Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Day I Became A Mother

Some mothers say they became mothers the day their first baby was born, or the first time they held their child. Other mothers say they became mothers the day their baby was conceived, or the day they got their first positive pregnancy test. Some mothers who became parents through adoption say they became mothers the day they were matched. I'm due with a sweet baby girl in about a week and a half, and to most people, I'll become a mother the day she emerges from my womb. To parents who have experienced loss, the answer may be more complicated. My personal truth is that I became a mother one year ago today. 

One year ago, I was laying on a table at a perinatologist's office in Pasadena, CA. My husband and I had been referred to this specialist because I was carrying identical triplet boys. We were thrilled, as we had suffered two early miscarriages in the year before. The chances of conceiving identical triplets are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 in 1 million, but it's so rare there aren't actually good statistics on the matter. We had frequent appointments thanks to the high risk of things like Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, and a host of other complications that can happen during pregnancy with multiples (all multiple pregnancies are considered high risk, but pregnancy with identicals is even more so). We had reached 15 weeks and 6 days, it was time for a growth scan. We knew from previous ultrasounds that one of the babies was smaller than the others, but it hadn't been a concern...yet.

After a few minutes of scanning, our doctor asked if we could come back later in the afternoon to speak with him. He had concerns and didn't want to rush through the information with us. His last patient for the day was scheduled for noon, so we returned a few hours later to discuss our ultrasound results with him. 

One of our sons was not growing. His umbilical cord did not have a normal attachment to the shared placenta, and had absent end diastolic flow (which basically means he wasn't getting proper blood flow and nutrition). It was also likely that he did not have an adequate share of the placenta. His gestational sac was low on fluids, but the discrepancy between his fluid levels and that of his brothers was not large enough to diagnose TTTS at that time. Instead, we were told our smallest baby had a severe growth restriction. He was extremely tiny, I don't remember exactly what percentile for growth he was in at this point, but it was less than the 10th. We were told his case was extreme, that he was going to die, and die soon. If he died before interventions were made to save his brothers, his death would likely trigger their demise or severe and profound disabilities. We were asked to consider termination by cord occlusion, basically severing his cord from the placenta, as the only option to help his brothers. 

I sat next to my husband on a couch in the doctor's office, letting the information sink in. My son was dying and I was being asked to end his life in order to save his brothers. The moment I was asked to consider that decision, was the moment I first truly realized I was a mother (though it took me a few months and the encouragement of other loss moms to say it out loud). I couldn't imagine making that decision as anything other than his mom.

The doctor had spent a good amount of time between our appointments on the phone with Dr. Chmait, one of the top fetal surgeons in the country who was only about 30 minutes away. We would be referred to him for treatment. Five days later we were officially diagnosed with TTTS, and were told that thanks to some other complications (a blood clot in my uterus), the typical treatment options for TTTS were not available to us, as they would put my life in danger. Cord occlusion on our "donor" son was the only option we had aside from terminating the entire pregnancy, or "letting nature take its course." A week later, the day of our pre-op appointment, we found out our son had already passed on his own a few days prior, shortly after 17 weeks gestation, and the damage to his brothers had already begun. We lost them a few weeks latter, at just shy of 20 weeks. I was wheeled out of the hospital empty handed, with a milk supply ready for three baby boys and a shattered spirit. 

I'm not yet a mother by most people's definition word.

I'm not yet a mother in the way I want to be; A mother who gets to hold, laugh, and play with her children.

I am the mother to an amazing baby girl, due in a few short days, who has brought light back into my world.

But before that...

I became the mother to three identical sons, who I carried inside my womb for the entirety of their short lives, and I will carry in my heart for the rest of mine. 


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sugar and Spice

I'm pregnant with a little girl, due in March. She'll be born almost exactly a year after we lost the first of her brothers.

Raising a daughter will be very different from identical triplet sons, but it will be wonderful and challenging in its own ways.

I can't wait to meet her.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lost

Our boys are at peace. We lost our smallest son somewhere between 17 and 18 weeks, and our other boys just a few days shy of 20. Working on finding a way forward. It's so hard to go from feeling so full of love and life and hope, to feeling so empty.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Yep, it's true!




We're having triples. Believe me, it came as a shock to us, too. We found out we were having twins at 8 weeks, but didn't find out about #3 until 11 weeks. We had always planned on having only one or two kiddos, so we have been working to absorb the info over the last few weeks. Now that the time has come to spread the news, we're really excited. 

There have been lots of questions about the babies and my pregnancy. I'm just over 14 weeks now, so I'm due in late August, but they'll likely come in early July. I'm hoping to keep them in for 34 weeks, but as I've learned, one has little control over what life hands them. Other than that, I don't feel like sharing much more information. I've quickly learned how nosy people can be about pregnancy, but it seems to be worse when they learn you're expecting multiples. I've had lots of very inappropriate questions asked of me and I've decided I would rather people make incorrect assumptions than keep answering every personal question that is fired in my direction. 

On the flip side, we've been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of our friends and family thus far. It is difficult to accept gifts and help you know you'll never be able to repay, but we truly appreciate how thoughtful the people in our lives have already been. This whole multiples thing is pretty daunting but having the support of so many people (even though we live nearly 2000 miles away from most of them) really does make it seem easier. Our friends nearby have already offered to help with housework, cooking, and babysitting. Every time someone talks about helping, I tear up. We're so lucky to have good people looking out for us.

That's all the news for now. I'm on strict orders from my doctor to baby myself, so I've been pretty much stuck in our apartment aside from appointments. Seems to me that nap time is calling!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Halloween


So I realize this is super late, but better late than never, right????? First off, I must confess my love for The Nightmare Before Christmas. I've loved it since I was a kid. I don't remember the first time I saw it, but I'm pretty sure it was at my friend Katie's house. I was mesmerized by the stop motion animation, and I've always been a sucker for Tim Burton's style. Plus, it's kind of a Christmas movie, and the only one I allow myself to watch before Thanksgiving. I LOVE CHRISTMAS so any excuse I can use to sneak it in a little early, I'll take.

 I was absolutely perplexed this year when I was ready to sit down and watch the movie and found we don't own a copy. I knew that I had previously borrowed copies from friends through the years, but I was certain I had purchased one for myself last year. Nope. Lucky for me, it was available on Netflix. I mean, I knew they had a 3D show at the El Capitan, but if you want good seats, it's expensive (although VIP ticket price includes popcorn and a drink). The whole month of October I had considered going, but just couldn't justify the expense when I could just watch the movie on Netflix for free.

Enter my awesome husband. Halloween had finally rolled around, and after a little discussion, he declared that we would see Nightmare that night at the El Capitan. A friend of ours finally convinced us when he mentioned the fun effects they add in theater. They make it snow inside! It's really just small bubbles, but beggars can't be choosers.

I'm was pleasantly surprised when award winning organist Rob Richards was playing spooky music before the show. What a great way to start the night!


The inside of the theater was decked out with Nightmare themed swag.



Best of all, we got to check out some of the set pieces and concept art after the show!




I'm so glad we made the spontaneous decision to go. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut of being old fuddy-duddies and forget we live in a city where cool things happen. It's time for us to take advantage of it.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Heh

So clearly I've dropped the ball on my Gratitude Month posts. I've kept up on facebook, but not on the blog. Surprise, surprise.

In truth, I've been trying to keep myself busy, and the blog is usually the furthest thing from my mind. I'm not going to worry myself over posting what I'm grateful for every day, it seems counter productive. So far this month I've been reflecting on big things, like how lovely it is to have four sweet nieces in my life, to the more mundane, like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. It's pretty much gone the same way the rest of the year has, only now I'm physically typing things out. At the end of the day, it hasn't made a difference in my point of view, because that shifted much earlier this year. I suppose the practice of writing them down makes me less likely to forget a day, but meh.

That being said, I do have a few "regular" posts I would like to get up in the next few days, but considering my track record, I'm not holding my breath. We've been trying to take advantage of the fact that we live in Los Angeles, and there are actually things to do here. Fingers crossed I write it all down before I forget and it becomes lost to the aether.

Friday, November 1, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude

I've been practicing gratitude daily since January 1, but I haven't been good about writing down what I'm grateful for. I woke up this morning and my Facebook feed was peppered with status updates for 30 days of gratitude. I've enjoyed reading the updates my friends have posted in the last several years, and decided to join them this year. I believe status updates are best kept short, so I'll also be blogging my 30 days of gratitude in order to give each day its fair due.

Additionally, throughout the month I plan on writing thank you notes to people who have inspired or helped me in some way this year. This idea is inspired by the Thankful on Paper project I encountered a few years ago on a now defunct blog. The first one I plan on writing is to my father in law, who showed me true kindness and love during my struggles this year.

Now, on to today! This year my New Year's resolution was to practice gratitude every day. I failed often early on, I'm ok with that. Today I'm thankful for that resolution. It helped me get through loss and dark days, and allowed me to focus on good moments as they happen. I am not perfect, I have days when I really just can't leave the house, but those days seem to be happening less often. When I made my resolution I never would have imagined the struggles I would face almost immediately, but I kept working on my daily practice and in time it helped me heal. 

Learning gratitude has also helped me learn how to let go of things, and how to take responsibility for myself and my choices. It has allowed me to let go of toxic situations, and taught me how to stop taking things personally. Again, this is all a work in progress, but I am seeing progress in all of these fronts. 

It's going to be a good November, even if it isn't.