I was meant to continue with my Italy journals, but I cannot pretend that this didn’t just happen. I cannot continue writing those entries as though unaffected. So here it is, the hardest blog entry I hope to ever write.
A few months ago, I blogged about Flo and I finally conceiving. We were beyond surprised to find that we were having triplets, but we soon came around and fell in love with each of them. We looked forward to seeing the babies at every scan, looking at how much they’d grown, feeling their kicks in the evening as we played music for them… It was just wonderful.
We had a successful 15.5th Week scan before we flew off for our big Europe trip under our doctor’s blessing. And how lucky can a set of triplets be getting to taste Swiss foods, Italian foods, and hearing all the sounds of these beautiful countries through my womb? Flo and I were immensely proud of them, happy to share with anyone the wonderful news that we were expecting ‘tre bambino‘!!
Our family and friends were incredibly stoked for us, knowing how hard we’d been trying and every Sunday, Flo would take a photo of all of us – me with the three bubs, to see how my tummy was growing. It took a while to pop up but a week into out holiday, when we were about 16 weeks, it started to become a bit more prominent.
And from that point, my belly grew each week like there was no tomorrow. It surprised me sometimes, how quickly it was stretching to accommodate our growing babies. Initially, I felt strange, like my belly was completely foreign to me. It was as though my body was still mine, but my belly, a foreign extension attached to me.
Even then, I started to come around the idea that I was housing three beautiful babies. I started to embrace the bump, wearing cute dresses and tops to show them off to the world. Many commented that my bump was pretty small to be housing three, but I didn’t care. I knew they were all healthy and moving within me, and that was all that mattered.
When we returned to Singapore, there was no longer a doubt that I was pregnant. Unlike in Italy where people are a lot more receptive and warm to pregnant mothers, people in Singapore tend to not be quite the same. Often times, they’d stare at my belly as if to question if there was really something inside. I was offered a seat on public transport twice, but that aside, it sometimes felt quite alienating. But honestly, I wasn’t too bothered. I knew that if I really needed a seat, I’d speak up and ask for one anyway.
I was blessed never to be plagued by a lot of hormonal changes that most mothers go through – I didn’t suffer from acne, nor did I have a sudden spurt of hair growth on my belly. I did suffer from some edema especially when I stood up too long, but it was nothing that bothered me. I didn’t have much aches and pains, except at night when I struggled to find the right areas to cushion my back, but once I did, I was fine.
Our 20th week scan on Aug 02 2019 showed our gorgeous threesome growing nicely. They were all growing a few days ahead of their gestational age, they were developing beautifully and were waving at us, active within their sacs, with Baby B and C even kicking each other while Baby A chilled below. Seeing our doctor had us in even better spirits as he told us that they were all doing well and he’d see us a month on; and then the following month on. As long as there were no complications, we only had to see him for routine scans.
On Saturday Aug 10 2019, our dearest friends put together a little gender reveal party for us. Flo and I were adamant about not finding out our babies’ genders, so we had the doctor write each baby’s gender on a card, and we had it passed to Les, who passed it to Brandan (whom we’re not so close to) to organise the surprise.
We were praying so hard for a mix of genders, but Flo’s dream of having 3 girls from the night before had me feeling a little doubtful when we were opening the boxes. Of course, we would love them all the same whether all girls, all boys, or a mix, but honestly speaking, with three babies, we still hoped for a mix.
We had a great time that afternoon, as we FaceTimed with family from abroad so that they could all watch the unveiling together with us. We were over the moon with the outcome and it just made Flo and I more eager for the babies’ arrival.
This was taken on Aug 11 2019 at 22 weeks. Our last photo taken with all four of us.
Only… we hadn’t wished that they’d arrive as early as they did.
On Monday Aug 12 2019, I went into hospital with bleeding. It didn’t look anything too bad, and we suspected it may have been a simple case of being intimate the night before. Doctors found that I had an infection and two days later, after checking on the babies and my cervical length, they sent me home with antibiotics and an order to be minimally active. My cervical length was measured at 2.1cm but I suppose doctor wasn’t too concerned at that point.
On Thursday Aug 15 2019, the day after I’d been discharged, we were back in hospital after I’d shared with Flo that I was still bleeding and feeling a bit crampy after he came home from work. He insisted we go in to get checked even though at 22+3 days, I knew that the babies were not viable and I feared that the doctors would call for them to be induced – I was not ready for that.
I was attended to quite promptly and checked for contractions. I couldn’t feel anything but apparently I was having contractions. The MO checked my cervix and immediately called for me to be admitted. Apparently, my cervical length was nowhere near 2.1cm and I was already 5cm dilated. My heart turned cold and I felt so helpless.
The next three days, Friday to Sunday, I was in constant pain. They felt like contractions, initially starting at 10min apart and gradually increasing to 3-5min apart, each lasting about 50 seconds. By Sunday, I’d woken up ready to have them out because I could no longer bear with the pain. I was told by the doctors it may be better to let them pass through rather than be induced since my cervix was now full dilated and the membranes were out apparently, so I tried. Every ‘contraction’ I tried to push. I found that there was a 2-finger gap between my upper and lower abdomen and was convinced that our baby boy below was keen to come out. Then, that evening, after nurses found out I hadn’t peed the whole day, they inserted a catheter into me, draining out 1.7l of urine. That lower abdominal bump disappeared.
That same night, while I kept calling the nurses because of the pain, they asked if I was constipated. I wasn’t sure. I just knew that pain killers weren’t helping me alleviate any of the pain so they gave me 10ml of lactillus and within hours, I was pooping every few hours. By morning, the pains had reduced significantly, and by Tuesday, they were almost entirely gone.
Flo and my spirits started to pick up. We were into their 23 week and feeling more hopeful, thinking that the worst was over. I imagined God being with us, keeping our boy in even as I pushed like crazy that Sunday, alleviating my contraction-like pains and solving the mystery of my split abdomen. I prayed every day that they would reach 24 weeks, but even then, Flo and I knew that it wasn’t any guarantee for their long term health. We had already agreed that should the babies come in the 23rd week, we would let them go simply because survival rates were a mere 20-30%, not considering the multitude of health complications they may struggle with from being severely underdeveloped, leaving them fighting in the first few days, weeks, months, years of their lives.
We hit 23+4 days, but around 10pm. I had been feeling some kind of fluid come out from below but it wasn’t the water bag. The nurses changed me and found that I had green discharge flowing out with a foul smell. The doctor immediately ordered me to be sent to the delivery suite. I panicked but Flo kept assuring me that everything would be ok. I wasn’t so sure.
In the delivery suite, we were advised to have the babies out lest my health is put at risk. With the infection already attacking my womb, and having had fever spikes the few consecutive days before, the doctors said they couldn’t wait. For an hour, Flo and I debated what to do. I, filled with emotions and maternal instinct only wanted to keep the babies, to give them a chance at life, even though days ago, I felt it right to let them go. Flo was more rational but I couldn’t accept that decision. We argued. I was insistent on what I wanted. In the end though, I knew within my heart of hearts that Flo was right.
At 2am, 23 Aug 2019, Friday, one day before my birthday, the doctor broke Baby A’s water bag. He didn’t take too long to come out and even though he was still small, it was tiring. I couldn’t feel the contractions and the midwife had to keep going back to the contraction monitor to tell me when to push. They had me on oxytocin to try and speed up and increase the contractions for Baby B, and had to increase it until I could feel something. Another doctor came in about an hour later to help me break B’s waterbag and get her out. During that time, Baby C’s bag broke too. Baby B came out strong willed and crying. It was heart wrenching and I had to cover my eyes, telling her not to cry. Finally, just before 6am, Baby C was out to join her big brother and sister.
The entire time, Flo was with me, holding my hand, giving me sips of water, keeping me going. When the babies were all out, I think I started to go into shock. I was cold and shivering all over, my muscles tensed, my mouth clenched, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t relax. Then I fell into the deepest sleep and woke up intermittently feeling as though I was stuck in a boiler. I was so hot I thought I’d peed bucketloads on myself and it’d all seeped into the blankets below, sizzling up as though the table below was a grill on high heat. I had Flo remove the blankets from me, to get me cold water, to cool me down with wet wipes as I floated in and out of consciousness. My temperature had shot up.
At around 10am, the babies had been washed and clothed in Angel Gowns (swaddles made from preloved donated wedding gowns that looked pristine white and soft), each had a small knitted beanie over their heads that was a little loose. It took some time for them to be brought to us because of all the admin stuff that had to be attended to.
The babies were brought in for us to see and they were more than we’d expected – they were more beautiful that we could have ever hoped. Baby A resembled Flo already with his thin little lips and thin crop of hair, and Baby B was very fair had full lips like mummy. Baby C was a lovely mix and looked a little of both of us, and a little of her siblings. Seeing them there, doll-like and peaceful, made me realise that we had made the right choice. They came to us together, and they left us together. At least they are together in heaven, under God’s watchful eye, waiting for when Flo and I join them.
A Sister asked if we wanted to take photos with or of them, whether we wanted to carry them. They were so tiny, so delicate, that we couldn’t bear to carry them. We chose to forgo pictures because just as we wouldn’t take photos with ones we’ve lost at their funerals, neither should our babies be subject to them either. They looked perfect and happy, next to each other, and I know that when it is our turn to go to heaven, we won’t need a photograph to recognise them. We’ll just know.
Our dear babies, I wish we could have had you longer. I wish we could have got to see you all grow up, take your first steps, hear your first words… But I know that no amount of time would have ever been enough if God’s intention was to take you all home prematurely. Daddy and I miss you all every day. We miss your kicks and punches, we miss talking to you, we miss daddy rubbing my belly every night…
Often, I wonder whether I could have done something more. Maybe I ate something wrong; perhaps I should have insisted on more tests and swabs for infections; maybe I was too active and did not consider just how risky this pregnancy was, especially since everything was going so well. I know as well, that it’s all over now and while Daddy and I are at peace with every decision that we made from the minute you were conceived, we still have moments where we bawl, or wonder, or regret.
We did give you names, but we hope that in time, when we are ready to try again, that we can bestow those names on your future brother(s) and/or sister(s) in your memory, which is why I will not reveal them here. I’m sure you know them anyway. The hospital gave us a little box, each one containing your footprints. I’m glad they did. In a strange way, it gives us some kind of comfort.
In the 1.5-2 weeks I was in hospital on bedrest, and especially over the weekend where I was having those endless contraction pains, I thought to myself and told Daddy as well that I don’t think I dare to conceive again. It’s too scary and full of uncertainty. Still, when you all came out, I felt an emptiness within me that yearned to be filled again. And so, I know, I hope to be pregnant again. I hope to be parents with Florian – a man who was made to be a father. I hope to give the three of you siblings whom you can watch over from above.
Flo stood by me throughout my hospital stay, sleeping on the uncomfortable chairs, not a single complaint when I was waking up 5, 6 times to call the nurse for a bed pan or when the nurses came in two take my vitals in the middle of the night. He held my hand as I delivered each of you, and we cried tears of sorrow together right after.
It was tough. Tough when Baby A came out and I knew I had two more to push out. It was traumatising. It was heart-wrenching knowing that I was giving birth to each of you, but would never get to bring you home the way we always imagined. But I know that Flo also went through his own trauma. He may not have experienced it all physically like I did, but I know he felt it emotionally and watched it all unravel before his very eyes while trying to be strong for all of us.
We have been blessed with close friends, and family, who came often to visit us and spend time with us. Mum and Dad especially came down every day, held my hands, cradled Flo and I as tears streamed away. After the babies were lost, I spent another 4 days in hospital because the doctors were trying to figure out the source of my infection and why my temperature was still spiking. I’m now out and Flo and I are building ourselves back up from our ordeal. I know that with all the support we have, and the love we have for one another, we will pull through and be even stronger.
It’s been 5 days now and every day feels like a year. My wish this birthday was simply to be happy just for the one day. It was initially for the three of you to stay in without any further complications. Today, we have our 3rd year dating anniversary but no mood for celebration obviously. All we wanted for today as well was for you three bubs to still be inside me. I look at my belly, it’s like a baby chimp’s – I’m skin and bones all over but my belly is round with a little belly button barely poking out. Every day, I see my bump shrink down. And I know it will only be a matter of days perhaps before I’m back to where I was before I had you three. I’m afraid I will forget, yet I know, I will never forget you three.
I know that I am not the first, nor will I be the last to miscarry at just under 24 weeks. I also know there are many hopeful mothers who have lost in their first trimester, some even in their last. No loss is ever easy, and whether it is loss of a single baby, or loss of triplets in one go, I understand there is no such thing as one story being more tragic than the other. The pain is something we will all need to wade through but take heart, that God has bigger plans, even if we may not understand them just yet. Better things are coming. And while we mourn, our babies are together, in a much happier place, watching over us. We, will always be their parents, and they, our children. And we, will always love them. Every single day.
I hope that none of you have, or will ever go through what Flo and I went through, but if you have, feel free to share your story with me. I may not be able to advise you on how to move on, but I hope that my listening ears can be a source of comfort to you. ❤