Friday Finale today is Amazing Grace by Walela.
Last night I was watching Private Practice and flipping back to the Olympics. On Private Practice a mother gave birth to a 25 week gestation infant. They showed the baby and all of the wires, cords, etc. They also showed the parents making the decision to remove the infant from life support and focused in on the mother singing to her baby as it died. Let the flood gates open….
On March 3, 2003 I found out that I was pregnant with triplets. I was both excited and scared at the same time. Being a developmental specialist I know that multiples are almost always born prematurely. Still, they were my babies and I was ready for the journey.
I was referred to a Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic because of my high risk for premature delivery. I received high quality ultrasounds almost weekly. They watched my babies very closely. At around 18 weeks it was noted that one of my babies wasn’t growing like the other two. The doctor said that he likely had twin to twin tranfusion and wouldn’t survive. They also found that my daughter had choroid cysts – a possible sign of a deadly chromosome disorder. They offered to terminate my pregnancy – I said no…. They were my babies and I was deep in the journey.
At my next appointment it was found that the cysts on my daughter were no longer present – a good sign. My son still hadn’t grown in proportion to his brother and sister. To top it off I was contracting. The doctor mentioned bed rest, but not yet…. They were my babies and the journey was starting to go downhill.
The following appointment found me contracting more and beginning to dialate a little. The doctor said it was time to place me on strict bed rest. Lay on my left side and only get up to go to the bathroom. We moved a tv into my bedroom, got me loads of movies from the library, brought snacks into the bedroom and into my safe haven I went.
I started to spot and had more contractions. I called the doctor and went into the office. They admitted me to the hospital and started me on medication (brethene) to try to stop the contractions. It didn’t work so they switched to magnesium sulfate. They watched me like a hawk to make sure the medications weren’t affecting my body too much. The contractions got worse and then I got the feeling that I needed to go to the bathroom. The doctor checked me and my water was bulging. They were my babies and they were coming.
I was immediately wheeled into an operating room in case they needed to perform an emergency c-section. There were doctors and nurses for me and doctors and nurses for each of the babies. They told me to push. At 10:23am on 6/30/03 my baby girl was born at 23 weeks gestation. She weighed 1lb 4oz. She was wisked away to an incubator and multiple tubes were inserted. I had to push again. At 10:25am my first son was born. He weighed 11oz – the little guy who wasn’t growing. The doctors and nurses took him to the incubator too but no tubes went in. He was just too little. My labor stopped with my 3rd baby still inside. The nurse brought my 11oz peanut over to me to hold and to say goodbye to. He was so bruised, he was so tiny. He looked just like my grandpa. I held my baby – Samuel Joseph – as he took his final breaths.
I was put on more medication, including steroids for my remaining baby. A procedure was done to tie off the cords from the two babies that were already delivered. A nurse came by throught the day to update me on my daughter. My doctor sat on my bedside and told me she was a fighter – she was trying to breathe around her ET tube. Her various levels looked good. The nurse reminded me that she was in the honeymoon stage. Time would only tell. I continued to lay in a bed knowing that I had lost a son, my daughter was fighting for her life and my other son was still inside – hoping he would stay there.
I awoke in the middle of the night to sharp pains – contractions. I called for the doctor. She checked me and I was fully dialated again. My son was coming. They wheeled me back to the same OR – only because the equipment needed for the baby was still there from the earlier delivery. Again I pushed and my son was born at 1:17am on 7/1/03. He weighed 1lb 6oz. Much like my daughter, he was wisked away, tubes put in and he was wheeled to the NICU. The doctors finished up with me and wheeled my bed back to my room.
I had just gotten back to my room when a nurse came running in saying that they were working on my daughter – it wasn’t looking good. Someone found a wheelchair and somehow I ended up in it. I was very rapidly wheeled to the NICU. When I arrived I found a doctor and a nurse performing CPR on my tiny little daughter. As I was pushed over to her the doctor announced that they had just revived her. The nurse looked and me with very pleading eyes as the doctor asked me what I wanted to do. I asked how long they had been working on her – how long since she stopped breathing. The response was 20 minutes. I know what that does to an adult. I couldn’t let that be what was done to my premature baby. I asked them to let her go. The nurse started to cry and thanked me. She said it was the bravest thing I could have ever done. To me, I was just being a mom to my daughter. Grace Katharine passed away at 5:36am on 7/1/03 while being held in my arms and rocking in a rocking chair – and I sang Amazing Grace to her.
I slept some and when I awoke I was surrounded by family and friends. I asked to see my son. I got to walk to the NICU this time. I went in to see him. I couldn’t touch him or hold him. But I did talk to him. A nun came to baptize him – just in case. My family and I held hands around his incubator and said a prayer.
I went back to my room and slept some more. I didn’t know if I should be happy or sad. And then came the nurse. She said we needed to come to the NICU – the doctor wanted to talk to us. When we arrived the doctor was waiting by my son’s incubator. He showed us some x-rays, said they couldn’t get the bleeding to stop. He had a pneumothorax and they didn’t know why. His lungs were filling with blood – he was drowning and they couldn’t stop it. Again I said that he shouldn’t suffer. The doctor looked at me with a tear in his eye and removed the tubes from my son. He handed him to me with gentle care. I held him – this time in a wheelchair. I did not sing to him but did tell him I loved him and to kiss his brother and sister when he saw them. We took him back to my room and friends and family got to hold him and say goodbye. Spencer Owen passed away at 3:00pm on 7/1/03.
In the days that followed, I listened to many different versions of Amazing Grace. It was really the only thing that could get me through. I listen to it often still. It reminds me that there are always 3 little angels watching out for me. And now they have their Auntie Heidi to care for them the way that I would have.