This is the first time I have written her story down. It took me over a week, and a box of Kleenex to finish it. But here is her story.
My husband and I wanted children bad. I had along history of endometriosis, and after no success on our own, we turned to fertilty treatments. We were so blessed that our first round of injectibles and IUI, we became pregnant in June of 2008. The strain of wanting a child so bad was taking its toll on us, as it does all of us that suffer with not being able to get pregnant on our own. Our first positive test was on a Sunday night at home, and I screamed all the way down the stairs with that stick with the two pink lines. I smiled in my sleep that night, all night. The following HCG level tests were extremely high, and although the doctor said nothing, I had a hunch there was more than one. Our first ultrasound was scheduled for July 16th. This was the first day I started throwing up. I threw up in the bushes on the way in, and proceeded to throw up three more times during the ultrasound. Immediately, we spotted Baby A and B, hearts beating away. Twins!!! We were so happy. We always wanted two kids, and my husband is ”approaching 40”, so we loved the idea of having our family complete quickly. The ultrasound tech stopped and looked again, and saw something that looked like another sac. She quickly said that it was empty, but did a double take, and low and behold, there was Baby C's heart, beating away too. We were floored. Talk about instant family. I threw up the whole way home and immediately went to bed. By late afternoon, I had thrown up about 20 times. I called the doctor and he suggested vitamin B and Unisom. That didn't work by the next morning, so off to the hospital for fluids and Zofran (anit-naseau). This seem to put an end to it, so home I went..for a day, and quickly, it started again. This time I went a full day before going back to the hospital, where this time, they kept me for three days. I got home, did good for a day, and was back admitted for a week. This pattern continued for 8 admissions, all about a week long, well into September. It was a very depressing time. What got me through was my three babies. I would talk to them all the time in my hospital room, and tell them I was trying so hard. At one point our fertility doctor suggested selective reduction, to maybe twins or a singleton. My husband and I had the same thought at the same time…if God wanted us to have three babies we would put our trust in him and give it our all, so we did. Finally, in September, I had a PICC line (semi permanent IV) put in. This was done initially because they put me on TPN (fed me through an IV, because I had lost 15 pounds since I became pregnant and I was 3 months along) but ultimately the IV in my upper arm allowed me to go home finally because I could inject Zofran and hydrate myself at night intravenously. I had visiting nurses that came weekly to clean the IV line, that went up my arm and into my heart, and I limped through September and October with only a few hospitalizations.
In the meantime, the babies were thriving despite me being on my deathbed. And at the end of the first trimester, I remember looking at my husband and telling him I was so attached to them now that if something happened at this point, I would be devastated. He just looked and me, and said, “I know.” My guard was down, and my heart belonged to those three little babies I was building.
At 18 weeks, each baby appeared to be 7 ounces, and growing beautifully. At 18 weeks, we also nailed down Baby B and C were girls, but Baby A was on the bottom of the "baby pigpile", and we couldn't see her. At 19 weeks, I went to a 3D Ultrasound place to see if they could figure her out..and they did. Another girl. Thrilled to finally know what we were having, we started picking names, and the baby shower invites went out in pink. We wanted to get this project started, since bedrest at 24 weeks was looking likely. We started putting the names we liked on the white board on the fridge, and eventually the fridge read Taylor Lee, Riley Patricia and Jordan Gracie. We bought three cribs, and a triplet stroller. At 20 weeks, another ultrasound showed Baby B and C, who we had named Riley and Jordan, at 11 ounces each, and Baby A, who we named Taylor, at 8 ounces. This immediately concerned me. My girls grew at the same pace, always. But I was assured that we just had a compromised view of her, since she was so low and squished. I was told to go home and rest. I even told the doctor I would stay horizontal to give her room to grow. I just remember him smirking at my determination and patting me on the head. In hindsight, there was a look on his face that told me he knew something was going to happen. All I can think was that we was trying to protect me from that worry and fear, since at this point in the pregnancy, nothing could be done. Whatever was going to happen was out of our hands.
On November 7th, as I was getting dressed, I told my girls to get ready for another group photo. I went to the routine ultrasound alone and this time she measured Riley and Jordan first, because they were easy to see with external ultrasound. She told me she was going to have to measure Taylor internally to get a better view. Nothing occurred to me when my doctor came in with her, until my doctor took my hand. I remember my heart starting to race and thinking, “What’s wrong with her? Does she have a heart problem, or a lung problem? Are her limbs okay?” I studied my doctors face as she held my hand and told the ultrasound tech what to do. By now, I asked what was wrong, but she kept saying they wanted to be sure before they knew for sure. I kept asking “for sure of what?”. My doctor finally seemed done looking and asked if the ultrasound tech needed the room right away. That was it. I knew my Taylor was gone right then. The tech quickly left the room and both my doctor and I burst into tears. I have never seen a doctor cry so much. The only thing that I could get out of my mouth was ,”how can you love someone so much that you have never met?”. The other doctor in the practice who had cared for me came rushing down to the room where we were and also hugged me. He patted my hair and actually kissed the top of my head like a dad would do. I sobbed for what seemed like hours, before I realized I had to call my husband. I dialed his number from my cell phone will quivering fingers and told him we had lost Taylor. He said he was on his way to come get me, but I told him I needed to be alone. He reluctantly agreed to let me go home myself and lay down. My doctors made me stay until my blood pressure dropped back down and I calmed down but eventually let me go home. Instead I drove to my friend’s house, walked in the door with tears pouring down my face and asked her to help me find a bright side so I could keep going. She just hugged me. There was no bright side and she knew it. Later she called my sister to figure out how they would call every person who was coming to my baby shower in two days and break the news to them. They explained to each person that they would have to take the “third” item they bought and get rid of it. Anything with Taylor’s name, pack away, and for goodness sakes, don’t ask me questions about it at the shower. The doctor called that night and asked how I was doing. I asked her what would happen now, with the remaining girls. She explained that it could go either way. I could develop an infection and lose all three. Or I could just keep plugging away, and have one or possibly two healthy girls. But in the meantime, Taylor would have to remain in there for the pregnancy to continue and I would have to do my best to put that out of my mind. I remember being heartbroken that my baby girls, who I had so often watched play on ultrasound, had lost their sister and she was still there next to them, just not playing with them anymore. It still brings tears to my eyes. I don’t remember how I slept that night. I do remember just laying in bed, sobbing. The next morning, I started having contractions. Terrified, I was off to Labor and Delivery. The doctor confirmed that they were contractions, but my cervix was intact. She was worried though, and explained that there was no chance of survival at this point in the pregnancy.
It was then I had “the talk” with myself. I talked myself into her not being there. She never was. This is what I had to believe so I could stop sobbing, get my blood pressure back to a reasonable level, eat and drink, take my meds, and just generally exist. This is what I would have to do for my girls. So I did exactly that. The contractions subsided within hours, and they let me go home, with the understanding I would see the perinatologist in a week.
The next day was my baby shower. Although my family thought I would want to postpone it, I didn’t. I needed to be distracted. That morning, I laid in bed crying and thought I would never make it. I got up with my IV pole attached, and stood in my window. It was November 9th, the sun was rising, and it was beautiful , and so peaceful. When the sun hit my face, I literally felt like I was being infused with strength. It sounds stupid, but I felt her. That moment, in the sunlight, I felt her with me. I managed to go downstairs, and ate for the first time in two days. I had some water, took a shower, and went to my baby shower. A week later we saw the perinatologist and he told us the same thing: it could go either way. They were all in their own sacs, which worked in our favor, but triplets and more are still relatively rare, so the data on losing one is still scarce. I could make it with two, or I could develop an infection and lose all of them. Either way, it was out of our hands. What I do remember about this visit is the ultrasound done. We looked at Jordan and Riley, who were growing perfectly. But the tech labeled them Twin A and B, and they weren’t, they were B and C. I tried to explain this to her, but she didn’t seem to understand what I was saying. And then she had to scan Taylor. I had to look away, and the one moment I did look, she was labeling her “demised triplet”. I caught my husband looking and he quickly looked away too. That was one of the few moments I felt his pain too. I went home that day and erased all the names off the fridge. He asked me why I was doing that and I explained that I couldn’t wipe just Taylors name off, but I couldn’t look at it either, so all three had to go. The next couple months, I laid on the couch, threw up constantly and just prayed. I didn’t think about Taylor. I blocked her out. I just thought about Jordan and Riley and how much I wanted them to make it. I even referred to them as twins. Uncomfortable would be putting it mildly, but I limped through Christmas, and New Years. At one point before Christmas, my cervix started shortening. The prognosis was that I could go at any time, and I had made it to 29 weeks at Christmas, so I got my steroid shots on Christmas Eve. The morning of January 13th, I knew this was going to be the day. I even said to my husband, I think this is it. I wasn’t in labor, but I was going for an ultrasound, and I knew what they were going to say. Each time we scanned them , they grew PERFECTLY. I still marvel at how they progressed and grew, knowing how little food I was able to keep down. They must have stolen every calorie and shared it! But at 32 week now, they had only put on about 2 to 3 ounces in 2 weeks. Previously, they had averaged a pound every two weeks. It was determined they were done growing in there, and they needed to come out. I went over to the hospital, and had my girls by C Section. Jordan was born at 2:22pm, Riley 2:23pm and Taylor 2:24pm. Jordan and Riley were 3 pounds 5 ounces a piece and were 16 inches long. Jordan was breathing room air from the beginning and never needed oxygen. Riley needed a little pressurized air for a day or two, and quickly moved beyond that. Taylor was eight and half inches long and weigh about a third of a pound. By all accounts from the doctors I have gone back and asked, she was beautiful and perfect. She was very much intact, tiny, had all her fingers and toes. Her eyes were closed. My doctor asked me, right after I was stitched up if I wanted to see her, and I said no. I decided that I had put off grieving this long, why not focus on the joy of hearing my babies cry? I couldn’t have looked at her at that moment. I would have snapped in half. I have a TON of regret about this. I don’t know if I made the right decision. However, I do know that the image of her that remains in my head is of her, playing with her sisters on ultrasound. I can live with that.
The next day, a nurse brought me her Certificate of Life. It had her measurements on it and her time of birth. She explained to me that when I was ready, I could have the funeral home pick her up at the morgue. That sentence still rings in my head. I thought to myself, “yeah okay, I’ll have them come pick my daughter up in the morgue. Oh my GOD, my daughter is in the morgue.” I think that’s when it started slapping me in the face. So I quickly focused on my babies in the NICU, to avoid the pain. I spent every minute in their room. I don’t think I slept for four days after surgery. They discharged me Friday at 3pm. I went home, took a shower and drove myself right back to the NICU, and stayed until midnight. I sobbed every time I had to leave to go home. I just wanted them with me. I brought some of their blankets home with me for the dogs to smell, and I wound up sleeping with them every night. Three of them. I didn’t miss one day while they were in there. I was there every single day. It seemed like we had a blizzard every other day this winter, and I was driving to the NICU in it. The Monday after I was discharged, I had to call the funeral home. I met with them, and discussed having Taylor picked up as soon as possible. I wanted her cremated, and I wanted to bring her home. They called me later that week, and I went to pick my daughter remains up. I sat in the chair, with my heart in my throat and waited for the funeral director to come back in. He put a small box down, and gave me a hug. I had to sign a form, saying I had picked the remains. It had her name typed on it. I looked at her name next to the box, Taylor Lee Robertson, and I LOST IT. I sobbed. I could barely sign. Underneath the signature line, it had a spot where I had to write in my relationship to the deceased. It took every ounce of strength I had in my whole body to slowly spell the word “mother” out. I got in my car, and placed her box on my lap. I held her in my hands, and told her this was not the way I had wanted to bring her home, but that we were going home. I went to my house, and put the box in Jordan and Riley’s dresser. I took the blanket with her name on it, and the picture frame that my sister had made when I was pregnant that read “Thrice blessed, Three’s Company…Taylor, Riley and Jordan” and I took the ultrasound photos and put them with her. Every now and I again, I go in there and look in the drawer. It still hurts too much.
Her sisters came home from the NICU 3 weeks early. They have been home for two and a half months now. Things are finally starting to fall into a routine. However, my “block it out” tactic is no longer working. In fact, blocking her out at this point is more painful than letting her in. My BIGGEST fear is that people will about forget her. She is my daughter too. So as painful as it is for me to think about her, and talk about her, it is more painful for me to let her be forgotten. For me to allow people to think my daughters are twins is to deny her existence. She did exist. She was beautiful, perfect, my daughter, and my daughter’s triplet sister. Referring to my girls as surviving triplets, or just “girls” is easier than calling them twins, even if it makes me think of Taylor. It honors her memory, something I intend to spend the rest of my life doing.
My heart still aches for her. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wonder what she would look like and act like, especially now, as Jordan and Riley’s personalities are shining through. They are so different. I know in my heart that Taylor gave up her life so that her sisters and her Mommy could make it to 32 weeks and thrive. She went to heaven, and gave the three of us and her Daddy the strength to make it another ten brutal weeks. I wish she didn’t have to do that. I wish I was strong enough to bring all three of them home. I am forever grateful for the gift I was given in Jordan and Riley. They are my reason for living, as all children are to their parents. And although they will never fill the hole in my heart Taylor left, they make it easier to cope. When I talk to them, I ask them what she was like. I am still waiting for them to answer. And recently, when I tuck them in at night, I started telling them that Mommy loves them, Daddy loves them, and Taylor loves them from heaven.
I hope by telling her story, it helps me heal. I have a lot of it to do. And maybe, someday, it might help another multiple mom, who is missing a piece of her heart like I am, heal.