A little over 23 weeks’ gestation, I had a triplets miscarriage. This is my story:
A few months ago, my husband Florian, and I, were beyond surprised to find that we were having triplets. We were initially unsure of how we would cope. However, we soon came around and fell in love with each of them. We looked forward to seeing the babies at every scan, seeing 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 belated month-long honeymoon. We went to Zurich and Italy with our gynaecologist’s blessing. Imagine: how lucky can a set of triplets get? -Tasting Swiss foods, Italian foods, and hearing all the sounds of these beautiful countries through my womb? Florian and I were immensely proud of them. We were happy to share with anyone the wonderful news that we were expecting ‘tre bambini‘!!
Our family and friends were incredibly stoked for us, knowing how hard we’d been trying. Every Sunday, Florian would take a photo of all of us – me with the three bubs, to track my growing tummy. It took a while for my belly to ‘pop’. A week into our holiday, at about 16 weeks, it finally started to become more prominent.
Embracing the Bump
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 bump, an alien 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 towards pregnant mothers, people in Singapore tend to be rather indifferent. Often times, they’d stare at my belly as if to question if there was really life inside. I was offered a seat on public transport twice, but that aside, it sometimes felt quite alienating. Still, I wasn’t too bothered. I knew that if I really needed a seat, I’d speak up and ask for one anyway.
Living in Bliss
I was blessed not 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. There was some water retention especially when I stood up too long, but it was nothing that bothered me. There weren’t too many aches and pains, except at night when I struggled to find the right areas to cushion my back. 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. Babies B and C were even kicking each other while Baby A chilled below. Seeing our doctor had us in even better spirits. 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. Florian and I were adamant about not finding out our babies’ genders. Instead, we had the doctor write each baby’s gender on a card, and we had it passed to Les. She then 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 Florian’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. Still, one can hope!
We had a great time that afternoon. We FaceTimed with family from abroad so that they could all watch the unveiling live. Baby A was a dear boy, and Babies B and C were our sweet girls. We were over the moon with the outcome which made Florian and I more eager for the babies’ arrival.
Only… we hadn’t wished that they’d arrive as early as they did.
On Monday Aug 12 2019, I went into hospital with some bleeding. We suspected it may have been a simple case of being intimate the night before. Instead, doctors found that I had an infection. Two days later, after a check on the babies and my cervical length, they sent me home. I left with a bag of antibiotics and an order to keep activity levels to a minimum. My cervical length measured 2.1cm but I suppose doctor wasn’t too concerned at that point.
Thursday Aug 15 2019, the day after I’d been discharged, we were back in hospital. I’d shared with Flo that I was still bleeding and feeling slightly 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. 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. Apparently I was having contractions even though I couldn’t feel any. The MO checked my cervix and immediately called for me to be admitted. Apparently, my cervical length was nowhere near 2.1cm. I was way past that and 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 our babies out because I could no longer bear with the pain. I was told by the doctors it may be better to let them pass naturally rather than be induced. After all, my cervix was now full dilated and the membranes were out apparently. I tried. With every ‘contraction’ I tried to push. There was a 2-finger gap between my upper and lower abdomen and I was convinced our baby boy below was keen to come out.
Hanging onto Hope
That evening, after nurses found out I hadn’t peed the whole day, they inserted a catheter into me, draining away 1.7l of urine. That lower abdominal bump disappeared.
That same night, after 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. 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 23rd 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. I imagined Him alleviating my contraction-like pains and solving the mystery of my split abdomen.
Every day, I prayed that they would reach 24 weeks. 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%. This did not consider the multitude of health complications they may struggle with from being severely underdeveloped. We didn’t want them having to fight for survival in the first few days, weeks, months, years of their lives.
When it Rains, it Pours
We hit 23+4 days and the tides turned once more. At around 10pm, I kept feeling some kind of fluid flow out from below but it wasn’t from my water bag. The nurses changed me and found that I had green discharge flowing out with a foul smell. Immediately, the doctor ordered for me to be sent to the delivery suite. I panicked but Flo kept assuring me that everything would be ok.
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 for consecutive days before, the doctors said they couldn’t wait. For an hour, Florian and I debated what to do. I, filled with emotions and maternal instinct only wanted to keep the babies. I wanted to give them a chance at life, even though days ago, I had agreed to let them go. Florian 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 Florian was right.
Losing Pieces of Me
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 monitor to tell me when to push. They had me on oxytocin to speed up and increase the contractions for Baby B. 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, begging 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. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t relax. Then, I fell into the deepest sleep, waking up only to feel like 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 I laid on was a grill on high heat. I had Florian 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 to 39.6 degrees C.
At around 10am, the babies were 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 were still a little loose. It took some time for them to be brought to us because of all the paperwork that had to be completed.
When our babies were brought in for us to see, they were more than we’d expected. They were more beautiful that we could have ever imagined. Baby A resembled Flo already with his thin little lips and fine fuzz of hair. Very fair with full lips like mummy was Baby B. Baby C was a lovely mix – she looked a little of both of us, and a little of her siblings. Seeing our babies 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 to join them.
A Sister asked if we wanted to take photos with or of our triplets, whether we wanted to carry them. They were so tiny, so delicate, that we couldn’t bear to hold them. They looked perfect and happy, next to each other. We chose to forgo pictures because we didn’t think it right to take them. Still, I am certain that when we join them in heaven, we won’t need a photograph to recognise them. We’ll just know.
To Our Babies
Wishing and Wondering
Our dear babies, I wish we could have had you longer. But I know that no amount of time would have ever been enough. I wish we could have seen you all grow up, take your first steps, hear your first words, hear you laugh… Daddy and I miss you all every day. We miss your kicks and punches; we miss talking to you; and we miss daddy rubbing my belly every night, talking to you through my belly button…
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 smoothly. I know as well, that it’s all over now. 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.
Remembering and Finding Comfort
We did give you names, but we hope that when we are ready to try again, that we can bestow those names on your future sibling(s) in your memory. I’m sure you know your names 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, there was an emptiness within me that yearned to be filled again when you all came out. And so, I hope to be pregnant again. I hope to be parents with Florian – a man who was made to be a father, your daddy. I hope to give the three of you siblings whom you can watch over from above.
Florian stood by me throughout my hospital stay, sleeping on the uncomfortable chairs. He never complained once when I was waking up 5, 6 times at night to call the nurse for a bed pan; nor when the nurses came in to take my vitals in the middle of the night. He held my hand as I delivered each of our babies, 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 our children, but would never bring them home the way we always imagined. But I know that Florian also went through his own trauma. He may not have experienced it all physically the way I did, but I know he felt it emotionally. He watched it all unravel before his very eyes while trying to be strong for all of us.
We are blessed. Close friends, and family came often to visit and spend time with us. They continue to visit and check in on us regularly. Mum and Dad especially came to hospital every day. They held my hands, cradled Florian and I as tears streamed away, and prayed with us. I spent another 4 days in hospital after losing our babies. The doctors were trying to find the source of my infection and why my temperature was still spiking.
Getting Back on Our Feet
My wish this birthday, the day after our ordeal, was simply to be happy. Initially, my wish was to have our three to still be inside of me without any further complications. On 27 August, we had our 3rd year dating anniversary but no mood for celebration obviously. All we wanted for that day as well, was for our three bubs to continue holding on. It wasn’t to be. Florian and I are continuing to build ourselves back from our loss. I know that with all the support we have, and our love for one another, we will pull through. We will be even stronger.
After my discharge, I looked down at my belly. It was like a baby chimp’s – I was skin and bones all over but my belly was round with a belly button barely poking out. My abdomen is back to how it was pre-pregnancy and my linea negra is very slowly fading out. It is as though evidence of our triplets, of me having been pregnant, are being erased. I’m afraid I will forget, yet I know, I will never forget you three.
Trusting in God’s Plans
I know that I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to miscarry. 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, whether it is loss of a single baby, or loss of multiples. 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. We take heart in knowing 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.