whatever God would give us. As the doctor scans I can see something and he points it out as the pregnancy. “There are two,” he says “but one does not look viable”. This is fine as long as there is something to hope for we will be happy. As he continues to scan he finds another. In the end the doctor tells me I am expecting twins! It appears to be three but one will probably not make it. Still this is the most wonderful news we have had in a long time.

We announce the news to close family and friends who knew of the treatments we were going through. We could not contain our excitement and our happiness is evident. No sooner do we receive this wonderful news do I begin to spot. At first again, a light pink spot. The specialist concludes the cause to be the non-viable pregnancy and scans me at every sighting. As we approach the sixth week we will see our babies heartbeats! My husband is with me as we see one than two. The third seems to have gotten larger but no heartbeat. With the next week comes more bleeding, by this time it is full-blown blood, no more pink spots just bright red blood. Hemorrhaging can’t be much worse than this I thought. My in-laws come over to lend support while I wait for my husband to come home from work to call and report this to the doctor. Fearing this could be the end of it all, I guess I am hesitant to make the call myself. The doctor assures us there is nothing he can do in this situation and I should meet him at the hospital if it continues. Through the night the bleeding subsides and in the morning I will go to the office for another sonogram.

The specialist I normally see was not available so his associate would do the scan. We had seen him a few times in the past, but not since we were pregnant. As he scans me he quickly announces “Congratulations, you are expecting triplets!” I correct him and say, “No, one is non-viable”. He points to the screen and we see the flicker of a heartbeat. We could barely contain our excitement, but then what is the cause of all the bleeding. The doctor then shows us a large black spot on the screen and informs us it is a blood clot. He says it will work itself out and as the pregnancy progresses they will push on it causing me to bleed. At nine weeks I am told I may return to my regular OB/Gyn.

I am very excited to go back to my regular doctor, he is a wonderfully sympathetic, compassionate man whom without I probably would not feel as comfortable with this situation. He is just as excited as we are, I am guessing to have a patient with triplets is as special as being pregnant with them! I explain all the findings and he would consult with the specialist. He is confident I will take this pregnancy longer than the expected 32 weeks and lets me know this is what we will strive for.

We see him almost every week from week 9 to week 15. All is going great. I have some bouts of bleeding here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary for me. The doctor takes my husband and I on a tour of the hospitals NICU. We wanted to be as prepared as we could be for my babies. I did not want us to be scared at the sight of them should they be required to be in the NICU. I kind of had an idea of the NICU just two years earlier my niece was in there after being born at term she swallowed amniotic fluid and tore her lung. She required surgery and spent her first two weeks of life there. Knowing how difficult that experience was for my sister and her husband, I wanted us both to be prepared for the worst possible case.

I would start seeing the Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist this week also. We must go to the hospital for these visits. This is where he sees all of his high-risk patients citing the reason to be they have better equipment there. Our first few scans go very well. At 16 weeks we can really see the babies (a boy and a girl, not sure about the third) and know how much they all weigh (6 oz. each). We see the cord blood flow and measure the fluid around each of them. Things look great. Our next visit I am a little nervous, the tech only scans Baby A, which is our daughter. I ask why and they tell us that at the last scan they only saw three chambers of her heart. The Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor comes in and assures us all is fine and they see all four chambers of Hailey’s heart. Everyone else looks great, two boys and one girl (12oz. already). During the next few weeks I begin having contractions daily and some light pink spotting. I also go to my OB/Gyn to be scanned because I don’t always feel Baby A (Hailey) moving. My OB/Gyn scans me and places me on a twice-daily monitor at 20+ weeks. A RN comes to the house to show me how to use it and checks me out. She listens for the babies’ heartbeats and hears one, then two, the third she could not find right away but then says she hears it. The next week I feel a little weak, my gums start to swell and bleed and I go to the dentist. He tells me it is from the pregnancy and I should be careful with my brushing. I feel the pregnancy is beginning to take its toll on my body. Everyone is telling me I look different, I look liked I dropped already. I don’t know how I could possibly make it any longer than 32 weeks I am already huge!

My next OB/Gyn visit is at 22 weeks. Over the weekend we had spoken with some family and close friends to let them know they will be our children’s godparents. We let each couple know which baby will be theirs since we have named them all. On our way to the doctors, my brother-in-law calls to thank us for choosing him as Dylan Peter’s godfather.

We enter the office to be scanned and I let my doctor know of the bleeding gums and the pink spotting which only shows up once in a while. He scans Hailey first (Baby A) and she looks great. Moving on to Dylan who is Baby B and the doctors’ favorite, he says Dylan does not look good and we must watch him closely. He moves on to Timothy (Baby C) he looks great also. Moving back to Dylan he announces he does not see a heartbeat. I proclaim, “You must because I can feel him moving all the time!” As he searches I continue demanding, “You must see a heartbeat, you must, I can feel him move!”

He shows my husband and me there is no heartbeat and the movement I feel is not Dylan but Hailey kicking him. He sends us over to the hospital to see the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor for a “Level Two” scan. The tech that has scanned us several times already comforts me as she confirms my doctor’s findings. The specialist would also come in to confirm it and also tries to console me. This is devastating news and we are not sure how to handle it, nor are we given any information on this. We don’t know if we are the only people in the world this has ever happened to. It sure seems that way.

The invitations for my baby shower had gone out just a few days before, so all of our family and friends had to be called and told the devastating news. My mother returns one of the car seats someone had already purchased for us. My sister-in-law changes our registry from three of everything to two. Some family and friends called us upon hearing the news and others came to visit, whether they thought we wanted visitors or not, they came and that meant a lot to us. The ones who really showed they cared could never know how much it means. Eventually, you learn to deal with the people who chose not to say anything at all.

Everyone has different ways of dealing with their emotions and mine was to find anything and everything I could on how, or why, or whom this happens to. I searched the book I had been depending on for everything during my multiple pregnancy, but nowhere was there any information on losing one of the babies. In the reference section I found CLIMB, and thank God I did. I spoke with Jean and she quickly filled me in on all of “the others” and what I should do first. Jean suggested I call the hospital social worker, another great source for information and she first suggested I be in touch with an organization out in Alaska called CLIMB! Then she let me know of my options on burial. Since I would give birth in a Catholic hospital, if I chose to do nothing, the hospital would bury my baby in a plot they provide. At first I thought this option, until the social worker said, “That’s where all the babies go when the parents don’t want to do anything” (another phrase that would stick with me). This was not an option for me, I did want to do something.

My husband would handle his emotions differently than I. He focused on the two babies still alive inside of me. During this week I would focus my attention on anything that would help me prepare for this baby’s “birth”. My thoughts could barely stay off him for a moment and I would write down what I was feeling. I found this helped me a great deal, and still does today. My thoughts formed a poem that I had printed and handed out at my baby shower, now just a week away. This is how it read:

Although I’ve never seen your face

Or kissed your tiny nose

You have been with me for just so long

In my heart and soul

I’ve dreamed of the day that I’d see your eyes

And pat your soft behind

Wondered whom you would look like

His hair color or mine

Now I’m told I’ll never have the chance

To see what might have been

Though grateful for the memories

You’ve given me – yet again

There are no questions He need answer

“Why me God” will not be asked

This is a fate for that I wish no one to be cast

I only hope he can protect us from harm,

Through the dusk and through the dawn

And that He keeps with Him and loves them

All of the unborn

Writing this helped me deal with all the

emotions in some way. Although, now I have seen

his face and kissed his tiny nose I still do not know

whom he would have looked like. Neither of my

children looks like me and I like to think Dylan

would have.

On January 16, 2000, I gave birth to triplets at 35 weeks, two we brought home and one we buried. The birth was the most wonderful thing I have ever experienced. For that last moment I had all of my babies with me. I wish I could have held him longer, I wish I could hold him now. I am blessed with two healthy babies, but I feel cheated out of one. I tell my husband while in the car I can’t help but think I am sitting in his seat.

My surviving triplets will know of their brother, we visit the cemetery often. My father-in-law had suggested during the Christmas holiday, we put the baby in his family plot, I guess this made my husband realize we were having a baby we had to bury. The Monsignor who married us performed the funeral service and it was beautiful. It was snowing while we were at the gravesite, every time Monsignor spoke Dylan’s name a gust of wind came. Everyone felt it! My husband said every time the wind blows he will think of Dylan. We all will.

My sister had made tiny blue ribbons with guardian angel pins for everyone to wear. My husband the babies and I wear them all the time now in memory of Dylan. I thought I was prepared to speak about Dylan without breaking down by now, but recently I was in the bank when a teller had asked about the ribbon I was wearing. I couldn’t answer before breaking down hysterically. I guess I should expect that would happen now and then. Maybe someday it will subside.

Update

Hailey Rose and Timothy III are now nine months old and doing great. Hailey is over 20 pounds and Timothy is a slender 18+. They have no problems related to prematurity. It is the most wonderful blessing to see these two babies grow so healthy. It is still difficult to know they have a brother they will never see grow up with them, to know you have another child you will never lay your eyes on is hard, as you all know.

We recently learned the hospital never performed the autopsy we requested, which feels like losing Dylan all over again. We hoped an autopsy would give us an answer, a reason for his death. Although, there was the chance there would be no reason found – now someone else has made that a guarantee.

Laura