Samuel, Melia & Elijah
I am 31 and my husband Randy is 30. We’ve been struggling with infertility for 6 years, many of those years being spent in some sort of infertility treatment or another. Last summer, we got pregnant through an IVF with twins but miscarried them on 9/26/96 at 10 weeks. This summer, we tried again with IVF/ICSI and became pregnant with triplets. We were so astounded and happy and knew that this was it; our infertility struggles were over and we would finally be parents. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. The pregnancy was going along well although I was on bed rest most of the pregnancy due to repeated bleeding episodes and a shortening cervix.
On Thursday, October 23 (19 weeks and 1 day pregnant with triplets), I had a cerclage put in. My cervix was down to 28 mm. effaced and, although closed at the time, surely wouldn’t have stayed that way for long. I went home from the hospital on Friday with absolutely no problems and returned to bed rest.
That Monday and Tuesday, I had a pinkish discharge which was pretty normal with a cerclage. I was also having more than usual contractions (I was being home monitored) but they always calmed down with the second monitoring and drinking water. But on Tuesday night, I had sudden cramping, went to the toilet, and one of the amniotic sacs broke (this was around 9 p.m.). We called the doctor and drove up to the hospital. My perinatologist and OB met us at the hospital and an ultrasound found that the lower boy’s (Samuel’s) sac had ruptured but there was still some fluid around him and he was still alive. Both other sacs were fine. At the time, it was the hope that all three or at least two of the babies could make it to viability. The plan was that I would remain at the hospital until that time totally on bed rest.
Later that night and into Wednesday, I started running a fever. I had already been put on IV antibiotics but those were strengthened. On Wednesday around noon, an amniocentesis was done with the other two sacs (Elijah and Melia) because it was felt Samuel’s sac had ruptured due to infection and there might be infection in the other two sacs as well. I believe Samuel had died by this point and we were trying to save the other two.
Later Wednesday afternoon (October 29), I started feeling more fluid coming out and the perinatologist did another ultrasound. At the time, he felt no other sac had ruptured (both still had fluid). But, we found out later that Melia’s sac HAD ruptured by then, it just hadn’t drained very much. Preliminary results of the amnio said there wasn’t any infection in the remaining two sacs.
I spent that night running very high (103’s) fevers and getting more and more antibiotics. I wasn’t really feeling that sick. Just worried about the babies. And, I sensed that Melia’s sac had ruptured and was worried about that.
The next morning (Thursday), the final results from the amnio said that the upper boy’s sac (Elijah’s) DID have infection and Melia’s didn’t so they decided to do another amnio on both sacs to be sure. By this time, though, the ultrasound showed that Melia’s sac had definitely ruptured. She was still alive but had no fluid around her. Elijah’s sac was still intact. They did another amnio on Elijah’s sac. I spent the rest of the day shaking with fever, getting it down only to have it start again.
Late Thursday afternoon (probably around 4-ish), my doctor came in and gave us the horrible news. By this time, my mom had come up from her house and was able to be there for support. Elijah’s sac was full of infection and there was no hope for the pregnancy. Labor was induced (I had not been having any contractions up to this point) and I was wheeled into the operating room around 5 p.m.
Melia Margaret was born first and had already died by the time she was born at around 5:05. Randy, my mom and I were able to hold her (and all of the babies) when they were born. I cannot describe to you how beautiful and perfect they were. Truly, just tiny human beings.
Samuel Anthony was born very soon after Melia (just a couple of minutes afterwards). Because he had been dead a little longer without the protection of the amniotic sac, his skin was a little worse for wear but he was still beautiful.
After that, things slowed down quite a bit. Because the third sac was still intact and Elijah was still alive and because he was the top baby, it took quite a long time for him to deliver. I think he delivered about 5:45. During the time in between, I was pretty oblivious about MY health and was just enjoying looking at my other babies. I do remember bleeding quite heavily at every contraction and my doctor reaching up to try and help things along (which hurt).
Elijah was born alive around 5:45 and I will forever be thankful about that. He sucked his thumb and moved his arm and legs around a little before dying and that was so magical to watch. Randy was able to cut his cord.
After that, things began to get speedy again. I didn’t know it until afterwards, but my blood pressure had plummeted to 40 over 18 (I should have been unconscious at the very least and probably dead). I still didn’t know the seriousness of everything (Randy did because he is an EMT but he was very calm and of course the doctor did). I just kept complaining that I was seeing stars.
They got an anesthesiologist up to the room and put me out so that they could deliver the last placenta and stop the bleeding. Luckily, they were successful. I guess when I got to the recovery room, my extremities were blue and it was still kind of touch and go. They gave me 2 pints of blood. Randy was there when I woke up. I remember being very thirsty and eating a LOT of ice when we got back to my room. I had had one blood transfusion right after the surgery and had another in the room. My dad had arrived by this time.
My doctor told me later that it was very good that they had taken the babies when they had as I was septic (infection in the blood) by then and things were very life-threatening for me (not to mention all of the blood loss that occurred during the birth).
That night, we stayed up really late holding the babies. They had washed them and put them in blankets. It was a very special time. They were each absolutely perfect. They all had different features and such long legs and arms and fingers. They had fingernails and everything.
I cannot tell you how wonderful our nurses were. After awhile, they took the babies to another room to take pictures of them. They took pictures of them the next day, too. I think they took about 3 rolls of pictures (we have one already and it is wonderful). We took pictures with ourselves holding them, too. They also made footprints of each one and filled out certificates (with weights, all around 11 ounces, and measurements, all around 11-1/2 inches) and filled a little box with mementos for each of them. I know that those will be very special.
I think I was pretty fever-free that night but throughout the next several days, I kept getting more and more feverish. I never really felt that bad, I would just start shivering and spike another temperature. Nights seemed to be the worst. My OB kept changing antibiotics in an attempt to find one that would fight the infection and I was pretty continuously getting one antibiotic IV or another. We were able to visit with the babies anytime we wanted to (they were being kept in the morgue) and we did that many times. I was strong enough at one point to rock them in the rocking chair.)
By Sunday, things were definitely not looking up. My blood count was still not up so they decided to give me another 2 pints of blood (it ended up being 2-1/2 because I spiked a temp during one of them and they couldn’t finish it). They decided to do an ultrasound of my insides and see if there were abscesses in my abdomen or uterus or ????. It was just a tech who did the ultrasound but she said that everything looked OK. After the ultrasound, though, I spiked a really high (almost 107) temperature (I guess that’s really serious for an adult). Again, I should have been unconscious or at least delirious. I was seeing stars again). They got it down again with a lot of sponge baths and ice packs. Again, I was blue in the extremities and I guess was pretty close to dying.
That evening they said the doctor was coming to see me and that’s when I knew that he was going to tell me my uterus was going to come out. Up to then, I was feeling pretty positive (about the future) but I was so scared while we were waiting for him that that was what he would say. Anyway, he did say what I was scared he would and I pretty much lost it. He said that my body just couldn’t fight off the infection any more and that they were seeing abscesses in the uterus. He felt the only course of action was to take out my uterus in the morning (he wanted to wait until then so that I could finish getting the last of the blood transfusions and so that I would be farther away from the really high fever). I had a really hard time emotionally that night. It just seemed so unfair to have first my babies taken away and then my future hope of babies.
So, on Monday, I had another operation to remove my uterus (I was able to keep my ovaries and tubes). The incision is about 4-5 inches vertical from my pelvis to my belly button. That operation went very well and again, came at the perfect time. My uterus was very infected and the infection had spread to my abdomen. They were able to rinse out all of the abdomen and I was pretty infection-free by the time they closed me up.
I spent the next several days still spiking some small temperatures and getting lots of IV antibiotics but I was definitely on the mend. I took a sit-down shower on Wednesday and got to come home on Thursday afternoon. It was really hard leaving the safe cocoon of my hospital room and my wonderful nurses but it was time.
Everyone always asks where the infection came from and when. We really have no idea except that it did come from my intestinal tract (rectum) up through my vagina. I do wipe “front to back” so it is thought that the tons of mucus from the multiple pregnancy probably helped it along. And, no one will ever know when it happened or if my cerclage had something to do with it. I can say from the deepest part of my heart that I feel totally comfortable with the care I received from all of my doctors and nurses. Although I am not, of course, happy with the way things turned out, I am totally at peace with the steps that were taken to preserve the pregnancy and, later, my uterus. I really know that everything possible was done.
I am very, very tired now and kind of numb to all of this. It is so hard to deal with the grief over our three precious babies. I know that they are in Heaven and that I will be able to see them again, but right now, my heart is broken to know that I will not be able to hold them and raise them here on earth. And, I am just beginning to realize that I will not ever again be able to experience pregnancy and the birth of another baby. You have probably figured out by now that Randy and I are Christians and I have to say that I know that God will see us through this. I don’t know why He allowed this to happen but I do know that He will work through it for good. I really wondered what God was doing with all of the prayers that were being sent up for the babies. Now, I think He was using them to save MY life.
I was in a lot of pain with the incision for the hysterectomy and still on a lot of antibiotics (and, of course, got another yeast infection from all of the antibiotics!). The pain pills and all that I went through in the past couple of weeks made me very tired and I seemed to sleep most of the day and night (plus, that’s the way I cope with being depressed anyhow).
We were also dealing with the babies. Because they were born at 20 weeks and 1 day and because Elijah was born alive, we had to deal with a mortuary. Samuel and Melia have fetal death certificates and Elijah has a regular death certificate and a birth certificate too. It was our intention to just bury them with our other two babies in the backyard (we have a little fenced-off area with an apple tree and baby sculpture from last time). But, in California, it is illegal to do that and there was no way to get the babies and just go ahead and do it. So, the babies had to be cremated (something I have always had a hard time with) if we wanted them here or be buried in a cemetery. We decided to have them cremated and ordered a beautiful urn with an angel on it for them to be buried in. We will probably just keep it inside the house for awhile until we are ready to bury them. We saw them for the last time before they were cremated and spent a long time saying goodbye.
I am so thankful for MY life and for having the experience of pregnancy and birth. And, of being able to experience being a mom to my babies. I’m so happy that Elijah was born alive and that I got to see him suck his thumb. I’m thankful for my wonderful, loving husband. I know we will be able to get through anything after going through this. And my parents who were there the whole time. And, I can’t tell you how much the thoughts, prayers, cards, flowers have meant. We have just FELT totally supported and loved by everyone.
As far as the future, we are taking it one day at a time. I was on bed rest for so long before all of this happened, it took several weeks just to be walking steadily again. My doctor said it would take 6 weeks until he released me to go back to work (which puts us into Christmas vacation.) So, I guess I’ll go back to my classroom in January (which will be very, very difficult). I believe Randy will be off until January as well.
I would love to sit in front of a fire with the snow falling outside and relax and feel at peace. Of course, we are still in debt from the IVF so we shall see what we can come up with.
…Nancy and her husband tried surrogacy unsuccessfully and went on to adopt a beautiful daughter at birth, in a comfortable open adoption. They are now also the proud parents of a son through adoption at birth, in an open adoption whom their daughter’s birth mother encouraged to contact them.
Nancy is available for contact from other mothers who have had a hysterectomy in connection with the loss of their multiples.