My Quadruplets

How will I ever get past the pain? When will I ever look at Emily, at her beautiful face and not have my heartbreak over Arica? How will I ever feel “normal” again? When will it stop hurting when people comment on my “triplets”? When will it be over?

Never is what my heart tells me…but others who have been there tell me with time it does get better. I think my favorite saying to come from the loss of my daughter, my quadruplet, my identical twin Arica is, “Losing a child is not something one gets over…It’s something you get through.” I guess I’m “getting through” or at least doing a reasonable job of pretending. That is the problem with reality… it tends to shatter our dreams, our hopes, our prayers…

Quadruplets…4 babies…FOUR BABIES! How can we have FOUR BABIES?!?!?!?!?! I told my husband, “Someone got it mixed up… We wanted four children, NOT FOUR BABIES! ” I’d laugh… I’m not laughing so much these days. Wow, quadruplets… and a set of identical twins to boot. Amazing, that was all I could say, amazing. My pregnancy with them was tough, but my twin pregnancy two years earlier was tough too. I bled often, spent basically the entire time in bed, with 15+ weeks being in the hospital, but I was going to make it. I was going to give these guys the best start I could. Our twins were early….27 weekers, but not these babies, because I was prepared this time, I was going to be the “Super Pregnant Mom” and carry them well past 30 weeks. How does that saying go… “It’s good to be King”. My dream world was great, everything was going to be perfect, as things are in dream worlds…

Then reality set in. At 11 weeks my cerclage went in and I think they lost my discharge papers from the hospital because I was there to stay. Three weeks earlier Babies A & B (our identicals) were struggling…Marty and I decided that if we were supposed to have these babies, then they would catch up. Guess what? They did! Things were good for a while…. Never more than a day or two between the sizes of the babies via ultrasound, everyone growing and wiggling and wow still FOUR BABIES! Then Baby B started to lag behind. Twin To Twin was suspected for a bit, but was never proven to be the problem. She was just small and having a harder time growing as fast, but (and it was a big one!) if we could keep her inside long enough she would be ok in the outside world. So my mission was such… stay pregnant long enough for Baby B to be big and strong enough to survive. We knew she was struggling but I had faith she would be all right… if I could just stay pregnant and give her time.

Reality hit again….Even the best-laid plans go awry… at 25 weeks, 6 days Baby A’s water broke. We still have no idea why Emily’s bag ruptured but there are times when I think she knew…She knew that Arica was nearing the end and if they were not born soon we would never see her alive. Those next few days were the worst… knowing Arica would not make it unless a Miracle happened, knowing I had to deliver or we could lose another baby or two or all four of them… Facing the decision to deliver, giving three of them a chance at life while signing Arica’s death warrant…no parent should ever have to make these decisions, it’s not fair.

Delivery was a blur. Family was showing up, I was a mental basket case, praying for a Miracle the entire time, trying to listen to my perinatologist, talking to God, bargaining with him for Arica’s life… There must have been 20+ people in the delivery room, it was a zoo yet the only moment of clarity I had that day was when Dr. S. leaned over to us and said, “She is not responding” … my heart was calm as was my head and I knew that it was what was fair to Arica, “Let her go Erik” … four simple words that changed our lives forever. They wrapped her up and handed her to Marty, I remember thinking how tiny she was but she was a perfect baby doll. We kissed her, told her how much we loved her and that we’d never forget her. So many pictures were taken, so many tears shed, so much pain felt… 43 minutes after entering this world, our tiny Arica Grace was gone. Our dreams, our hopes, our future gone with her…everything we had wanted for her gone. So much promise, so much love, in such a tiny body… she was just 7+ ounces and 8+ inches long. Arica died of severe intrauterine growth restriction, severe prematurity…basically they found out that when her embryo split it didn’t split evenly. She wound up getting much less of the placenta, of the nutrition, of the blood supply… The proverbial short end of the stick.

It’s almost been a year. I don’t cry when I look at Emily any more…well not all the time anyway. I still wonder what it would be like with two of them looking the same. Would Arica be feisty like Emily? Would she be a silly one like Nathan? Would she be more serious like Kathryn? I wish I knew…I wish for even a moment I could hold her again, see she smile, listen to her laugh, watch her play with her quadruplet siblings, see her three older siblings love on her as they do the others, watch her eyes sparkle as Daddy tickles her, see her grow, anything, anything at all. I remember making the long drives to Spokane to the NICU as the other three came home one by one… “My baby died… she DIED”, over and over in my head. No parent should ever have to say that, it’s just not fair. We speak of Arica often, she adorns our walls in pictures, as do her siblings, only her pictures never change, no updates, no growth. I never want to have to tell my children about their sister who died, I want them to always know her, know her story, know she is part of our family even if no one else acknowledges it. My grief is far from complete…how can I properly grieve for Arica while celebrating the lives of our three survivors all the while dealing with their medical problems and the needs of our other three children, but I am working on it slowly with the help of my husband, my kids and my three wonderful friends who know the pain as they are there too. Someday my heart will grow lighter, my memories be less painful, and my tears not so plentiful…These things I wish for you too.