This entry is incredibly long and detailed, fair warning. I just felt like I wanted to chronicle every moment before I forgot anything and it was very cathartic for me to spend the day writing.

Last Tuesday, May 31st started as a pretty typical day. I went to work, did the hair of a wonderful friend, and came home to eat and continue to organize our place to get it “babies ready.” I wasn’t pushing myself, mostly organizing papers and files on the couch. Around 5pm or so I started putting some things in boxes, again just light breakables, wrapping them in bubble wrap. I was standing to do this because I’d been sitting all day and standing was more comfortable, but I was wearing my back brace/belly band and pressure hose, trying to keep it kosher. Jer came home and we made dinner and I sat down on the couch with him, clearing out a space in the mess to eat it. Midway through dinner I felt liquid draining from my body. I stood, frozen, wondering if I was peeing myself. Then I felt terror as I realized exactly what it was. My water broke. I just looked at Jer with such a look of horror and shock and he looked confused as water continued to pour out of my body, soaking my clothes and the couch, and rug. I just started wailing “my water just broke, it’s too soon, why is this happening?!…my water just broke, we have to go to the hospital-now!” I ran to the bathroom, on the way water gushed from me and I just kept repeating the same words over and over again with “call Dr. Chao!” thrown in. Poor Jeremy just kept saying “are you sure? Maybe it’s not that- hold on a sec…” He was just trying to get his bearings, figure out what on earth was going on, but I knew immediately this was not okay, not normal. Our boys were coming and we had to stop them. It wasn’t time yet.

Dr. Chao said she’d meet us at the hospital. We got there so fast, Jer made sure of it- under 10 min flat. She called ahead so they were expecting us so really all we had to give was our name at the door and we were up in labor and delivery. I was in a hospital bed and gown, monitors going in less than 45 minutes from the time my water broke. I was having contractions but couldn’t really feel them. Dr. Chao was there within a half hour and since they were giving me a catheter with a sterile field she took the opportunity to feel if I was dilated. 1 cm. So it began. We saw the babies on the ultrasound, saw that Baby A’s water had indeed ruptured but he still had a little fluid in there. I couldn’t believe that he did knowing how much water I had lost at home and then I lost another huge drenching gush walking into the hospital. It was good that he still had some water but we began discussing what would happen next, risk of infection to the babies and to me, and ways to stop the contractions and/or see what my body was going to do. I felt certain that we had to stop the contractions. Dr. Chao said at 21 weeks it was safer to wait and see but she said she would give me the medicine after consulting with another doctor.

When she came back in the room she told us yes, I’m having contractions but since I can’t even feel them they’re so small they aren’t considered as critical at that point. At 21 weeks the babies are too small to be saved and the risk of infection is so high for them and for me once the water breaks that it’s better to wait and see. She said the other specialist she consulted with would not recommend the drugs and she agreed the best plan was to wait and see what my body does. Jer and I just looked at each other and said “okay,”
feeling shock and disbelief at what was happening. After she left the room I took it all in. I decided I had a pretty good idea where my body was headed and I was not okay with that so I buzzed a nurse and told her I wanted the medicine. She said Dr. Chao didn’t put an order in for it, that we were waiting, and I said “I want to see Dr. Chao.”

Dr. Chao came back in and I looked at her and told her I knew her recommendation, but could we please try anyway to stop the contractions. I said I knew I was only 21 weeks but that I’d be 22 weeks on Thursday and that if she could stop the contractions, I could keep the babies in until 24 weeks at least, I knew I could. I pleaded with her, “Please let us try.” She said okay. Looking back on it now, I know that she was treating me at that moment instead of the babies. She saw a scared, freaked out mom, willing to do anything to save her children even though she knew there wasn’t much that could be done. She would do this for me again and again over the next few days and I appreciate it so much. If you’re reading this and you know or love me at all, know that Dr. Chao did absolutely everything she could to not only take care of our babies, but to take care of their mother. She kept my health and safety in mind, knowing that I couldn’t do that. But she did it in a way that let me advocate for my children, fight for them, and feel heard. I don’t think that’s something most doctors could do and Jeremy and I are eternally grateful to her for being there for us emotionally as well as medically. It’s really quite amazing. I’m so thankful to God that she was our doctor during this traumatic time.

The contractions seemed to do better on the monitor, but finally after hours of staring at it and trying to be calm and wondering why the needle was spiking when I was laying so still and trying to relax and on and on the nurses turned it off. They said Dr. Chao called and said it wasn’t helping to see them since I couldn’t feel the contractions anyway and that it was just stressing me out watching it and wanting more meds. I needed to rest. Jeremy agreed because he’d been watching it too and noticed that when I turned on my side or had any activity the monitor would spike making me freak out but it was just doing that because I moved. The nurses tried to explain to me that the shaky, spiky lines weren’t contractions, they were my movements but that the rounded hills were the contractions. Didn’t make me feel any better or want the drugs any less.

Jeremy called our families to inform them of the situation. I asked Jeremy to also call one of the pastors at our church that we’d become close to through a life group we all attended together the previous months. I just really needed to know people were praying. It was a blessing that Jerry Giles, our pastor, and his wife Pat came to the hospital that night. We were so surprised to see them, thinking they would just be praying at home, but they got out of bed and came along side of us with prayer and a reading of Psalm 103. They said if their kids were thousands of miles away they would want someone to do that for them. They were not only standing in for our families, they were our family in that moment and are our family in Christ. This experience has shown me what a profound love that family holds.

I got a second dose of the medicine Wednesday morning but was cut off after that- told it’s really time to wait and see now. We met with the perinatologist on call, Dr. Chan, and his team. He did an ultrasound and we saw that all the babies were still alive, but that Baby A was in trouble. He didn’t really have any water left at that point. I asked if he was uncomfortable because he really looked it to me- head down, scrunched into a little ball, unable to move. The doctor seemed kind of thrown by the question and said he really didn’t think about a fetus having a discomfort level. He said he most likely wasn’t because it would end up that way toward the end of the pregnancy anyway, this was just happening now.

We discussed options, the high likelihood of infection, the 1% chance that the bag would re-inflate. The very unlikely possibility that I would make it to 24 weeks and what exactly a 24 week old baby would mean. He was very kind though, saying that if we never wanted him to discuss any options that involved termination again that was okay with him. He said his whole team was there to support any decisions we made and that there were no wrong choices, just our choices and that they didn’t need us to decide right away because I hadn’t shown signs of infection yet. He did make sure to mention that a lot of mothers are willing to give their lives for their children. They’ll tell him “do whatever you have to do, just save my baby.” But he said it doesn’t really work that way. The babies can’t survive on their own without me, so if I get sick and die they’ll die too. That was straightforward enough to make sense to me and it helped me somehow, even though I absolutely would have traded places with any of them and Jeremy would’ve too.

Dr. Chan wasn’t optimistic, but he was nice and he checked back on us later that afternoon too. At that point we told him we wanted to wait and see if the bag would re-inflate and that we didn’t want to make any decisions that would lead to their early birth as long as I continued to show no signs of infection. I told him I planned to make it to 27 weeks- what he had told us was the week in gestation where they can start to have the best possible outcome. He said “okay, we’ll hope for that.”

Wednesday night went okay all in all. I was uncomfortable but not contracting. Scared and worried but ready to fight as long and as hard as I needed to. Marisa Palma, the owner of Salon 500 where I work, and her boyfriend Javier brought us a wonderful, healthy dinner (and she came back the next morning with breakfast and lunch and snacks prepared). That was so nice because I hadn’t had much to eat- hospital vegan food is a little lacking and Jer hadn’t really had anything at all but a tuna sandwich from the cafeteria. Thank you Marisa for taking care of us in that way. And thank you to the many who offered. It was all so appreciated, really and truly.

Reading all of your posts on Facebook and Jeremy’s blog really helped so much to give us hope too. We knew people were praying and sending us love and support and hope and the best possible wishes for our boys. Throughout this whole ordeal that feeling of support was palpable in the room with us and it carried us. Thank you for reaching out, whether we’d ever met or not. Every time I’d read your comments I’d just cry with gratitude. I’ve never felt such love from so many people in all my life. I know our boys felt it too and I’m sure it was sweet relief for them in the midst of distress. Thank you.

Thursday I was moved out of labor and delivery to a nice room with windows. It lightened the mood and my heart to be away from labor and delivery. That was not a wing I wanted to be on for a very long time to come. Jeremy went home for a while that day to be with the kitties and feed them and take care of some things around the house that really needed done. I spent the day reading more of your comments and talking with family briefly on the phone. I also got to see my friend Kirsten Greer that afternoon. Kirsten has faced the loss of a child recently, a baby boy, at 19 weeks and we talked about that along with other things. She was so sweet and concerned for me, and hopeful that I wouldn’t have to know that pain. Before she left she told me the places she was going to run errands and offered to pick something up for me. I asked for face wipes from Trader Joe’s so I could freshen up a bit and she got them and dropped them back off to me within an hour or so. Thank you Kirsten for checking on me emotionally and providing for me physically.

I also skyped with my best friend Danielle Nadzan in Japan that day. Things seemed not normal exactly but hopeful. That night around 8pm Dr. Chao came in and we looked at the babies again. Baby A had some fluid- enough to move around a little bit. I was so excited I just burst into tears. The world seemed like it was going back into place a little bit. I thought alright, things are looking up. I will sit here and not move for as many weeks as this takes and my babies will be okay. I can do this. I still wasn’t showing signs of infection so they were even talking about sending me home until 24 weeks came. I wanted to stay put but that was up to the insurance company. If I continued doing this well there was no medically necessary reason to keep me in the hospital. I could take my temperature at home and stay in bed there. Either way, Jeremy and I both went to sleep that night with hopeful hearts.

As I know you’ve mostly read from Jeremy’s blog I woke up with discomfort and itching at around 2:30 AM. My upper thighs itched so bad and when I went to the bathroom I thought I saw little dots all over my arms and legs. These were gone by the time I woke Jeremy and buzzed the nurse though so maybe they were never really there, I don’t know. I do know that waves of continuous pain started hitting me and hooking me up to the machine confirmed I was having contractions. I asked for medication to stop them and the nurse said she’d talk to Dr. Chao. The nurse came back in with the pill I’d been taking the previous time I contracted, but after a half hour or so I was still contracting heavily and in enormous amounts of pain. They were closer and closer together, Jeremy timed them. I then asked the nurse for another medication. I’d read enough triplet stories and blogs by that time to know about the injections you can get of terbutaline to stop contractions. I’d brought it up before but was told  it wasn’t considered as safe an option for me at 22 weeks, but I tried again.

The nurse said that wasn’t Dr. Chao’s order so I asked Jer to call her cell phone. He handed me the phone and I told her the situation- that the contractions had slowed but kept coming. I begged her for the shot and she relented. The nurse came into our room and I handed her Jer’s cell phone to talk to Dr. Chao. She was surprised that I’d called the doctor directly but said she’d go get the meds. Probably no more than 20 minutes later she gave me the shot and things slowed down a little bit. They didn’t stop completely but they slowed to a manageable state. I was also given morphine throughout this time to try to relax me and the babies and allow me to sleep. The relief was as brief as the sleep- 20 minutes here or there. They talked about taking me back to labor and delivery but I told them I didn’t want to go, that I wasn’t having these babies. They let me stay longer to wait it out. I just breathed and talked to the boys all night. I told them it would be okay. I asked them to stay far away from my cervix, especially Baby A, and I just held my lower abdomen up to relieve some pressure. I also asked them to fight. I told them we only had to make it a few more weeks. I told them I knew they were strong and brave and could do this with me. Just calm down and wait it’s not quite time for us to meet yet.

A neonatal specialist came in that morning to speak with us, I guess that’s Friday at this point, and again went through the odds considering our current circumstances. He reiterated how grim the prognosis was for a 24 week old baby, even if I made it that far. He also admitted that some babies do really well, it’s all an individual thing, no guarantees. He looked sad to talk with us but was kind and straight forward.

My friend and client Dr. Becky Yamarik also came for a visit. She brought food and talked with us and rubbed my arm. I was in a lot of pain. Her specialty is end of life care so she counsels people every day that have to make these hard decisions, learn when to let go and when to fight. She talked through our situation with us and was comforting and supportive. Thank you Becky for coming by.

I saw Dr. Chao later that day. I’d been in pain all day but they weren’t sure if I was technically contracting. There were theories that one or more babies shifted onto my pelvic nerve, which is excruciating, so we were hoping it could just be that. The pain however was making it impossible for me to go to the bathroom. Bed pans were tried, bedside commodes, peeing in the bed on pads, nothing was working- I was physically unable to do it and the pain was so intense.  I hadn’t been able to relieve my bladder all day and I was told catheters weren’t an option because of the infection risk so I just had to keep trying. It was this horrible cycle because the bladder being full created more pressure and pain yet I couldn’t release it and contraction like pain kept coming but who knew if it was that or the fact that I couldn’t relieve any pressure from the pelvic artery? Finally when Dr. Chao came in that afternoon she said they could do a temporary catheter. Relief came swiftly. I still was in pain, but the pressure was lessened. Again, I felt hopeful that this could be an answer. I also asked for a belly band to wear to try to keep the weight lifted off of my lower abdomen. I thought okay just keep my bladder empty and I’ll wear this band and hold up my abdomen and we’ll  keep pressure off the cervix. I can do this for a few more weeks. I lowered my bed so my head was down lower than my legs even though the specialists had told me I could hang from the ceiling from my ankles and it wouldn’t make a difference. But it was one more thing I could do so it made a difference to me.

We also saw Sharon, the Hospital Chaplain that evening. She was called in by the nurses to speak with us. Whenever someone said her name to us it was followed with “She’s absolutely the best. This is truly her ministry. She has a gift.” They weren’t over-speaking, Sharon is amazing. She talked with us for a while, told us she knew we’d been through a lot and given a lot of grim statistics but that she’s seen a lot of miracles too. She’s seen the 1% happen. She told us we should get a calendar and count off the days, taking it a day at a time and celebrating each day closer to 24 weeks. She said she wasn’t on call that weekend but she expected to still see us here on Monday and that she’d be by to check on us. We really appreciated the encouragement after such a rough day.

I woke up in the wee hours Saturday morning with excruciating pain again. I called out for Jeremy, waking him up, to come and rub my back. It was the only thing that seemed to help at all. We called the nurse in and she called Dr. Chao and administered morphine. This time it barely touched the pain, and the contractions were coming with close timing and intensity. I kept asking for medicine to stop the contractions and for catheters and for anything else anyone could think of. Our nurse seemed a bit overwhelmed with the situation. She thought I should be in labor and delivery but I didn’t want to go. She assured me that people come back from there, babies still intact, but that I would get more one on one care and they know more what to do in these situations. Somehow I knew that if I was taken there again, I wasn’t coming back with my babies. I wasn’t ready to go.

I fought it through the night, waking Jer up, screaming every time a contraction came which at that point was all the time it seemed. I talked to Dr. Chao on the phone. She said I’d already tried all the medicines we could use to stop it and that we had to just see where this went. That my body wasn’t going to respond to more meds. It was so hard for Jeremy to watch me go through such intense pain. I just kept begging him to rub my back, which he did diligently the whole time, or he held my hand, whichever I needed more. My nurse called Dr. Chao with an update again around 5 AM, knowing that my pain and contractions were too much to control and Dr. Chao said to take me to labor and delivery. They wouldn’t let me refuse this time. It was happening. I had to go.

Dr. Chao met us there probably about 5:30 or 6, I don’t really know. We looked at the babies on the ultrasound- 3 heartbeats, Baby A still had a little bit of fluid. She could also see that my bladder was incredibly full. She told me they’d give me another catheter and asked me if it was okay with me if she checked my cervix while the field was sterile for the catheter. I looked her in the eyes and said “Yes, but I need you to know I’m not ready to have these babies today.” She just said, “Okay sweetheart, but I have to look and see where we’re at.” Again I pleaded, “If you can stop the contractions, I know I can keep them in until 27 weeks at least. I can do this, you just have to stop the contractions.”

“Okay sweetheart, just let me look.”

When she looked she said to a nurse “Do you understand what we’re looking at?” The nurse nodded. I heard her say it but I thought she was just talking about the catheter area and relaying to the nurse what was needed. Jeremy told me today he knew when she said that the babies were coming and he prayed a prayer for me to be strong, knowing what she was about to tell me. There are no words for how much I love that man.

Dr. Chao looked at me and said “I can see Baby A’s head.”

She also said that he and the area smelled differently than yesterday. She could tell he was infected. I asked her if she could push him back in but she said because of the infection and because he was without his sack she could not. They started strong intravenous antibiotics on me immediately.

Baby A, Rudyard Bear, was born at 6:28am. He had fought so hard, listened to his mama, but in the end knew it was time to let go before I did. His body showed obvious signs of distress from all he had been through since his water broke, including the infection. He was still alive on the ultrasound minutes before but died during birth and was considered stillborn.

Now came time to negotiate for Babies B and C. I asked Dr. Chao if she could sew up my cervix, give me more meds to stop the contractions, keep babies B and C inside of me. She looked at my cervix and saw Baby B’s sack coming through. I asked her to push him back in too. She said she couldn’t do that because of the infection in Baby A, that it had probably already started to spread. “But I’m still not sick, we’re doing antibiotics, he probably only had it a day, maybe it hasn’t spread yet!” She explained that even though that’s true, now that my cervix is open and he passed through it the infection would spread. Also, Baby B was now in a contaminated area so he couldn’t be reintroduced to the uterus. Plus, if she tried to push him back in his sack would most likely rupture anyway. Again, it was a “we’ll just have to see what happens next” kind of thing. She left the room to give us a moment with Rudyard.

One heavy contraction and Baby B, Desmond Bear, was born at 7:03 AM. No one was even in the room except for Jer and I, so I yelled to Jeremy that Baby B was just born and to get Dr. Chao. He was still in his sack so he showed no signs of trauma whatsoever. A perfect, beautiful baby boy who was just a few weeks too early. He was also still alive. Desmond held on for about an hour and a half, and Jeremy and I held him the entire time. We told him how proud we were of him, how much we loved him, but that it was okay to let go.

I talked to Dr. Chao about now saving Baby C. He was always far from the other two in the uterus, so we were hoping that he wouldn’t be pushed toward the cervix so quickly. Amazingly, things did settle down, the contractions stopped and Dr. Chao felt my cervix begin to thicken. There was hope Baby C might make it. We just held Rudyard and Desmond and waited. Again, they left the room to give us privacy with our boys. We prayed for Baby C, told him to hold on, told him he was okay and not to be scared now that he was alone.

Suddenly, my water broke and Jer got Dr. Chao. I began contracting. Baby C was coming. He was breach, actually sideways, so his birth was the most painful. Dr. Chao told Jeremy later that she manipulated him back in a little and tried to turn him a bit, knowing he wouldn’t make it but not wanting to give me a broken baby. Again, she was thinking of me the entire time.

Baby C, Oscar Bear, was born at 8:40 AM. His arm was badly bruised from his position when he came out but other than that he looked just as he should, but so, so small. Much smaller than his brothers. Just a little cutie, like I’d always pictured our Oscar. A scrappy little fella. He lived about a half hour or so, again with Jeremy and I holding him the whole time, comforting him, telling him how proud we were of him, how much we loved him and that it was okay to let go.

It’s crazy that I could tell my children they could let go and be at peace when I hadn’t been able to do the same. After seeing Rudyard, and how hard he fought, I felt bad for asking him to do that. For not letting go sooner. I just wanted to fight for my boys. I hope he knew that. I hope they all did.

I plan to talk more in another post about each boy and what they meant to me and what I feel for each of them uniquely. Right now, I’m just going to continue to relay the days leading up to and including their birthday June 4th, and the day we said our final good byes.

The rest of the day was spent with me in that same bed, trying to deliver the placentas. With 3 placentas, all pre-term, they didn’t want to give. Painful, painful stomach manipulations were done all day, every hour to try to separate the placentas from my uterine wall without tearing them or having them break off, which would lead to surgery to remove them. They didn’t want to do the surgery because of the infection that they saw present in Rudyard and knew could be in my uterus. If it was there, the walls would be soft and spongy and much more likely to rupture and puncture when scraping them with instruments to remove the placentas. Around hour 10 with barely any give from the placentas, they decided I was probably headed into surgery that night. I wanted to be done with it and was so ready to have the surgery. I had been ready for hours at that point.

The good thing though was that we had the whole day with the babies. We just held them and each other and cried and awed at them, each so unique, each so perfect in his own way. The hospital chaplain on call, Michael Brown came by and prayed with us and for our boys. We introduced him to them by name; he was the first one we got to say them out loud to actually. It felt weird but good. We were proud parents, showing off our beautiful baby boys.

We called Pastor Jerry Giles and he came by, straight from yard work at his son’s house. He felt embarrassed by that, but we felt only thankful that he would come right away. It was so nice to have him. We introduced him to the boys and I asked him if he would dedicate them to the Lord. I said I knew that was kind of weird because they were already in heaven but I explained that throughout the pregnancy when I would pray for them I would promise the Lord that these babies were His. I promised to dedicate them to Him, raising them to know and love Him. What I didn’t tell Pastor Jerry because I could barely get any of it out, was that I had always pictured them up at the front of the church with Jeremy and me and Pastor Jerry doing the dedication. He is such a soft-spoken, sweet man, with the most loving smile. It just always seemed right.

I had to stay in bed, but held the boys. With Jeremy on one side and Pastor Jerry on the other, we held hands and prayed, dedicating our little loves to God. It felt good completing a promise I had made and being able to do something I thought I wouldn’t be able to do since they were gone. I’m so thankful that Pastor Jerry was willing to do that. The fact that he was in work clothes and we didn’t even have a Bible and we were all a blubbering mess, made it even more special and perfect. Nothing about this whole experience has been “how it should be” but it’s been exactly as it was meant to be.

Our friend from church, Katherine Lo, unexpectedly dropped by some food. Jer met her at the nurses station. Thank you Katherine. I couldn’t eat at all that day because of the impending surgery but Jeremy needed to. I was worried about him and it made me feel so much better seeing him eat a little bit.

The nurse we had that day, Amy, took their weights during this time also and brought us a bassinet so that I could be closer to them since I couldn’t get out of bed. Amy was incredible all day. She was kind and upbeat (which seems weird but it was entirely okay). She just treated us like normal parents and marveled at our little boys with us and that was a really nice experience. Rudyard weighed 1 pound 1 ounce, Desmond weighed 13.8 ounces, and Oscar weighed 11 ounces. Amy also took foot and hand prints but assured us that when Sharon got there she would re-do any that weren’t perfect.

Around 7 PM, Sharon came in. She wasn’t working that day but Dr. Chao had called her and asked her to come. She’d been at her church in Costa Mesa all day doing a funeral and I’m sure she was exhausted but she was there for us and for our sons when we needed her most. She took their foot prints and hand prints again and we all helped- Jer, Amy, and I- hold the boys’ feet in plaster to make a cast of them together. She measured their lengths- Rudyard was 10 and a half inches, Desmond was 10 and three-quarter inches, and Oscar was 9 and three-quarter inches. She also told us we could wash and clothe the boys. I was so glad I got to do that because it was one more thing I thought I’d never get to do with them.

I was washing their little bodies when Dr. Chao came in to check on me for surgery. She didn’t interrupt, but participated, helping me to dry them off and get their little arms into the clothes we picked for them. I sobbed as I did it but there were also light moments, as Jer and I joked that our little guys would be so embarrassed if they saw these outfits. They were flowery and had bears and little duckies and were just about as non boy like as you could get. It felt good to be light-hearted and laugh and beam with pride and joy at our little men in their ridiculous outfits. They were wrapped in equally cute but crazy blankets that clashed with everything but somehow were perfect too. We spent time taking pictures with them- many, many pictures. Jer and I and the babies, Dr. Chao and us and the babies, Amy and Sharon and the babies. We adjusted lighting and brought in extra lighting and tried different things to get good pictures. All the while Dr. Chao and her O.R. team waited patiently. It was unbelievable and again, exactly what we needed.

We hugged Sharon and Amy goodbye and the O.R. nurses began to get me ready. One of them shared with me that she lost her twins 24 years ago, one at birth, one held on for several days. She shared that it would get better. She said she knew that we felt at that moment like we’d never have joy again, but that it would come. She said to give it time and mourn and to lean on each other. She also told us how important the pictures were and that she still has a Polaroid of hers that she keeps in a box. She doesn’t need to take it out often anymore but every once in a while she does and that it’s nice to have. That it proves they were really here, they existed in the world. She said sometimes it almost seems like it was her imagination (which I understood even in that moment), but that the picture was an anchor for her, the one thing she’d grab in a fire.

Throughout the day I’d felt God’s providence in how things were handled and the people who came in and out of our room. The O.R. nurse sharing about her twins was just one more amazing example of what I can now call God’s love for me that day. She had a light inside of her that you could feel beaming outward. The empathy was there but so was the hopefulness of healing. She was okay and somehow I knew I would be too.

I headed to surgery and Jer got a chance to stay with the babies alone. He was a little nervous about this but later told me that it was such an important and necessary experience for him. I’m so glad he had that time with them.

I wasn’t under for the procedure, just a spinal and some drugs to relax. I didn’t want anesthesia because I just felt worried about the what ifs. If something freakish happened, which let’s face it had been our streak that week, and I didn’t wake up, Jer would be alone to deal with dead babies and a comatose wife. Not okay with me. I just couldn’t take that chance. So I felt the tugging and the pushing on my stomach and the scraping out of my uterus. They said I wouldn’t remember anything and that it wouldn’t hurt but I do and it did. In the end though, it all came out as it should. Dr. Chao performed it manually, using her hands so that it would be less likely to puncture the uterus because of the infection than a metal tool would be, again thinking of my safety. She got all of it and I’ve had minimal bleeding, just as it should be.

That night we were moved back to the other wing where we’d been previously, out of labor and delivery so that we wouldn’t have to hear babies cry. Our babies spent the night in our room between our beds and after such a hard day Jer and I actually slept through the night. The next morning Jer went home to shower, feed the kitties, and get me some clothes. This gave me a chance to be alone with the boys.

I talked to them about my family and friends and how many people loved them and wanted to meet them. I told them a little about myself, veganism, animal cruelty, and how I planned to raise them. I talked with them about God a little bit but told them I knew that they now knew more about Him and the universe than I did and that I had nothing really to teach them but I knew they could teach me so much. I told them I looked forward to them showing me around heaven some day. Again and again I told them how proud I was of them, how brave they had been to fight, and what an amazing gift they were to me and their dad. I took a lot of pictures again because the light was natural and bright and I felt the sudden urge to show them off. I called Danielle, waking her up in Japan and asked her if it was okay to introduce her to my boys. She graciously accepted and I video skyped them through my phone to hers and told her their names. We didn’t talk long, but it just meant so much to me for her to see them.

Also while Jer was gone the nurse removed my catheter and I was freed from having to stay in bed, which was a really good feeling. I was able to shower and Jer got back in time for me to change into real clothes- yoga pants and a tank and sweater- and out of the hospital gown. I was still in a lot of physical pain but it helped so much to move and shower and change.

I called my client and friend Ken McKenzie, owner of McKenzie Mortuary. He was supportive and professional and knew exactly what to do. I told him I didn’t want the babies in the morgue at any time and asked him to take them from my room. He said he would call the hospital immediately to begin making arrangements and call me right back. Within minutes, he called back and told me the game plan that was in motion. He handled everything and it was so nice to have someone who I trust and have known for years be the man who would come to take our babies. I told him I knew we wanted them cremated but I didn’t really have any answers for any of his other questions about whether to cremate them together or alone, whether we’d want a service, etc. He said it was okay, that we didn’t have to know and that of course we didn’t know because a parent should never have to think about such answers.

Dr. Chao came in that morning and brought us flowers. She greeted the boys affectionately, touching their tiny hands and smiling at them with love. Every interaction she had with them was so respectful and kind and meant the world to me. She talked with us for a long time, about the previous day and what kind of things to expect down the road. She told us that her parents had lost their first-born child, her sister, and that they never spoke again after that day. They were unable to speak of the grief, unable to grieve together, and it ended their marriage. She told us she didn’t want this to happen to us and told us to grieve separately, yes, but together too. To talk and process how we’re feeling together. She also suggested the grief group at Memorial Hospital that Sharon leads and many others had mentioned too as being such an amazing and helpful group.

She asked about if we’d had depression in the past and how we’d processed that. We both said we had and that medications never seemed to work as well for us as counseling and running for Jer and yoga for me. She said exercise would be hugely important and counseling too but she also thought an anti-depressant for a short while would be a good idea. She thought it appropriate for both of us, but especially for me because of the hormone changes and levels of serotonin that would be dropping severely now. I asked her if I took something if it would mask things or if I’d still feel everything. She said I’d still feel it all, that nothing can take that away, but that it would just help to stabilize me chemically while my body recovered. Jer felt strongly I should take one so I agreed to take Zoloft for a while and Jer agreed to take it if he felt or I felt at any time like the running wasn’t cutting it. I kinda wish he was taking it with me right now because I’m worried about him, but it’s his decision and that’s okay.

Dr. Chao also talked with us about her life- coming from Taiwan because her father sent her away to live with her mother in California because she wasn’t doing well in math. She told us about being 15 in this country for the first time, and in a high school in southern California. She said she had a different teacher every day for applied math and that she felt so confused by that and kept thinking “this isn’t good for me,” so she went to live with her uncle in Canada for a year and attended a nature school. She literally did nothing for a year but learned to snowshoe and look at birds and after deciding that wasn’t really good for her either, she went back to the same high school in CA and had the same teacher for math. Suddenly she recognized that her math teacher wasn’t changing every day, she was just changing wigs! She said she was so mad at the other Chinese boy in her class for not telling her the year before that she confronted him when she ran into him at a medical conference 20 years later. Jer and I laughed so hard and it felt good to laugh at this crazy scenario. She went on to tell us more about her time at Cal State and then UCLA and her house in Senegal and how her life went in all kinds of directions she never thought it would go. It was all to illustrate to us the crazy route her life has taken yet all along she said she’s known that God has been so good to her. Everything in her life has been exactly what she ended up needing for the next phase, however wrong or not good it seemed at the time.

Jerry and Pat Giles came by again that day after church and we introduced Pat to the boys. They prayed with us and read us a Psalm and again were just a great comfort and presence of love and support.

Ken came in after they left and talked with us about what would happen with the babies. He brought a blanket his grandmother made to carry them out in, which was really sweet. It was kind of a big production- all of the behind the scenes stuff you never see because it happens at the morgue and instead it was happening in front of us in our hospital room. Two police officers were present, the head of hospital policy, our nurse, some other official lady, all checking off the babies ID tags with my medical records numbers, all very official and repeated several times. It was hard to watch but I was so thankful we were with them the entire time. The nurse brought each of them to us one last time and I kissed them and Jer and I said goodbye and placed them in the blanket in Ken’s arms one at a time. Then the officers escorted Ken out of the building.

Jer and I cried hard at the now physical emptiness of our babies leaving us. It was so hard to let them go, to say good-bye one last time. I just wanted to hold them forever.

Without them at the hospital it was time for us to go. We packed up and our nurse walked me through what to expect at home. She talked about how to handle my breast milk coming in, that something as mundane as a cabbage leaf against my breast had enzymes in it that could help to dry up my milk. She said it would be painful physically (ice packs help) and emotionally (time helps). She was so sweet and compassionate and told me she had a feeling we’d see each other again under better circumstances.

We came home after a couple of stops at the grocery store and drug store for cabbage, motrin, and a thermometer. It was good to see my kitties- they haven’t left my side. Jer and I cried in waves and held each other and spent time alone too, but never far apart. Marisa brought by a really wonderful pasta dinner and we ate and cried and talked a little more about our boys and finally went to sleep.

I woke up at 5 AM Monday morning, unable to sleep and started to pray for the first time on my own since begging and pleading with God to stop my contractions and save my boys. I told Him a little of how I was feeling but then my thoughts started drifting and a feeling of gratitude washed over me during that prayer for my brave Rudyard. I started thinking about what I wanted to say to him, to all my boys, but I knew I had to write this out first. I knew that for me I had to get down every last detail of what happened before I could talk about my boys. It’s more of a record for me than for anyone, but it’s here for you too if you want to read this and be a part of the saddest yet most profound and special experience of my life. I’m forever changed by this, but I have a deep sense that this has changed me for the better because I got to be Rudyard and Desmond and Oscar’s mom and I will never regret that.

I also want to take a moment to publicly thank and praise my husband, Jeremy Bear. I’ve told him this many times the last couple of days but I want to tell you too. Jeremy was absolutely exactly what we- me and the boys- needed through all of this. I always knew he would be a good father, even when he doubted it himself, and he showed just how amazing of a father he could be through this experience.

Even before the tragedy of loss he was the one who was excited and encouraging about the positive pregnancy test. He told me how beautiful my changing body was and kissed my belly and talked to the boys. He was kind and forgiving of my mood swings. He was excited enough to start his triplet blog and kept us all entertained and grateful that he did. He took endless trips to our storage unit and packed boxes and tried with me to ready our house for 3 little ones. He went to baby classes with me and was fully there and on board the whole time. He went to almost every single doctor appointment, and I go every 2 weeks.

During the last week he protected me and loved me and was by my side every second I needed him to be. He took care of things at home, even giving love and time to the kitties which he knew was important to them and to me. He made phone calls to our parents and kept you informed too so that you could pray for us. He read me your posts when I asked him to, through my contractions or just through the hard moments. He rubbed my back until his hands hurt and he had to take a break and then just kept on rubbing after only a moment’s rest because I was screaming and needed him to. He held my hand and let me squeeze it so hard I’m surprised I didn’t break it but he never took it away, never complained. He let me fight endlessly because he knew I needed to even though I know it was so hard for him to watch. He cried with me and hugged and kissed me and reassured me that there was hope. He prayed with me round the clock every day. He asked good questions of the doctors and was interested and involved and present every second. I never felt alone.

When the babies were born, he cut their umbilical chords, even though I said I knew how hard that must be and that he didn’t have to. But he did it because he is their dad. He held onto Desmond until he took his last breath, managing to hold my hand too when I had to birth Oscar. Then he held onto Oscar with the same love and care, speaking softly to them both, letting them know how much he loved them and how very proud he was to be their father. He told them to be brave and wept with me as they died. He was also so gentle and loving with Rudyard, our strong boy, gone from the start but still deserving of our love and time and sweet whispers. They knew without a doubt that their daddy loved them immensely and I and everyone in that room that day and all of you knew it too. He is absolutely the only man I could ever picture being the father of my children and thankful doesn’t even begin to explain how I feel knowing that he is and will be.

I also want to take a minute to thank all of you again. I’ve felt from the start that this whole thing, this spontaneous triplet thing, was bigger than just Jer and I. It seemed sent by God, as all babies are, but it caused much excitement and an outpouring of love from our friends, family, and blogging and Facebook community from the start. You have all been not only supportive in the good and light and funny moments, the easy moments, but unbelievably supportive in the horrible and dark moments too. Your words have buoyed us and supported us and are and have been exactly what we needed at every moment this last week. If you sent a text or called or posted an encouragement on Facebook or our blogs, thank you. If you’ve prayed for us or sent us loving thoughts or told others to pray that we don’t even know, thank you. Thousands of you read Jeremy’s blog and all around Facebook I would see people re-posting our situation and asking for prayers. People I may not have talked to since high school or others I’ve never met have prayed and asked others to pray and that is an amazing thing indeed. I think Jeremy said it best today. When we were too tired or unable or overwhelmed to pray or hope or grieve or fight, you did it for us. Thank you for embracing us in that way and for carrying us and our boys in your hearts. They were here so briefly but seemed to touch so many hearts and were so, so loved. To this mother that means everything in the world.