Mom to Ryan Alan – December 7, 2011
Andrew Jonathan – December 8, 2011

Oak Island, North Carolina

After trying to conceive for 4 years my husband and I discovered we were pregnant with triplets in September.  We were happy but overwhelmed; at 7 weeks we met with the maternal fetal specialist who explained the risks and options.  She sent us to Duke to meet with another specialist who did genetic testing and advised us to reduce to twins.  It was a very hard decision but we felt that it would give the other two the best chance.  It was a horrible procedure to go through, and in hindsight I don’t know that I would do it again, but at the time I thought I was increasing my babies’ odds…It was so strange to grieve one and yet be excited for two.

From that day on I was considered high risk and saw the MF doc weekly, which meant I got to have scans weekly.  It was so different from my first pregnancy (I have a six year old); I was able to watch them grow.  At 12 weeks, I had some spotting and called the doctor. The doc on call (not my doc) explained that it was probably old blood from the procedure or maybe it was a threatened miscarriage and there was nothing he could do or would do.  I went to bed that night very scared and worried.  That weekend I had more bleeding and went to the ER…we were there forever; they wanted to run tests that I felt were ridiculous, when all I wanted was to see their little heartbeats.  Finally, after they assured me that my cervix was closed and long, they did an ultrasound, which revealed two healthy babies. I was overjoyed and went home.  That Monday my doctor pulled me out of work and told me just stay home and rest since we had no idea where the bleeding was coming from…she was just being cautious.  The bleeding stopped and started the next weekend, we would repeat the same ER trip two more times….each time becoming more and more stressful. Finally I was told at 15 weeks to be on complete bed rest. I was bleeding off and on regardless of what I did but the twins were thriving and no one but me was alarmed.  If one more doc told me that they had no idea or that there was nothing they could do I was going to scream.

On December 3rd, my husband and son went to the local Christmas parade while I stayed in bed. I couldn’t wait for them to come home because I was so excited to tell my husband that the bleeding had finally stopped.  That night we celebrated by having a yummy dinner in bed.  Around 8pm, I started cramping very hard, it was coming faster and faster, I called the on call doc who told me to drink water and wait it out, because again there was nothing he could do…I waited about 15 minutes before I was in so much pain I could barely see straight to decide to go to the ER.  We were headed to the city hospital, which is about 45 minutes away, but we never made it. I was in so much pain that I screamed for my husband to go to the local community hospital.  The doctor there was very nice and he did an exam and said that I was not dilating so he would give me some Terbutaline. Right before the injection I started passing clots that were huge…my husband was horrified but again the babies were fine.  They gave me the shot which did calm the contractions and spread them apart but it did not stop them.

I was transported by EMS to the city and given another med to in the ambulance to try to stop the contractions as they were slamming me right on top of each other…seconds apart.  I was admitted to L&D and told that I was in labor and that the babies would not survive. I was given morphine and told to try to rest.  Around 5am my Maternal Fetal doc came in and insisted on doing an ultrasound. I remember seeing the babies, they were 100% fine and were waving to me. The specialist confirmed that I had a previa and that I was in labor and dilating.  Within the hour the contractions stopped, everyone was shocked.  The doc told me that he has only ever seen this happen once before and it was a positive outcome.  I was kept in L& D for 3 more days were they monitored my spotting.  Finally, I was told that I had graduated to antepartum and would be moved to a new room, this would be the room I would stay in for the rest of my pregnancy.  Everything was going great, everyone was shocked at the progress we were making, the babies had started kicking and I was getting used to the hospital food.  Then, on December 7th, I sat up to put my socks on and I heard a pop…it was a clot about 4 inches big, I was horrified I actually thought it was my baby.  The nurse came in and pushed my bed down the hall so fast it made me dizzy, she was screaming ,“Prep the OR, we got a bleeder!” I just remember thinking that this could not be happening and why was she screaming, I was not bleeding it was just a clot…Thankfully the charge nurse stopped my bed dead in its tracks and instructed the nurse to calm down and I was taken back to L&D.  The contractions started coming hard and fast and the docs at this hospital refused to give me anything to even try to stop them, they said that their policy is to only try at 24 weeks.

That night I had Ryan. He slipped out so easily and all the pain stopped.  I wanted to see him but I was exhausted, and they told me that if I laid still that the other twin would stay in.  I fell asleep for 4 hours, and woke because I needed to use the bed pan. I moved an inch and everything started again…Andrew was born several minutes later.   I was so sad I couldn’t stop crying, I was scared to see them but I knew I needed to.  The nurse brought them to me all dressed in little clothes and hats, I held them for a few minutes and then felt as though I had to give them back as everyone was staring at me.  I regret that now, I should have kicked everyone out and just held them.  They were perfect replicas of my first son, just very tiny.

I left the hospital immediately. I couldn’t bear to stay one more minute. I actually forced the doc to let me leave. I remember leaving the hospital vividly, I had a box in my hands containing a few mementos and I was being taken down on the service elevator, I guess to protect me. Regardless, just as the doors of my elevator opened so did the regular elevator with a glowing mother and her baby; I just had a box. 

I remember hating the idea of leaving them there, knowing they were going to the morgue, that they were cold.  The hospital told us they could take care of everything for free but we would not receive the remains.  We had 72 hours to decide.  I knew in my heart that I could not leave them there and needed them to be with me in some way shape or form, but I also knew cremation was expensive.  My husband called every place on the list and it was going to be over a thousand dollars to have these little tiny babies cremated, but thankfully he finally found a local place that offered their services for free. If there was ever one single moment of happiness in this whole ordeal that was it, knowing that they would be coming home to me.

I don’t remember much of the next few weeks, and Christmas was horrible.  Not one day goes by that my heart does not ache for them. I feel horrible knowing that they were completely healthy and my body just forced them out.  The doctors tell me it was a placental abruption and that I am lucky I did not end up requiring a hysterectomy.  I don’t feel lucky.  I feel like the entire hospital was one big emotional roller coaster.  We prepared for the loss, we experienced a miracle and than settled in for the long haul, and then it was gone, with no answers.  I miss my boys so much.  We are planning a tree planting ceremony on what would have been the due date/Mother’s Day.  I know I need to do it but I feel like everyone else has already moved on, I feel like I will be the only one sitting there crying and that my family is being forced to do this “cheesy” thing for me…I hope one day all of these feelings can become more settled…I am so sad. 

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  1. Monica,

    I am so sorry that Ryan and Andrew are not here with you. I think that your tree planting ceremony is a wonderful way to celebrate their memory and you, their mom. Don’t feel rushed to grieve; everyone does so in his or her own way and time. I wish you peace and comfort during this difficult and painful time.

  2. Monica, please don’t feel rushed in your grieving process or that planting trees for your sweet, tiny Ryan and Andrew is in any way “cheesy”! You have *every right* to have a physical place in this world to go and remember them – to be “their place” that you could decorate, love and nurture. It can never replace the love and nurturing you should be able to give your little men directly, but if it feels good and right to you, DO IT. Do it defiantly if you have to – you and your sons deserve this time and space. I will be thinking of you, Ryan and Andrew and your family on this Mother’s Day, and hoping & praying you feel loved and respected as you honor your sons.

    • Sarah and Melissa,

      Thank yo so much for your comments. This past Saturday, we held a very beautiful service in our back yard for the boys. We had a family friend come and read along with my sister. We spread their ashes around the tree and placed a memorial stone in front of it. I placed flowers upon the stone and we all said good bye. My 6 year old son requested that we send ballons to his brothers, so we sent a rainbow of balloons while palying somewhere over the rainbow. It was breathtaking…Im so glad we did it and I would encourage others to do so as well.

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