After a long struggle with infertility, I was blessed to conceive triplets via ICSI/IVF in May 2011.
One of my daughters, Beatrice (Bea), was diagnosed at 18 weeks with a severe birth defect called a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). Bea and her identical triplet sister Amelia also suffered from Twin-to-Twin Transfusion syndrome but I was not eligible for fetal surgery to correct the problem because I was carrying a third healthy fraternal triplet. Bea was diagnosed with Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), was Small for Gestational Age (SGA), and had a two-vessel umbilical cord (normal is a 3-vessel cord). Despite some doctors’ advice to terminate one or all of the babies, I decided to carry them as far as I could. At 21 weeks, I went on total side-lying home bedrest and was monitored extensively by high risk and fetal syndrome specialists.
Late at night, at 27 weeks and 6 days pregnant, I experienced Premature Placental Rupture of Membranes (PPROM) and a placental abruption that put my life at risk. Labor was inevitable and there was not time to stop it or to give me the needed doses of steroids to improve the maturity/health of my babies’ lungs. Early in the morning, I was rushed into an emergency C-section under general anesthesia to deliver my girls. My triplet daughters Beatrice (Bea), Amelia (Millie), and Lucille (Lucy) were born very prematurely at only 28 weeks gestation. At birth, Beatrice only weighed 1lb 11oz and was 12in long. Millie weighed 2lb 2oz and was 12in long. Lucy weighed 2lb 6oz and was 14in long.
Heartbreakingly, my Bea passed away when she was only two days old. The complications of her prematurity, IUGR, SGA, TTTS, and most of all the CDH that prevented her lungs from properly developing were too much for her little body to take. She was too small to qualify for any of the potentially life-saving respiratory treatments or surgery to treat the CDH and breathing problems. She passed away in my arms and we miss her every moment of every day. Millie and Lucy each spent 100 long days in the NICU, where they battled chronic Respiratory Distress Syndrome, severe GERD (reflux), Anemia, mid-grade brain bleeds (IVHs), localized and general edema (severe swelling), difficulty feeding by mouth and oral aversions, low muscle tone, high muscle tone, CMV, PVL, jaundice, and a host of other issues.
Their conditions required frequent and very strong medications, multiple blood transfusions, phototherapy lights, blood oxygen saturation monitoring, monitoring of breathing rates and heart activity, EEGs, frequent blood draws, spinal taps, IV lines for medication and nutrition, placement of central lines multiple times, constant use of ventilators and various breathing apparatus/tubes supplying oxygen for more than two months, use of feeding tubes in their mouths and (later) noses for 3 months, ultrasounds, MRIs, x-rays, and more.
I am so grateful to say that now Lucy and Millie are thankfully fairly healthy, though still quite small, little girls, although all the possible effects of their prematurity are not fully known.