Tag Archives: Triplets

Hello

17 Jun

Carey and I can’t quite escape it and maybe we don’t want to: writing blogs and reading blogs and being members of the blogging community has meant more to us in recent months, particularly in recent weeks, than almost anything. We should probably hang around.  Well, we need to. I suppose there’s a part of us that feels that, if we’re writing and others are reading, that’s a piece of our boys that gets to stay with us.

Anyway, it’s a start.

I’ve received emails and Facebook messages that have been written with such zeal and honesty that I’ve wanted to say to the sender: Could you paste this onto a FB wall or a message board or even a blog comment? Because I think others should read this too.

Carey and I are putting together a memorial next week and as we prepare material for it and discuss the people and places that have meant the most to us in our time with Rudyard, Des and Oz, we keep returning to you. And when I say “you”, I mean, well, you. You, looking at your laptop or desktop or smart phone, at home or at work or out and about. You, who maybe know us already or maybe not. You, who know our little fellows as well as their aunts or grandparents know them because you’ve taken the time to check this space.

There’ve been some really, truly generous souls who’ve gone back to their own Facebook statuses and even their own blogs who’ve used their own digital real estate to talk about us and our sons. Often asking for prayer, sometimes just mentioning who we are and how what’s happened to us has affected them, in some cases petitioning others to visit us here or at ModVegan to lend their support.

In not just the spirit of reciprocity, but also true appreciation, I’d like to mention a handful of blogs who’ve brought others here by writing about us. They’re the reason people know about our boys because they took the time to tell people. And, bonus, in every single instance, I’ve been moved or intrigued or in some way struck by their perspective. They’re worth reading and I want to tell others about them.

If you’ve got a second, give these folks a click. Odds are decent you already know at least one of them:

Multiples and More
Amanda is the queen of all things multiples and her mini-empire isn’t so mini anymore. If you have twins, triplets, quads or quints, Amanda wants to meet you. Without question, she’s directed more good people here than anyone and it’s been a real blessing to be a part of her network.

Stay At Home Triplet Dad
When I was flailing around, panicked and bleary-headed, after discovering our triplet pregnancy, Al was my first triplet-parent friend. He’s been generous with advice, spreadsheets, schedules and, most recently, prayers. I hope to meet him for reals one day.

Newlyweds Next Door
Kirsten is a real-life friend with a real-fun blog about the comings and goings of herself and her husband Jon. Her help and support has been a big deal to Carey and me and we’re lucky to know her.

Fireworks to Fireplaces
“Ms. G”, a very dear friend of ours, writes about her pregnancy and eventual loss of their little one, “Baby G”, last December.  She graciously offered to spread the word about our children and she’s kept her promise.

Spontaneous Triplets Blog
Good friends Esther and Jason have generously shared the journey of birthing their spontaneous triplets with the world. William, Jackson and Emilia were born healthy and strong one week ago today.

Pyjammy’s Blog
Pam knows social media and she’s maybe the most committed blogger I’ve ever seen. She left the very first Tips On Triplets comment and she’s been on our side ever since. Her boys are lucky to have her.

Lost and Found Connections Abound
A network/blog that exists to provide a supportive community for parents and parent-hopefuls, particularly those who’ve experienced loss.

Crossing the Double Pink Lines
Chloe, like us, lost all three of her triplets recently. Her words and support have been essential to both of us. During our hospital stay, she advised us, “you won’t feel like it, but take lots of pictures. You’ll want them later.” We did and she was right.

She Breathes Deeply
Mandy is cool, energetic, tattooed and her blog is popular for a reason. I’ve only discovered her recently and I’m glad I did.  If you’re not reading her, you should.

What the Blog?
Jenn doesn’t just entertain and inform, she provides a valuable service to lots and lots of people everywhere: she inspires.  A very insightful blog with nitty-gritty anecdotes genuinely helpful to new parents.

This Beautiful Mess
Charity and her family are old friends and we’re lucky to know them. She’s beautiful and intelligent, just like her blog.  Also, she’s a pastor’s wife, but try not to hold it against her.

All This Grace and Charm
Carly is an admitted fan of all things fun and clever. A stylish lady with a stylish blog that I’ve just recently begun to enjoy.  Her mojo is infectious.

Multiple-y Blessed, written by Kim

The Adventures of TaderBaby, written by TBONEGRL

Three Times the Giggles, written by Helen

OneParkBench, written by Susan, who we’re lucky to know

Triplet Diaries, written by Kari, Mariann and Trude

Zone Defense, written by Kitty

No.17 Cherry Tree Lane, written by Rachel, who prays a lot

Spermination Station, written by Genevieve

Just a Dash of Sanders, written by Jamie and Chrissy

These Mountains are Mine, written by Noelle

Three Little Ladies, written by Ryan

About the Small Stuff, written by Cary

A Magnolia Heart, written by Whitney

Fille d’Eve (Daughter of Eve), written by Tami


I do apologize if I’ve left you off the list and, admittedly, this doesn’t include the people who’ve spread the word about us through Facebook, Twitter or email, even though it should. If I’ve neglected to include you, please say something and give me and everyone a link to your blog/twitter/tumbr/facebook.

And, for that matter, I think this would be an appropriate time, if you feel so inclined, to introduce yourself, whoever you are. If you’ve been reading/hoping/praying or even just lurking, say hello, would you? And, holy smokes, if you have a blog, please mention what it is and where it is.

There are good people here, who’ve made the last couple of weeks a little easier.

And if now isn’t the time to come together, then, man, what is?

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Remaining Men Together

14 Jun

Last night found us at a support group for bereaved parents, you know, like us.  I’m not exactly sure what it’s called, but something like Failed Pregnancies, which is about as appropriate as anything, I guess.

It was surprising.  I can’t exactly put my finger on why or what was so surprising about it, maybe the fact that it was small (only about 8 or 9 attendees) or maybe because no one there looked like parents of dead children.  In fact, they didn’t really look like anything other than the sort of people in front of you or behind you at the grocery store.

Sharon, the organizer, invited everyone ahead of time to share their “stories” and I suppose I was expecting something along the lines of Hello, I’m Gloria and this is my husband Chester.  We were just so excited about our pregnancy and so shocked when we discovered a heart defect at 18 weeks.  It’s been 3 months since we lost our baby and each day is still a struggle.  We named him Kilroy.

This most definitely wasn’t that. The stories were epically lengthy and hugely detailed. And when I say detailed, I mean medically. I can tell you all about these ladies’ vaginas. Not to mention their cervixes, placentas, amniotic fluids and so on. But most of all, I can tell you everything that went wrong with their unborn children. From the nuances in the doctors’ tones of voices to the phone calls with grandma to which episode of what was playing on television the morning their water broke.

Grief is strange and interesting and scary. We’re a group of people who have very little in common other than the fact that we’re reluctant members of a local chapter of a very big international community: we’re all in the the Dead Baby Club. And we’re all there because of this big, weird, sticky-yellow thing with tentacles and 1,000 little eyes called Grief. And we’re trying everything to get it to leave us alone. From curling up in a ball, fingers in our ears, to embracing it full-on, to ignoring it altogether, to laughing at it, to feeding it, to starving it, to yelling and screaming and hacking away at its shitty limbs, even though brand new ones appear to regrow almost immediately. The only thing that seems to satisfy this prick is the last thing any of us want to give it: lots and lots and lots of time.

Eventually, it was our turn to talk. I wasn’t sure what to say and I stumbled around a little before admitting I’d never been in a support group and the whole thing felt weird to me. “Like that scene from Fight Club, where all those men with testicular cancer are sitting in a circle talking about how much they miss their balls,” I told them.

Carey told our story better than I did and she cried. And nearly everyone else there cried too. We were hoping that the more seasoned people in the group would say something about how much easier it is now than it was 9 days after their babies died, but they didn’t. One or two women mentioned how difficult it can be when well-meaning people say things that don’t entirely help, like the old “remember, the Bible tells us that God will never give you more than you can handle” and other gems. I suppose Carey and I have been fairly fortunate in that regard, by the way. Nearly all encouragements and sympathies we’ve been given have been genuinely encouraging and sympathetic, which helps a lot.

(Side tangent, though, because it’s a pet peeve of mine: the bible doesn’t say anything about not giving us more than we can handle. It’s true; I looked it up and everything. It mentions something about how God will never allow us to be tempted us beyond what we can bear (1Cor. 10:13), but that’s a different thing entirely. End/rant.)

Eventually I chimed in again: “It pisses me off. All of you seem to be really nice people who deserve your babies. Doesn’t it piss you off?”

Vigorous nods.

“I think I might be starting a season of anger here which I’m really not excited about, but it seems inevitable and, you know, I’d rather just skip it. I don’t want to be an angry person. But I went back to work today for the first time since our children died and it made me really really upset that I’d be driving home soon and when I got there my kids wouldn’t be there. It’s stupid. We’re just people, we’re not equipped for this. I WANT MY SONS BACK.”

I suppose mini-tirades are what support groups are for.

One of the moms in the group recalled a story where a woman lost her child and the hospital gave her a discarded Pampers box to keep her mementos in. Since then, her “ministry” I guess, she paints decorative boxes and gives them to parents who’ve gone through what we went through. In fact, we were given one of her boxes the day Rudyard, Desmond and Oscar were born and passed and it’s meant a lot to us. It was nice to be able to thank her for it.

I suppose we’ll go back. It’s more helpful in hindsight than it was in the moment, but I’m glad we were able to meet these people. I hope to stay in touch with them and I really hope Carey stays in touch with them.

I think we’ll need them.


Speaking of needs, I’ve had an ever-mounting pile of guilt the past week and a half over failing to adequately respond to the beautiful words, prayers and desperately-needed encouragements Carey and I have received, particularly online. Frankly, in this, the hardest thing we’ve every experienced, neither of us have ever encountered anything like the outpouring of love and support we’ve been lucky enough to receive.

I know I’m a broken record here, but thank you. Even now, we return to our blogs and our Facebook pages when we’re in our darkest moments and it helps every time, particularly when we share them out loud to each other.

But it’s not just kind notes. We received some gorgeous flower arrangements that have brightened our home and lifted our spirits. “I’m so happy people have been kind enough to get us flowers,” I told Carey a couple of days ago. “It’s pretty and thoughtful and, best of all, temporary.”

She knew what I meant. While framed poems and knickknacks and other sentimental objects can be great, there’s a stressful side to it too. We’re doing our best to continue the home-purge that began months ago because the new Bear Family Mantra is “Live With Less”. And more stuff can easily turn into more to manage because we feel too guilty packing it away or, god forbid, getting rid of any mementos from this period of our lives.

And then there’s the food.

I can’t tell you how sweet it’s been the last couple of weeks to not have to worry about where our meals are coming from or making time to purchase or prepare them. People just keep showing up to the house to drop off lunches and dinners and snacks and desserts and groceries. And not McDonald’s, either. Good stuff, real food. I don’t think we’ve ever eaten better in our lives. The generosity has been overwhelming and, trust me, we’ve been taking full advantage. I mentioned to Carey the other day, after our friend Christy brought by a delicious meal from Ambrosia, “except for the grieving part, this really is the life, isn’t it?”

A couple of people have asked about “donations”, whether it’s for our bills or for a cause we’d want to support in the boys’ names. As far as our bills go, thankfully, we’re ok for the moment. In terms of a charity or something, we’ve been trying to think of something, but we’re really not sure. Carey in particular has a few different causes she’s passionate about, causes that we already give to regularly, especially the ones that involve kindness to animals and/or the environment. But we’re not sure if it’s strange or tacky to use what happened to us to draw attention to our particular missions. Admittedly, though, I don’t know how these things typically work. Erm, any thoughts?

Finally, there’s this very blog. I don’t know what to do with this place and, let’s face it, even the name of it now almost borders on insulting. I know of several other blogs that have made the unfortunate transition from Expectant Parent blog to Grief blog and I can’t decide if that’s what this should be.

But, fact is, our boys lived. They existed in the world and, however humble, their brief lives left an impact on the world. I’m hesitant to dismantle this site altogether.

At the very least, though, it really is time to take down our baby registry link and update the FAQ. You wouldn’t think something like that would take tremendous willpower to do, but it does.

Yes, we are Men.  Men is what we are.

Deep breaths.  Welcome to Grief.

The Bear Boys

7 Jun

Our sons are gone, but their spirits remain in our hearts, our home, our heads.  Speaking as a father, I’ve never been prouder of anything than I am of these boys and I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to introduce them.


Rudyard Bear
b. 6:28 am, 6/4/11
1 lb., 1 oz.  /  10-1/2 in.

Rudyard was “Baby A”, whose sac ruptured Tuesday evening.  He fought hard to replenish his fluid over the following few days, but was eventually forced to surrender to the weight of his brothers and the stresses of infection.  We saw him, his heart beating weakly on an ultrasound screen, minutes before his delivery.  By the time he’d completed his journey through the birth canal, he was considered stillborn.

When I was in high school, my favorite poem was If, by Rudyard Kipling and it’s remained so to this day.  It provides what I consider to be perfect instructions for any boy anywhere on the requisites of becoming a man.  At 16, I told friends I’d one day have a son named “Rudyard” and, mostly, they laughed.  But it’s always been a dream of mine and I petitioned my wife, when we discovered our triplets were boys, to set it aside as the name of our oldest.

Rudyard was very likely going to wind up being his Dad’s boy.  I’m an oldest son myself and even though we’d planned to keep the boys’ birth order a secret, I suspected I’d always have a very unique and immediate bond with Rudyard.  Shortly after his birth, I held him, told him how proud of him I am, assured him I loved him and later thanked him for selflessly protecting his mother and brothers from the infection that had ravaged him.

Before saying goodbye, I recited the final lines of If to Rudyard.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!


Desmond Bear
b. 7:03 am, 6/4/11
13.8 oz.  /  10-3/4 in.

Desmond was “Baby B”.  At various moments throughout the pregnancy, Carey would feel the babies kick and the vast majority of the time, it was Desmond she was feeling.  The small handful of times I felt a kick, it was always Desmond.

He was born without any doctor assistance.  In fact, when he came, our doctor wasn’t even in the room.  He emerged healthy and without a mark, perfectly colored, with a head of dark brown hair.  If our boys were Beatles, Desmond would’ve been “The Handsome One”, as he emerged completely free of infection with ideal proportions and features.  He was tall and lean, maybe the strongest of the three.

Carey had picked Desmond’s name for a few different reasons.  TV is filled with lots of sexy/dark/mysterious leading men, but LOST’s Desmond Hume was the sort of animal you don’t see a lot these days in popular entertainment: a true romantic.  We pictured our boy as suave and slick, who ladies would one day fight over.  And speaking of The Beatles, it didn’t hurt that he shared his name with another Desmond, the one from The White Album’s Ob-la-di Ob-la-da, the story of another romantic soul.

But in the time I spent with Desmond, I found myself telling him the most about his third namesake, Desmond Tutu.  “There’s a very silly idea in this world,” I told him, “that it’s best to judge people a certain way or treat people differently because of what they look like or where they came from or who’s in their family.  There are a lot of words for it, but some people call it ‘apartheid’ and Desmond Tutu spent a lot of time telling people that there are better ways to do things, smarter ways to see into a person’s heart.  And that’s what we were hoping you could someday show to others.”

Of the three boys, Desmond stayed with us the longest.  As he did his best to gasp air into his tiny lungs, we assured him we’d continue holding him, that we wouldn’t leave him alone for the rest of his life.  “Be brave, young man,” we said.  “Your parents love you.  We’re proud of you.  Don’t be afraid to let go when you need to.  We’ll be right here.”

Desmond stayed with us for nearly an hour and 30 minutes after his birth.


Oscar Bear
b. 8:40 am, 6/4/11
11 oz.  /  9-3/4 in.

Oscar, “Baby C”, was nearly our miracle baby, who seemed to be staying put in his mom’s womb for over an hour and a half after Desmond’s birth.  Throughout the pregnancy, Rudyard and Desmond would crowd and kick each other, while Oscar always seemed to float high above the melee, opting to let his brothers work out their differences amongst themselves.  He was typically the sleepiest of the three, the “laziest” as Dr. Chao warned us.

Only a few short moments after Desmond’s post-birth passing, the womb around Oscar shrank to the point of breaking his water, inspiring labor.  His was a rough entry, a breech birth, and Dr. Chao told us later that she did her best to reposition him for the cleanest, safest arrival.  He came left-arm-first, causing said arm to dislocate and purple violently.  He was bruised, but clearly whole, the smallest of the group, the runt of litter.

We’d stumbled upon his name only recently.  Carey remarked throughout our naming discussions that she thought Baby C’s moniker should be something fun and rascally.  She more or less plucked “Oscar” out of the blue and it immediately felt right to both of us.  After all, we’d planned on reading the fairy tales of Oscar Wilde to our brood.  I’d portrayed “Oscar” in The Odd Couple in high school and again in college.  And since it was a theater audition that first introduced me to Carey, we thought it appropriate to name him after what’s popularly recognized as acting’s highest honor.

In our short time with him, we did our best to comfort and swaddle him, which wasn’t easy, as his frame was too tiny and delicate to wrap up properly.  We told him who he was; I explained the proud tradition of Bear Men and how our family’s biggest challenge is usually sitting still and staying quiet.  I described what an “Oscar” is and how to dream big.  “They don’t just give them to actors,” I told him. “Writers, directors, musicians, people who create beautiful things to look at… all sorts of artists can win an Oscar.  Old men have gotten them and even a few little children.  You just have to be very committed to being the best you can be at what you love doing.”

Oscar did his best to breathe in the short time he was with us.  Like his brother before him, we assured him we wouldn’t leave him as long as he was with us.  We told him just how much his parents love him, but he would need to take courage.  “You’ll be back with your brothers very soon, son.  Take care of one another.  Let them know we’ll all be back together again one day.”

I kissed his head and told him, finally: “Oscar, my boy, I promise you.  Our time was short, but I’ll think of you every single day for the rest of my life.”

Oscar stayed with us nearly 40 minutes before going on to join his brothers.


They fought hard, to a man, and I can think of no better tribute to these boys of mine than to do my best to follow their example.

It’s, after all, what they would have wanted.

Home again

6 Jun

As of yesterday evening, Carey and I have returned to the homestead.

It’s an enormously difficult time for us and we’ve put together a few thoughts about our sons that we’ll likely post to the blogs shortly.  Still reading through the many prayers and sympathies offered by so many kind people, from family to dear friends to people who’ve never met us but clearly love us like their own.

A lot of folks have expressed how meaningless and inadequate they feel their words must be, but I hope you can trust me when I say that we’ve treasured every single note and we even find ourselves frequently encouraging each other with your words to us.  As I told my good friend Jon last night, the prayers and sorrow and hope and grief and anger and encouragement and questioning and tears you’ve shared have been unbelievably helpful because you’re expressing everything I wish I could express, but am lacking the focus and energy to do so.

All that’s to say, if you’re worried you’re going to say or do the wrong thing, please don’t.  If you care about us, we’ll know it and there’s no wrong way to express it to us.  (Actually, that’s not 100% true.  I received a chain message a few moments ago, telling me that Jesus would do something fantastic for me if I forward it to 13 friends.  I’ll admit it, could probably have done without that one.)

We’ve been asked what our immediate needs are, particularly in terms of prayers.  As you can guess, we have a very long season of grief ahead, but, in the short term, there are a great deal of practical matters that need to be addressed.  (Medicine stuff, legal stuff, mortuary questions, memorial plans, work and clientele communications, updating attendees about the shower cancellation, and, of course, the matter of the sizable amount of baby supplies that need to be returned and/or cancelled.)  We’re doing our best to give it the attention it requires, but it’s not easy.  So, thanks in advance for remembering us with those things.

Carey is, as you already know, a truly beautiful and courageous soul.  The most common thing I’ve been asked over the past couple of days is “how is your wife?”  Be encouraged that her physical recovery is, so far, going as well as can be expected. A lot of physical pain that she’s trying to stay ahead of with meds, but the mental exhaustion and need for rest is definitely taking its toll.  I’m going to spend most, if not all this week at home with her, hopefully helping her to get the recovery time she needs.

Thanks again for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.  It’s appreciated now as much as ever.

Epilogue

4 Jun

Dear friends, family and loved ones,

Your encouragement and prayers have kept us buoyed these past 4 days.  Thanks seems inadequate, but we’re eternally, profoundly grateful for your kindness.

Earlier this morning, our three beautiful boys were briefly introduced to the world before going home to be with The Lord.

In the coming days, I hope to say more about these young men and the circumstances of their birth and departure, but please believe me when I say that, if you’re reading this, Carey and I feel overwhelmingly blessed that you’ve chosen to take part in our journey, however sweet, however bitter.

We love you enormously.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Bear
Long Beach, California
June 4, 2011

Contractions

3 Jun

Very first of all, you should know that the whole reason for this blog has more to do with the comments section than anything I could possibly have to say.  We’ve been brought to tears again and again throughout yesterday and this morning by your wisdom, thoughtfulness, faithfulness and amazing autobios in the comments of previous entries (not to mention notes on Facebook and Twitter).  Carey was having a particularly difficult morning and it was your beautiful sentiments, read aloud to her by me, that carried her through.  Content yourself in knowing I used all my oral interp skills to represent you and I apologize for any mispronunciations.

I’ve said it before and I have to say it again: thank you.  We covet every message and I mean it. If we could reply to you individually right now, we surely would.

By way of updates, though:

Last night began on a positive note.  Carey was moved to a much nicer room, complete with windows and other amenities, which lightened the mood considerably.  The “Rain Man Suite”.  Dr. Chao stopped by with an ultrasound device and showed us Baby A.  To our delight, we saw that not only had he partially replenished some of his fluids, but he actually had enough room to move around a bit.  Carey was still losing water, but apparently not as fast as it was being replaced.  “He’s bouncing,” Chao told us.  “You can’t bounce without fluid.”

This was good news.

And the hits kept on coming.  We enjoyed a little dinner and a nurse brought in a cot for me, so that I wouldn’t need to ride a chair for the third night in a row.  Carey popped a sleeping pill and we began to drift off to dreamland.  We weren’t out of the woods, but, for the first time in days, things were looking a little better.

Matters took a turn, though, around 2:45 AM.

An uncomfortable itching and some cramps were keeping Carey awake and we called in a nurse.  She hooked up a monitor and confirmed it: some minor contractions.  Temperature was fine, fluid leakage was next to none… everything was looking good except for that little wavy line on the contraction printout.

Over the course of the next several hours, what began as a mild irritation turned int0 what appeared to be full-blown labor pains.  We ordered up the contraction medication and no effect.  Hours later, Carey wound up calling Dr. Chao on her personal cell to petition for a different contraction medication and Chao relented.  This one helped, but by no means fixed it.

Everyone was getting concerned that Carey might be going into labor.  The pain had intensified to a startling degree and even though it was the last thing anyone wanted, we were forced to order up Morphine.  It helped for a half hour or so, but wore off quickly.  We were doing our best to avoid being shipped off to Labor and Delivery.  Delivering these babies at 22 weeks (as of yesterday), as the doctors keep reminding us, more or less means Game Over.

A NICU doctor paid us a visit for a quick consult, wearing a “I lost the rock-paper-scissors tourney in the hall, so it looks like I have to break the bad news” expression the whole time.  He gave us a lot of odds and statistics and some genuinely helpful insights on our post-partum infants.  Most of it we’d heard before, but I suppose the medical community isn’t really doing their job if somebody doesn’t come in at some point each day and remind us our kids are a cough away from the Grim Reaper.  And likely brain damaged or disordered if they do happen to hang in there.

It wasn’t an all-bad-news day, though.  Fluid and blood leakage: next to none.  Blood work: good.  Temp: normal.

Dr. Chao eventually came in with a much-needed post game on the day.  The contractions are real, but it’s Baby A that’s amplifying them.  Specifically, his lack of a filled sac is causing him and the other two to apply pressure to the pelvic nerve and uterine ligaments, which is excruciating.  Also, the issue was keeping Carey from emptying her bladder.  A catheter meant more infection risk, but what had to be done had to be done.  After the catheter, she’s feeling significantly better.  And no, she doesn’t seem to be in labor.

So, we’re at 22 +1.  I wish I could say our odds are better than yesterday, but they’re not.  In fact, the only difference between our situation today and our situation yesterday is we’re a day closer to 24 weeks, without infection.  So far, anyway.

Which is something.

“We Can Hope”

2 Jun

Needless to say, we’ve been waiting in the eye of a mighty whirlwind since Carey’s water broke a couple of nights ago and she was admitted to the BirthCare unit at Long Beach Memorial.  We’ve spent all of our time in the hospital since then and, as you’d imagine, our OB warned us that we were in for a very long night and day to to follow.  And, of course, she was right.

Yesterday morning, we met with Dr. Chan to “discuss options”.  Truthfully, we met with several doctors, but it was Dr. Chan who told us where everything stood.  (Apologies if I get some of these details wrong.  When you begin hearing terms like “viability” or “termination” or “sepsis” in relationship to your wife and three children, the world starts to strobe and details get fuzzy.)

Chan looked at our ultrasound and described what’s happening.  Baby A, who’s lowest, next to the cervix, is the baby whose sac ruptured.  By yesterday morning, the amniotic fluid had drained more or less completely, causing the sac to, in Chan’s words “shrink wrap” around him.  What fluid is left is in the pockets around his body and Carey continues to leak amniotic fluid throughout the day and night.

The biggest problem with this isn’t necessarily that Baby A has less fluid or that he’s all scrunched up in a ball (those things are big problems later down the line, but it’s not the immediate concern).  A fetus is able to survive in those conditions and A’s heart continues to beat just fine, but it’s the risk of infection that worries everyone here at Memorial.

Carey was experiencing minor contractions when she was admitted (so small that she couldn’t even feel them), but they put her on medicine to counteract it during the first night.  Eventually, Chan made the ruling to take her off the contraction-blocker, as it was only serving to mask infection.

The trouble with infection is that it begins as perfectly safe bacteria that’s either introduced into Carey’s body from the outside or already exists there to begin with.  Our bodies are accustomed to it and our immune systems keep everything in equilibrium, but the game changes during pregnancy.  Hormones make gestating fetuses extremely susceptible to any sort of infection and the barriers between our children and certain disaster are the cervix and the sacs.  At one centimeter dilated and the bottom most sac ruptured, that’s very bad news.

A lot of people have asked if it’s possible to save the other two if something happens to Baby A and Chan explained that, with infection, it doesn’t exactly work like that.  Any direct, invasive action taken to address the situation introduces more bacteria and increases risk of infection.  It’s not really a matter of taking one baby out to save the other two.  There are definite exceptions, but in most cases, if one becomes infected, it’s likely the infection will progress to the uterine lining and other placentas.  And if that happens, it becomes a matter of saving Carey’s life instead of the babies.

We asked what the chances are for all three to make it and Chan was straightforward: about 30%. And, of course, the likelihood of the kids living with motor-neuro deficiencies or spending their lives in wheelchairs due to CP is now extremely high.  I asked him if it was at all possible for us to have three healthy, fully-functioning  children at this point.  He shrugged: “we can hope.”

Now, I’m a realistic guy.  I know that “we can hope” is doctor-ese for “extremely doubtful and you need to prepare yourself for some very cold realities.”

He discussed Options with us.  He warned us that to continue down this path could make it very difficult for Carey to get pregnant in the future.  He said that the odds weren’t with us and there’s a strong possibility of handicapped children, even if things begin moving in a positive direction.  He mentioned that we’re still a couple of weeks away from 24 weeks, the Age of Viability, and that’s the point where he’s no longer allowed to treat termination as an option.  He asked if we would object to any termination discussions from here on out.

Carey and I weren’t exactly sure what to say.  We’re Pro Life people.  Carey in particular is a hard and fast believer in the sacredness of all life, including-but-not-limited-to human beings, born or unborn.  We’ve agreed that nature is better at deciding these sorts of things than we are.  But, like that annoying instigator who throws up his hand in the midst of every college Ethics course discussion and plays the devil’s advocate, life is testing what we believe by introducing an extreme scenario.

We finally said we want to wait and see.

“There’s a phenomenon,” Chan told us, “where a ruptured sac can seal itself back up.  It happens very rarely and we can’t explain it, but I’ve seen it.  The sac heals and fills again with amniotic fluid.  After a few days and weeks, well, we’re back in business.”

“How often does that happen?” we asked.

“I don’t want to get your hopes up for that.  It’s rare.  I’m tempted to say it’s a 1% chance, but even that is being too generous.”

“Have you ever seen it with multiples?”

“Ah… I’m not sure how to answer that.  I think probably only singletons, but I can’t recall.  It’s unexplainable.  A miracle.”

Later, Carey and I were discussing what we thought.  What should we be praying for?  Is there any hope left for our boys?

“What do you think?” Carey asked me.  “Be honest.”

I wasn’t sure what to say, so I just laid the truth on her, as I see it: “Well, less than 1% isn’t 0%.  And it’s got to happen to somebody.  So why not two people who are right now being prayed for by hundreds of people all over the world?”

She agreed.  So that’s our prayer.

It’s Thursday morning, just before lunch, and Carey is still losing amniotic fluid.  Miracles are called miracles for a reason, though, and we’re taking Chan at his word: “we can hope.”

People have been absolutely astonishing with their prayers and encouragement.  To anyone who says blogging and social media is a waste of time, I say, respectfully, that Twitter, WordPress, Facebook and txt messaging have been our saving grace and anchor throughout this impossible time.  All over the world, we’ve received emails and txts, wall posts and blog comments, tweets and retweets from dearly loved family and friends and also Tweeters and Bloggers we’ve never met with encouragements, prayers and soothing words that have given us smiles and hopes in our darkest hours.

Several times a day I’ve pulled out my iphone and read Carey the latest, wishing we could reply to each person with hugs and heartfelt thanks.  “Good thoughts and vibes from me to you,” people have said.  “We’re praying.” “We know someone in a similar circumstance and they came out of it with a healthy baby.”  “We love you, we’re praying now and all through the day.”

“Praying.” “Praying.” “Praying.”

It would be impossible to describe all the encouragement we’ve received, but I want to mention one or two.

Marisa Palma: thank you for bringing meal after meal to the hospital.

Jerry and Pat Giles: thank you for getting out of bed at an ungodly hour to come and pray for us and give us a desperately-needed Psalm.

Mom, Dad, George, Shannon, Kelley, Erin, Lauren, Schwyzen, Danielle: thanks for crying with us on the phone and asking and listening.  It’s okay that you’re not sure what to say.  Being there for us is enough.

If you’ve txted us or posted something on your wall or commented or tweeted or retweeted: thank you.

If you’ve had a life long faith and are praying, or if you’ve told us, “I’m not a praying sort of person, but I’m praying for you,” or if you’ve simply wanted to send us good thoughts or vibrations or love or care or anything at all: thank you.

Thanks also for being understanding about what Carey and the boys need most.  It’s entirely possible that we’re unable at a given moment to take your call or receive an in-person visitor, particularly if you’re getting over a cold or something that could be dangerous.  Please don’t hesitate to ask if it’s an okay time, though.  If we’re able to talk or see you, we certainly would love to.

Most of all, please continue to lift us up.  It’s a difficult time and it’s far from over.  We’re trying our best to stay positive and get sleep when we can (I’ve gotten pretty used to this beside chair at this point).

I’ll continue to update Twitter when I can.

We’re going to keep hoping.  Hope with us, would you?

June 2, 2011