‘She started hysterically laughing. ‘So far I’ve found 3.’ After already having twins! Complete shock.’: Mother births twins, then triplets, then twins again, ‘We were completely dumbfounded’

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“Around our twins’ first birthday, I started to get that itch to have more babies. This time around, I felt a lot less pressure to get pregnant because we already had these two beautiful babies–a boy and a girl. So, after a lot of prayers, we decided to do another round of IVF. Much to our surprise, a week after implantation we found out we were pregnant again! My HCG levels seemed higher than normal so we knew from past experience there was a chance we were having multiples again. Multiples were all we knew so we were ready for the challenge of two more.

Courtesy of Kelly Meinke

Around 5 weeks in, my husband and I took our kids to the mall to do a little shopping. All of a sudden, I experienced a scary gush of blood. I bled a lot during my first pregnancy (and feared miscarrying at multiple points throughout) due to a subchorionic bleed. This time felt different. It felt worse. Since I was still early in the pregnancy, the doctors opted to do bloodwork instead of an ultrasound, which sadly showed that my HCG levels had lowered some. I was completely devastated as I thought we were miscarrying.

I held my breath until my first ultrasound, fearing the worst. But, miracle of miracles, there it was–a healthy heartbeat. I finally took that breath I had been holding in for days and then quickly asked the doctors what the bleed was all about. They said they think I may have been pregnant with twins and lost one baby, but there was no way to know for sure.

Thankfully, the remainder of this pregnancy was pretty non-eventful. That was, until a routine ultrasound at 37 weeks, when they found out our baby had something called IUGR, intrauterine growth restriction, caused by the placenta not functioning properly. I was really hoping to go into labor naturally this pregnancy, after having our first twins via emergency c-section, but my doctor was very concerned if we waited too long, the baby would be stillborn. So, after a week of trying everything under the sun to get my body to go into labor, we decided it was best to follow the lead of the doctor and have another c-section. It was hard to let go of my plan and to imagine surgery again, but at the end of the day, I really just wanted a healthy baby.

Not long after, our son, Elijah, was born via c-section at 38 weeks. When the doctors and nurses went in for the c-section, they found that my placenta was literally in chunks. They had to work on me for an hour to get all the leftover pieces out so I didn’t get an infection. I woke up the next day in so much pain, completely bruised from having them tug on my body so hard to clean everything out. Looking back, we are thankful we got the c-section and thankful for modern medicine. I really don’t know if my son or I would have survived otherwise.

Courtesy of Kelly Meinke
Rachael Russo Photography
Rachael Russo Photography

And so, fast forward a bit and here we were. Our family of 5 consisted of 3-year-old twins and a 1-year-old boy. My heart was full. I used to wonder if I would ever be a mom and here I was with three beautiful babies. And yet…the baby fever set in. I’ve heard people say God gives you amnesia to pregnancy and childbirth and I 100 percent agree with this. If I remembered all the hardships that came with getting and staying pregnant and then delivering, I probably would not have gone on to try for more.

Shannon Renee Photography
Shannon Renee Photography
Shannon Renee Photography

With that being said, after having our twins and single baby, we still had eight frozen embryos waiting for us. To us, these embryos were life and we were not comfortable discarding them. So, after a little bit more time and a lot of prayer, we did our third round of IVF. A week later, we got the news–pregnant again! Since we now had both twins and a singleton, we thought it really could go either way. My husband and I took bets on whether we’d get pregnant with one or two babies. My husband guessed twins and I conservatively guessed one baby. After six weeks, we were scheduled for our first ultrasound. The ultrasound tech was the same woman who performed our precious ultrasounds with the twins and our single so she knew us and our story well. I remember her asking us, ‘Do you think there are one or two babies?’ She then placed the ultrasound probe on my belly and started hysterically laughing.

At that point, I knew for sure I was wrong and it had to be twins. And then she says these words I’ll never forget, ‘Well, so far I’ve found three, but I just want to make sure there aren’t more in here.’ My husband and I were in complete shock. We had only put in two embryos and the chances of them splitting after maturing for 6 days were extremely rare (like extremely, extremely rare). After hearing the news, we walked across the street and got pedicures, because what else do you do when you find out you’re pregnant with triplets? I don’t think we said a word to each other the entire time because we were completely dumbfounded. A few weeks later, the news started to sink in and it began to feel a little more real. We were so excited, overwhelmed and ready for the adventure ahead.

Courtesy of Kelly Meinke

Our doctor called us shortly thereafter to check in on us. He also said he wanted to ask us if we would consider aborting one of the babies. He went over all the risks and statistics and let us know there was not good chance all three babies would make it. Aborting one could help save the other two. Honestly, this was NEVER an option for us and not something we considered for a second. We let the doctor know where we stood. He completely understood and said he just wanted us to know the risks. Thankfully, we had another pretty uneventful pregnancy. At our 31-week ultrasound, everything looked great and we set a c-section date for 36 weeks to avoid any placental issues common amongst triplets. So, a week later at our 32-week ultrasound, I walked in completely stress-free, expected everything to be business as usual. But, I’ll never forget the look on the ultrasound tech’s face as she checked the monitor. She somberly said she needed to get the doctor to speak with us and quickly exited the room. My heart dropped as I knew, at that moment, something was terribly wrong.

The doctor came in and explained to us that the identical twin set had late twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS). TTTS is a disease of the placenta that affects identical twin pregnancies. Basically, one of the babies was pushing all of the nutrients and fluid to the other twin and that baby’s heart was having to work extra hard to keep up. She told us to go straight to the hospital so they could perform a fetal echo and determine how soon they would need to deliver. I remember crying so hard all the way to the hospital because I feared my babies wouldn’t make it.

After the fetal echo, the medical team said the babies were okay but we needed to deliver them immediately or there was a good chance they wouldn’t make it. It was hard for me to understand what they were saying. Just yesterday, I thought I had weeks to prepare for these three babies. But thank goodness they pushed me past my denial because these babies needed to be out, and needed to be out now. After delivering, we found out we had two identical girls and one boy. They weighed 2, 3, and 4 pounds successively.

Courtesy of Kelly Meinke
Courtesy of Kelly Meinke
Courtesy of Kelly Meinke

We named the girls Eliana and Avea, meaning ‘God answers prayer’ and the boy Josiah, meaning ‘God heals.’ Our babies ended up being in the NICU for 6, 7 and 8 weeks total. It was such a difficult time for us as a family. We were so thankful to have three new babies, but it almost didn’t seem real since we couldn’t take them home with us for such a long period of time. I remember traveling back and forth from the hospital to home, constantly feeling guilty when I wasn’t at the hospital with the triplets or home with my three toddlers. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced complete exhaustion like I did then. I was scared for babies, trying to pump around the clock to keep my supply up, and trying to keep up with the demands of being a mom to three toddlers at home. Even when we finally got to bring our babies home from the hospital after many sleepless nights, that exhaustion did not stop. Trying to get three babies on a schedule at the same time is not a job for the faint of heart.

Shannon Renee Photography
Shannon Renee Photography
Shannon Renee Photography

Even though we were exhausted with triplets, we felt God leading us once again to the embryos that were frozen at CCRM. So when the triplets turned one, we went back to CCRM for another frozen transfer of two embryos. This was our fourth time going to CCRM and we felt blessed each time knowing we might have the opportunity to bring life into this world. This attempt resulted in another positive result and more high HCG levels, so we anticipated multiples once again. We saw the same ultrasound tech and she confirmed what we thought. ‘We are going to have twins!’ Each pregnancy, we prayed for healthy babies and out of all of our pregnancies, this was by far the easiest. The babies tracked the way the doctors anticipated and the pregnancy was fairly easy. We set a date for the planned c-section and like clockwork, things went according to plan (finally!). I delivered fraternal twin boys and we named them Abram and Levi.

Courtesy of Kelly Meinke

As the boys went back to the nursery, the doctors became concerned about Abram’s breathing and admitted him to the NICU. He had swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid and they wanted to be extra cautious. Fortunately, he was fine and both boys were able to come home with us the same day I was released from the hospital. Honestly, looking back these boys were the easiest of all of our kids. They seemed to just fit right into the family. The older kids were such a help making things easier and taking on the roles of big brother and sister with ease.

Darby Musha Photography
Darby Musha Photography
Infinity Photography by Rita

My husband and I talk about this all the time, we truly feel blessed. Since we started this journey, we felt God’s hand in every detail. Whenever we felt overwhelmed or stressed, God was there showing us where to go and how to handle it. When fear crept in, God provided peace and understanding as we kept our eyes fixed on Him. Many might not understand this, (in fact, we get comments all the time about how we have our hands full), but we look at our big family and are thankful each and every day. We are overwhelmed by how they work as a team and love on each other. We don’t know the plans God has for us but we have learned His plans are the best and we are ready and willing to follow Him. And to answer the question you’re probably itching to ask, the answer is ‘no.’ No TV shows or YouTube Channels just yet but give us another year and maybe we will get there, once we finish these 100 loads of laundry, that is.”

Infinity Photography by Rita
Shannon Renee Photography
Shannon Renee Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kelly Meinke of Saint Petersburg, Florida. You can follow her journey on InstagramDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Kelly Meinke:

‘Are you experiencing any stress?’ I hadn’t had a menstrual cycle since I was 15. My husband had testicular cancer when he was 21.’: Mom battles preeclampsia while birthing first set of twins, ‘We need to deliver immediately’

Read more incredible stories from moms of multiples:

‘Certainly these aren’t all your children.’ At 29, we welcomed our 10th baby. I looked like I had stepped out of a junior high locker room. ‘I can’t believe your mother left you with all these siblings!’

‘Terminate one baby.’ My weak heart couldn’t handle triplets. But as a triplet myself, I wanted all three.’: Triplet births triplets against all odds, delivers 3 ‘healthy, amazing little miracles’

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