When I was in my early 30s and still single with no real prospects in sight, and my grandmother was asking me daily if I ever thought it would ‘happen for me’… I knew. My heart told me, you will find someone, not someone but the one. And I did in March 2003, in a weird twist of what had to be fate, find the man who is definitely my ‘one’.
November 25th, 2005 we were married and ready to start a family. My doctor told me, ‘You’re not THAT old…. you shouldn’t have a problem.” So my not THAT old eggs and I went home and we tried for a year with no luck, the whole time my heart telling me, this is not going to work. This is not how it’s going to happen.
After testing determined we would probably never get pregnant on our own, we went right to IVF in February of 2007. I prayed every night to the Blessed Mother, to St. Gerard, to Heaven itself to please, please, send me a baby. And it worked, like I knew it would work, my heart and my head were both saying, this is it. This is how it will happen. I was pregnant.
At our first ultrasound there were two sacs, and we were thrilled. After all we’d been through, to have two babies was a dream. But I felt, strange. I told my husband the night before our next ultrasound, something is wrong. Something has happened, I know, I feel it.
Something had happened….. the next day we found out we were now having triplets. One of the eggs had split into identical twins. We were having a pair and a spare as the doctors liked to joke. And we were shocked and not shocked at the same time. It felt right in a strange way. It felt perfect. And I knew, I could do this. I could carry three babies.
And I did – I did! Doctors teased I was made to carry triplets. I never went on bed rest. My blood pressure stayed low, my cervix stayed closed up tight, I never had gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia or any of the myriad of things that can go wrong when carrying multiples. I finally had something I was great at, and I knew I would be… I was great at being pregnant.
I had all the tests women of “advanced maternal age” are expected to have, and though in retrospect there were a few little red flags, they were nothing major. We found out the identical twins were girls, and our single baby was a boy. The only problem we were told about was our little boy had clubbed feet, and oh, how upset we were. His poor feet! This poor baby! We had no idea, and no perspective yet. We would come to adore those little funny feet, and long for the days we thought they were the end of the world.
The babies were born October 11, 2007 at 32 weeks 6 days. The girls had started developing something called “twin to twin transfusion syndrome” so it was time to get them out. Charlotte, Kathleen (Katie) and Jackson (Jack) were born small but not tiny, all around 3 1/2 pounds. And they seemed healthy, with only the expected problems of multiples born early.
Katie and Charlotte were “growers and feeders.” They simply needed to grow and learn how to eat and in four short weeks, they were home. We found out later Katie has a congenital heart defect but it is fixable. IT IS FIXABLE. I have to believe that or I will go insane. Charlotte, the littlest of the three, was and continues to be the healthiest, the little one who’s tough as nails.
Jack, though, my Jack, he could not breathe on his own. He was on a ventilator, and we were told over and over it was just a preemie thing. It was typical for a boy, it was okay, he would come off, he would be fine, he just needed time….. and my voice, my heart, who had never failed me, was screaming. It was yelling at me that they were wrong, but I shushed it. I smothered it, I shut it down. I wouldn’t listen. I had hope. Things always worked out. Terrible things did not happen to me, to us, it happened to other people. Jack would be fine, of course. My heart was a fool.
Jack was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on November 13th, 2007 when our local hospital was unable to get him off the ventilator. The doctors told us, this is the best children’s hospital in the country. They will fix him.
I finally had no choice but to listen to the voice that was screaming at me. I had to accept what I had really known all along. My heart would not be shushed any more. My heart was broken.
On January 2nd, 2008 we took my sweet boy off the ventilator that had kept him alive for almost three months. He fought every day, and he suffered every day. He loved us and we loved him. We loved him enough to let him go. I don’t even know for sure what was wrong with Jack, his doctors felt he had something called Mobius Syndrome but we will never know for sure. What we do know is, he couldn’t breathe. He physically could not breathe on his own.
I miss Jack every day. Some days I cannot stop crying. Some days I am so angry I feel I might explode. Most days I am okay. We keep going for Jack, we love our girls and each other and we love him and miss him always, forever, for every minute of every day.
My girls are now 10 months old. Charlotte is a firecracker, she is little and adorable and so funny. Katie is the sweetest baby I’ve ever known, her whole face lights up at the sight of someone she loves. They wave and clap and laugh and think every person they see is a friend who should stop and talk to them. They have big blue eyes that remind me of another set of big blue eyes that I know are watching over his sisters and (hopefully) keeping them out of trouble.
And through all of it, the amazing and the unimaginably awful, the very best and worst days of my life, there have been these incredible women, these other mothers of multiples, standing beside me both literally and figuratively. Holding me up and holding my hand. Women I know only through a computer who've cried for me, prayed for my family, and changed my life. They keep my Jack in their hearts too, and in doing so they help me to hold on to him. They have been one of my biggest blessings.
I love having multiples. Every day I am thrilled by how much my daughters adore each other, and what an incredible journey they have ahead of them together. I am a mom of triplets but now to the world, I am a mom of twins. They see my two girls and don’t know their brother is missing. A piece of all of us is missing. But I wouldn’t trade a moment of any of it. I cherish every day I had with Jack, and now I cherish even more my life with my daughters.
And my heart, my little voice, is once again telling me everything is going to be okay.