Paul, Patrick & Phillip
My husband Paul and I went through 3.5 years of unexplained infertility. We did the testing, monitoring, clomid, Fertinex, IUI’S, etc. We finally decided to try in-vitro and were lucky enough to get pregnant on our first attempt. I’ll never forget the day we got the call that I was pregnant. I was laughing and crying so hard, Paul had to finish the call. Needless to say we were thrilled.
We had had three embryos implanted. At our first ultrasound at about 4 weeks it showed twins. We were so excited! We knew we had a chance of having multiples and were excited to be able to “catch up” on our family. We felt so special! About a week later we went back for another ultrasound and saw both of the heartbeats. It was amazing. Later that day, before I left work, I went to use the bathroom and found I was spotting. I was so scared I was shaking. By the time I got home I could feel myself just gushing blood. Paul and I raced to the doctor (we were still under the care of our infertility doctor) and were sure we had lost the babies. We were shocked and relieved when the ultrasound still showed both heartbeats. The doctor figured the bleeding was probably due to the loss of one of the embryos. Because of the bleeding he released me to my regular OB/Gyn, ordered an ultrasound which still showed everything to be ok and told me to stay on bed rest until the bleeding stopped. The bleeding lasted about two weeks, and so then I went back to work. Unfortunately it soon started up again and the doctor sent me for another ultrasound. I remember that it was a last-minute thing and neither Paul nor my mom could come with me. I didn’t mind because I figured it would be pretty routine.
The ultrasound technician spent a lot of time on the ultrasound without letting me see the screen which made me really nervous. I’ll never forget when she said to me, “Are you sure they told you that you were having twins?” and she turned the screen and pointed to Baby A, Baby B and Baby C. We were having triplets! I just laughed with joy! Now this was really getting exciting! Everything still looked good, except there was some concern that Baby B and Baby C were in the same sac – they were identical twins! I was told that their cords could get tangled and we would need to keep a very close eye on them. Of course I was really nervous, but remained positive.
Paul was shocked when I told him it was triplets. Obviously we were both a little nervous. I remember finding him sitting on the couch at 2:00 a.m. the day we found out! But after that initial bout of nervousness, we were nothing but excited (ok, and a little scared every now and then!) We knew we could do this! These were the babies we longed for and dreamed about!
My regular OB doctor immediately referred me to a high-risk group at the excellent university medical center about 40 minutes away from our house. We knew we would be in good hands. We were having visits and ultrasounds every other week and the bleeding had finally stopped. At one of the ultrasounds we found that our identical twins did have a membrane separating them and we were very relieved. Little did we know that we would be facing a problem just as serious as cord entanglement.
At 16 weeks we had our Level II ultrasound. We found out that the twins were boys (Baby A left us hanging for another two weeks – he also turned out to be a boy!) and that everyone had all their parts. Unfortunately, the ultrasound also showed that the twins might have Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) which they explained to us as an unequal sharing of the placenta. Suddenly they were talking about selective reduction, pregnancy termination and extreme prematurity. We knew that our boys would be born early but the doctors were saying we’d be lucky to make it to 26 or 28 weeks. At this point they weren’t 100% sure about the diagnosis, but they told me I would have to start coming in every week for an ultrasound to keep an eye on things.
Paul and I decided to be positive and to not worry too much about it until it was confirmed (easier said than done). We figured it had taken us so long, we had paid our dues, there was no way we were going to lose these precious babies. I looked for information in my multiples books for info on TTTS and found that there was an organization devoted to the study of this syndrome. I immediately called for information and was devastated when I read the articles. Everything I read said that TTTS is 80-100% fatal. And that’s just for twins, we had another baby in the picture (we called him our little innocent bystander!).
Well, at the following week’s ultrasound the diagnosis was confirmed. Baby C had a huge amount of amniotic fluid and Baby B had very little. But all of the babies were growing and things were still looking good. There was no way we were going to terminate the pregnancy. We talked about doing serial amnio if and when necessary to drain fluid to hopefully prolong the pregnancy.
Things kept going pretty well, I was feeling good and was finishing up at work. The Thursday after my last day at work, Paul and I went to visit his two nieces – kind of a last field trip before my bed rest which was coming soon. The next day, Friday, Paul’s brother told us that our niece was sent home with Fifth’s Disease which can be fatal to a fetus if the mother is exposed to the disease. I went immediately for a blood test and knew I would have to wait the weekend for the results. That day I remember Paul saying, “This is getting so hard to take. What else can they throw at us?” We will never say that phrase again.
That’s because on Monday, May 18th, one of my bags of water broke. I was exactly 21 weeks pregnant. I was sure it was Baby C, the baby who had all the extra amniotic fluid, but we were surprised to learn that it was our fraternal triplet. He was way down in my uterus and it was probably the pressure of the two babies on top of him and the extra fluid that caused his water to break. (My test for the exposure to Fifth’s Disease was negative, so we knew that had nothing to do with it.)
I could write about everything that happened to us in the hospital, but instead I’m sharing the story of our hospital experience that Paul wrote the day we came home, empty-handed, from the hospital (story follows). I’ve heard that people who have had the loss of a baby get angry at a lot of things – the doctors, God, etc. I guess Paul took his anger out on the contraction monitor.
On May 19, 1998, the happiest and saddest day of our lives, our sons were born – Paul Gerard at 6:47 p.m. weighing 320 grams, Patrick Walter at 9:29 p.m. weighing 210 grams, and Phillip John at 9:37 p.m. weighing 360 grams. (The reason there is a gap between Paul and Patrick/Phillip being born is because we tried to stop the labor with mag sulfate after Paul’s birth to try to save Patrick and Phillip. The doctors said they had never seen it work, and in fact, only one doctor was willing to give it a try.) Each of them lived for a short time. They were the most wonderful, beautiful babies I had ever seen and I am grateful they were in our life even if it was only for such a short time.
We had them buried together in the smallest casket I had ever seen, or ever hope to see again. They are buried next to three trees (we took that as a sign when choosing their location). We will love them and miss them every moment that we are alive.
…She and her husband have had two subsequent single sons, both born at full term.
5:00 a.m. Monday morning we were introduced to the Damn Machine. We got to the hospital E.R. We were rushed to the second floor – Labor and Delivery. It was too early. Too early.
My wife and our dreams were hooked to a damn machine. A machine which ran like a wave of hope and a wave to mountains. It didn’t take long to figure out the machine. Straight line good, mountain bad.
I spent hours watching that machine. Sometimes the machine would give a hope line.
I guess the doctors and nurses knew what the machine was saying. But they still had hope that we were the one in a million that the machine would give us the line to give us the 49 days we needed to survive. They knew. But they believed as did we.
40 hours little or no sleep. My wife was having more pain and machine is little mountains. Doctor shift change. We knew we would lose part of our lives soon.
But, hope! New doctor said that one baby (Baby A – Paul) would come out so we could try to save others. So, when Paul (cute!) decided to come out on a mountain, the doctor did the heroic job no one wanted to try!
The machine was mad, but kept a new flat line. New hope. My wife slept in and out with medication. We showed her the new bundle of joy. We held Paul until he became an angel (cute angel!).
Hope. I went out for awhile to update family members. One hour went by. I went back to stay with wife and I noticed that the Damn Machine mountains were back. My wonderful wife knew without the machine telling her! I hate that machine!
The doctors came in, saw it on the machine and said it’s time for Baby B (Patrick) and Baby C (Phillip) to come out. Our beautiful babies were born. Big hands and feet. Phil pointed to Mom, then to sky to say, “I’ll see you in Heaven! “.
My wife, brave wife, only got to hold our babies for one minute before she had to be taken to surgery. Why?
Paul-first, brave, and willing to give self-sacrifice for his brothers.
Patrick-second, small, fragile, head first.
Phillip-third, strong, big and wise, pointing the way.
I love you!!
My wife came out of surgery ok. We were able to go home the next day, but I couldn’t help notice the monitor for the Damn Machine was still on showing the biggest mountain we will ever climb – the last mountain our babies will climb.
So, frozen there on that Damn Machine, 9:37 p.m., is when this world lost three great people and Heaven gained three new angels!
I begged and pleaded with that machine, but it wouldn’t listen. But the machine will not win because the love for my babies and wife will outlast that machine!
Daddy loves you, kids!! Take care of them God!
Written May 20,1998, Paul