‘The ultrasound tech lubed my belly. ‘OMG. There are SO MANY!’ My heart dropped. ‘So many what?!’: Mom births triplets after battling infertility, ‘It’s hard, but in the end it’s all worth it!’

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“For the two years we struggled to conceive, I had these thoughts daily: Am I pregnant? Should I take a pregnancy test? What if I never get pregnant? I wonder what’s wrong with me? Should we adopt?

Trying to conceive was such a stressful and anxiety-ridden period of my life. I took pregnancy tests like it was an addiction and I struggled watching people around me get pregnant.

Our doctor prescribed me the lowest dose of Clomid, and the first time I took it, we were FINALLY pregnant with our first baby. The all-day sickness came in STRONG and I vomited every time I tried to eat. I was very concerned our baby wasn’t getting the nutrition it needed. After a few weeks of being sick all day every day, we started to wonder if maybe we were having twins. For nine very long weeks, we waited for our first OBGYN appointment to confirm the pregnancy.

Courtesy of Anne Marie Helger

I was so sick the morning of our appointment, but I knew I had to get up and go get checked out to make sure our baby was okay. I was so scared they were going to tell us we weren’t pregnant or that something awful had happened to our baby because of how sick I was. Suddenly, we were finally in the room where the doctor applied lubricating jelly to my belly and started to rub the transducer across my stomach. Almost immediately she said, ‘OMG, there are SO MANY.’ My husband, Chris, and I looked at each other. I responded, ‘So many what?’ At that moment my heart dropped, there must be something wrong.

The doctor replied, ‘So many babies! There is one, there are two, there are three, and there might be a fourth…’ To say Chris and I were shocked would be an understatement. I laid there laughing and full of adrenaline while my husband sat in a chair in the corner of the room with his hand covering his face. The doctor confirmed, we had three babies, all with strong and healthy heartbeats.

We were having triplets.

Our babies were considered Trichorionic/Triamniotic (tri/tri) triplets – all of them had their own placenta and sac. On the way home from the doctor, we were dumbfounded and both of us were very quiet. About 10 minutes later, the conversation went something like this: ‘OMG we need 3 cribs, 3 car seats, 3 highchairs, 3 everything! Will our car fit three car seats? How are we going to do it? Will I have to push out three babies?!?!’

After the nerves and excitement settled down, it was time to figure everything out. We had to find a Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) doctor since triplet pregnancies are high risk. During the first trimester, I lost almost 20 lbs from vomiting and struggling to take in food. I was really nervous about going into our first MFM appointment. I was so scared they would tell me there were only two babies but equally scared for them to tell me there were actually four. We were so happy to find out that all THREE babies were growing and healthy. At this appointment, we learned I was going to have a c-section and our babies would most likely be born prematurely. The doctor’s goal was for me to make it to 32 weeks gestation.

Right around 26 weeks pregnant, I was admitted to the hospital because my cervix shortened quite a bit. They decided to give me a steroid shot to help develop the babies’ lungs in case they came early. I couldn’t believe this was happening. It was way too early for the babies to come. Believe it or not, it still wasn’t ‘real’ to me we were having triplets at this point. It’s an extremely hard thing to process, and it’s really hard to get excited and connected to your babies just in case something goes wrong. They let me go home, but I was now on bed rest. I still struggled to eat because my belly always felt so full, but the babies were gaining weight and the doctors were never worried about my weight gain, or lack thereof.

29 weeks pregnant is when I started to feel really big and heavy. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GD) and, unfortunately, changing my diet didn’t help my sugar levels. I was put on metformin and insulin injections, and I had to check my sugars after every meal. Because I had three placentas, it was harder for my body to process sugar and the likelihood of developing GD was much higher than a singleton pregnancy.

At 30 weeks I was ready for them to be out. I was having trouble sleeping and couldn’t get comfortable. I couldn’t breathe and started having contractions, which I didn’t know were contractions at the time, and I constantly questioned if the babies were alive because I never felt them moving.

To be honest, I couldn’t believe I made it to 31 weeks. For two weeks prior, I had a VERY short cervix and frequent contractions. Every day I assumed it would be the day we rush to the hospital, but days went by and somehow I kept them in.

At 31 weeks and 5 days, I was having abnormally long and even more frequent contractions (about every 7 minutes). They weren’t painful, just really uncomfortable, so I figured I was ok. I had texted Chris letting him know to be ready to leave work because we might need to go to the hospital. When he got home from work it had been three hours of frequent contractions and I didn’t want to go to the hospital, but Chris made me.

They started monitoring the babies right away and checked to see how dilated I was. They found me to be 4cm dilated. Within 20 minutes of arriving at the hospital, a bunch of doctors and nurses rushed into the room and told us it was time. Chris and I were like, ‘Wait, what?? You are taking us into surgery now?’ They replied, ‘Yes, we are preparing the operating room now.’ We were still like, ‘Wait, what?!’ Before we knew it, they were rolling me to the OR for an emergency c-section.

It was so cold in the OR. I was shivering a lot, but that may have been my nerves. I remember it being really hard to lay flat on my back because it was hard to breathe with all the pressure the babies were putting on my insides. When they pulled out the first baby, it felt like a 5 lb weight was lifted off of my lungs. Baby A cried. I knew she was able to breathe and it was such a relief. It gave me hope that the other two would also have well-developed lungs. I remember them showing me her over the curtain, and of all things, my only thought was, ‘Omg, she has hair.’ This was something I never even thought about while I was pregnant. 2 minutes later, they pulled out baby B. She also cried. She was breathing. 4 minutes later they pulled out baby C and he cried. He was breathing.

Baby C (Baby Chris) had to be intubated shortly after birth because he wasn’t taking in enough oxygen. They took the babies to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Chris went with them. As they stitched me up, I laid there, all alone on the cold metal table. It was the first time I had been without my babies for 7 months. Such a weird feeling. I didn’t feel like a mother. I didn’t even really get to see the babies before they were whisked off. I could finally breathe and felt better than I had in months. They finished stitching me up and rolled me to recovery. While I waited in recovery, Chris sent me pictures of our beautiful babies. I could barely see their faces because of all of the tubes and wires.

The next day, the nurse said if I could get out of bed and into a wheelchair, I could go see the babies. Challenge accepted. It hurt SOO bad to get out of bed, but I had to go meet my babies. Entering the NICU and seeing my babies in incubators was really hard. They were so tiny, only 3.5 pounds, and tubes and wires covered their little faces.

Courtesy of Anne Marie Hegler

I knew from the beginning of our pregnancy we would be spending time in the NICU, but no matter how many stories you read, nothing can prepare you for the way you will feel once you’re there. I didn’t realize until much later, when I was looking back at old pictures, I was emotionally numb during that time. I didn’t feel anything. It still makes me emotional and it probably always will. It hurts my heart thinking about how scared they probably were during all of this.

Now that I actually know and have a connection with them, looking back I get flooded with guilt. They were probably so scared and I could have been there more. I wish I would have cuddled them more. I wish I was there to comfort them every time they got poked. But I wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I was at the hospital every day for 6+ hours, but of those 6 hours I maybe got an hour a day to hold each baby. I get uncomfortable going back and thinking about our NICU days, but putting my feelings aside and seeing how strong and independent these kids have become makes me so so proud of them.

Rey and Edie came home after 30 days in the NICU. Let me tell you, leaving the hospital without one of your babies is like having your heart ripped out. But two days later, Chris got to come home and my heart was so full and they were finally all ours.

A lot of people ask me, ‘Is it hard?’ Hell yeah, it’s hard taking care of three toddlers! In the morning, I have six arms wrapped around my legs crying for breakfast. When I am changing their diapers, the other two are hitting the one getting changed in the face, trying to touch their privates, or trying to grab the poop. When I am reading a book to one, another comes up and swipes the book. It’s basically a food fight disaster at every meal and getting three naked babies out of the tub and into diapers before one pees or poops on the floor has become a race. It isn’t easy, but I just kind of just laugh it all off because at the end of every day, we are all still alive.

Photo credit: Holly D. Photography

Our lives have been forever changed since that positive pregnancy test. As time goes on, some things get easier while other things get harder, but in the end, it’s all worth it.”

Photo credit: Photos by Chrisha

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Anne Marie Hegler of Los Angeles, CA. You can follow her journey on Instagram and YouTube. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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