(This can be a sensitive issue with many dealing with fertility issues, the loss of a child or children)
I was asked a while back if I would share the story of our babies, and I haven’t done that yet. It’s very long, and at times, difficult to read, but I pray it will give you a vision of God’s grace and love, strength, comfort and peace. I pray it is an example of what amazing things we can endure if we just let go and let Him carry us through our heartache. Our Hope remains.
Mike and I were married (almost 20 years ago now…in 2008) (updated again...here it is 2012, and 23 years later...wow!), when I was 4 months pregnant with our daughter, Karen. We hadn’t planned it that way, but it was never a mistake. God covered us with grace, and brought a beautiful blessing out of our wrong choices. Two months after we were married, Mike left for delayed entry into the Air Force. He came home to us on his birthday, and saw his 4 week old daughter for the first time. One week later, we left for our first duty station in Florida. When Karen was approx. 2, we decided we wanted to try for another baby….so, we tried, and tried, and tried…month after month. VERY long story short, we tried for 7 years, with no success. It was heartbreaking, stressful, and the complete focus of my life for a very long time. Throughout this process I had seen military docs, had some tests, went to Bethesda Fertility Clinic, was told nothing was wrong with me, and took Clomid for a while. We eventually separated from the Air Force after 9 years active duty, (lots of moves, deployments, and Desert Storm in there, where Mike was gone for 9 months to Saudi) and came home to Indiana. We talked about what to do, and began researching doctors, etc. I was referred to a fertility clinic in Indy, went to see the doc, and within ½ hour of meeting with him, and some blood tests, I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). I had some tests done, minor procedures done, and within one month was having surgery to remove polyps that had grown in my uterus. Because we had tried Clomid already, and didn’t want the risk of being on it too long, we pursued another (injectable) drug. In a matter of two cycles, I was pregnant!! For those of you not familiar with fertility treatments, it requires many hours of travel, tests, journaling, scheduling, etc., etc. We found out early on in my pregnancy, within the first month, that I was indeed carrying triplets. We were ECSTATIC! I had a VERY uneventful pregnancy. Felt fabulous, ate right, did everything I was “supposed” to do. I was monitored closely, had surgery to stitch my cervix closed at 13 weeks, and was sailin’ along. I was released to my high risk OB, and things were going well. I joined a moms of multiples group, we moved our bedroom out of the larger, master bedroom, which became the nursery, started decorating, planning 2 or 3 baby showers, had 3 cribs, just all the things that come with planning for a baby’s arrival, only multiplied by three. Karen was excited, our families were excited, and we were walking on clouds.
Aug. 23, 1998 was a Sunday. Mike stayed home from church with a cold, and Karen and I went. The sermon that morning was entitled, “Life’s Supreme Crisis”. Pastor talked about how we go through trials, difficult times, and all God wants us to do is surrender all we have to him. The sermon touched me, and I was very emotional. I prayed during that service that I would let go of things I was “holding on to”, and that ultimately, the babies I was carrying were His, and I surrendered…Your will be done Lord… I was pretty peaceful. I went to Sunday school then, and shared with my class that I was struggling with thoughts and emotions that something “just wasn’t right”. (this was only a stirring in me at this point…I had no idea of what was to come) I shared that it probably had a lot to do with pregnancy hormones, and that one of the moms in my Moms of Multiples group had lost her babies (also triplets) the week prior.
We went home after church, and after a quick lunch, we all laid down for naps. I woke from my nap feeling “odd”. Went to the bathroom, and that was when I felt something….I went back to the bed, and immediately woke Mike, who called the doctor. I went to the local hospital for an OB to check me out, and things began to move very quickly. Surrounded by family, the doctor told me that the lowest sac was protruding, that my cerclage (stitch) had torn, and that I was going to have to be transported to another hospital. I was put into trendellenburg position, and rode 30 miles that way to the hospital. I was immediately taken into surgery, and my stitch was repaired. I came out of surgery still carrying all three of my precious babies. Something had triggered me to go into early labor, and I had started contracting without any knowledge from me. They determined I had a UTI, and that was probably what caused it.
I spent 4 ½ weeks, in and out of the hospital. I was on icky, horrid drugs to help stop contractions, and though strict bed rest was difficult, but I was willing to do absolutely anything to carry my babies to term. Not only our own family, but our church family was AWESOME! They prepared meals for an entire month for our family. They helped out in any way they could. At 22 ½ weeks, I ended up in the hospital again, and was there one week when our lives changed forever…
At 23 1/2 weeks, the morning of September 29, 1998, I told my nurse that something didn’t feel right, could she call the doctor. One of the docs in the OB practice was delivering right then, and as soon as she was finished, within 15 min. or so, she came in to check on me. I was in active labor. Mike was at work…1 ½ hours away. My grandma was at the hospital visiting me, so I wasn’t alone. Things started happening so quickly. I was in a fog. Orders were being given, the room filled with doctors and nurses, and incubators were brought in. I was crying, quiet, peaceful tears….I knew God was going to take care of me and my babies…no matter what. It all happened so fast. I gave them Mike’s work number, and he made it to the hospital in record time…I know God was guiding his car, and as I look back, he drove by himself, almost 90 miles, not knowing if his children or his wife would be alive when he arrived…. One particular nurse, her name was Dana, came to my head, held my hand, and asked me if she could pray with me. As she was praying I was, once again, overcome with peace. I began to softly sing outloud, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in the place, I can feel his mighty power and his grace. I can hear the brush of angel’s wings, I see glory on each face. Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.” I truly, with my whole heart, believe that God was present in that room….I could FEEL him.
By the time Mike had arrived, Elizabeth Anne and Nathanial James had been born. Both babies were alive, but struggling for every breath. The doctors tried all they could, but their perfect precious bodies were just too weak to survive outside of mommy so soon. Nathanial died after 20 min, and Elizabeth died 25 min. later, in my arms, laying on my chest. I stroked their precious bodies, looked at every inch of them, sang to them, and told them how much mommy and daddy loved them, but that Jesus loved them more, and he was going to take care of them for us. I cannot in human words possibly explain to you the strength God granted me at that time. It was never denial. It was complete and utter strength and peace that the Holy Spirit was filling me with.
Nathanial and Elizabeth laid in my arms almost up to the time when I gave birth to Zachary David. Zachary was born in his sac, protected from any infection or outside germs, and as his sac was broken, he let out a precious squeak. I can still hear that sound…..
Zachary was much stronger than his brother and sister, and the doctors immediately took him to the NICU. He was doing well after an hour or so, and Mike went home to get Karen. He felt she needed to hear it from him…
Oh, the strength of a child………Mike told Karen that Nathanial and Elizabeth had died, and her response was this, “They’re perfect now Daddy.” With that, I envision my children playing at the feet of Jesus, never to know the ills and pains of this world. God is truly good!
When they returned to the hospital, Mike was allowed to take Karen into the NICU to see her baby brother. She touched him, told him she loved him, and called him Rocky….”our little fighter”. We were all able to spend time by his side, hooked up to machines, fighting for his life. But after 17 hard hours, his little body had fought as hard as it could, and we had to make the most difficult decision yet, to turn off the machines, and let him go in peace, in our arms, as his brother and sister had. Before making that decision, Mike and I were able to go to the NICU, and I rocked Zachary and held him and kissed his toes and sang Jesus Loves Me to him. It was a precious, heartbreaking time, but I know he knew his mommy was there, protecting him and surrendering him to the Father.
I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t know what to say to you to help you understand what peace, strength and comfort God granted through this heartbreaking time in our lives, and continues to grant to this day. It was just God. It was surrender to allow him to do as he knew best. It was knowing that we had Hope. That we knew, beyond any doubt, that we would see our children again. We have knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We have accepted that precious Gift that God had given to us, and we will one day, hold our children in our arms again.
I also want you to know that I have had many sleepless nights, agonizing over the loss of our babies. I have cried too many tears to count, and I have been angry. I have sat in the cemetery and screamed and beaten the ground and wept like I’ve never wept before, but through the tears, and the anger, and the grief, God has carried me through. The pain does lessen as the years go by, but their birthday is always especially difficult. God has given me a wonderful family and an awesome group of friends who always remember what a tender time that is for me, and I feel very loved and cared for on that day as I grieve and reflect. My prayer has always been that He be glorified through it all. We are using the comfort He has given us to help others. Through their grief, their questions, their heartache. We, as humans, don’t have the answers, but we know who does.
The evidence of God’s grace and miracles doesn’t stop there in our story. After the babies died, we agonized over whether to try for more children. I was told by the doctors that I wouldn’t get pregnant without more fertility help, and if I ever did get pregnant, I wouldn’t carry to term. We prayed, I agonized, I cried, I tried to control it. And God, once again, brought me to a point of total and complete surrender. But this process didn’t come easily. I finally knew in my heart what I’d always said with my mouth and thought in my head. That it would be okay if I never had another child. I knew that God KNEW my desires, and if I would just let go, he would show me his perfect plan. So…I did……..I gave up. I said, “Lord, YOUR will be done.”, and the very afternoon that I prayed that prayer, and was sure of it with all of my heart, I found out that I was pregnant. Words cannot even describe what was going on in my heart by then…
I carried Matthew (our “Gift of God”), not only to term, but 3 days overdue. Our God is so cool……
(Matthew just celebrated his 8th birthday!)(updated: Matthew will be 12 in just a little over a week, and he's now taller than his momma.)
I had to update once again. God continually gives me little hugs and kisses in wonderfully random ways to remind me that He's still taking care of my sweet babies and that one day, I'll hold them in my arms. The year 2011 brought their 13th birthday. Teenagers they would be! WOW! I now own a cake design business and one of the things I love to do is come up with special birthday cakes for my kids.
On the triplets 13th birthday, God sent someone to me who ordered a 13th birthday cake...so in a way, I got to make a cake for "THEIR" birthday. Once again I say.....Our God is SO cool!!
Sweet sweet blessings!!