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My triplet boys

Hello everyone, I’m Tracey, a triplet Befriender for Footprints Baby Loss. I’m a triplet mum to James and Henry, my survivors, and Cayden who is not with us.

Paul and I had been married for just over a year when we found out I was pregnant. We were a little shocked but, of course, very happy. At 13 weeks we had our first scan, I had explained to the sonographer that I was worried there might not be a baby there as apart from my periods stopping I had no other symptoms ( at this point, I had 2 close friends who were also pregnant with lots of side effects). I laid down for the scan and to our relief we saw a lovely little bouncy baby on the screen, the sonographer measured the baby and was happy, then she said ‘oh’, all I thought was ‘oh no what’s wrong?’ She then said “there’s another one!” Paul and I had always joked that we would have twins as we have them on each side of the family. The sonographer then started measuring again and was happy. She then went quiet and said ‘I’m not trying to be funny but I think there might be another one!’ Then there on the screen we saw 3 little babies, we already knew they were going to be a handful. We were in complete shock, the first thing I said was that I need to get a good stretch mark cream!

It was then explained that we had a singleton and identical twins, who we ended up calling twin 2 and 3.

We ended up transferring all our care to the UCLH as they specialise in triplets. We were introduced to our consultant and mid nurse who were amazing, we would see them once or twice a week till the end of the pregnancy.

He explained the risks of having triplets (miscarriage, being born very early which could result in lots of health issues and TTTS). We were also offered a selective reduction which we said no to. We were so excited to be pregnant with triplets: everyone’s reaction was amazing. We were going for scans every week from 13 weeks till 18. At 18 weeks we had it confirmed that we were having 3 boys. We loved going for weekly scans as we got to see the boys, our singleton was always chilled in the corner while our twins were always on the move!

At 19 weeks we went for our usual scan and found out that our singleton was doing very well but unfortunately our twins had developed TTTS quite quickly since the week before. They couldn’t perform laser treatment as the placenta was still tucked behind the boys so couldn’t reach it. We were offered a selective reduction on our smallest twin (twin 3) but we decided not to and hope that it would stabilise. For the following 3 weeks there was not much change, both twins were struggling slightly with blood flows but the fluid around them had not changed. It was then at 23 weeks that it got very serious. There was now no fluid around twin 3 (our smallest). We had all sorts of different consultants come into the room to measure the boys' hearts, blood flows etc. At this point, our singleton was still fine in the corner. We were told it was now very serious and couldn’t see how twin 3 would survive as he was still only 6oz and struggling. We were offered to selectively reduce as this would give twin 2 the best chance of surviving. They said that it was probably too late for laser treatment as it was too far gone as they wouldn’t be able to reach all the vessels in the placenta. I decided I wouldn’t selectively reduce, I had already bonded with them. They said they would try the laser treatment but explained the risks that it probably would not work and I could end up losing both twins and possibly go into early labour with the singleton. I said that was fine as we always said we would do everything possible to help them survive and if they were not strong enough, it was up to our babies to decide.

They gave me 2 steroid injections, one that day then one the next morning just before the laser treatment as even though I was only 23 weeks pregnant, there was a chance that our singleton might survive preterm labour.

While having laser treatment, a camera was inserted in my tummy which meant we could see our little men on the screen. It was amazing to see twin 2 and 3s blonde hair and tiny fingernails. We could also see the skin colour difference in them, twin 2 was very red while twin 3 was extremely pale. The consultants had managed to get to a few vessels but not as many as they had wanted to.

We went for a scan the following week at 24 weeks. The fluid in the twins hadn’t changed which was great but the blood flow was still struggling, especially in twin 2 and twin 3 was still very small. We were told just to see how things go.

At 25+3 weeks we had a midwife appointment at our doctors. She used the Doppler to listen for the triplets heartbeat. We could hear all 3 so we were so relieved. We had a scan at the hospital later that day and actually went in relaxed - we were usually so nervous going into a scan. Our consultant got our singletons heartbeat straight away, then twin 3, the smallest. We noticed that he kept clicking on twin 2, I just thought that maybe he was being a bit of a monkey so they couldn’t get it. Our consultant then started wiping the gel off my stomach so I thought maybe he must have put too much gel to get the heartbeat. It was then he put his hand on mine and just looked at me and said he was so sorry.

We were in complete shock, we really thought we wouldn’t lose one of them. I said he must have passed away in the last few hours but our consultant said he would have died the day before due to the amount of fluid around him. He also explained to now expect the same to happen to twin 3.

It was horrible having to tell everyone what had happened. We told our parents face to face and got them to tell the rest of the families. When it came to friends, I sent out a text to most numbers on my phone so that there wouldn’t be any awkward conversations ‘how are the triplets?’

We had our next scan at over 26 weeks. Both our survivors were doing well. We were introduced to a bereavement psychotherapist who we ended up seeing after every scan till we had the boys. We carried on seeing her till the boys were 3 years old. She was a great help. We were also introduced to the bereavement midwife who explained what would happen after twin 2 was born and helped us to start thinking about funeral arrangements.

At 28 weeks we had an MRI scan on our 2 survivors' brains as sometimes the surviving twin can get brain damage when the identical twin passes away. Luckily the results came back fine. We continued to have scans every week with both doing well.

At exactly 32 weeks my waters broke, our singleton had decided that he wanted some attention and tried to break free. I didn’t have any contractions which meant I was able to have 2 lots of steroid injections to kick in before I had the boys to give them the best chance.

The morning of the c-section our consultant explained that twin 3 would be extremely small and even if he came out crying that he could go down hill extremely quickly and might not make it through the night. We also spoke about wanting to be told when twin 2 was born and wanting to meet him once we were ready to.

Our singleton, James, was born 3lb 6oz and needed c-pap to help him. Twin 3, Henry, was born 1lb 8oz who was tiny but had an amazing cry! Our beautiful twin 2, Cayden ( meaning little fighter) was born a minute later. 

The following morning, James had come off c-pap and Henry spent the whole night crying, meaning that he didn’t need any help with his breathing.

Later that day we met and cuddled our beautiful Cayden. I was so happy to be with him, especially knowing that we wouldn’t have much time with him.

2 days later James and Henry were transferred to our local hospital as they were doing very well which meant we had to leave Cayden. We couldn’t get the funeral parlour to pick him up as we hadn’t registered him yet. It was a very strange feeling when we registered James and Henry as “ live births” and at the same time registering Cayden as stillborn.

Once Cayden was at our local chapel of rest, it was so lovely to be with him again. I just loved my time with him as it was so precious. Paul and I had both written our own letters to Cayden with all our hopes and dreams that we had for him which we put in his coffin with him, along with lots of teddies and blankets to keep him warm.

When the boys were 3 weeks old and still in hospital, we had Caydens funeral. That morning the car brought Cayden to our house so that he could finally come home. We followed the car to the church where Paul and I got married and where, later, the boys would be baptised. We carried Cayden into the church to the hymn ‘This Little Light of Mine’ and carried him out to ‘ You are my Sunshine’. We then followed him to the churchyard in our village and it was Paul and I who lowered him into the ground. We wanted to do everything for him to the very end. I knew now that he was finally at peace.

That evening we brought James home from hospital then 3 weeks later, at 6 weeks, Henry came home too.

We were amazed at our family and friends who would not only get presents for James and Henry but personalised presents for Cayden.

Even nearly 10 years on they still remember to include Cayden in birthday and Christmas cards which is lovely.

James and Henry are now 10 years old. They are absolutely amazing little boys who I am so proud of. From day one we have been to see Cayden most weeks as he is only a 20 minute walk away. They have always asked questions about him. Henry knows that if Cayden was here, he would look just like him. They know that both Henry and Cayden were poorly in my tummy and James was trying to look after them both. The doctors were able to make Henry better but Cayden was just too poorly so he died. And when he was born mummy and daddy gave him a cuddle and he was placed in a special box in the ground, where we visit him, but he also went to heaven too.

We always celebrate Cayden at birthdays and Christmas by getting him a card and his own birthday cake. We used to release balloons for him but now try to be more environmentally friendly by giving friends white roses to remember him.

Even though Cayden is not here with us, I still remember what a little monkey he used to be in every single scan and he would most definitely have kept me on my toes if he was here with us along with his brothers and this really does make me smile.

I am so proud to be a triplet mum, to my two little monkeys, James and Henry, and my beautiful little angel Cayden.

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