Triplets?! Angela’s Story of Love and Loss

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Prematurity Awareness Week 2013: How Do You Do It?

World Prematurity Day November 17In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.

In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.


I’ve told my story so many times, you’d think I’d be able to write it down too. I’ve given talks to women’s groups and loss groups about it, done blog posts about it, etc., but something about this one is different. Maybe it’s because I know the audience reading this will be different… you’ll be in the thick of preemie-hood or the NICU or bed rest and you’ll want comfort and hope…

And I won’t be able to give you those things… Well, not in the way you’d expect at least. You see, my birth story ended with the loss of one of my triplets. I don’t want to scare you – having a preemie doesn’t mean you’ll experience loss too – but I do want to be real with you. One of the most real things I can do or say is this… my hope comes from knowing he made a difference in his 49 days of life. It comes from seeing his surviving brother and sister meet milestones and overcome obstacles. It comes from knowing that my story gets to be told and that it matters. And I hope you’ll feel that hope in what you read today, and not the sadness of loss.

I got married in 2007 and always knew I’d be a mom. We got pregnant right off the pill a year later, but sadly, we miscarried. We. Were. Devastated. I never thought I’d be dealing with miscarriage. Or what came next. Three years of infertility, another miscarriage, 2 rounds of IUI, and finally – finally – we were pregnant.

Angela-2

With triplets.

Angela-5

I was scared all over again. I was placed in the high-risk category. We nervously counted down the weeks and each week were surprised that all was going well. I had a shortened cervix, so I had a cerclage placed. At 22 1/2 weeks, I was placed on home bed rest to slow things down a bit. But that only lasted 2 weeks, and I was off to the hospital for a month of bed rest there. It was an experience that stuck with me so much, I even wrote a book about it.

Now the goal was to keep the babies cooking as long as possible. After 11 days, Baby A’s water broke, but he stuck in there for 19 more days.

From before birth, Carter fought to live. He fought to help his brother and sister live. While I was in the hospital on bed rest, his sac ruptured 19 days before his birth, leaving him unprotected. Because he was able to stay in, his brother and sister were able to continue to grow.

It would be food poisoning that would finally do me in. 2:30 a.m. and I was in full blown contractions. They couldn’t stop them, and I delivered my trio at 27 weeks and 5 days at barely 2lbs5oz each. My mom was in Hawaii. I’ll never forget how crushed she was to not be there. They were immediately taken to the level 3 NICU and I was taken to recovery. I don’t remember much about that first 12 hours. I do remember that at one point, my husband had to tell me some bad news, and I was so drugged up that I just kept encouraging him like it was happening to another baby and not ours.

birth of triplets

At birth, Carter was the weakest. On the first day, the doctors didn’t think Carter would survive. His lungs weren’t working. After a tense few hours, it was evident Carter was a fighter as he survived his first brush with death.

Those first few days they were in the NICU weren’t too hard, probably because we were still in shock and adjusting to the reality of things. It was the day of discharge for me that things got real. We got bad news on all three of them. It was the first time I cried. I wouldn’t cry again for 44 days…

During his first few days of life, he struggled with high glucose, needing high oxygen support, and needing morphine and blood transfusions. Little did we know this was just the beginning. The doctors also discovered that he and his siblings all had E Coli sepsis, which wreaked havoc on their lungs and caused them to have brain bleeds. They were diagnosed with level 3 and 4 brain bleeds and hydrocephalus, a condition which can lead to cerebral palsy or other issues.

At home, I focused on pumping – getting over 70 ounces a day of the liquid gold. It kept me sane, giving me something to do for the babies. I went to the NICU every single day. I think I might have missed one day in total. I had to be there. I had to.

After only a week of life, Carter started to experience edema, and we began to lose the baby we knew and see a more swollen boy. He would live the rest of his life with this challenge, getting up to 6 ½ pounds at one point when he should only have been around 4 pounds at the time of his death. Throughout the weeks, Carter’s journey would be one of constant ups and downs. He would have a good day, only to have a bad day the next. After about two weeks of life, we began to discuss the possibility he might not survive this journey. We kept our faith and refused to give up on our little boy.

Each baby had their ups and downs. Braden had ruptured bowel at 7 days old, Tenley and Braden both had to be transferred to a higher-level hospital and had surgery for their brain bleeds that first night there. She’d have 2 surgeries by the time she left 86 days later, and he’d have 4 surgeries and leave after 111 days.

Even when Braden & Tenley continued to make progress and moved to a different hospital, we did not give up hope that Carter would recover and be well enough to make the move with them. But, the night of their transfer, we were told he only had a 10% chance of making it. We still remained hopeful, and our boy still fought. For the next few weeks, we had many ups and downs, many times we didn’t think he’d make it. At one point, we said our goodbyes and made peace with everything that might happen to him. We knew he’d be going to a better place, and we knew we’d be okay too.

So many emotions coursed through my body during these days. It was unbelievably hard. It tested my faith, my marriage, my friendships, my everything. I was in a whole new world. I could spout off terminology like I was one of the doctors in the NICU. I kept a detailed journal of everything – the updates, the records, the stats – everything. It was another way I stayed sane.

Then, things took a turn for the worse as his kidneys shut down and he was on full support. But, they also took enough of a turn for the better that a small window of opportunity was found to transfer him to the same hospital his siblings were. One last chance. After he was moved, he made great strides. He fought hard, and he won several battles. He was coming out of the woods…

Tenley would eventually get contaminant meningitis at the site of her brain surgery opening, which sent her back to level 3 and almost took her life. It might not have been that bad to deal with, except for the fact that it happened at the same time as we were losing Carter.

At the same time as Tenley was back in level 3, Carter wasn’t keeping his stats up and was weakening. They couldn’t figure out why. They did what they could, but it didn’t look good. He hung in there for awhile, but that Thursday night, his stats dropped very low – dangerously low – and they couldn’t get him stable again. We were called, and we came. They found that fluid had filled his lungs. He had an infection – the deal breaker, we knew. And, it was time to let him go.

It was my husband who finally came to the decision to let him go. And I had to let him make that decision. As cowardly as it may seem, I couldn’t do it. Sure, I said goodbye and I made my peace, but I couldn’t bring myself to say those words to the doctors.

We held him on Friday, the 27th for his last 2 hours of life and for the very first time in his entire life… we watched him slip away, and we comforted him during his last moments as we sent him off into Heaven, knowing we’d see him again one day. He fought right up until the end. He helped save his brother and sister, and we believe he touched many lives with his fight and his story…

It had been 44 days since I cried. I tend to only cry when I’m frustrated or angry. Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed, but rarely when I’m sad. But, I cried. I lost it. Hyperventilated when the doctors took him off the machines. Maybe I was mad at the world in that moment, I don’t know…

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I only cried a few times in the weeks after. Something in me knew I had to keep going for my survivors. I was still in the thick of it and needed to focus on them. I think I made a conscious decision to choose to be okay. I wanted to celebrate the 49 days I had with him, and not mourn what I wouldn’t have in the years to come. This perspective is what gave me hope and allowed me to move on. Granted, I did have emotional affects from the experience and had a bout with post-tramatic stress disorder, especially once both his siblings came home – and he didn’t.

Carter announcement

All this is hard to hear – and write – but it needs to be shared. It’s one of the unfortunate realities of having a preemie. It’s why the research and the support and all the community surrounding it is so important. It’s why my husband and I do a yearly fundraiser and are in the process of forming a non-profit. You can actually participate in this year’s fundraiser currently by going here.

I do want to end on a positive note… today, Braden and Tenley are about to turn two. They’re thriving, overcoming obstacles, hitting milestones, and making us feel blessed in every way. Yes, they’re preemies. But they’re more than that. They’re fighters. Survivors. Miracles. And, they’re my gift.

then now

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Help the Preemie Community – Shop the Celebrate Carter Fundraiser

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Categories Prematurity, Theme WeekTags , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

Prematurity Awareness Week 2013: How Do You Do It?

World Prematurity Day November 17In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.

In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.


Want to help the preemie community and get some holiday shopping done? The Celebrate Carter fundraiser is here! This year, it’s a shopping catalog of various vendors who are donating a percentage of their sales to the fundraiser, which benefits two deserving preemie/loss related charities.

ABOUT: Carter Bickford is the first-born son of Craig and Angela Bickford of Cypress, Texas. He was born on December 9, 2011, along with his triplet brother and sister, Braden and Tenley. They were born very sick at 28 weeks. Sadly, Carter passed away at 49 days old from complications of prematurity. The Bickford’s first time holding him was also their last, but they are grateful for every day they had with him. He was a true fighter and his story has reached thousands. His parents hope that by doing these fundraisers annually, they can raise money in his honor to help other organizations reach even more people.

Home page banner

BENEFITING: This year, the beneficiaries were chosen for their involvement in both the preemie community and the loss community. Celebrate Carter is proud to be partnering with Graham’s Foundation and the Zoe Rose Memorial Foundation.

GsF New Logo   ZR logo 2012

WHEN: Shop between 11/15 and 12/1 at www.celebratecarter.com – over 70 vendors!

You can find more info about the fundraiser on the website, the Facebook page, or in the flyer below. You can also share this flyer with friends and family so they can participate too!

Final Celebrate Carter Flyer

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Monday MoM Blog Picks … on Wednesday

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RebeccaD’s post on the complexity of her parenting experience over the last year really touched me. I didn’t want to muddy the waters with this week’s Monday MoM Blog Picks on Monday. Plus, I was lazy. So, here you have them on Wednesday.

Top Mommy Blogs

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote!Okay, TMB isn’t a MoM blog. It’s not even a blog. And I didn’t link to a post. Still, I discovered it recently and wanted to share it with you. Essentially, Top Mommy Blogs is a collection of mommy blogs from all over the internet and has an entire category devoted to MoM bloggers. Last I checked, there were 53 blogs listed in the Twins and Multiples category. There’s a lot of mom and MoM wisdom to be found. If you’ve been looking for MoM bloggers to add to your repertoire, this would be a great place to go looking.

The blog rankings are driven organically by blog readers choosing to click from a participating site to the TMB site. (So, please be aware that clicking on the link above or on the badge in our sidebar will count as a vote for HDYDI–one vote, no matter how many times you click in a day. We authors have agreed not to vote for our own site in the interest of fairness to other blogs who don’t have as many authors. I’m almost certain you can vote/click for as many different blogs as you want.)

There’s a lot of great information there. There’s a whole PPD category, for instance. There’s a special needs one. Maybe if we ask really nicely, Karen will consider adding a prematurity/NICU category.

The McCleary Quadruplets: Homemade Popsicles-Summer Bucket List + Giveaway

Mighty Pop Giveaway at http://www.mccleary-family.comStephanie of The McCleary Quadrupets has 4 4-year-olds, G/B/B/B quads. If you like giveaways, well, enjoy the giveaway. Stephanie is pretty active with giveaways, but she also has some wonderfully thoughtful posts about raising her kids. What I loved was that these flexible ice pop molds allow you to present unadulterated whole fruit as a healthy sweet treat to your kids. I’m always looking for simple ways to feed my family fresh, minimally processed foods.

Four to Adore: Plagiosaur, No More

http://fourtoadore.comAmber blogs at Four to Adore about raising her (B/B/G/G) quadruplet infants. Her son Mason has spent 5 months in a helmet to treat his plagiocephaly, a problematic asymmetry of the head. This a condition I first learned about from HDYDI’s own LauraC. Imagine Amber’s surprise on going into his specialist for a helmet adjustment only to learn that Mason was done with treatment and free to go through the rest of his life helmet-free. Need a pick-me-up? This is it.

Northeast Small Town Parenting: Facebook and the One-Sided Crush

Carissa, Alicia and Nicole collaborate on Northeast Small Town Parenting and share their thoughts and experiences raising several children. Carissa and Nicole are moms of twins. Carissa also has a singleton. Alicia has 3 singletons. They have a lot parenting experience between them! I loved that Nicole talks about how we behave on Facebook. Essentially she breaks Facebook into high-schoolesque types and reminds us that we’re beyond high school, and should act that way online. It made me think about my own behaviour; Facebook has been an increasing part of my online life, especially since we started HDYDI’s page. I am, without a doubt, a topic obsessed participant in Facebook. I am all twin mommy, all the time. I need to do some work to find Sadia again.

Hormonal Imbalances: Shaken

hormonal-imbalancesDiana is an army wife and a mom. She has experienced more than her share of challenges and tragedy. She went into preterm labour with twins and was treated horribly by the hospital staff. She lost both babies. Today, she’s looking in the face of possibly losing another child to an incredibly rare infection. If you’re the praying type, pray for her. If you’re the good vibes type like me, gather up all the good vibes you have and send them to little Kaden. If you know someone in the medical field who can help, who can offer some hope, please send them Diana’s way. Please.

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In the MOMs Club – Just Barely

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In the MOMs Club - Just Barely

Not to bring anyone down, especially since this is my first post for HDYDI, but I’m barely part of this club. You know, the Moms of Multiples club.

You see, I have triplets. But I don’t. I have twins. But I don’t. I’m neither here nor there. And it’s hard.

Bickford Babies

I have what are called ‘surviving’ or ‘incomplete’ triplets. I carried three babies, and I birthed three babies, but only two of them survived. Today, Braden and Tenley are doing well at 19 months old (16 adjusted), even though they were born at only 27 1/2 weeks old.

You can read more about how we lost baby A, Carter, by going to his special website we created to help raise funds for organizations that work to help parents who have experienced the NICU or loss.

Celebrate Carter Logo

It’s a tough spot to be in. I’m now part of a new club – the club no one wants to be a part of – the loss mom club. But you know what? I’m okay with it. I’m okay with it because it means I get to write and share my story. I get to talk about Carter all the time. He gets to make a difference. I’m okay with it because I’m writing several books to help others relate to loss moms, deal with bed rest, or get through a tragedy like the loss of a child. I’m speaking at conferences. I’m raising funds through Carter’s fundraiser each year. I’m choosing to see the good in the midst of the bad.

So, when you read posts by me, know that there will be times when I’m a triplet mom, times when I’m a twin mom. And times when I don’t know what kind of mom I am.

Braden & Tenley

And that’s okay.

And it’s also okay for you to be uncomfortable. Or to relate. Or to empathize. It’s okay for you to ask questions. Or seek out support.

I look forward to representing the unique position that some moms of multiples find themselves in – celebrating and grieving at the same time.

When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you, and your story will heal someone else. ~Iyanla Vanzant

I hope you’ll join me as I share my take on things – and be sure to let me know in the comments below if there’s anything specific you’d like me to cover!

AngelaAngela is a stay-at-home mom raising surviving triplets. She lost her first-born triplet, Carter, after 49 days, and her survivors, B & T, keep her pretty busy with their ongoing needs as a result of their prematurity. She manages to find time for her business and personal blog. Her goal in blogging is to share with others that it’s possible to survive after loss. She and her husband live in the Houston, TX suburb of Cypress. She also blogs at Thirty-One:10.

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Cleave

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Categories Behavior, Development, Identical, Multiple Types, Other people, Overnight, Relationships, SleepTags , , 13 Comments

cleave
intransitive verb
: to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly
transitive verb
: to separate into distinct parts

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I had trouble blogging today.

It’s not that I didn’t have anything relevant to say – twins have been on my mind all week, because of this family who just lost one of their twins very unexpectedly.

It hurts so much to even read about it, and I didn’t want that to be what I shared with you, but because of prematurity and pregnancy complications, loss is interwoven with abundance in the multiples community. I am sure any support, prayers, good thoughts, etc. would be welcomed by the Martinos.

Because of their story, the bond between my boys weighed heavily on my heart this week. My guys are not one of the sets of twins you hear about who are “total opposites.” They like the same things, to varying degrees but enough that they are always together. They discuss what they want to play. Each is heartbroken if the other refuses to “pay wif me,” and they defend each other against our discipline. They sleep tangled up together, closer than I sleep to my husband. Their top loves in life are Mommy, Daddy, and their twin. Their sisters are in another category.

It pains me to think of how we must begin to train them to grow apart. It is necessary, to be sure, but the bond between them has formed so naturally that it seems cruel – a sin – to deliberately weaken it. They have their sisters, close in age. They play with lots of other kids. They rarely dress alike. They’ve done things with us individually since they were babies, but each is always overjoyed to get back home to his twin.

Sometime this week I found a website for the author of Emotionally Healthy Twins: A New Philosophy for Parenting Your Twins as Unique Individuals; Joan Friedman, Ph.D. The page header said, “Creating a New Mindset: Thinking of Twins as Two Separate Children.” A twin herself, the author felt a lot of pressure to play up the twin bond in her life, and when she found herself pregnant with twins, she worried about how to avoid putting the same pressure on her children. The chapter online is interesting reading, touching on topics like “favoring” one twin over the other, and creating a fair and equal childhood (Friedman says it’s better not to!). I’m interested in hearing whether any of you have read Dr. Friedman’s book, and what you think of her advice – particularly if you are an adult multiple yourself. Do you think the bond between multiples is mostly due to a “twin mystique” myth perpetuated by society, or do you think it is something more?

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