Born April 6, 2001, 25+ weeks gestation after bed rest at home at week 17 for shortening of cervix and inverted bed rest in the hospital at 20 weeks at 2 cm. dilated: Kara 1 lb. 7 ozs., Christopher 1 lb. 11 ozs., and Owen 1 lb. 5.5 ozs.

My husband is an identical twin and my brothers are fraternal twins. Everyone said my husband and I would have a litter…little did we know!

How can someone be 2/3 happy and 1/3 sad?
Why didn’t the doctors see me when I called that night? Why didn’t they suture my cervix when they could?
Why did God give triplets to someone whose cervix could not hold them past 25 weeks? Why do I have only two?
Why did we catch Christopher’s ROP just prior to the retinas detached to save his eyesight? Why did Kara’s PDA close just prior to the doctor’s taking her for surgery? Why did none of my kids need to go home on oxygen? Why again, did I bring home two blessings?

Less than 1% chance of having triplets on 50 mg. of Clomid
At 2 cm. dilated at 20 weeks was told most likely will lose all 3
After first critical 72 hours of their life in the NICU was told 80-85% chance all three will survive
Told 90% of brain bleed occur in first 72 hours
Of all brain bleeds only 10% are the worst, grade 4
Told 75% chance that with a grade 4 bleed the child will be moderate to severely challenged mentally and developmentally

After all of those statistics, my husband and I decided to continue care for Owen – statistics DID NOT MEAN A THING ANY MORE. We had done our research on the computer and spoke to other grade 4 brain bleed survivors – we had hope. I read to him, I sang to him, and I had his tiny hand hold my pinky for hours. Our song was “ARMS WIDE OPEN” by Creed. I would hum that song to him over and over every day. We had a network of people across the nation praying for him. We were very hopeful when he did not develop hydrocephalus (water on the brain) after the doctors told us he most likely would. I was finally feeling secure enough to finish registering for my shower for THREE babies to come home. I also made my mom and mother-in-law sweatshirts “Grandma to TRIPLETS” for Mothers Day. We were so excited, even if it meant getting a wheelchair accessible home and vehicle.

After a month under the bili light to get rid of his jaundice and he became more stable, I was able to hold my son for the first time. It was my Mother’s Day present from the NICU. Little did I know that 5 days later, Owen would be dead. Thank God a nurse video taped me holding him I have 4 minutes’ worth of video of me holding my OE! A couple days after I held him, he started to have problems oxygenating. He was only sating in the 70’s. He had an infection come back positive and they were already giving him an IV of antibiotics. It took 4 hours to get the IV in his little veins. He was 1 lb. 13 ozs. The doctor called us early one morning to tell us he just got done bagging Owen after being called in by a NICU nurse concerned about Owen. He was stable, but things did not look good. He was not sure he was going to bring him back, but was successful. That day I looked at him and he looked so frail. I yelled “OWEN” and he opened his eyes and turned his head towards me. His look I will never forget. It was a look that said “I’m sorry, Mom but I have to go. ” I almost fell out of my chair, his eyes just burned into me. He had my daughter’s eye shape and nose but had my son’s head shape and color of eyes. I often think of this moment when looking into my other two children’s eyes.

After spending a terrible night in the NICU, my husband and I woke up and checked on him. The doctor said nothing that is irreversible had occurred yet and we were just hoping that the antibiotics or the Dex would kick in and help him turn the corner. My husband and I went to breakfast and came back. We went to go see him, but they said they wanted to suction him, so we went and visited the other two. All of a sudden I got a bad feeling. I went to Owen’s isolette and they were bagging him. My husband and I stood there as they tried to get him back. We knew VERY well how to read the monitors after 42 days in the NICU and watched the numbers go up and down. Everyone was working to save him. Then we saw the heart rate read 0. The doctor came over and said he could revive him with chest compressions, but could not guarantee what quality of baby he would be bringing back. I immediately broke down and cried then heard my husband start. We were comforted by the on-call priest, as the nicest NICU nurse helped us track down our family members. We held Owen for about 6 hours. It was a shock to everyone. We all thought he was coming home one day. We all knew he was special.

He was special. From the ultrasound where we didn’t know his sex and two friends who said they felt drawn to Baby C, to the hospital Reverend that said she felt drawn to Owen even prior to his brain bleed, to the friends and family that visited and spent most of their time mysteriously at Owen’s isolette…our angel was making his time here on Earth known.

We had an autopsy done, because no one could figure out why he went. He was gaining weight from 1 lb. 1 oz. and was looking healthy. The chest x-rays showed nothing abnormal for a preemie. The infection was grown out and showed to be a FALSE positive. The doctors were stunned. The autopsy showed that a blood clot was in his lung. That prohibited him from being able to saturate his body with oxygen. We feel that the attempts to start an IV for a false infection did him in. I still feel a lot of anger, but know that the medical staff was only doing what they thought was right.

Over 150 people came to the viewing. We made a collage with all the pictures we took of him in his 42 days of life. We had the stuff that was in his isolette in a trunk for people to view also. Then we had a graveside funeral. My husband’s older brother that lived only 5 days, Christopher (our first son’s namesake) is buried a few rows up from Owen. The whole ordeal was rough on my in-laws.

I went to support groups (CLIMB was the first contact I had from The Triplet Connection) and when I went back to work, I had to work nights since the kids could not go to day care for two years due to RSV. Since I missed my support group, I starting seeing a psychiatrist. He’s fascinated with the trials I go through thanking God and medicine that I have two children and cursing God and medicine for not saving Owen. He’s been very helpful for me to talk to. I am a talker and my family and friend don’t always want to hear it. Not that they aren’t supportive…

My co-workers made a blanket for each child. They donated old jeans and they were sewed together in patches then everyone signed it. They are SO great! We always cuddle on the couch with Owen’s. They also took up a donation for the NICU in the name of Owen. My CEO donated $2,000 alone!

My husband is now planning our first annual golf outing in memory of Owen. We will donate the funds to the NICU. It is hard to believe it has been a year almost.

I did read somewhere a great quote that helps me deal with strangers questioning if they are TWINS (I always tell them NO because it makes me feel worse if I don’t say anything) : “I reveal my situation, when appropriate, without self-pity and without minimizing my experience to comfort others. ” I thought that was PERFECT.

Other things that have helped was to make myself a tape of uplifting songs to help me through some rough days. Music can do wonders. I also read a lot of books. A favorite, making through the support group, is “BIG GEORGE An Autobiography of an Angel”. It is a great read for anyone who has lost a baby!!! Also, Precious Moments has some great figurines. My favorite is “Gone but Never Forgotten”. There is another of a baby Jesus sleeping on a cloud but I pretend it is baby Owen. We also keep a silk white rose next to the figurines with the letter my husband wrote Owen and read at his funeral. We keep them in the family room. We use the white rose for family pictures to represent our angelic member of the family. We look forward to planting his tree this spring and putting a circle of white roses “for Owen” around the tree.

I hope sharing my experience has helped others and that others will say a little prayer to help our family continue to heal from this experience.

Jennifer, Michael, Kara, and Christopher Van H.
WE MISS YOU, OWEN!!!! 4/6/01 to 5/17/01

The following was written by Michael, and read by him at Owen’s funeral:

Dear Owen,

Mommy and Daddy would like to thank you for the 42 days of life that you gave us. We know 42 days is a short time; however you touched so many lives in those 42 days. We could tell from the day we met that you had a lot of fight in you. Your mother and I were fighting with you.

You were the first to acknowledge us as your parents. Your mother was on one side and I was on the other side of your isolette, and you held and squeezed both of our fingers for approximately 20 minutes. Those were the most precious minutes of our lives, and we’ve been living for over 28 years. Actually, the 42 days were the most precious days of our lives. We cherished holding and kissing you good bye.

Before you were born, we were calling you our kicker. We wanted you to be a kicker in the NFL. Every time we watched an NFL game, we would make fun of how kickers tackled or tried to tackle, and we would say, “Owen would have knocked him on his ass”.

After your lungs collapsed, the stress caused a brain injury that would not allow you to be a kicker. We felt your pain, we cried with you. How could this happen to our little OWEE? We accepted it. We refused to give up on you. We researched, prayed, and comforted you the best that we could. We were looking forward to the challenge of raising you. We want you to know, we would have done ANYTHING for you to live a happy life. You opened a lot of people’s eyes.

In closing, you, Owen Paul Van H., are still, and always will be a part of our TEAM. Please protect your sister Kara Ann and your brother Christopher Michael and any other teammates that join our team. Give them the strength to prosper and live a healthy life. Guide them through the rough obstacles of life, when we are not there. We will always see you as a part of them. WE LOVE YOU!

Daddy and Mommy