As I lay in bed this morning, I’m reminded of how last night went. My mind is going 100 miles a minute thinking about the people I talked to, and what we talked about. Last night was the first time in over 3 weeks I stepped outside, and participated in an event where people knew us, and knew our story, knew what happened to our babies.. well for the most part.
My anxiety kicked in last week as I was talking to my husband about going back to work soon. I started wondering; “How do I tell people about the babies? How do I talk about this without breaking down?” I figured it out last night as I was speaking to someone at the National Wild Turkey Federation banquet. He asked me “You’re having triplets right?” At that point my stomach sank.. it was time to figure out how to answer the question without tears forming, without breaking down in public, and without having a major panic attack.
We knew at week 8 triplets come with many complications. Our doctor talked to us about reducing the pregnancy early on to help with these possible complications, but as we continued to go and have ultrasounds things kept looking okay. Our goal was to have all three babies. At 16 weeks we went in for a normal ultrasound. We were hoping we could find out the genders of the babies before I flew out to Montana the next day to visit my mom for the week. We found out we were having two boys and a girl: Emery, Elijah, and Easton. Our two boys were identical, they shared the same placenta, and the same sack with only a tiny membrain separating them. The doctors told us early on that with our boys sharing the same placenta comes with risks. There could be issues with unequal sharing of the placenta and also Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrom (TTTS).
TTTS is a rare disease that happens in about 15% of monochorionic twin pregnancies. When the babies share a placenta they may also share some of the blood vessels throughout it. This can sometimes cause one baby to give more blood to the other. At this point if the babies are getting too much and too little of the blood flow it can cause other complications such as: kidney and bladder failure, also heart failure. Our identicals started showing signs of TTTS at week 16. Our larger identical (Elijah) had a larger amount of amniotic fluid in his sack compared to his brother (our smaller identical) Easton, but it was still early (we were considered stage 0 at this point) and we were told in the coming weeks it could worsen or it could just stay the same. Our doctor made an appointment for us at Evergreen Hospital in Seattle, WA for the next week. When we went back in on Monday things had gotten worse, this time with the blood flow in Easton’s umbilical cord.
Weeks 17 & 18 were full of driving back and forth from Portland to Seattle. In those two weeks things were staying steady, but when we reached week 19 fluid levels had dropped. Easton’s fluid levels were now at the worrisome point of low, and Elijah’s fluid numbers had gotten so high they were causing his heart to work overtime. I was scheduled for surgery the next day..
Surgery day came and went. They did an ultrasound while I was still in the O.R. and the babies looked great. They all still had heartbeats, and that is what mattered. I stayed in the hospital over night so they could monitor me for contractions (I was having small ones about once every hour or so). We had an ultrasound the next morning to check on the babies, and see how they were doing.
We made it to the next day.
I will never forget what the doctor told me. He was searching for heartbeats, and I knew there was something wrong the minute he started with Emery. He looked at her heart and she was doing great. He moved over to Elijah, and it was such a relief seeing him moving around! When he finally got to Easton I heard him take a deep breath. I didn’t see anything on the ultrasound (normally you can see the heartbeat). He looked at me, and grabbed my hand. At that point I knew we had lost him… “I am so sorry, but it looks like we have lost the little one. He has passed away…” my husband asked him to repeat himself. Neither of us could believe it.
Easton had passed away sometime in the middle of the night from heart failure. The way The doctor described it is that he fainted, and at that point he didn’t wake up. The doctor told us he was sick, that either way he would have passed away, and if we would have waited any longer to do the surgery we would have lost both Elijah and Easton. Our baby boy Easton gave his brother a chance to live. We believe he gave his life so his brother could have one.
But here we are. Three weeks later, and things still haven’t gotten easier. I remember the first time I actually felt Easton move. He was basically bring shoved into my cervix by his brother. I could feel his little flutters of movement at 14 weeks. He was the only one I could really feel, but that was because he didn’t have much space in my uterus. It was hard not feeling him move any more. That was actually the hardest thing to get use to after he passed. It took another two and a half weeks before I finally started feeling the other two babies move. It’s a blessing and a curse. I feel two, but I want to feel three. I still think about what it would have been like to feel three babies, alive and well moving about.
This is a topic that is hard for me to talk about still. I break down every once in a while when I think about them, but then I remember we still two beautiful babies coming into this world. Yes, it’s hard to tell people We are having twins, but we are still proud to have twins.
I told Nicholas that Elijah and Easton would have been identical to each other. We will always know what our son would have looked like, and I know that a piece of him will live on in his brother and sister, and also in us. Our goal was to have three babies, and we will always have three babies.
If you would like to learn more about Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrom (TTTS) or donate please go to this website: