BY SOPHIE SMITH
In 2006 my husband Ash and I were amazed and delighted to become pregnant with triplets. However our hopes and dreams for our instant family were dashed when my waters broke, just 21 weeks into the pregnancy.
Five days later, our first son Henry was born, so beautiful and perfect and looking just like Ash. He gave a tiny cry and was laid on my chest where, for one precious hour, I held him and felt his heart beating against mine. His tiny hands squeezed onto our fingers and then, an hour after he was born, he passed away.
Incredibly Henry’s siblings didn’t follow their brother into the world that day. As intervention isn’t given to babies born before 24 weeks, we had a long way to go. But as the days passed our hopes grew.
At 24 ½ weeks, after three weeks of bed rest in hospital, my waters broke once again and Jasper and Evan were born by emergency caesarean. They were immediately incubated and transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at the Royal Hospital for Women.
Weighing less than a kilo each, my boys had a long fight ahead. However, babies this small had survived before and we were optimistic.
The first few days were promising. Both boys were taking my expressed breast milk through tubes into their stomachs. We spent every day sitting by their humidicribs marvelling at how beautiful they were and falling in love with them.
But when our babies were ten days old we rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night as Evan had taken ill. We sat with him through the night and in the morning learned that he had suffered a severe brain haemorrhage. Heartbroken, we had no choice but to remove him from his life support.
This was the first time Ash and I had held Evan. We told him how much we loved him, kissed him and he slipped away while he was in my arms.
Over the next few weeks Jasper began to grow stronger. Amidst the worry and sadness of this time, we also have some beautiful and happy memories of our time with him. There was the amazing day that he opened his eyes for the first time, the handful of times we were allowed to take him out of his crib for a cuddle, and the time I gave him one precious breastfeed.But, like many such premature babies, our baby had chronic lung disease. Jasper’s lungs kept collapsing and many times over the next few weeks we came close to losing him. However each time he amazed his doctors and fought on.
At 58 days old Jasper’s lungs collapsed again, but this time he could not be revived. Once again we took our baby out of his crib, and held him while he passed away.
The days and weeks following Jasper’s death were terribly hard. When I should have been run off my feet looking after three tiny babies, I instead was facing maternity leave with empty arms. Ash and I talked about them all the time, and about the incredible love that they had brought into our lives. We were determined that they would never be forgotten and that something good would come from their lives.
Even though my babies weren’t here any more I was still their mum. It was up to me to make sure their lives mattered and had meant something. That’s when Ash suggested I run the SMH Half Marathon in their memory and raise some money for the RHW to buy a new humidicrib in their memory. Over the next few months things began to snowball and Henry, Jasper and Evan’s legacy was born…