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8. Long hot summer

Each scan brought a little relief. We would both feel the apprehension driving to the hospital, yet the babies seem to be doing well. Mama’s oven was doing a great job and the twins were sharing. Our advice from the doc was to keep doing whatever it was we were doing.

living with a pregnant woman is on a different level. I’m quite ashamed of the ignorant attitude I used to hold towards the female species in regards to what they have  go through emotionally and physically to bring a life into the world.

Amongst other symptoms her abdomen stretched to the point her belly went numb. She ended up on bed rest,  unable to walk the stairs without losing all her energy as the growing triplets pushed against her lungs. She had four heartbeats, forty fingers and forty toes. Four lots of female hormones going haywire, do you feel my pain on that one? She would joke that three minutes of passion and I put her in a wheelchair, it became the only way she could get out of the house.

She hid depression, her anger towards me seemed relentless. I recall taking mint ice cream up to her one night and got the tv remote launched at my head because it wasn’t what she wanted. I would come home exhausted from a physical job, cook dinner, walk the dog, tidy up, do shopping and housework, try to spend time with Frankie then get shouted at about not cleaning properly.

It took everything in me at times not walk out. It was a dark time in our house.  It was painful to see the woman I love in so much discomfort and anxiety, sounds dramatic but I was beginning to wonder if my wife would ever come back.

I’m glad I endured though. I’m glad by my not reacting as I used to it cooled her quicker when she was overwhelmed with it all. I’m glad I managed to stay free from the anger I felt rising in me towards her. My pride took a battering and I had to suck it up and ride it out.

The heat wave kept the tension high. The clear scans every fortnight brought the hope.

I owe a real debt to my phone a friend who a few years prior introduced me to a meditation that allowed me to step back and observe my anger and fear before it got me. I’m no saint, and it isn’t always an easy practice. But without being conscious of it within myself this whole turn of events would have been a very different experience. I have over the last few years had the opportunity to show others struggling with anger a way to overcome their conflicts.

Resentment has no place in a family home.

7. Who you gonna call

So you’ve been picked up and firmly planted in the eye of a tornado. reality is kicking in hard. The babies are baking, the wife is stressed with hormones and her own fears and concerns. Who do you turn to?

“Grow a set of balls and man up” isn’t always the most helpful advice for this particular situation, although does hold a certain depth and weight.

As an expectant father there are not many avenues of help and advice. I had bought a book but didn’t really have time to read it, besides it only dealt with one baby. I was beginning to feel alone with the whole situation.

The last thing Stacey needed was to see me that way. I am lucky to have that one friend who is grounded in reality with no time for self-pity or complaining.He is a man who would help keep my feet on the ground Throughout the whole pregnancy .  He and his wife are to be God parents to our girls. I also have a grounded female friend who was happy to help with a woman’s perspective. It was much-needed.

Men are for the most part, left to get on with it as I’ve found, which can be a frightening prospect. I also found a couple of triplet dad sites on Facebook that were invaluable. Though not one in the U.K. I am also very grateful to the dad’s at my work for their experience and advice.

When you have three on the way any tips are good. At the end of the day though you will discover your own way, it’s easy to get overloaded with all the different advice out there. Google will send you mad. As I said before every pregnancy and situation is different.

The only advice I can give is to Just take care of your woman a day at a time, no matter what she throws at you. Listen to what she needs and keep your focus on her and any others you have under your roof. Be the man they need.

6. Hunter-gatherer concerns

 When hit with the reality of a doubling of the family unit within the next seven months, a mans mind can spin somewhat.

For one thing the new family home was too small. I’m very proud of us getting this place , it wasn’t so many years ago I was registered homeless. I had started life from scratch again. We worked hard for it. It wasn’t just the house that was concerning me, but the finances too. Stacey would eventually be unable to work. And on one income things would get tight, quick.

The car was too small, I would need seven seats. How was I supposed to fit all the equipment that goes with three babies in the house? What if lose my job because of the time off work il have to take with all the scans and appointments?

There was plenty to consider, daily opportunities to disappear up my own backside with the stress, and not much time.

It’s easy to get distracted from the present moment when fear has such a strong pull. Worrying was pointless and would only stress us more.

All I needed to do was prioritize and do the little things I could. Looking back the mountain seemed a much higher climb. Fear has a way of creating more problems than really exist. I had to be conscious of this for my own sanity.

The main job and only real concern at that point was in front of me. It was to keep my wife level-headed for her own health and that of the babies  , and Frankie feeling involved, after all, she was developing her own fears about our relationship as now I would have biological children.

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No matter how much I was tempted to struggle under the surface. Nothing else was more important than keeping the relationships under my roof afloat and remaining emotionally consistent.

This is a good point to mention with gratitude the endless support we’ve had from my mum and Stacey’s family. We are blessed in that sense. I have met other couples who are not as fortunate.

5. A hard smack in the face

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The view over stokes croft from the ward ,I would visit my Nan here a lot as a child. Was bizarre being back decades later with a wife pregnant with triplets

 

Our first big scan was at st Michael’s in Bristol. It was on a specialist unit that dealt with high risk multiple pregnancies. From what we had read the chance of having mono twins survive was Around 75 percent. There is a big risk of twin to twin transfusion as they share a placenta , basically the stronger one will take the nutrients from the weaker one and kill it off.  We felt prepared for our consultation with the information we had.

Our specialist consultant Dr D was well spoken, up front and had no interest in sugar-coating our situation. He hit us hard with the facts. He also explained that our triplet pregnancy was twice the high risk because of the mono twins. He told us it was rare to see our situation and proceeded to give us every possible ,real outcome. From brain damage which is high in mono twins, there was a high risk one or all of them would be handicapped, that there was a risk of blood infection that could kill them all and permanently damage Stacey. It was hard to hear. I piped up to say that at least at that point all was okay. He shot me straight down with,  “that means nothing”! . The risks seemed endless.

It was his job to give us the truth. He told us the safest possible outcome was to reduce the twins and give the singleton a chance. He gave us the weekend to decide. If we wanted to go ahead with the reduction he would get us into a London hospital the following week to have the procedure done.

We told him we were going to give them all a chance. He left us his personal number. “If I don’t hear from you Monday il see you at the next scan”.

He knocked the wind out of both of us with the truth of our situation. All the waves of fear hit again. I battened down the hatches for a tough weekend.

It seems more often than not the truth is always tough to hear.We would eventually have a mutual respect with him. I liked him for his honesty. We always knew where we stood.

4. Telling Frankie

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Frankies reaction to the pregnancy was that of a little sadness.  It had been only her and mum, then me for as long as she could remember. She had her worries, mainly that I would love them more because in her words “your their actual dad”.

I have given everything to my relationship with Stacey and Frankie. I see Frankie as my own so it was imperative that I remain conscious of her feelings around the pregnancy. I had to be careful how I worded that I was going to be a dad when she was present. She watched me like a hawk during the pregnancy and I made the effort to keep her as involved as I could.

A couple of nights before the dating scan she came down stairs hugging baby (her go to dolly) with tears in her eyes. We went into the kitchen and had a hug and I asked her why the tears. She looked at me and straight out said “you’re not going to have twins are you ” ?

She had overheard our conversations around possible fertility treatment and the higher chance of multiples.

“No honey ” I laughed, of course not, “that would only have been a possibility if we had fertility treatment, and we haven’t”

She had come round to the ideal of having one sibling. The prospect of two didn’t impress her much.

We both felt awful picking her up from school on the day of the dating scan. Needless to say here reaction wasn’t great. As much as I tried to convince her it was exiting and would be amazing, she cried quietly and didn’t really say much for the rest of the weekend.

She did eventually process it herself, more so when mum came round to the idea.

I felt bad Like I’d lied to her earlier in the week, even though we genuinely didn’t know we’d be having more than one. I’m a big believer in being honest with children. Nothing will create teenage angst more than a child growing up to realise their parents are dishonest , who have been punishing them for years if they are dishonest. I’ve already made my bed with santa and the tooth fairy and il deal with that when the time comes.

Frankie took the role of helper to both of us during the pregnancy, what an amazing help she was, and still is.

She was to become a very proud big sister. They are lucky to have her to look up to one day.

3. Into the surreal

After the scan it was a case of letting friends and family know. The reactions were that of disbelief. My wife was clearly not on the same plane as me as far as our situation went. I couldn’t stop laughing and she couldn’t stop shaking. It was just surreal. I’ve had some seriously mind altering experiences during my days on drugs, but this was way out there. you get the point, it was insane.

I think it was about three days before she left the bedroom. there was no question that she was going reduce. It was incredibly hard for me during those early days. As her husband I had to respect her final wishes on the pregnancy, after all the risk was to her and the babies, Frankie had already lost her Dad. But the thought of removing one of those heartbeats was tearing me up. I didn’t believe for one minute that this would have happened unless we had what it took to deal with it, as I said before, I saw three gifts.

the following monday we went to the hospital to get the ball rolling for the reduction, luckily non of the midwives were there to see us , nor was our consultant. My wife was even more stressed when we left, I felt a little relief, like we’d bought some time.

My worry was that the decision to reduce was solely based on fear, that one day she would look back and regret it. I didn’t resent her for feeling the way she did at all, it was awful to see her suffering at a time that should have been filled with joy. It was anything but a normal situation. It would be a couple of months before I was even free to refer to them as the triplets.

She held off the reduction, partly due to the family’s reaction to what all were referring to as miracles, and maybe the pressure from me , as bad as I felt for wanting them. Our scans were split fortnightly between our local hospital, and the city hospital which dealt with specialist pregnancies like ours.

The next big appointment was the city hospital. It was explained that they would lean heavy on reducing as the safest option so to be prepared.

In the meantime I went to work, Stacey carried on working, we read and researched all we could about triplets, especially the set up Stacey had baking. It really was like a lottery win. She remained stressed and agitated , and I did my best to stay positive for her and Frankie. It was tough.

2. The dating scan

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Three little peeps

The Friday following the discovery of our pregnancy was booked for the dating scan. We figured that we were around twelve weeks as Stacey was already beginning to show. All week she had been saying that this pregnancy felt different to that of Frankie’s, this could have been put down to many factors as I now understand, such as age and health.

We arrived at the hospital in good spirits, I was still buzzing at the turn of  current life events and the prospect of being a nappy changing Dad. A skill I was yet to master. We got called in for the scan and the nurse proceeded to look for something beating within Stacey.  She kept looking, and after what seemed like ages looked at Stacey and me and said, “are you ready for this…….three” !

we laughed at our accuracy of guessing twelve weeks, as in three months . She then explained it wasn’t three weeks, but three heartbeats, triplets!

I will never again feel what I experienced  in that room at that moment. I burst out laughing in amazement. I just couldn’t believe it. When I looked at Stacey  her reaction was not one of joy . She was literally shaking on the bed demanding the nurse look again, I have never been with her when she’s experienced such shock and fear. It was a difficult moment, as I still couldn’t stop laughing in my own state of shock. They took us to talk with a couple of midwives after who explained our situation and how much of a high risk pregnancy we would be dealing with, not just to the babies but to Stacey also. We had spontaneous dichorionic triamniotic triplets, so identical twins sharing placenta, and a singleton.

Discovering your having triplets is on par with say, switching on the radio to hear of an alien invasion. It’s surreal.  No one can imagine what their response would be. We have since met many multiple parents who were hit with the same shockwave. It’s a game changing moment of epic proportions.

Stacey was shaking in tears at the news we had just received. Adamant that a reduction was the only safe option as was explained to us after the scan.

I was in a state of shock and over the moon, knowing full well we had been given three gifts.  We were due to start fertility treatment the following month. I saw a miracle.

we were Seven weeks & five days.

 

The following months would be the toughest few months of our marriage.

1. Crying in the isle

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Boom

Trying for a baby can become stressful. We tried for two years without any luck. The stress was added to by the false positives that the tests gave us on more than one occasion. I Remember the excitement we both felt when the faint blue lines appeared on the tests. Only to discover a few days later that it was just another false reading.Our chances seemed low as my wife has polycistic ovaries, and I had not had children. There was definitely pressure involved. We were also  in the process of looking at fertility treatment as an option. But didn’t like the risk of possible twins.

christmas 2016 was not a very relaxing time. We had recently moved into our new three bedroom home. Stacey was stressed, unlike I had known her to be. She was agitated and short fused, especially with me. I put it down to the stress of moving.

We spent Christmas with her family in Coventry. Stacey was sick and unable to eat, thought to be a stomach bug, her sister and mother were suspicious it was more.  We travelled home in time for New Years. We stopped only to buy ginger biscuits, ginger being a natural sickness relief for pregnant women unbeknown to me at that time.

On the morning of our second wedding anniversary Stacey’s mum and I finally convinced Her to take a test. All the signs of pregnancy were present, the fear of just another false positive , and the disappointment that would inevitably follow  had stopped her from taking it earlier .

Her face as she came out the bathroom was lit. The lines on the test were not faint, these were two very clear lines, which on that particular test read positive. We were pregnant, I was going to be a biological Dad, it was one of those life changing moments, I was overwhelmed with emotions. It was a special morning.

I went to the supermarket shortly after to grab some supplies. I remember the drive well. My chest was puffed up with a sense of pride,  in my mind I kept thinking back to the times in my life that were much darker, then being hit with the reality of my life now and the course it had taken. It was quite a different picture. I truly felt a blessed man.

In the supermarket my face was beaming,  I was blurting out my good news to random shoppers. They felt my joy. It was real, it was actually happening to us. As I walked down the isle to get bin bags I felt a rise from my stomach, all of a sudden I burst into tears, in the middle of the isle,  in front of a few bewildered shoppers. It was a cathartic release. All the stress, the worry, the unknown future , the fact my wife was pregnant, therefore probably a bit hormonal and didn’t just hate me,  all that stress left me in that moment, right in the middle of Asda.

My life was at it’s peak. I was to become  biological father . Frankie was to become a big sister and my wife a mother again to my child. It was a feeling and a moment I will never forget

Our triplets

Ava, Blakely & Lacey joined the world on the Fourth of July 2017.

They are our spontaneous dichorionic triamniotic triplet girls (or Daddy’s little chickens), Blakely and Lacey are the mono twins who successfully shared a placenta. Ava is the singleton who did her own thing.

They are three remarkable little ladies, who have changed our lives forever.

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Little monkeys