Tag Archives: Ultrasound

An Actual Tip

4 Jun

It’s not inconceivable that part of the modest traffic that this blog manages to attract are new and expectant triplet parents. Maybe, like me years ago, you’re trawling the internet, looking for wisdom and advice about how to handle the task of having and raising three individuals at the same time. Well, today I’m going to try something I haven’t attempted in an awful long while: an actual tip, as it were, on triplets.

But since this is TipsOnTriplets and nothing’s easy-breezy, before I get to the advice, I’ll start with a story. I like to call it My Greatest Moment As A Triplet Parent.

Triplet pregnancies are fraught enough, but Carey’s had the added peril of Lupus, a condition she’s lived with since college. Every moment of our boys’ gestation would need close monitoring, which is what took us to Long Beach’s Magella Medical Group, specialists in high-risk pregnancies.

As you might expect, I had a jones to document everything with an eye toward eventually cutting together a highlight video of the pregnancy and eventual birth of the boys. I was on the lookout for odd moments, hopeful moments, important moments… anything that could communicate the nervous frenzy of the time, assuming we’d one day appreciate the look back.

So we arrived at Magella Medical Group for our initial consult and tests, a situation ripe for the video reel. And since the idea of producing a video had only occurred to me a few days prior, this was going to be one of the very first moments of the eventual edited piece. So I got to work grabbing b-roll of the building, the sign, the elevator ride up to the office. I imagined all of this cut together montage-style atop a heart-swelling music bed.



We entered and I was getting footage of everything, no matter how mundane. Carey signing in. Carey’s blood pressure being taken. No moment too small.


We entered an exam room and an office supervisor told us to have a seat. I pulled out my phone to grab a shot or two of Carey getting situated. The office supervisor said, “Just so you know, we unfortunately can’t allow any video taken here in the office.”

I said, “What do you mean?”

“Well, it’s one of our rules. I could explain all of the liabilities behind it, but suffice it to say it’s our policy here.”

“What about photos?”

She hesitated. “Photos are ok, maybe just a couple. It’s video we can’t allow. It looked like you were about to record with your phone, so I have to mention it.”

I thought about it for maybe two seconds. It made sense: an office specializing in high-risk pregnancies meant they’d likely seen quite a few pregnancies go badly. Failed pregnancies = angry parents = looking for someone to blame = “evidence” gathering, however legit, however spurious = legal battles = headaches the Magella Medical Group would just as soon avoid. I should also point out that the good people at Magella are as smart and conscientious as they come. It’s a wonderful place and we were lucky to be there. “I get it,” I said.

And that’s when My Greatest Moment As A Triplet Parent happened:

I lied.

“No problem, I won’t take any video. Maybe just a couple of photos.”

As reasonable as the Magella Medical Group’s policy on video capture was, it was a rule I just wasn’t going to follow. Sure, I thought, I could respect the wishes of the office. It’s their space, they get to decide what’s allowed. On the other hand, I pictured myself a decade in the future, me and three 9-year-olds huddled around a laptop. I would play the video their dad shot when they were still in the womb, showing how excited their parents were to meet them, how committed we were to taking every precaution to keep them safe and healthy.

Or I could tell them the story of why we didn’t have any video because we followed a lame f&%#ing liabilities rule.

The office manager left the room and I started shooting. And that’s how the rest of the morning went. I caught some great moments: The doctor telling us how the placentas work. Our hearing their heartbeats for the first time. Poring over ultrasound prints, relating to the camera what we’d just found out about our then-healthy three.



And stern looks from the staff. “Nope, just lining up a great photo moment,” I’d tell them, video rolling.

Of course, the video I really wanted to make was never made. But I did use the Magella footage in the memorial video I cut together after the boys passed. And you know? It’s not only my favorite moment in the whole memorial video, it’s footage I wouldn’t trade for all the riches in the whole wide world. While it was the postmortem footage of the boys (4:40) that caught the interest of The Daily Beast, BBC World Update and Good Morning America, it’s the Magella material (1:01) that makes my heart the happiest. Because there it is, in full-color, living, breathing, 24 fps shaky glory: two expectant parents who love their children more than anything, full to the eyeballs with excited, terrified, nervous anticipation. That’s the real stuff. That’s where life is.

Ok, that was quite a wind-up to get to the point of this post and the reason we’re all here: a Tip on Triplets. So here it is.

As a triplet parent, nature has already decided to chuck your special ideas about the traditional way of doing things right out the window. You have to wing it, you have to make it up as you go along. And the world is loaded with rules and philosophies about how you’re supposed to handle these three little aberrations.

These triplet children of yours are a messy, imperfect miracle. Listen to what the critics and the experts have to say. Take it in. Consider carefully. But keep in mind:

These children are yours. You make the rules.

That’s really it. You get to decide. If you need to go rogue, man, go rogue. This isn’t twin parenting and lord knows it sure as hell isn’t singleton parenting. It’s a whole other thing that demands reserves that John and Jane Q. Public don’t fully understand.

If you need to shoot the video, god’s sake, SHOOT THE VIDEO.

Go nuts. It’s up to you. The status quo was miles back, do your own thing.

That’s all.

(But, you know, within reason. Vaccinate your kids. I mean what are you, a bunch of toothless hill people?)

Ultrasound Avalanche 2: The Reckoning

3 May

Last Thursday’s anatomy scan at Magella means a whole new busload of ultrasound pics.  So, friends, because you demanded it, behold!  The fellas are progressing nicely.

(Oh, and if you’re the sort of person who wants to compare the progress from a month and a half ago, refer back to Ultrasound Avalanche v.1.)

Thanks for visiting!

Baby A:

Baby B:

Baby C:

Ultrasound Avalanche!

21 Mar

To prove we ain’t lyin’, here’s a cavalcade of ultrasounds, starting with the first, up to the present.

Feb 2, 2011:

The eensy black smudge in the middle was our three zygotes lying to us, pretending they were only one.  This was, of course, back when we were nervously excited, and our lives made some semblance of sense.

We don’t cotton to subterfuge, you three. Watch it.

Feb 18, 2011:

Here’s the pic that turned us into weeping basket cases on the floor of our OB’s exam room.  She asked, “any twins in the family?”  Then, “oh, now I see three.” Then we collapsed and went insane.

This image changed everything.

Feb 22, 2011

After a long weekend, waiting for confirmation that it was triplets (as opposed to twins), we headed back to the OB, where she snapped off a few more ultrasound images.  If there was any doubt, it disappeared here.

The sacs appear to convey shock…

…and horror.  At that particular moment, nothing could’ve been more apropos.

Mar 11, 2011

We saw their heartbeats with these images.  The bottom two triplets (pictured above) jumped and punched and kicked and looked like mutated versions of karate legends.

The kid up top was either sleeping or lazy, only swatting at us when prodded.  Sheesh, kid, get up and put on something nice.  It’s picture day.

Mar 15, 20011

A couple of weeks makes a big difference, as the wife and I began transitioning from shock-and-awe to schlock-and-“awww”.  Okay, that’s exaggerating a bit, but when we sat in Magella Medical Group’s examination room and saw these images, we were excited and relieved that the little ones seemed to be healthy and on track, growth-wise.  With three placentas.

Apparently, no identicals!  The ultrasound tech labeled them “A”, “B” and “C”.  I’m still not sure if they’ll keep their labels throughout the pregnancy or if they arbitrarily decide who’s who with each prenatal exam.  In any case, “C” was still lazy and/or sleeping.

A closer look at Baby A.

Baby B.

Baby C.

Jumping Beans

17 Mar

Tuesday, for the first time, I heard their heartbeats. But let me get back to that.

Last week, Dr. Chao, our OB, had told me, in no uncertain terms, “you need to be at the first high-risk-pregnancy-specialist appointment with your wife. If your work won’t let you go, you need to call in sick.  It’s important.” Fortunately, work was amenable, so, Tuesday morning, we headed to the Magella Medical Group in Long Beach.

It’s where you go when you’re pregnant with a disease or a disorder that puts you at risk.  Or pregnant with a child with a disease or disorder that puts him/herself at risk.  Or if there’s anything non-standard about anything having to do with your pregnancy.  Like, say, you’re 53 and find out you’re carrying a litter of pumas.

Or, say, 34, with Lupus, carrying triplets.

It’s tricky how they set these appointments up.  They spend the first 40 minutes or so filling you in on the 1,000 Reasons You Need To Worry.  Doctor Tith was extremely warm and helpful, but she didn’t shy away from the truth.  Fact is, any or all of our children could have CP.  Or Down Syndrome. Or some sort of mental handicap.  Or they could be sharing placentas and starving each other.  Or choking each other.  And, of course, for many of these issues, there are tests.  The tests can tell you within a 60% certainty whether your child has an 8% chance of having some disorder that’s 28% fatal.  Of course, you can take a more invasive test, which will give you 85% certainty, but you’ll increase your chances of miscarrying or delivering early by 13%, but only so early that your chances of it being fatally early are 38%.  Or some ridiculous combo thereof.

So, great.  Thanks everyone.  Consider us informed.  We feel way better.

Needless to say, halfway through this consult, I was convinced that at least one kid has some sort of fatal disease, the second one is going to be born with roughly half the organs it needs to sustain itself , and the third?  Oh, the third one’s fine, but s/he’s probably going to wind up a vampire when s/he’s 21.

I know my wife did way better than I did, but my swimming brain did at least take away a handful of important pieces of information.  Among them:

  • Strong heartbeats= good
  • 3 sacs = good
  • 3 placentas = good
  • The fact that these triplets are spontaneous, as opposed to IVF babies = moderately safer

So they took us in for the big ultrasound.  Triplets meant we’d already hit the fertility jackpot.  It was time to yank the lever again and find out what was heretofore unknown: are any of these goofballs sharing a placenta?  If so, that doesn”t necessarily spell disaster, but Tith was straight with us: we  should be hoping for 3 placentas.

Ultrasound began and we asked the tech, whose name is Michelle.  Michelle confirmed it: “Yes, I see three placentas.”

Finally, some friggin’ good news for a change.

And it was strange.  Here, only 11 weeks in, and they already seem to have different personalities.  Onscreen, Baby A swatted something in front of its little alien head.  Baby B kicked and flipped and did what it could to kung fu my wife’s innards. Baby C (who Chao calls The Lazy One) lounged up top in its amniotic hammock, irritated to have been bothered.

Jumping beans.

Michelle hit the vox and, out of nowhere, a very fast, very strong heartbeat filled the room, overpowering Love and Rockets’ So Alive, which had been playing on muzak. Baby A: 173 bpm.  Looking good.

Baby B: 173 bpm.  Very strong and looking good.

Baby C: 173 bpm. Everybody’s looking good.  Our kids have heartbeats.

In the space of a few moments, the majority of Tith’s concerns turned out to be just fine, or at least as fine as they can be.  And who knows, all of our children may end up with all of their organs. Maybe we wouldn’t miscarry.  Maybe they’ll all be (sh-shudder) healthy.

We talked about my wife’s job and her diet and her at-the-moment woefully inadequate calorie intake.  We found out later that, apparently, our case had been the talk of the office that morning.  A 34-year-old vegan with Lupus who’s carrying spontaneous triplets?  It’s odd.  Throughout the appointment, different doctors and other staffers kept poking their heads in and smiling at us: “Hiiii!  Sorry to interrupt, but I’m ___.  We heard everything’s looking good.  Congratulations!”  Then they’d disappear.  My wife is, it seems, medical journal case study fodder.

And it occurred to me that, as upset as we were when we found out we were having triplets, I now really want them all to be healthy and strong.  In fact, I think I want it very badly.  Maybe I’d even move heaven and earth if I have to to make sure they’re all right.

Good god.  When did I turn into a father all of a sudden?

How We Found Out

3 Mar

We weren’t trying for children, first of all.

Sincerely. We really weren’t even being careless. The story you hear from a lot of parents: “well, we weren’t trying, you know, per se, but we decided to ditch birth control and let God/nature/The Triple Hecate decide.”  Not to be overly cynical or snotty, but come on.  That’s more or less code for “we were trying.”  If you’re regularly getting busy without a raincoat or The Pill, you’re not exactly leaving nature a lot of options.

But I’m telling you: my wife and I really weren’t trying.  5 years of dating, 10-1/2 years of marriage and, no lie, we indulged in exactly one unprotected moment in all that time.  “What are the odds?” we reassured each other. “Seriously, what are the chances that our one careless Saturday afternoon fling would turn us into a 7th grade health class cautionary tale?  It’s fine!  It’s fine!”

Kablam.  Triplets.

My wife, as I’ve hinted at previously, has Lupus.  It’s an auto-immune disorder and it sucks.  She stays ahead of it with diet and overall healthy living, but there are certain activities that she really needs to think twice about before indulging.

Top of the list: getting pregnant.

A couple of weeks ago, we went in for her 7 week ultrasound, still thinking we only had one embryo.  We hadn’t told anyone yet because, well, Lupus pregnancies are always considered High Risk and we’d committed ourselves to waiting through the first trimester.  If 13 weeks passed and we still had a healthy fetus, we’d go ahead with telling friends and family.  Anyhow, her 7th week checkup was “heartbeat” day.  My work keeps me from attending as many OB appointments as I’d like, but there was no way I was going to miss seeing our child’s first heartbeat.

Listen, I don’t know from ultrasounds. It all looks like fuzzy Matrix code to me, so when Dr. Chao’s eyes started bulging, I assumed the worst: miscarriage.  The wife and I were trying to get a better look at the screen, but I knew something was off.  The room had a vibe.  I said to Chao, “what is it?  Something’s wrong.”

And she said, “any twins in your family?”

It’s strange in moments like those.  In 5 seconds, you watch your life begin to twirl out of orbit and you can’t quite decide whether or not you’re happy about it.  I mean, twins?  That’s a mistake.  It’s probably a mistake.  She said “twins” but she really meant, I dont’ know, “shins”.  Ha ha, of course, Chao!  We have plenty of shins in our family!  Ha ha ha!  Phew!

And she continued to navigate the ultrasound around my wife’s ladyhood and she said, “oh, now I’m seeing three.”

First view of the 3


On the plus side, we suddenly weren’t conflicted about how to feel about it anymore.  It was clear: THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER.

By the way, I do want to pause here for a moment, because I realize these are sensitive issues. If you’re reading this, there’s a very real chance you have multiples of your own and if you have multiples of your own, there’s a very real chance you’ve dealt with infertility.  And, sincerely, I don’t want to diminish the pain of couples who want nothing more than to conceive and the last thing they want to hear is a story from some jackass like me who somehow hit the fertility jackpot and doesn’t know what to do about it.

On the other hand, if you have multiples of your own, you probably also know what I’m talking about. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of trying to wrap your brain around a single child and getting the news that we just got.

So we bawled.  Right there in Chao’s ultrasound room, we cried like soap opera stars.  This wasn’t happening to a friend of ours.  It wasn’t something on TV.  It was really us and really real and we felt really screwed.

It’s been a couple of weeks and I wish I could tell you our arms are around it and we’re excited and optimistic and whatnot, but that wouldn’t be entirely true.  We’re excited to be parents.  Honest.  And ready or not, this $#!% is happening.

If it’s not already obvious, “Tips On Triplets” is my little joke.  Nobody knows less about this than me and my wife, but here we go.

By the way, we could use all the help and advice we can get, particularly if you’re a parent.

And if you’re a parent of multiples?  Er, would you mind dropping us a note and letting us know everything you’ve learned about everything ever?  It would be a huge help.