Katlyn, Amanda & Christopher
On October 18, 1993, I went to the doctors for an ultrasound to see if our attempt with IVF the month prior had been successful. To my surprise, I was told me were expecting triplets. I immediately called my husband, who couldn’t be at my appointment, to tell him the good news. After the initial shock wore off, the two of us we thrilled at the idea of having an “instant” family. We knew this was going to be a risky pregnancy because of the multiple gestation but also because I have a history of uterine fibroids. But we found a prenatal group we felt comfortable with and were ready for the challenge.
At about 7-8 weeks, I experienced a bleeding episode and was sure I had lost the pregnancy …but another ultrasound confirmed I still had three heartbeats beating away. From that point on, I stopped working – we did not want to take any chances. The pregnancy was going well and my husband was able to come to my frequent appointments. We taped our ultrasound and amazed our families with the rapid growth of these three little babies.
On February 4, 1994, I went for my 22-week appointment and had another ultrasound. All three babies were doing great and the doctor said my cervix was perfect – no pressure on it, still long, closed and thick. I went home and returned to the couch to continue my bed rest, which I had started two weeks prior. I told myself, “Two weeks down, 13 to go” – we were aiming for 35 weeks but knew that I could deliver earlier. Because I am an L&D nurse, I knew of all the complications we could be faced with, but not even in my worst nightmare had I considered what was ahead.
Six days later, on February 10, I woke up feeling lousy. Within an hour my bag had broken. I couldn’t tell if I was contracting at that point or not – I was just in a state of total panic. My husband was just getting ready to leave for work when all of this happened. He rushed me to the doctor’s office, 40 miles from home, and I was immediately admitted to the hospital. They didn’t need to tell me that things didn’t look good, but only time would tell – I would either remain on bed rest for several days/weeks if I didn’t start contracting or I would go into labor. At this point no one really knew if I was dilated or not because the doctor had done a speculum exam but there was too much fluid present in my cervix. According to the monitors, I had uterine irritability and all three of the babies had very good heartbeats.
By mid-afternoon, I was in labor. By 6:00 p.m., my contractions were strong and regular and I was dilated to 4 cm. I was rushed to a birthing room and at 6:32 p.m. I delivered our first daughter, Katlyn Marie. She was whisked away to NICU and we were told they would do everything possible but her chance of survival was very small. Because my other two bags remained intact the doctors said they would try to stop my contractions with mag sulfate, and if successful, put a stitch in my cervix to hopefully “buy me some time” to save the other two babies.
After 2-3 hours of being on mag, my contractions began to feel less intense. Suddenly, I felt a “pop”. My next bag had broken and at 9:49 p.m., our second daughter, Amanda Marie was born and we actually heard a brief cry. Within minutes, my last bag broke and our son, Christopher Andrew was on his way – breech. Amanda was taken to NICU to join her sister and at 9:55 p.m., Christopher was born, with a true knot in his cord (and still breech). He lived for only a minute. Up to the time of the deliveries, all of the babies had been monitored with the external monitor and ultrasound intermittently – they were all doing well.
So many emotions were running through me at this time. My husband and I spent several hours holding Christopher – he looked so perfect. My husband was able to go to NICU to check on the girls and brought a picture back of Katlyn. She looked so fragile but so beautiful, too.
The following few days were lived a minute at a time. On day 1, the girls were holding their own, although Amanda had an episode that they thought they were losing her, but she pulled through. We were told that they were doing remarkably well for their age. On day 2, February 12, Amanda was no better, but no worse. Katlyn was having a hard time with her body temperature – it had dropped, and later that day needed a chest x-ray. My husband, my parents and I had just gotten to the NICU to visit the girls when all of this came about. The x-ray was done and things began to happen very fast. The nurses started calling for help and we were taken to a small room to wait. Suddenly, the neonatologist was standing there saying, “We’ve been working on her for 8 minutes and she’s not responding. What do you want us to do?” Filled with disbelief and tears flowing in abundance we said to let her go. They asked if we wanted to hold her and without hesitation we said yes. They brought our fragile little girl to us, still gasping for air and with a faint heartbeat. She died in our arms at 3:10 p.m. Again, so many things went through my head – I couldn’t go through this again. Amanda had to hang in there. I just couldn’t lose all of my babies! We asked for Christopher to be brought to us and spent several hours holding our two “little angels” in our arms.
I was discharged from the hospital that day, so my husband and I got a room at a nearby hotel, in case Amanda needed us. Her condition remained unchanged when we left the hospital that night around 11:00 p.m. The next morning, day 3, February 13, I awoke around 6:20 a.m. and said with a sigh of relief, “We made it through another night.” The words were barely out of my mouth when the phone rang – it was the hospital calling to say Amanda had a bad spell but had stabilized. We were dressed and out the door in a matter of minutes. When we got to our daughter, she remained stable, and because it was change-of-shift, we were told to go have breakfast. While in the cafeteria, we cried and talked about going to the chapel for a few minutes when suddenly we heard, “Mr. and Mrs. R., please report to NICU.” We literally flew there and as we began to gown-up to enter the unit a nurse came and said, “Don’t bother with that. Hurry! – we’re losing her!”
As we approached her, there were several nurses working on her and they said, “Do you want to hold her?” – of course we did. They stopped everything, disconnected all of her tubes and handed her gently to us. She too died in our arms, at 8 a.m. I have never felt so empty in my entire life…but I also felt relieved. We no longer had to painfully watch our babies fight for their lives.
The weeks to follow were a blur. We had a wake and a private funeral. Our babies were put in one casket, because we felt that they came into this world together and they should leave together. I spent many days blaming myself and crying. Fortunately we had many supportive people in our lives and we became members of SHARE. Now months later, the hurt remains but I’ve had fewer days filled with tears. Unfortunately, there are some family members who feel we should “get over it” and think we are acting inappropriately. I have a lot of anger and resentment that remains but know that within time I will work through it. I know that we are not alone but need to be reminded of that at times. Time will lessen the pain but the memory of our three beautiful angels will last forever. We hope to soon try again, but not to replace the children we lost, because that is not possible. Katlyn, Amanda and Christopher will always hold a special place in our hearts.
…After three years of not conceiving, Dawn gave up treatment but then spontaneously conceived a daughter who was born healthy near term. She has since had another daughter, and a son, both also spontaneously.