Monday, March 8, 2010

Our Story

PART 1

Ryan and I met in the Fall of 2000. I was a freshman at Bethany College of Missions in Minnesota and Ryan's parents lived and taught at the school, so naturally I would see him from time to time. It wasn't until almost 4 years later, in the Summer of 2004, that we started dating. He'll gladly tell anyone, that I fell in love with him the moment I laid eyes on him, but sorry my Love, we both know that isn't true.
After a short time of dating and an even shorter engagement, we were married in May of 2005. Oh, we were so in love. Sometimes I miss the bliss and simplicity of being newly married.
We had planned on waiting a couple of years to start having kids, but who was I kidding? I'd been waiting my whole life to have kids. I remember being about seven years old, kneeling in the backseat of our Chevy Corsica, begging God to let me get pregnant. Obviously at that point I wasn't privy to the...ahem...birds and the bees. All I knew is that I wanted a baby, and now that I was married and not seven, what was I waiting for?



We started trying to conceive in October of 2005. I remember that first month expectantly waiting for a sign that I was pregnant. I remember the next month, and the next month and the next, until a year had passed and we still weren't pregnant. The emotional roller coaster of infertility is so painful. The disappointment of seeing negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test is more than one can bear. Every mother pushing a stroller made me jealous. Every father swinging his son up on his shoulders made me weep. Baby showers made me bitter.



In October of 2006, Ry and I decided to go through some testing to try and find the cause of our infertility. After a series of tests, it was determined that our infertility was unexplained. Perfect. Just what we wanted to hear. It's difficult to treat a condition that's unexplained. That month, I started on a very mild fertility drug and continued on it for three months, but to no avail. At the end of December, I transferred to a fertility clinic and in January of 2007, I started on an ovulation stimulation drug. I was beyond excited. Two of my friends had gotten pregnant (each with one child) while on this drug, so I had so much hope. After months of waiting, this could actually be the month.
After I was artificially inseminated...ok...pause for a second. I have to tell you that I was scared half to death of having the wrong sperm put in me. There was an Indian woman in the next room over also being inseminated and throughout my entire pregnancy I had dreams of giving birth to Indian babies. Alright, back to the story. After I was artificially inseminated, I was told to wait 12 days to take a pregnancy test. I don't think I'll ever forget that date. January 25. The night before, I had the hardest time falling asleep, and awoke at 3 a.m. to go to the bathroom. Hmmm...they didn't tell me what time it had to be on the 12th day, so in the stillness of the early morning I took a pregnancy test. From what I remember, it can take up to a minute to see the results, but I had to wait all of 3 seconds. It was positive immediately. I was pregnant!!!
That first week and a half was pure bliss. We talked about names, did a little maternity clothes shopping, and reveled in our secret. Then I entered week 5 and was pummeled with morning sickness. I couldn't eat ANYTHING. A few days into being sick, I was sure I was having triplets, or at least twins. There was no way I would be so sick so early in the pregnancy if I was only having one baby.

When I was six weeks along, I went back to the fertility clinic to have my first ultrasound. At this point, I'd already lost about 5 pounds and had tried every herbal and over the counter remedy with no relief. I was desperate. As soon as the nurse practitioner saw me, she knew I was miserable and I was promised a prescription for zofran, the supposed miracle drug.

Finally, I climbed up on the table. It was the moment we had been waiting for. Was I having twins or even scarier, triplets? All of the sudden, there on that ultrasound screen was an image that is permanently etched in my mind. At first I was confused. I had never been pregnant so I wasn't sure what to look for. The NP was extremely quiet as she looked intently at the screen. To break the somewhat uncomfortable silence, I finally asked what all the little circles were. With the softest voice, she answered, "babies."
To my untrained eye, it looked like four babies, but no sooner had I counted when the NP said that there were five. I immediately started trembling and poor Ryan must have been in complete shock, because he was so calm. He later told me that he had been expecting twins and when the NP said five babies, he heard two. By this point, I was terrified and crying uncontrollably and just when I thought I was going to lose it, she took one more look and said, "I'm sorry, it's not five babies, but six."
With trembling legs, Ryan and I walked across the hall to the doctor's office. I remember feeling almost numb, but as soon as the doctor walked in and started recommending selective reduction, the numbness immediately started to fall away. How is it that only six weeks along, sick as a dog and scared out of my mind, I could feel such an overwhelming sense of love and devotion to my children? I'm so thankful that amidst our fear and shock, the Lord gave us the presence of mind to refuse this procedure right from the start. The doctor continued to push for us to reduce, stating all of the risks to the babies and really emphasizing the risk to my body, but even though we were afraid, we refused.
That day, I walked away from the clinic with Ryan holding one hand, a prescription and a stack of ultrasound pictures in the other, and six beautiful babies growing peacefully within.
 
PART 2
 
We arrived home from the clinic in shock. I'm not entirely sure how we made it home. Ryan's parents were there within the hour. Praying for us. Comforting us. My parents would be coming in a couple of days. A few close friends were called. We were loved and supported. And we were in shock.

I took the zofran hoping for even the slightest relief of my never ending nausea. It didn't come. Instead of relief, a whopper of a headache was added to my discomfort.

For days, Ryan and I were in a haze. Not really believing it was true. That my body was trying to sustain six lives. We questioned so much. Why was this happening? All we wanted was one baby. We didn't ask for this. We didn't want this.

And the nausea continued. Worsening by the day. Every morning, Ryan would blend one frozen gatorade ice cube before he left for work, telling me I had to eat it by the time he got home. It was a struggle. Some days I couldn't finish it. I was losing weight. By the time I was 8 weeks pregnant, I looked like this.

But I had lost 11 pounds.
That week I was admitted to the hospital for hyperemesis. Because I wasn't able to eat anything, the doctors inserted a PICC line, and for the next month, 2,000-3,000 calories in the from of TPN were pumped into my body. I was released from the hospital after 5 days, still unable to eat.

The next two weeks were some of the darkest I've ever experienced. Even sleep could not offer relief from the nausea I felt. Over and over again, I begged Ryan to let me end it all. To selectively reduce. Surely if there were fewer babies inside of me I wouldn't be as sick. I was out of my mind, spending my days in a state of delirium. By this time, I couldn't even put a toothbrush soaked in water in my mouth without vomiting. Being on the phone made me vomit. Light made me vomit. Touch made me vomit. I felt as though I was dying.

Ryan was terrified for me, so at 10 weeks gestation, he called a doctor in Arizona. This doctor is known as the "quad god," due to his experience taking care of women pregnant with multiples. Ryan explained our situation, and the doc recommended that I take a steroid known as prednisone. Ry called my perinatologist and that day, he wrote a prescription for the steroid.

That first day, I was to take six pills. Are you kidding me? If I couldn't even stick a toothbrush in my mouth, how was I going to swallow six pills? I will never forget the love of my husband during this time. He got the pills, a small glass of water and a saltine ready. I took the first pill and a tiny sip of water, then laid as still as possible. My Love sat next to me and sang. In his beautiful voice, he sang songs of hope to me. A half an hour later, I took another pill and Ryan sang. Another 30 minutes later, another pill and more singing. Three pills in 90 minutes. It was all I could do. I was trembling with exhaustion from tying to not throw up. But I did it. 3 pills. And it was enough for now.

The next morning, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law came to our apartment. Cleaning, folding laundry, being family. Soon after they arrived, I walked out of my room feeling different. I still felt slightly sick, but I wanted to eat. I was starving. I ate an entire blueberry muffin.

I even opened the shades. I wanted sunlight.

The next 7 weeks were the easiest part of my pregnancy. I was still sick, but if I snacked ALL.DAY.LONG, it wasn't so bad. I was slowly weaned off the TPN. I had a bit more energy. And the most beautiful part of this time was falling in love with my babies. Each of them carved out a place in my heart that is theirs alone.

{13 weeks}

And soon, my babies started kicking. First tiny flutters all over the place, then like a 24 hour wrestling match. I adored them. I couldn't wait to meet them. I started dreaming of what it would be like to care for 6 children. It was terrifying and exhilarating. I couldn't wait.

I was being seen by my perinatolgiests every 2 weeks, and at my 15 week appointment, everything looked superb. Nice long cervix and weighing five pounds more than when I got pregnant.
{15 weeks}
I walked into my 17 week appointment feeling on top of the world. The nurses commented on how great I looked. I laid down on the table ready for an ultrasound, but when I looked at the screen, my world stopped. I asked the technician where my cervix was. It had shortened and I was already dilated to 2 centimeters.

Ryan drove me straight from the clinic to the hospital where I was put on strict bed rest. A cerclage was scheduled for the next morning. I wasn't allowed to eat for the typical 12 hours before a surgery, so when I went into the operating room, I was terribly sick. I was strapped to a table and put in the trandelimburg position. Basically I was upside down. Not a good position when you need to vomit. It was awful. For almost the entire 30 minute procedure, I vomited.

But it was worth it. The procedure was a success. My cervix was closed. The babies were staying in for awhile longer. And I would be on bed rest in the hospital until they arrived.
{All photos in Part 2 are by Noemi Photography}.

*Part 3 is coming. As God continues to heal my heart, I am able to write more of our story. Thank you for your patience and stay tuned!!!

18 comments:

  1. As I read your blog, I often feel like I am listening to myself. Someday, I will email you and tell you why I follow your blog, but telling the story brings back things that are hard to think about. I lost 2(twin boys), not 5, but our stories are so similar.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story. You are a strong, wonderful mother and Sylas and Ivy are so lucky to have you, and you them. I look forward to reading the rest of your story. I am the mom of very, very premature twin boys aged 8 1/2 months.
    Shannon

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  3. this is an amzing story !!! your a very brave and loving family :) ihope u can come over ur 5 lost babies ! i am very sorry. look forwaard to ur future and have a nice life with ur beatiful children:)

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story with great candidness and from the heart! I pray peace and joy for your family! :)

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  5. Hi Bri - I love your story. I had to make similar decisions as you and have two surviving triplets. I can't imagine your pain. I know, for me, I'm so grateful for my two boys, but I miss my other baby every day. It has been six years for me and I still feel the impact of the loss every day. I think you are very brave and a wonderful mom, both to your little bug and Ivy, but also to the five little angels. Blessings to you and your family.

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  6. The horrible "club" of multiple losses IS small, but not non-existent.

    Our story -- was naturally pg with twins, things started to go wrong at 22 weeks. We were able to hold on until the ever coveted 28 weeks, at which point one precious baby girl was stillborn -- the other was born fighting, and doing reasonably well, until she died in an NICU ACCIDENT involving her central line, that literally occurred during her twin sister's funeral at the very moment the minister was standing over her sisters grave, pleading with God to spare her life.

    Mad..... yeah, I do know about rage.

    As I have mentioned before, there is indeed such a "club" if you are so inclined.

    God with you.

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  7. I randomly found your website from a link from someone else's site that I had just seen for the first time. I read your story and I am in awe of the strength that you and your husband found in God during such a difficult time. It is so encouraging to read of other people's struggles and that they got through them. I was diagnosed with crohn's disease 4 months after my husband and I were married, and we have had a rollercoaster of health problems, hospital visits, and surgeries ever since. But God is our strength, and we will get through it all with Christ on our side. Thank you for sharing, and I pray that you will find comfort and peace in writing more when the time is right.
    ~Melissa, amosey@ymail.com

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  8. Wow. Amazing story. I don't even have words. Can't wait to hear the rest. Love to hear stories where husbands shine when needed as yours did. Beautiful. I have had nothing close to your story, but lost a twin at about 15 weeks.

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  9. I just read part 2. I had missed it somehow. I am praying for you this week as you remember the precious time you had with your babies.

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  10. I love your blog...your gift with words comforts the soul and your pictures of Sylas and Ivy soothe the spirit. I am so sorry for the loss of your 5 other babies - I can't imagine how hard that must be. God bless...

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  11. I stumbled across your blog when reading someone else's. , I was pregnant at the time and for whatever reason I decided to bookmark your blog so I could follow your posts. At 21 weeks I had an incompetent cervix and lost my baby girl Claire Elizabeth on 10/22/11. I remember thinking of your blog and wishing they could have saved her like they saved Sylas. It was the most painful thing I have ever gone through and I can completely understand why you haven't finished writing your story. Losing my daughter is still so fresh on my mind, but I am realizing she will always be on my mind. I hope that I can find the strength you found and that I will be able to carry on as you have.I am the blessed mother of 1 boy Christian who is almost 2.
    Thanks for writing so honest and open.

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  12. I hear so many stories about people turning bitter when they experience such dark moments in their life. I'm blessed to see how you've chosen to continue to trust in God even though things didn't work out as we all wished they would have. Thank you, for allowing God to use you, your story, and your blog to encourage and bless others. May you continue to dwell in His blessings.

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  13. Brianna:

    I followed your story closely while you were pregnant and felt your loss and joy so acutely. I had sextuplets the year before you did, and we lost two of our sons. I am so happy to see Sylas looking so happy. I have wondered about your family often and admired your faith and courage.

    All my best to your family.

    Stacy Bailey

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  14. When you are ready I would love to hear the rest of your story. I have a baby in heaven who was stillborn at 38 weeks...I know our stories are a bit different, but the end is the same---we have someone (someoneS in your case!) to run to and hold and kiss when we get to heaven.

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  15. I'm so sorry for your loss, you and your husband are very strong people.God obviously has great plans for you and your family.

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  16. I just stumbled across your blog... When I first found out I was expecting sextuplets back in March... I didn't want to look at anything about them.. They made their arrival last night at 22 weeks 6 days... I haven;t been able to see them. I am so sorry for your losses <3 I previously lost twin at 18 weeks and a miscarriage at 6 weeks.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to share. I love hearing from you.

P.S. I'm sorry for the word verification step, but oh, my. I'm getting lots of spam.