6. We all made it

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One proud Mama

I am someone who has dealt with a lot of change in my life (I never said I always dealt with it well). It was usually a matter of having to adapt to whatever the next situation was. And doing my best with the mental problems I developed usually didn’t do so well.

The last few years especially, have given me an opportunity to deal with the unknown in the stream of life very differently. Faith has allowed me to stay out of fear. It made our situation a very different experience. I did my utmost to remain conscious of those around me rather than getting lost in the fears that were trying to pull me in. I was able to be present. Don’t worry, I’m not here to promote anything. Every man must find a way to become free of his conflicts for the sake of those under his roof. My solution happened to be spiritual in nature. I will add a link to a friends page, and the free meditation that was passed on to me shortly. It is available to all.

I had no illusion that becoming a father to triplets was going to be an easy ride. Although excited from day one I was aware of the mammoth task ahead, and that it would be my biggest job until my final breath. And I was ready for it. My purpose in life slapped me right in the face the day I met Stacey and Frankie, it was then reinforced at the dating scan, three times over.

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Four of the five reasons I survived a very up and down life of mental conflicts and alcoholism.

It was a miracle the triplets made it, and to be healthy aswell was such a blessing.

In those early NICU/SCBU days they just slept, even when awake there was no crying, they would just be awake, very alert and content. They were not being exposed to stress, from Stacey or myself.  I know that stress causes all sorts of problems, internally and externally. I never wanted it affecting my children.

An over emotional Mum or Dad in a situation like ours would have brought hell on earth. When we stay calm, the babies pick up on it. They are more aware than you could imagine.

The SCBU days did lull me into a bit of a false sense of security. I began to think that their present state of calm would continue. Premature babies sleep. It’s what they do. I’m happy to report once again that I was wrong, not having expectations is definitely the way to go. Especially with triplets.

We got them into a feeding routine from day one. Routine is everything with our girls. It may all look a bit regimented from the outside but believe me, it will and does pay off.

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They love being with each other

They were all breastfeeding by the time they came home, they still are solely on breast milk. I didn’t realise how difficult that could be for some Mum’s, I’ve learned to be a bit sensitive in my replies when asked about it. Also in mentioning that they were spontaneous. Almost everyone presumed they were through IVF. There is a genuine shock when people realise they were conceived the old-fashioned way. No one more than we were.

At Twenty days old, Ava, Lacey & Blakely were fit and ready to come home. It was a rollercoaster from day one, but the girls, and Stacey had exceeded everyone’s expectations to reach that point. In the face of all the risks, Mama, with a pinch of grace, brought three bright lights into the world, and they shine brighter every day.

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Their coming home outfits, courtesy of Grandmas knitting needles

It humbles me to know that I am responsible for guiding them into the world. That as a father to four girls I have an example to set. So when they grow up and wander into the world, they will know what a man should be doing, how he should hold himself in the world, especially how he should be treating those he loves, so they will know what is right. What gifts to be entrusted with.

This I cannot afford to fail at.

 

 

5. The Nest team

Three hospitals dealt with us from the pregnancy to the arrival. Our local hospital were less equipped to do all the scans, so St Micheals – Bristol, dealt with the majority of the scans. When our local hospital pulled out of the birth, Musgrove in Taunton stepped up. Bristol didn’t take us for the birth as they felt there were no problems, and they deal more with complicated situations.

Unfortunately Taunton isn’t local, so the plan was to move all the triplets back to our local hospital after the birth, as long as all was well. Sounds simple enough.

There are many factors that need to be considered when transferring triplets from A to B. It was, and still is an operation.

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Blakely having a blast of uv to help shift the jaundice before the move

Firstly the local hospital needed three free cots, they only had nine in total on the scbu. A couple of times we were told the triplets would be moved, then an emergency birth would take place and cots would be taken.

The move was also contingent on the Nest teams availability that day. Obviously any emergencies took priority. Our babies were all healthy.

The nest team are a specialist crew that work out of Bristol, their job is to transfer sick babies in the south-east, one at a time using special equipment in a purpose fitted ambulance. And we needed three babies moving. That meant three separate trips.

Stacey was understandably adamant they all went in the same day , not just so they wouldn’t be separated for too long, but she was also supplying milk for them all by that second week. She needed to be with all three. It was never going to be that simple.

Six days after they were born we got the news they were moving Ava. The twins were due to move the following morning. It was the only , and quickest way it was going to happen. She left on the Monday afternoon.

That night I left the hospital late with enough milk to take to get Ava through the night.

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Midnight milk run

Unfortunately there was an emergency early the next morning and the twins were unable to be moved. It was another two nights before we got a call from the Nest team.

Over the phone I was told they had a new pod that could take two babies at a time. It had never been used in the field so to speak. We would be the first in the country to have our babies transferred two at a time. They would be with us that morning.

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Also it was agreed the triplets could be kept in one large cot, which our local hospital had available in a side room. By that point they only had feeding tubes.

It was such a relief to us, especially Stacey,  that she would be with all three again. It was a stressful few days having them split up. But it came good. The most important thing was that the triplets and Mum were well.

It was wonderful to see the triplets together again with each other for the first time.

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The special care baby unit at our local hospital took over and what an amazing job they did. It was the last stop before they came home. I was close to the hospital so was able to go back to work and earn. I would stop in each morning and drop milk in and see them. They Continued to grow and thrive. The tough bit was almost over and we had three healthy content babies in our lives. Life would never be the same again, and I’d never felt more proud of my family.

 

 

 

 

4. NICU Angels

Any parent to babies who spent time with their little ones on the NICU are aware of how incredible the nurses are.

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Stacey was officially discharged three days after they were born. Because of our situation we were given a room to stay in next to the ward. Stacey made a start straight away expressing milk, as her plan was to breastfeed all three if possible. She was determined.

The nurses did everything to accommodate us and look after us. They made sure as Dad I had hands on involvement from day one. I was shown how to wash them, I changed Ava’s first poopy nappy. Any parent of premature babies will know the joy and relief of that first poop. It’s another sign things are internally well, and working.

It wasn’t just the triplets that were taken care of. They also had an interest in our wellbeing and health. They made sure we were taking enough rest and were both mentally coping with the situation. They were amazing with our triplets, we were most definitely taken care of by angels on that ward.

We had skin time with them each day,  the nurses encouraged it, especially with the Dads, the babies love the warm and it’s a great way to bond, I would just hold them and look at them. I couldn’t take my eyes off them. They were perfect.

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The tiredness was hitting me hard after a few days. I was still exhausted from the months running up to the birth, a lack of sleep was to bring me to a new mental state I had no choice but adjust to. It wasn’t easy at all, for either of us. As a recovered alcoholic maintaining a level of consciousness is how I have to live. Tired I struggle with everything, especially stress. The situation kept me as focused and present as I could be.

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The babies were doing amazingly well. There was a real buzz around them. I loved taking care of them, Even Frankie was able to help with their feeds.

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We were blessed in many ways. The babies were fine without issues, other than a little jaundice with the twins. Mama was expressing and would provide enough milk for all of them when they eventually latched. She is still breastfeeding all three now as I write this, coming up thirteen weeks. It’s quite a deal. They are thriving.

Although we were tired beyond words, we were happy on that ward, for the first time in a while. It was a wonderful time for us as a family.

3. Little miracle

Stacey and myself were feeling the love. I had never experienced the way I felt when I held those little ones in my arms. Parents will know what I mean. I was also massively relieved that Stacey was now okay. She was in her element.

 

On the outside the girls seemed fine. Blakely did a lot of involuntary arm and leg movements, or in my terms, she was always wriggling. I put it down to the fact she was in the middle for the duration of the pregnancy, so had to constantly fight for room, it was as though she still was.

Occasionally she would stop and just stare at you. Looking into a newborn babies eyes is an incredibly powerful experience. They have a spirit unaffected by fear, or anger, yet to be exposed to the stresses of the stream of life. They have a divine conscious connection with something infinite. All babies are born with it.  Stacey took this photo of Blakely when she was only two days old.

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It is routine for multiples to have brain scans at birth. There is a higher risk, especially with mono twins, of underdevelopment. They are, after all sharing a placenta, and one will always be stronger and take more of the vital nutrients.

Lacey was the bigger one, Blakely was our dinky one.

It was around day three the scans took place.  Stacey and myself were busy with all three and busy with visitors. A young doctor stopped me in the hallway outside of the ward in the afternoon,  and asked to speak with Stacey and myself somewhere private, concerning the scan results. I didn’t like the sound of that. My heart sank a little even though we were well aware of the risks from the beginning. We prepared ourselves for whatever was coming.

He told us that Ava and Lacey were fine, Blakely however. had a bleed on the brain. He showed us the printed photo which clearly showed a dark mass on one side of the brain. It was explained that it was most probably caused by trauma during the c-section. The plan was to do an MRI scan the following morning to discover where it was, this would give a clearer picture of how serious it was, and how it would affect her. there was talk of getting her to Bristol st Micheals for surgery asap if need be.

It was difficult to sink in, There were two other babies also that needed our attention and care. We talked and both felt that we would deal with whatever outcome was ahead. Blakely was here, and we were in love with her. I was ready to deal with anything other than losing her.

We were tired and occupied with all three which sort of distracted us. It was on both of our minds though.

The following morning we both went with Blakely across to the main hospital for the MRI scan.  We waited outside, concerned but ready for the results. She was in there for what seemed like ages. At least two more doctors were called into the room she was in. I worried, as that meant second opinions.

She was taken back to the NICU and we were told we would have the results within the next couple of hours. It was a painful wait. I was quietly praying for the strength to deal with any outcome with Blakely.

We stayed with all three and soon the doctor reappeared on the ward and headed our way. He sat down and smiled at us.”Whatever that was on her brain, has gone” he happily announced. “There’s no sign of anything abnormal, the MRI was clear. Shes fine”.

It seems our babies have been taken care of from day one. A nurse on the ward told me she had heard of a premature babies brain sorting itself out on a rare occasion.Blakely had another all clear a few weeks later.

All three are miracles. The little one especially. We were free to get on with the job at hand with three healthy babies. I am fully aware how lucky we are.

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Blakely, Daddy’s little chicken

 

2. Blessed

I called Stacey first thing Wednesday morning. She told me that a nurse had offered to take her to see the triplets after breakfast but had decided to wait til I got in so we could go together. I remember my response well,

“No honey, why don’t you head down and see them, I’ll be in soon and will meet you in the NICU”

She was reluctant but said okay.

My Father in law, Frank, drove us in that morning, Stacey is one of three sisters, so Frank is always good to talk to about having daughters. We talked all the way and I was feeling nervous as to what the situation would be when I arrived. I knew the triplets were doing alright. My hope was that their Mum was now with them.

Arriving at the hospital, it was a relief to not find her on the recovery ward. A smiling nurse told us she’d gone to the NICU.

 

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Their first beds, taking up half the ward

 

We got through the security doors and walked into the ward. Sat between Ava and Lacey’s incubators, with a beaming smile, was my wife, the woman I fell in love with, cuddling Ava.

I got my breath and held back a few tears. She was home. It was like all the fear, all the anxiety, all the agitation of the last thirty-three and a half weeks, plus the stress leading to the pregnancy, left her when she got handed one of her daughters.

The fear was that she would see them and feel nothing. She had gone through more than I could ever understand to bring our children to us. We are now only beginning to talk about the mental suffering she endured. As I write this they are twelve weeks old.

I thank God I could see that all her anger towards me was all from fear and anxiety, That it wasn’t personal, and that I had the faith to trust she would come out the other side. That I only had to stay strong for her.

 

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This was taken around two weeks after they were born. The first time they were all reunited

 

I am so proud of this amazing woman, proud to call her my wife.

 

 

1. Day one

 

 

 

 

The triplets were whisked off from the theatre to be checked over, and moved into the neonatal intensive care unit. I remember trying to take it all in. I was kicked with intense emotion and adrenaline, added to that was the joy that they had arrived in one piece. Stacey seemed a bit calmer after the arrival. The meds were kicking in, she was also exhausted from the stress.

We were moved to a recovery ward, and Stacey was given an opportunity to relax, recuperate and let the feeling return to her lower body.

As soon as I had the chance I headed across to the nicu to see how our new arrivals were doing. Stacey chose to stay on the recovery ward. I thought it a bit odd she didn’t want to come, even with the offer of a wheelchair and a nurse to Assist her.

The nicu is an intense experience for any parent. The second time I saw the triplets They were in incubators. Lacey was already off oxygen and holding her own, Ava and Blakely were still having a little help with their breathing. Even though Stacey had received a couple of steroid jabs to strengthen their lungs a few weeks before, they were still pretty early into the outside world. So some vital assistance was required.

Ava weighed in at 4lb 12oz

lacey at 4lb 5oz

Blakely at 3lb 4oz,

As you can see here she was tiny. But still, all good weights for triplets.

 

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The day was spent back and fourth from seeing the triplets,  to caring for Stacey, her Mum and I took it in turns to go back and forth throughout the day. Stacey continued with reasons why she was unable to see them. It was beginning to concern me.

Frankie, my Mum and other family members visited in the afternoon into the evening. Frankie was buzzing with excitement when she arrived. It was a huge day for her, times three.

 

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Her face sais it all

 

The day was a blur, everyone was exhausted by the evening. The one thing I was struggling with by the time it came to leave for home for that night, was that Stacey had not yet seen her babies, other than a fleeting glance in the theatre. She had told me prior to that day that as soon as they were born, she would feel completely different about them. Yet she seemed agitated whenever I mentioned taking her to see them.

I felt fear again that night for us as a family, it seemed we were heading into more uncertainty and problems. Stacey was still clearly unhappy. And the girls had now arrived, there was no turning back.

I was to head back into the hospital first thing the following morning, as I was unable to stay with her . Leaving my wife that night was tough going.  Maybe in my own excitement from the start of the pregnancy,  I had blinkered myself from the extent of how much Stacey had struggled with the whole situation.

Every little things, gonna be alright

The Fourth of July seemed to come around quick. We were as organised as we could be. The house was ready, Frankie was dropped off early at her cousins for school, she would join us later that afternoon with her Auntie and my Mum. Frankie was exited, I was really excited. Stacey though was still racked with anxiety about the whole thing. Stacey’s Mum drove us to the hospital that day. She was feeling her daughters nerves.

The hospital had us booked in as the first procedure that day. We got to the hospital at 7.30, checked in and went through the whole process with the doctors and midwives. As much as they tried to reassure Stacey, she was visibly agitated and uncomfortable. Her concern wasn’t for the triplets, more for any problems she may encounter. There was a real chance of complications to her that morning. I know Frankie was on her mind.

It was awful to be in that position, seeing my wife so full of fear, and here was me, lit at the other end of the spectrum. I still did my best to calm and reassure her.

Stacey was prepped and we were in the theatre by 9am. There was a particular piece of music we chose to have playing, Bob Marleys ‘three little birds’. It was a song we played to the triplets, they were after all known to us, as our three little birds.

I counted eighteen people in the theatre that morning. It was an impressive show just for us. There was such a buzz in that room. Each baby had a pediatrician, a midwife and a doctor stood by an assigned cot. Each cot with a name tag. The doctors knew beforehand the babies positions, and who was who.

The music played, everyone in the room sang and hummed along with excitement. It all happened so fast from that moment.

Ava was born at 9.38am

Blakely at 9.40am

Lacey came last at 9.42

Within minutes They began to cry, what a momentous sound. They all made it out in one piece. All well as could have been. They allowed me to trim their cords. It was one of the most moving moments I will ever know. Something in me changed in that theatre.

Stacey made it, even though she lost a lot of blood, and had to have a transfusion. She had succeeded in creating and carrying our girls into this world. A true miracle.

The relief for me was massive. Stacey was still in an emotional struggle, as I would discover by the end of that day.

 

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Meeting with my daughters, one at a time, for the first time, was a deeply emotional experience