Reflections, Part 1: Jack, Henry, and Sophie Are (almost) Born

As you probably know, we are coming up on a HUGE milestone. Henry, Jack, and Sophie will be ONE in less than a week. I anticipate that I will be reminiscing an awful lot in the next few days, and I’m not sure I’ll have time to blog about it all, but I’m going to start now to see how much ground I can cover. There is a lot to say about this past year!

The Blogging Begins…

I didn’t actually start this blog until a few days after the triplets were born. It never occurred to me to blog about my triplet pregnancy (although I spent hours pouring over other triplet mommas’ blogs as I prepared to welcome these three little people into the world). In fact, it never occurred to me to blog at all. It wasn’t until I was talking to a friend about how difficult it was being home without our trio, and she suggested I blog about it. So you can all thank Emily for sending me down the road into bloggerhood. I know I do!

In the days after the babies were born, it was still too hard to talk about the days leading up to their delivery. Many of you know a good deal about my journey to motherhood because you are close friends and family. But in case there is anyone out there reading (like I was) as a triplet mom-to-be, or anyone who, like me, had a somewhat traumatic start to motherhood, or anyone whose birth story simply didn’t go according to plan, I am going to share the story of how Jack, Henry, and Sophie arrived.

Their Birth Story

Exactly one year ago today, at about this time, I was 27 weeks and 1 day pregnant with Henry Samson, Jack Waldron, and Sophie Ann. And yes, we already had their names picked out. I had read every twin/triplet/pregnancy/baby book I could find. We had moved into a new apartment, closer to work, twice as big, and replete with an elevator. AND a dishwasher. Walls were painted, boxes were unpacked, and the nursery was ready — three cribs, a changing table, nursing chair(s), and a closet full of baby clothes and blankets in an array of blues, greens, and pinks. I had just spent two weeks on spring break, and I was at work that morning getting my classroom and lessons ready for the following Monday. I went to Destination Maternity to get a few more items to help my ever-enlarging belly make it through the spring. We were ready. Except that we weren’t expecting these babies for another six or seven weeks. And you know what we hadn’t done? Packed a hospital bag.

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March 28, 2014

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Our empty nursery. Ready for three.

 

To be perfectly honest, I still think back to those last few days in March with an enormous mix of emotions, and often, guilt, regret, and sadness are at the top of the list. I know, I know, we have SO much to be thankful for. It all turned out pretty perfectly, and we have three healthy, happy, almost-one-year-olds at home with us now. I think it is hard to explain why I feel this way to someone who didn’t have a preemie (or three), but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe all first time mothers feel this way. But I still wonder–quite often–if I did something wrong. As a mother-to-be, we know our most important job is to keep our baby (or babies) healthy and growing until the day they are ready to meet the world. Well, Henry, Jack, and Sophie might just have had a different time table than the rest of us, but doctors can tell you that at 27 weeks and 1 day, babies are generally NOT ready to meet the world. Given the wonders of modern medicine, 80% of those 27-weekers survive (or so we were told on the night of March 28, 2014), but they aren’t supposed to be here that early. And before you say, “Oh, but triplets always come early!” know this: the average triplet pregnancy is 32 weeks long. So, a year later, I still wonder what might have happened if. If I could have kept these babies cooking a bit longer. If maybe I had just taken a cab instead of walking to the bus stop, they wouldn’t have been born so early. If I had spent the day with my feet up instead of lesson planning and maternity clothes shopping. If, if, if. Futile, I know. Irrelevant, I know. And with any luck, there will come a day not long from now when I stop wondering (or caring) whether things could have gone differently. But before I delve into the story of how Henry, Jack, and Sophie made their grand entrance, you should know, that April 2, 2014 is a difficult (and amazing) day to remember.

March 28, 2014

While Will and I were settling in for the evening, I felt a twinge I hadn’t felt before. It wasn’t terribly painful, and it didn’t last long. But then I felt another one. And another one. Approximately three minutes apart. We called MFM (our high risk doctors) and they advised that we come to the hospital to have things checked out. Will and I remarked to each other that we hadn’t packed a hospital bag yet, but we reassured each other that we’d probably be coming home shortly. And I can’t speak for Will, but I know I really believed that. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but three days earlier, my fetal fibronectin test had been negative. That meant only a 1% chance I’d deliver within two weeks. I had math on my side!

I was pretty quickly admitted to the hospital that night, hooked up to FOUR monitors (one for each baby, and one to monitor my contractions–yes, they turned out to be contractions, but I’m guessing you already figured that out), and the waiting began. I’ll try to focus on only the important details:

  1. I was having contractions pretty close together, and they were apparently pretty big contractions, but at the start, they weren’t terribly painful. Will and I watched them on a screen next to my hospital bed.
  2. A Neonatologist came in to talk to us about what it would look like if I had the babies that night. Suddenly it started to feel like we might be needing that hospital bag. That’s when she gave us the “survival rate: 80%.” She said that’s what everyone wants to know. I did NOT want to know that.
  3. I started steroid shots in an effort to rapidly develop the babies’ lungs which were are not fully developed until 28 weeks.
  4. They tried to manage my contractions with magnesium.
  5. The contractions got increasingly painful.
  6. I had to keep four monitors strapped to my stomach (three of which had to keep being repositioned so they could monitor the heart beats of the three moving babies in my belly) continuously.
  7. I was in the hospital until Monday, March 31, when they discharged me.
  8. My doctor was at a conference in Vegas.

When I was discharged, I was told I should take the rest of the week off and then could go back to work. I was told that nothing had changed. I was told I would continue feeling contractions because my body believed (rightfully so) that it was 40 weeks pregnant with one baby. And I was told I would not be having these babies any time soon. I believed everything they said, was THRILLED to be home and showered, and in my own bed. Except I couldn’t sleep.

March 31, 2014

The contractions continued, getting more intense and closer together as the night progressed. I was told this might happen. At 11:50 pm, I started logging them, and in the meantime, I did everything I could to get comfortable. This went on (and I never did get comfortable) until 3:30am.

April 1, 2014

By 3:30 am, I was certain I was going to have the babies. Even after the initial hospital stay, I think this was the first time I really felt like I might actually be having these babies, and I started to panic. “It’s too early,” I told Will. “They’re too little. They’re not ready.” Will was EXTREMELY calm. Those of you who know Will, know he is patient, cool, calm, and collected 95% of the time. Those of you who REALLY know Will know that he gets pretty flustered when things don’t go according to plan (he is a perpetual planner). And this was definitely NOT the plan. Will has since admitted that he felt as panicked as I, but thank goodness he had his game face on. Back to the hospital we went.

The important details:

  1. They didn’t ever admit me.
  2. I spent 11 hours in triage.
  3. I was again hooked up to four monitors, continuously, and every time I, or the babies moved, they had to be repositioned.
  4. I continued to have contractions all day. They were definitely painful this time.
  5. I was again told “nothing has changed,” and “you’re going to have contractions, but you’re not having these babies.”
  6. I was told I couldn’t leave until I saw my doctor.
  7. My doctor was still in Vegas.
  8. I saw another doctor, except actually, I just saw the ultrasound tech. Everything measured the same as it had the day before, so the doctor said he didn’t need to see me.
  9. I was sent home and told, “Unless something feels REALLY different, know that these are just contractions.”
  10. I stopped logging contractions at 7:30pm. I’d been having 3-5 per hour.

April 2, 2014

I started logging contractions at home again, starting at 12:17am. By 12:38, I had logged six. 12:17, 12:25, 12:27, 12:32 “not as bad,” 12:34 “ditto,” 12:38 “painful,” 12:46 “pretty painful,” and so it went on. I again tried everything I could to get comfortable. Will and I tried to sleep. I tried to let Will sleep. The doctors had convinced me that I wasn’t having these babies.

Around 2am, I called MFM again. I said something to the effect of, “I’ve been there and sent home twice. I’m still having contractions. They are painful and pretty close together. But I don’t want to come back if you’re just going to send me home again.” You can probably guess what the on-call doctor said to me. It was something along the lines of, “I can’t tell you over the phone that you’re not having the babies. You should probably come back.”

I didn’t tell Will. I thought, “I can tough it out. Nothing’s changed.” By 3am, I simply could not bear the pain any longer. I woke Will, and then thought, “Wait. Maybe I can still tough this out.” By 3:30, I knew I could not tough it out. If it wasn’t labor, fine. But I needed something to manage the contractions. Or help me sleep. Or both. We got in a cab again. Our doorman must have thought we were completely nutso by this point. I called my mom to see if she could meet me at the hospital since Will really needed to go to work.

“So, we’re actually going to deliver…”

I was admitted this time (thank goodness!), and to be honest, I don’t remember much. I remember being monitored. I remember having contractions the whole time, and I remember hearing them say that they weren’t really responding to the medication. I was given something to help me sleep, and I did so intermittently. I remember being told nothing had changed. And then I remember 4:30pm, when the on-call doctor came back in and said, “We’re going to check one last time, and then, I assume nothing has changed and we’ll send you home.” The rest of the conversation went something like this:

Doctor: So, we’re actually going to deliver. Where’s your husband?

Me: He’s at work. (Because YOU kept telling me I wasn’t having these babies!)

Doctor: We have some time. How far away is work?

Me: Twenty-five blocks.

Doctor: He should get in a cab.

And he did. And I was immediately prepped for a c-section, and by 5:15, Will and I were in the OR, getting ready to meet Jack, Henry, and Sophie. Along with a bazillion doctors.

At 5:34, Jack was born. At 5:35, Henry was born. At 5:36, Sophie was born. I got a “kiss” from Jack, and said a quick hello to Henry and Sophie. Shortly thereafter our 2 pound bundles were whisked away to the NICU.

No Room at the Inn

I was still in recovery when the neonatologist came in and said, “The good news is, all three babies are doing great. The bad news is, we don’t have room for them here. Our NICU is full.” So, the plan was already made. They were going to transport our teeny tiny loves from 98th and Fifth to 16th and Second. One at a time. In an ambulance. There wasn’t much to say, other than, “Ok.” So I’m pretty sure that’s all I said. “Ok.”

And so Will and I got ready to divide and conquer. He went to Beth Israel with the babies, and I stayed at Mt. Sinai. His mom met him downtown, and mine stayed with me uptown. We’ve had a lot of practice dividing and conquering in the year since, and I imagine there will be many more opportunities for us to further develop that dynamic in the years to come. None quite as emotional as that first night, I hope, but whatever the rest of our lives bring, I feel pretty confident that we can tackle it together. Even if the children do outnumber us :).

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Family Reunion!

Aunt Addie was back in town today, so during a quiet moment at the NICU tonight, we snuck her in for another visit! Nurse Tita was obliging, and we were all in for a treat…we had a full family reunion with Henry, Jack, and Sophie all out of their isolettes for a visit.

Note: That is Henry in Will’s arms, not Jack! Jack is snuggled in my shirt, and Aunt Addie has Sophie.

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Henry

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Jack

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Buddha Baby. I mean, Sophie.

The First Few Days

Henry, Jack, and Sophie have been settling into their new digs at the Beth Israel NICU. Visits from Grumples and Nana (Gillespie grandparents) and Ann and Tom (yet to be named!) made everyone happy.

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On Saturday, before being discharged from the hospital, I had my first skin-to-skin time with Jack, the process affectionately called, “Kangaroo Care.”

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On Sunday, I had the chance to do Kangaroo Care with Sophie, and Will had his first cuddle with Jack! Henry is still hooked up to the bigger breathing tubes and with his collapsed lung, he needs a bit more oxygen than the others, so we haven’t snuggled him yet, but we can’t wait!

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Welcome to the world, Henry, Jack, and Sophie!

At 5:34pm on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014, the Strumolo triplets made their way into the world, starting with “Baby A” (Jack). A minute later, “Baby B” (Henry) followed, and shortly thereafter at 5:36, “Baby C” (sister Sophie) was born.

Baby A (Jack) meeting Mommy for the first time.

Baby A (Jack) meeting Mommy for the first time.

Baby B (Henry) meeting Mommy for the first time.

Baby B (Henry) meeting Mommy for the first time.

 

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Sophie meeting Mom for the first time.

Jack Waldron Strumolo

Jack Waldron Strumolo Born 5:34 pm on 4/2/2014 2 lb 2.4 oz 14.5 inches

Henry Samson Strumolo

Henry Samson Strumolo Born 5:35 pm on 4/2/2014 2 lb 1.9 oz, 13.5 inches long

 

Sophie Ann Strumolo

Sophie Ann Strumolo Born 5:36pm on 4/2/2014 2 lb 2.5 oz 14.25 inches long