April 12, 2007
I did not expect to see Anna in the delivery room after she was pulled from my womb. I had been told that she would be transferred to the NICU from the operating room shortly after birth. After all that I had been through, I only had simple wishes. I wished for the girls to be born alive.
After the girls were cleaned off, weighed, measured and checked out by a somewhat large team of doctors and nurses, a nurse brought Emily over to see me. Three incubators and baby stations had been positioned against the wall and the area for Baby C was to my immediate left, which is why I was able to see Em.
Much to my surprise and delight, a nurse came over with Anna and held her up near the screen that was blocking my view of the doctor and students sewing my insides back together. Because the room was crowded, she was not able to come over to my side as the nurse holding Em had been able to do.
I'll always remember Anna's tiny face and how she seemed okay. I had been through enough ultrasounds to know that there was no mistake regarding her condition so to see her was such a relief. I asked the nurse if Anna's back was alright. If it was okay for her to be wrapped like that. The nurse had one hand supporting Anna's neck and head and another under her bottom/legs. She told me that the open area of Anna's spine had been wrapped to prevent infection and that she was holding her in that manner to keep pressure off of that area.
Anna was soon whisked away to the NICU in order to be readied for surgery while Allie and Em made their way together in one incubator to the Special Care Nursery. I was not allowed to get out of my bed for 24 hours post c-section so visiting Anna in the NICU was not a possibility that day.
I was so incredibly tired after I was finally deposited in my room that I could barely keep my eyes open. It was almost as if the weight of the world had finally been lifted from my shoulders. I had spent most of 35 weeks and 6 days worrying about the life inside of me. Tracking fetal movement. Fearing with each ultrasound that additional risks would be found. Concerned with each contraction or pain.
Visitors came and went and I was unable to sleep that afternoon. This was due in part to having to share a hospital room that first day and night with an extremely young mother. But that's a story unto itself. Hours went by and there was no word on Anna. We should have heard something by now, Rich and I both said to each other. Rich took off to visit the NICU. To find someone to give him an update. He had only been gone for a few minutes when the neurosurgeon knocked and entered my room.
Everything was fuzzy. I only remember him saying that the opening of her spine had been successfully closed and that Anna was doing well. I tried so hard to keep my eyes open, to listen to him talk. But I couldn't.
Rich later told me that there was a picture of the jelly-like sac that contained a portion of her spine taped to the outside of Anna's incubator in the NICU.
The next day, the nurses printed out a picture of Anna for me to keep in my room. Her eyes were all puffy, almost swollen shut, and there was an IV taped to her wrist. My poor baby girl.
Leaving her in the NICU four days later after being discharged with Allie and Emily was one of the hardest moments. I cradled her and her wept. The nurses were fantastic and told me that she would be fine. That I needed to take care of myself or I would end up back in the hospital.
The doctors monitored the fluid build-up in Anna's brain and at eight days old, she underwent surgery for placement of a shunt. This is brain surgery. Rich saw her before I did after the surgery. He came home and told me that he wanted to warn me about what her head looked like. I cried when he told me the details.
As it turned out, the fluid in her brain was not draining as it should and Anna underwent surgery again a few days later. She also underwent a barrage of medical tests and procedures while in the NICU.
August 15, 2010
As Rich says, Anna has beaten the odds in so many ways.
She shared a placenta with two of her sisters. The average gestation for triplet births is 32 weeks. She has undergone four surgeries. She has spina bifida and hydrocephalus.
Anna is now a happy and healthy three year old. She has an amazing imagination, is very smart and a fantastic sister. She keeps me smiling. Despite the odds given to us, she is able to walk on her own without assistance. She can run. She can jump. She has spina bifida and hydrocephalus.
As Rich says, Anna has beaten the odds in so many ways that pushing yourself to run a 7.1 mile road race is nothing. And this is exactly what Rich did on Sunday. He ran the Falmouth Road Race and finished in under 58 minutes (his goal time) all the while raising more than $2,500 for the Spina Bifida Association.
(left to right: Anna, Rich, Emily)