It was election day. Part of our country was in mourning, part of our country rejoicing, and still another part just a little bewildered, as votes for Donald Trump flooded in.
I was sipping my afternoon thermos of coffee, driving home from work a little early after a meeting downtown. I planned to wrap up some emails from home while keeping one eye on the election results.
As I pulled into our neighborhood, I thought to myself — I think maybe I’ll just take a pregnancy test. I had been craving pizza all day, which was not super unusual for me if I’m being completely honest, but also the timing was close enough, and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to just take one.
So I did, and there it was: positive.
I was honestly stunned. We had been open to having a baby since we got married a year and a half ago, but it hadn’t happened right away. After months of not trying, and then months of trying, during which there were lots and lots of negative tests, I remember thinking, after I saw that first positive: so THIS is what a positive pregnancy test looks like.
What a weird thought, in retrospect, since there is a picture on the box.
I immediately threw away the rest of my coffee and started panicking about what creative thing I could do to share the news with my husband. He wouldn’t be home for another 30 minutes. I jumped in the car and sprinted to Target, bought a $10 pair of baby socks (?) and wrapped them up in a gift bag just as he walked through the door.
“I got you a present,” I said, barely containing my smile.
Over the next few hours we forgot all about Donald Trump as we downloaded apps to calculate due dates and the size of our baby and what features he/she was developing at THAT MOMENT.
My doctor had told me months before this that I had low progesterone, and he wanted me to call his office if/when I got pregnant to schedule a blood draw, because I might need to take progesterone supplements. So I did, and they got me in the following morning.
The next day, while the rest of the world talked non-stop about our new President, I sat in my office refreshing the patient portal page over and over, waiting for my blood draw results and worrying about all the numbers and possible ranges I had been oh so productively Googling.
And then finally, there they were.
As I scanned the page, everything looked normal, and then there was progesterone. “First trimester, progesterone” it said, “normal range: greater than 10, less than 30.”
But my results said 90.
I blinked and looked again. 90?! What does that mean? Was I dying? Was the baby dying? I was sure that the worst was happening, but for once, Doctor Google actually reassured me. While low progesterone during pregnancy is worrisome, high progesterone is apparently fine.
And further examination of extremely evidence-based discussion threads from the early 2000s on TheBump.com revealed that, in fact, high progesterone can sometimes indicate that you’re having multiples.
I had this weird feeling that maybe that was true. I couldn’t explain it, but it just felt possible. My brain went daily from “you’re not actually pregnant, this isn’t real” to “it’s twins” and I even took another pregnancy test every few days just to make sure I was still pregnant.
Two days before Thanksgiving was the day I had scheduled my first ultrasound. My husband, Marc, had a last minute client meeting that he had to attend before the holiday, but I told him no problem, I’d be fine going to this one alone.
I sat in the waiting room feeling like a total imposter. Pregnant? Me? No. I was sure we would start the ultrasound and they’d say, what are you talking about, you’re not pregnant, go home. My mom had 8 miscarriages when I was growing up, and I had prepared myself mentally for the heartbreak I was sure was coming.
But instead, the ultrasound tech looked up at me, and said, “do multiples run in your family?”
My heart skipped a beat. He wouldn’t have asked that if I was losing the baby.
“Yes? My aunts are twins.”
“Okay,” he said slowly, “because there are for sure at least two in here.”
AT LEAST TWO?!
My heart was pounding a million miles a minute. I wish I could remember the rest of what he said, and exactly how he told me that there were, in fact, not one, not two, but three little babies swimming around in there.
I couldn’t process anything from that moment on, and I think I just sat there with a weird half smile frozen on my face, as the nurses whirled around me taking my blood pressure again and scheduling high-risk OB appointments and sending me down to the lab for more blood draws — in pure joy and gratefulness and also pure shock.
Which maybe, might begin to explain the fact that when I finally looked at my phone and saw a text from my husband that said, “Are you okay? You’ve been there a while” I dashed off this quick response: “Yes. We’re having triplets.”
One of the first things we did after I got home from that appointment was measure the spare pink bedroom upstairs to figure out if it could fit three cribs. It’s like it was impossible to process.
We threw ourselves into the practical discussions about car seats, strollers, and other logistics– but we honestly just couldn’t even imagine what our life was going to look like.
I immediately shelved “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” because nothing was relevant to me — in the whole book, there was one paragraph about expecting more than twins.
I couldn’t exercise, I had to eat 4000 calories a day. I passed out at church one day after standing for 30 minutes (making 3 placentas apparently means less blood for mom’s head) so I made a mental note to sit more. I also joined a secret 2017 Triplet Moms group on Facebook where all of us rejoiced over finding one another.
It still didn’t feel real as the weeks went by, and we didn’t tell any of our friends and family until after my 9 week ultrasound — because if we lost one? My doctor told me it was a very real possibility, as carrying triplets is very high risk, and the thought of sharing this crazy surprise followed by that kind of news was too much to bear.
But when the 9-week ultrasound revealed 3 still healthy heartbeats, 3 still strong little babies, we finally started to believe it, and decided we were brave enough to spill the beans.
We attempted to tell our families over Christmas, but we had to repeat ourselves several times because they didn’t believe it either.
My doctor explained that carrying triplets was extremely high risk, and we had to schedule a C-section to deliver the boys prematurely. Carrying triplets too long presents the risk of restricted growth and nutrients for one or more of the babies, but of course premature birth poses risks too.
It was a delicate balance — my doctor told me it was very likely I would need to go on bedrest at home, and very possibly hospital bedrest, to help me carry them as long as possible. “But IF you make it to 34 weeks, we’ll stop you there,” he said.
It was January when he said that, and 34 weeks would be June.
We spent those next 5.5 months doing a LOT of shopping and cleaning and preparing. We had multiple wonderful, incredibly generous baby showers, and I did a lot of sitting on the couch with my feet up as I ate for 4 and grew and grew.
I had high-tech ultrasound appointments with my specialist every other week, during which they named our babies “Baby A,” “Baby B,” and “Baby C” based on their position; we named them, respectively, Jack, Gabriel, and Liam.
Between appointments I would count down to the next one, seeing the risks of carrying triplets, daily, through the pregnancy updates in my Facebook triplet group and worrying about whether they were still healthy, whether I would go into labor way too early. But thanks be to God, week after week they looked healthy, and I got to avoid bed rest entirely.
We expected that the boys would have at least a week or two of NICU time if all went perfectly at 34 weeks. I spent a lot of time reading about C-sections and NICUs and what to expect and the names of all the equipment that the babies might need so we could feel as prepared as possible.
One day in May, I got a voicemail from my doctor’s office letting me know that my scheduled C-section was going to be June 7th at 3:30 p.m.
Some people might start panicking at the thought of a major surgery looming, about how the heck they’re going to care for three babies, worrying about how healthy the babies will be and if their lungs will be strong enough.
A little peek into my brain at this point in my life: these things barely crossed my mind when I heard that voicemail.
Instead, I immediately called the doctor’s office back, because I knew that I would need to go 12 hours without eating or drinking before a C-section, and I was not about to sit around all day, 8 months pregnant with triplets, not able to eat or drink.
We moved the C-section to the next morning.
That last night before the boys came, we considered going out on one last date on, just the two of us, but my feet were so painfully swollen that I didn’t want to get off the couch.
So my husband picked up Sonic and we ate it at home to the tune of Grey’s Anatomy, my absolute favorite pregnancy time-killer.
At 4:00 a.m. the next day, my husband woke me up and it was still dark outside. We sat on the couch quietly while he drank his coffee and we prayed, and then we grabbed our bags and left to go to the hospital. There was nobody on the road and we drove on 12 lanes of empty highway across the city of Dallas.
It was an extremely peaceful, dark, unhurried drive to the hospital, and I couldn’t help but think of all my friends with their crazy stories of rushing around in traffic, baby crowning in the car, and how bizarre it was that I was about to have 3 kids without ever being in labor.
We walked up to the labor & delivery check-in station where the nurse looked at my drivers’ license and gave us bracelets and sent me back to a room with a hospital gown.
Nurses came in quickly after that and started hooking me up to monitors, IVs, blood pressure, and everything else to get prepped for the surgery.
They sent my husband out while I got the epidural because they said they didn’t need him to pass out on top of everything else. Honestly, I remember my mom telling me that the epidural was amazing because she was in labor when she got hers, but I found it surprisingly painful because I wasn’t.
After that, I was suddenly paranoid that I’d be able to feel them cutting into me. The anaesthesiologist kept putting a freezing cold rubber glove on my face and then on my stomach and asking me if I could feel it and I was like I don’t THINK so but I’m not positive? REALLY don’t want to feel the knife.
They wheeled me into the operating room where a team from the NICU was waiting, along with two doctors, two anaesthesiologists and a whole lot of nurses. They told my husband to sit down next to my head.
It was very cold in the OR and I started getting even more nervous about the knife and the surgery, but then the anaesthesiologist looked at me and asked, “how are you feeling?” And I said, “fine, a little nervous…” and he said, “well, they’ve already made the incision.”
To which I said, “Oh.”
I was definitely relieved at that point and then my doctor started playing Michael Buble from his phone, and SINGING ALONG, which helped me relax even more.
It was like one of those moments when you hit turbulence on a flight and you look at the flight attendants to see if they’re freaking out or not. If my surgeon could be singing “I just haven’t met you yet” then we must be okay.
Fifteen fast minutes later, they said Baby A was about to be born. They told my husband to get his camera out and take a picture of the clock when he was born so we would remember the time.
“A little pressure,” my doctor said, but I really didn’t feel anything, and then suddenly I heard that sweet song of a baby crying.
I was so relieved that he was crying. I knew that was a good sign. I had prepared myself for the fact that I might not be able to meet any of the boys before they went to the NICU, but they wrapped up little Baby A, our Jack, and let me see him. He was crying and crying and his little mouth was just perfect.
About 90 seconds later, they said Baby B was about to be born. But, sneaky switch: when Jack was born, both babies B and C dropped down, and baby C was actually going to come out first—and they give them new letters based on their birth order, so, Baby C was going to be newly nicknamed Baby B.
If you’re confused by this, imagine how I felt, on a million drugs, in a super bright white OR, adrenaline rushing through my veins. Baby B was born, he cried, and they asked me joyfully “what’s his name?” And I looked at my husband and said, “I don’t know!”
We recovered from that and sorted out the letters and realized it was Liam that had been born. I didn’t get to meet him as they hooked him up to some breathing assistance right away, but I had heard him cry, and that was amazing.
And then another 90 seconds later, Baby C made his entrance. “A little pressure,” they said, but for some reason this time it felt like a 300 pound man was sitting on my stomach. I guess this little guy didn’t want to come out without a fight.
Baby B (now Baby C) cried, too. And then they asked me what his name was and I said I don’t know, again, but we sorted that out again and realized he was Gabriel.
They were all here, and they had all cried.
After delivering 3 almost 5-pound babies, 3 placentas, and 3 sacs, I was immediately 35 pounds lighter. It was amazing. I could breathe again.
My husband went up to the NICU with the boys and the NICU team while the surgeons stitched me up. It was a little disconcerting to be left in the OR without him, but the anaesthesiologist distracted me by telling me stories of growing up in a Chinese restaurant and where to get the best dim-sum in Dallas, which helped keep my mind off the fact that they were literally putting a bunch of my organs back in my body.
They wheeled me into recovery, and my husband joined me a few minutes later. The boys were getting settled in the NICU, he said, but he had pictures on his phone. I just stared at those photos forever while he sent messages to all of our friends and family that the boys were here and we were all doing great.
Jack and Gabriel spent 9 days in the NICU and Liam spent 11 days, just learning how to eat and growing stronger. I was discharged after just a few days, Marc and I came home from the hospital and slept through the night every night.
We would grab coffee in the morning and then head to the hospital to spend the day with them as we adjusted to being parents of three. (Side note: we had over $1,000,000 in medical bills afterwards which left us extremely grateful for insurance).
We are incredibly thankful that this experience was so smooth. It may not be a normal birth story, but it’s as normal as you could possibly get with triplets, and we are so, so grateful for that and for our three healthy boys who are now almost two years old and eat like grown men.
Two years later, I think I’m finally processing the fact that we do actually have triplets. It has been the absolute most challenging two years of my life and it has tested us in every possible way. But this triplet life is also a more joyful life than I ever knew could be.
They say that God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle. I don’t know if we are really “handling” triplets completely all the time—it often feels like total chaos and very much out of control—but I do think He knew we would love it anyway.