Brendan, Kyle & Erik
We were thrilled! We were finally pregnant after 5 years of infertility! When I went to have the first sonogram at 6-1/2 weeks, I couldn’t believe my ears. “Triplets”, the doctor said. I left the hospital numb and scared. How would we be able to manage triplets? I called my husband, Sean. He was immediately excited. “An instant family!” many friends told us. I, too, became excited for the chaos that was about to embark upon our lives. When we went for the amniocentesis 10 weeks later, we found out we were going to have three boys! “Triple trouble!” we heard from people. We laughed and were still thrilled. We prepared our chocolate labrador retriever. “Are you ready for all of this, Macker?” We still looked forward to an active house with three little boys running around jumping on the dog, getting into all kinds of mischief.
I was getting big fast. At four months, I looked like six months. At five months, I looked like 8 months. I didn’t know how my body could stretch any further. My doctor put me on modified bed rest at 22 weeks (the end of August.) This meant not being up on my feet for longer than one hour. I was not going to go back to teaching that fall. The school got a replacement and my husband put a bed in the dining room so that I could be near the kitchen and in a bright room. I behaved myself and rested. I read, did needlepoint, and visited with friends. We had a lot of frozen dinners.
On the weekend of September 6, I began to feel crampy and blue. I attributed it to a cloudy weekend and Princess Diana’s funeral. I drank lots of water and rested. On Tuesday, September 9, I woke up and discovered I was bleeding. The doctor told us to come right in. When we arrived I was frightened because I knew it was too early for me to be at the hospital. Sean reassured me that everything would be all right. The doctor examined me. I was having contractions and was 1-1/2 centimeters dilated. They attached fetal monitors, put me on a monitor for contractions and gave me magnesium sulfate. The neonatologists from the NICU came in to talk to me about the development of babies at 23-1/2 weeks. I could barely focus on their words and keep my eyes open because the magnesium had made me so dopey. I remember thinking why are they telling me all of this? It must be just a precautionary measure. They told me that every day that the babies stayed inside me was helpful. I was on magnesium for 28 hours, monitored every hour and vomiting every two. At that point the doctor examined me and told me that my cervix was now closed. We were relieved and happy. I was taken off magnesium sulfate. It was now a matter of me just resting in the hospital. The doctor decided to give me bathroom privileges, but other than that I was supposed to lay horizontally. I could do this, I told myself, even if it was for 10 weeks. Sean was coming in before and after work to see me. My mother drove up from Virginia to be with me. I was monitoring my contractions. A day later the doctor discovered I was dilated again and having more contractions. They rushed me back to L&D and this time they put me on terbutaline which made my heart race and made me jittery. The contractions began to subside. I was fine for a couple of more days until it all started up again. This time I was fully dilated.
On Sunday, September 14, 1997 I was rushed into L&D one more time, but this time for an emergency c-section. I was panicked! Sean was scared too. They put me under and 20 minutes later at 6:50 p.m. Brendan Charles (1#13), Kyle Patrick (1#8) and Erik Champion (1#9-1/2) were born. I came to and the doctors realized that I had an infection because I had a fever of 102. The boys were sick also. Four hours later, I saw my precious babies. They were shiny and red, but beautiful. Sean was very concerned and tired. He was sleeping with me in the hospital and not getting any rest. The nurses were in my room constantly. They were all wonderfully protective though. The babies survived the night, but the neonatologists told us they were all very sick.
The next day, September 15, I was still very groggy and not sitting up too well. Sean was down at the NICU and raced into my room saying that Erik was not doing well and needed me. He wheeled me down and we saw them working on his little chest. They stopped and allowed us to say goodbye. We held our baby Erik and cried. The nurses were wonderful about taking polaroids. The doctors gave us a day to grieve before telling us about Brendan. The next day they told us that they were very concerned about Brendan’s hemorrhaging on the brain (IVH). They told us that it was the most severe they had ever seen. How could this be? He was so beautiful and perfect on the outside! My fever was still not coming down. It was so hard to be sick and handle the heartbreak around me. Five days after his birth, on September 19, sweet Brendan died in our arms as we wept uncontrollably.
I was feeling better and allowed to go home. It was so hard to go home without any babies in our arms. But Kyle was our last hope. We had to be strong for him. He was the smallest, yet living the longest. We had a couple of good days with Kyle and then there would be worry about the next set of tests. We were at the hospital for hours and made tapes of stories and songs for him for the times we could not be with him. A few days later the doctors discovered that he was having trouble with his bowels. He had Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC). They put in a tube on his side to allow wastes to drain. The doctors wanted to operate to see how much damage was done to Kyle’s bowels. It is very difficult watching your child go into surgery. I was a hysterical mother as they wheeled him away. The doctors came back so quickly. I knew the news could not be good. It was the worst possible case, the doctor said. Almost all of Kyle’s bowels were dead. We would have to say goodbye. And so yet for a third time we held our baby, watched him take his last breath and cried. Kyle died on September 24.
It is a miracle how God allowed us some time with each of our boys. We feel very blessed we had the time with them. The experience has brought us closer to the Lord and to each other. We will never forget Erik, Brendan and Kyle. They touched our lives so deeply even if they were here on earth for a short time. We are not afraid to die for we know that one day we will see our little angels in a wonderful place.
…Patty gave birth to her subsequent son healthy and near term, 14 months after the triplets were born and died. Without the help of fertility technology, she gave birth to her healthy daughter a year and a half later.