Content note: This post deals with themes of pregnancy loss that some readers may find triggering.
I was diagnosed with primary ovarian failure in June 2016. What that basically means is I was starting to go through menopause at 27 years of age.
We were told our only hope of having children was through IVF and we should start to come to terms with the fact we would be a childless couple (quote from our fertility specialist). We were told it was very unlikely that we would ever have children.
We pursued onto IVF and after failed rounds, we stopped and decided to live out our fun aunty and uncle potential. Then we fell pregnant naturally. It was a Christmas miracle! My body, being faulty and defective, decides it needs to do one better, and instead of conceiving one child, we have conceived three!
Our three baby girls were due September 2017.
Estelle and Georgie are identical twins, sharing a placenta but in their own gestational sacks and Milo a fraternal twin with her own sac and placenta.
At our thirteen week scan, Estelle was seen to have multiple anomalies. For the next few months we went to weekly appointments with our OB, maternal foetal medicine experts, cardiologist, neonatal intensive care doctors, palliative care doctors and many many more to assess what could be done to save Essie’s life.
We had an amniocentesis to determine if it was a chromosomal abnormality but all came back clear so we came to the conclusion that when the girls egg split, it didn’t split evenly. Every organ of Essie’s body had fatal defects and it was deemed that they were incompatible with life.
We were faced with the hardest decision. As Essie and Georgie shared a placenta, any treatments would impact Georgie, so if Essie died, Georgie would as well. We were given two options:
1. Continue the pregnancy for as long as we can (average triplet pregnancy is 32 weeks) and Essie would go straight to palliative care. Her heart, lung and brain defects would not immediately kill her, she could live for a few weeks without intervention, but she had a giant omphalocele (liver and bowels outside of her abdomen) which would likely get infected and that is what would kill her. She would die a slow and painful death.
2. We medically terminate Essie. We would have to be under guidance of specialised surgeons who would monitor us weekly and study all three girls. They could clamp the cord between Essie and Georgie to stop the blood flow between the two girls, terminating Essie and saving Georgie.
After meeting with an ethics committee, we made the horrible decision to go with option two.
The surgery was performed at 28 weeks for two reasons – after 28 weeks the girls get squashed and essentially stack on top of each other, making it impossible to access Essie (she was the presenting triplet) and if the worst case scenario happened (being I went into labour or the girls had to be delivered) they would have a good chance of survival with minimal risk of long term defects.
On the 5th of July we went into surgery. Our MFM spent considerable amount of time scanning the girls and ensuring they knew who was who (it’s very difficult to do an ultrasound and perform a surgery on triplets) and ensuring the safety of Georgie.
They gave Essie some morphine to ensure she wouldn’t have any pain and proceeded with the surgery. Unfortunately Essie fought off the drugs and the surgeons had to give her some more to keep her still. Some of these drugs travelled through to Georgie.
The surgery was a success (if you can call it that) and we were admitted to hospital for monitoring. That night Georgie went into distress. Her heart rate dropped and they decided to do a category one emergency c-section (that’s the one where the run you down the hallway with a team of doctors prepping you on a moving bed).
LISTEN: This Glorious Mess discuss, what can you possibly say when someone loses a baby? (post continues after audio…)
I was put under at 10:20am and Essie was born at 10:28am, Milo 10:29am and Georgie 10:30am. Milo needed incubating straight away and was sent straight up to the neonatal intensive care unit. Georgie was born pale and unresponsive. The team of doctors worked on her for 20 mins and unfortunately she never took her first breath. That night we gave birth to our three daughters but lost two of our miracles.
Milo was kept in intensive care for nine weeks. She was born at 1.3kg and needed to learn how to breathe, how to grow and how to eat. It has been the worst and best few months of our life. As a family, we hadn’t been able to spend much time together with Milo and I being in hospital for so long and my partner Jesse running his own carpet cleaning company.
I have lived every parent’s worst nightmare and I will continue to live it everyday for the rest of my life. My poor, sweet girls taken far too soon. I will never get to know them, or see them grow, or get be a mother. Some days are good, some days are not, some things make us smile and laugh and other things have us floored and leave us wondering how this could have happened.
Jesse and I have been so lucky to have been blessed with our sweet baby Milo, and so cheated to have lost Estelle and Georgie before we even got to know them. It’s been a bittersweet few weeks for us, celebrating this beautiful life we have brought into this world, at the same time planning a funeral for our precious daughters.
For Milo, I promise to soak in your smell, to treasure the innocent sparkle in your eyes, to remember the feeling of your head on my shoulder, your hand in mine, (hopefully) your sloppy kisses on my cheeks. I promise you all of the ponies and puppies in the world.
I promise to remember every day how blessed I am to have been entrusted with such unique, beautiful, tiny humans.
If you or someone you know is struggling with pregnancy loss or mental health issues, please seek professional help or contact SANDS. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.