After we put them to bed, I got on my computer to check my email and somehow I found myself an hour later completely engrossed in another blog I randomly stumbled upon. It's about another young couple, much like ourselves, who found themselves the recent parents of triplets! In fact, our babies are only 3 months older than theirs. Only there were a few differences....First, they had 2 girls and a boy, we have 2 boys and a girl. Second, one of their babies died.
Kinda gets you in the gut doesn't it? It's weird to cry for people you don't even know, but there I sat, crying. And I mean, blurry screen crying. Not just teary-eyed. Having been through what they had been through up until that dreadful night that they lost their baby girl, I just feel for them. The way they talk about all their babies, making sure to give equal time and comments to each one. The way they describe the NICU, as anything but a sterile, yucky hospital environment, but rather a place where the nurses become your second family and love your babies almost as much as you do...it's even eerie to look at pictures of their babies, who, with CPAP masks, wires and leads on look an awful lot like our babies.
But they only got to bring 2 of their babies home. (you can click to link to their blog) That thought pains me more than you could know. My back hurts tonight, my feet even more. I am tired. But despite all that, I did not complain about it today. I did not give my babies any less of my attention or love today just because I was annoyed that Ethan wouldn't stop crying, or that Hunter spit up all over herself the minute I took off her bib, or that Colton did not want to finish his bottle. I'm so glad I didn't complain today. I'll bet those other parents would give anything for their precious daughter to spit up all over her pretty, new outfit.
Not having one of them around is absolutely inconceivable to us, though surprisingly we talk about it fairly often. Unlike this family who lost a baby after she was born, we were faced with losing a baby before it was born. If you are, or were pregnant with higher order multiples, I'm sure you were also encouraged down this path...Fertility treatments are a wonderful thing. Science is amazing. Particularly the process of creating embryos and getting them situated in a mom's belly to grow for as many months as they possibly can. But it's also a lot like Vegas. It's a gamble. You really can never know exactly what you're going to get. After 4 failed In Vitro attempts, I can promise you that NO ONE expected me to get pregnant with triplets on our last ditch effort. Pretty exciting until you're told "you can't carry all 3."
That's what I was told. Not because anyone was trying to be mean to us, or rain on our parade, but statistically, I suppose I shouldn't have been able to. They're right. I'm only 5 feet 2 inches tall and before I got pregnant weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 pounds. So I see what they were saying. But telling me I can't have all 3 of my babies is a lot like telling a kindergartner he cannot have the cupcake that is sitting right in front of him.
But that moment began what became perhaps the most stressful 12 weeks of my life. The recommendation was to reduce my pregnancy from triplets to twins. "Reduce the pregnancy." Sounds so official doesn't it? But what they were really asking me, a brand new mother to do, was get rid of one of my babies. Multifetal Reduction is a very controversial topic. Trust me. I know. Which is why I really never wrote in depth about it. Until now. I got more advice and opinions from people far and wide about what I should and shouldn't do. Deep down, I don't think there was ever a moment that I thought I would actually reduce the pregnancy, but in my typical, non-confrontational way, I'm sure I agreed with many, who like the numerous doctors, saw the value and the safety in doing so. What I had to remember though, was that it made absolutely no difference what everyone else thought or felt. It was our decision. Our life to live. Our babies.
We took a gamble, and got three little heartbeats flickering on that screen. Those were MY little heartbeats...real live babies no bigger than a flea. Week after week, we made the dreaded drive to the doctor's office for an ultrasound to check and see if any of the heartbeats had gone away.
Let me tell you what a warped world it is when you find yourself hoping that if you in fact, aren't going to have 3 babies, it will be because one of them simply wasn't strong enough to make it to the next week- and NOT because YOU, the parents, had to make the decision to get rid of one of them. In other words, you find yourself almost hoping that one of those ultrasounds will in fact only show 2 heartbeats one day so that the pressure to choose which baby to get rid of will no longer fall on your shoulders. Twisted, isn't it?
But notice I said, "almost. " Because what I wish I'd just had the courage to do all along, (because it WAS what I wanted to do all along) was just say no. Because that IS your choice. Those were my babies. The ones I had tried so desperately to have for so many years, and I would NOT get rid of one. Regardless of the opinions of everyone around me, I had the unique perspective of being those babies' mother. I was willing to take whatever risks came my way...While it was close, it wasn't quite as easy a decision for Brian...not because he didn't want all three babies, but because the doctors were constantly bringing up the possibility of losing me as well as the babies in this pregnancy. And that was not something Brian was necessarily willing to do. I don't blame him for that.
But I'll never forget the moment he and I officially made the decision NOT to fly to Los Angeles to stop one of those beating hearts, ending what would have been far too short a life. We were sitting in the parking lot of Babies R Us down by Tucson Mall. I was crying uncontrollably, saying "I don't care what happens. I don't care if one of them has a learning disability. I want to keep all three." And just like that, he looked at me and said, "Then let's go in there and look for things in threes." I'll never forget that moment. It put an end to 12 weeks of the worst stress I have ever felt. We were united in our decision and look what we have now. If you have been down this road, and chose the other path, I do not judge you for a minute. I understand the anguish. This is simply our story. And reading about the pain a young couple felt as they buried their tiny daughter in a pink casket at only 8 weeks old, encouraged me to stop and reflect on the fact that my 3 children made it. They beat the odds.
So I often try to imagine, though only very briefly, what our lives would be like without our petite, princess Hunter who can scream at a pitch that rivals the best opera singers. Or the joy I have gotten from Colton's old and new smiles and the recent "rooster crowing" sound he's learned to make. All. Day. Long. Or the millions of times in 5 months I've smiled watching Ethan laugh and stick out his tongue. It wouldn't be our life without all three.
Which takes me back to where I started. That poor couple who now only get to snuggle two of their babies, but love the third one, who never came home, just the same... My heart aches for them. And I am reminded that life is short. It's what you make of it. Do not take your children for granted. Love them a little more, complain a little less. Enjoy them for everything they are and aren't. If for no other reason, do so for all those parents who never got to bring their babies home. I know I will.
Mom and Hunter