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Personal Stories ~ From Sheryl
Sheryl's Triplet GirlsSince I was expecting triplets, I knew that they would be premature so I had to time to prepare myself for it, and I think in that sense I was lucky. My goal was to make it to at least 32 weeks, but I really wanted to make it to 34 weeks. I was put on bedrest at 20 weeks, which is pretty common for triplet pregnancies. I started having contractions when I was about 16-17 weeks but not more than 4 an hour, so I wasn't too worried about them. However one night in my 26th week the contractions just kept coming. I called my doctor and of course she told me to go to the hospital. Once I arrived and was put on the monitor they told me I was having contractions 1 minute apart. I was put on Magnesium Sulfate to try to stop the contractions; lucky for me it did seem to stop them, but my cervix was fingertip dilated and as thin as a sheet of paper so things were still pretty scary. They took us on a tour of the NICU and showed us what a 27 week baby looked like and what to expect, and let me tell you it scared me so much to see that tiny baby laying there all hooked up to machines and tubes. I just kept telling myself that my girls weren't going to be born now and I tried to keep very positive and upbeat about it. I knew I was in the best place I could be. I was in the best hospital in the state so it really helped me relax.

After being on the mag for a little while, (I'm still not sure how long I was on it, my memory isn't too great of that time - if you've ever been on mag you know why) I would guess about 5 days at least though, I developed pulmonary edema, which is a rare side effect of the mag. Of course they had to take me off it immediately and just wait and see if I would go back into labor. Thankfully I didn't, I still had contractions but only a few an hour usually. I did have to stay in the hospital for the duration of my pregnancy, and when my contractions did really kick up they would give me a shot of terbutaline. I was receiving weekly shots of betamethasone, a steroid to help develop their lungs, so that made me feel more confident as well. Every week that passed would be a huge sigh of relief. Finally, when I reached 32 weeks, I was so excited I said "OK girls we made it!" I think they may have heard me, because at 32 weeks 2 days my water broke in the middle of the night, they wheeled me down to labor and delivery and then prepped me for my c-section.

My girls were born weighing in at 3 lbs 10 oz., 3 lbs 11 oz and 3 lbs 10 oz. Each baby had a team of doctors and nurses waiting for them in the OR when they were born. I was only able to see Jenna for a second; I was so grateful the nurse brought her by my head before they brought her to the NICU, as she was the only one I was able to see. After I was out of recovery, they wheeled me into the NICU to meet my babies. Unfortunately, I was so drugged up from the pain meds I don't remember it, but I do have pictures of it. I was determined to get to the NICU that night to see them again, so my nurse wheeled me down that night in a wheelchair with my dh and I was able to really meet my girls for the first time and hold them. I was so proud and in awe, I couldn't believe that they were really here. They each were in their own isolette, all 3 in a row. They were all breathing on their own, which was fantastic!! They were hooked up to IV's and monitors, which was scary to get used to. I remember hearing beeps all the time and I'd always look up at their monitors not knowing what was going on. The nurses were very understanding and would answer any questions that we had.

By the next day they had all lost 50 grams so they were all roughly around 3 lbs 8 oz. I had read beforehand that it is normal and they reassured me there was nothing to worry about so I wasn't concerned about it at all. All three developed jaundice, which is extremely common and I pretty much expected them to all get it anyway. Jenna had to be but under the phototherapy lights and wear these little eye patch glasses to protect her eyes from the bright lights. They had told me that she might need it for 2-3 days but she only ended up needing to be under the lights for 1 day!

The only thing that bothered me was one day we got to the NICU and Hannah had her IV in her scalp on the side of her forehead. It was very upsetting to see at first; I had just really wished they called me and let me know so I knew to expect it. They had to shave part of her hair to put it in, her little veins were just too tired from the IV's. Brooke was a feisty one and believe it or not she ripped her IV out, not once but twice, and the second time they decided to just leave it out. She is still feisty today, LOL!

As far as feedings were going, they were going great. They had them each set up to eat 1/2 hour apart so when I was there I would feed all 3 in a row. Jenna was the last one to eat all the time since she was an extremely slow eater - eating tired her out so much that sometimes they needed to gavage feed her instead of nipple feed her. Before I started to feed them, I would take their temps and change their diapers. I loved doing this rather than having the nurses do it; I felt like I was doing something for them. Whenever we were there the nurses would just let us pretty much take charge and they would disappear into the background, which I appreciated. I always knew they were right there if I needed them. The nurses were really great and always answered any questions that we had. Whenever I couldn't sleep in the middle of the night I would call the NICU and see how the girls were doing, and it was always great to have an update on them and know that they were doing good. I would always call in the morning also to find out how much they weighed that day and I would let the nurse know what time I would be in and which feedings I would be there for.

We also had brought in these cute little things for their isolettes. Dh and I couldn't decide on which one to bring them - he wanted to bring these cute little ladybugs and I wanted to bring these cute little stuffed animals so I said we'll bring them both. I liked the idea of them each having a little piece of home with them.

When they were 11 days old they were transferred into an open crib, and for the first time since they were born they were all together again. It was so sweet to see the 3 of them all snuggled up together in one crib and I was pretty excited about this big development since I knew they were one step closer to coming home now! The next day another step forward happened and they were transferred to the step down unit of the NICU; from there they would come home with us! The day that they were moved there Jenna had an Apnea spell. She self recovered which was great but it was the first time that it happened so it was pretty scary. Two days after they were moved there we were informed that Hannah and Brooke would be coming home. We were so excited that they were going to be coming home but we were also very upset that Jenna would have to remain there all alone. We left the NICU early that night so my husband and I could run to Walmart and buy some preemie sleepers and buy some things that we hadn't gotten yet.

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That next day I got their cradles all set for them and washed their clothes and cleaned the house. As I was vacuuming the phone rang. It was the NICU. She told me that Brooke had just had an apnea spell so she wouldn't be able to come today afterall. I was so upset. that I hung up the phone and just cried, but I was still so happy that at least Hannah would be coming home. Every time they have a spell they have to remain there on a spell watch for 5 days; once they pass 5 days without one then they can come home. That night was very bittersweet. We were so happy that Hannah was coming home but we were dreading going home and leaving our other two sweet baby girls.

It wasn't as easy to visit the hospital now that we had one of them home because Hannah wasn't allowed back into the NICU now that she was discharged, but of course our mothers were dying to babysit her while we visited them. We were very lucky! At our NICU they have something called a family room that you can bring your NICU babies into and visit with family privately if they are healthy enough to, so on the 4th of July we brought Hannah to visit when we went to the hospital. It was so great to have all of us in the same room all alone. That was the first time since they were born that we were alone and not surrounded by nurses and other babies, and it was a wonderful feeling to be in control of caring for the girls instead of the nurses.

When the girls were 23 days old Jenna was able to come home, and that was harder than I ever thought possible. I was devastated about leaving Brooke there. I felt like I was abandoning her there all alone. It was so hard to see her lying there in that big crib all alone; it was a very emotional time for me. Luckily she only needed to be there for 2 more days, as she was on day 3 of her latest spell watch. At 25 days old I didn't want her to spend another minute than she had to there so I called in the morning to see how she made out overnight, and I was praying so hard that she didn't have a spell. They told me she was being discharged that day. I didn't even bother to wait for dh to come home from work! I had my Mom and Mother in law come and watch the girls while I went to the hospital alone and get Brooke. I was beaming as I walked out of that hospital with her; finally she would be reunited with her sisters for good this time.

The girls are 2 now and are all doing great. They are doing things at the same rate as full term babies, and they continue to amaze me everyday with things they learn!

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