It wasn’t always like this. There was a time when four little boys didn’t fill our house with noise and laughter. There was a time when the silence was deafening, a time when the worry of never having children sat like a dark cloud overhead. There was a time when we had finally given life to a child, but couldn’t give him a sibling. Then came a time when three little miracles grew inside my womb together, but came far too soon and slipped away. There was a time when one was going to have to be “good enough’” because trying for more might not be safe. There was a time before two little brothers came along after years of seeing only one pink line on the stick while trying for each of them. A time before another woman gave birth to our last baby. Those times were grueling. They were filled with defeat, dread, and the kind of heartache that changes you. I turn away from the hurt and sadness we once knew, but it will always be a part of us.
In April of 2008 I looked into his eyes and I knew I had been right all along. I was put on this Earth to be a mommy. Our son, Josey, was a beautiful, healthy baby that had been carefully placed into our lives. My husband, Mike, and I married at 18 years old and although I had my “I need a baby” moments, we waited to begin trying until almost 4 years later, after I graduated college and landed my first teaching job. Struggling for years to get pregnant caught us by surprise. By the grace of God and a little medical intervention, we welcomed our first son into our family.
Around the time of Josey’s first birthday, we decided we wanted to try for another baby. Our plan was always to have more than one child. Once again, my body just couldn’t do what I wanted most. The process was even more difficult and heartbreaking this time, but we finally found ourselves expecting once again.
In June of 2010, at eleven weeks pregnant, we had an appointment to have our first ultrasound to make sure the pregnancy was going well. When the doctor started the ultrasound, I instantly knew I saw more than one baby on the giant flat-screen. As I tried to speak, nothing came out. Finally, I said, “Is there more than one?” The doctor looked up and said, “Yes, It’s TRIPLETS.” I cannot describe the thoughts and feelings I was flooded with at that moment. My mind was racing. I reached for my husband’s hand and he just held on as we waited to see if we had three viable babies. We returned for another ultrasound a few weeks later. We saw three healthy and active babies safe inside. To say we were relieved was an understatement.
The very next day at 8:39 a.m., our second-born son, Johnny, was born at home. As I write this a decade later, it still doesn’t seem real. I woke up with some discomfort at 15 weeks along with our precious triplets. I called the doctor’s office and waited for a callback. I delivered Johnny at home about 30 minutes later. We were transported by ambulance to the hospital. I cannot describe the fear I felt as I rode in the ambulance, thinking I was losing all of my babies. In the ER, the doctor did an ultrasound and found two heartbeats safe inside. My cervix had suddenly dilated, causing me to lose Johnny. To this day, I do not know why that happened. Mike and I chose to hold our sweet little boy and I spent about 30 minutes with him in my arms. We are both so glad we chose to do that. He was tiny but beautifully made. Letting go of Johnny was the hardest thing I had ever had to do. Each day that followed was spent waiting for an ultrasound to see if the other two babies were still okay. I had to have a cerclage to ensure my cervix would not spontaneously open again. Unfortunately, the placenta never delivered with the baby. I was pumped full of antibiotics to prevent infection and placed on bed rest indefinitely. My grief was overwhelming, but I tried with all my heart to be strong for my two unborn babies.
16 days after delivering Johnny, I woke up cramping. I told myself all day the worst was not happening. At 1:30 the next morning, I accepted that it was. Mike drove me to the hospital, both of us begging God for it to be something else. My contractions were less than a minute apart for over two hours. It was the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. My cervix had been sewn shut and was trying to open to let the babies come out. We were told the stitches had to be removed, but that doing so would most certainly cause us to lose both babies. About that time, Jaxsen decided he couldn’t wait, and he was born. Nothing could stop him, not even ‘unbreakable’ stitches. I was in and out of awareness for a while but still in extreme pain. I was moved to the operating room and our doctor came in to deliver the third baby and get my bleeding under control. The last thing I heard was, because the cervix ripped and they did not know the extent of the damage, I might have to have a complete hysterectomy. It was terrifying. Thankfully they were able to deliver our fourth-born son, Asher, and save my fertility. We were able to spend about an hour holding the babies after I recovered. They were perfect, sleeping angels.
Our biggest fear had become reality. I had developed a uterine infection that made it impossible for the babies to stay inside any longer. The infection moved into my blood system and caused me to become quite sick. We left the hospital 5 days later with nothing more than three little memory boxes. I did not know how I would continue to breathe except for the fact there was a little boy at home waiting for his mommy to return.
The emptiness that surrounded us after our loss was almost unbearable. I can’t put into words what it was like to picture and plan for a house full of children only to have that dream vanish entirely. Our house was supposed to be noisy, busy, and full of children’s laughter. Instead, we clung desperately to our then two-year-old and mourned the loss of a life we might never have.
Two years later, after medical treatments, surgical procedures, and more prayers than I thought possible, we welcomed our rainbow baby. When Gavin let out a big cry and was placed in my arms in 2012, I exhaled for what felt like the first time in nine months. My body hadn’t failed me that time, and we left the hospital with a healthy baby boy. Three years and four days later, we welcomed our second rainbow baby after enduring the same process once more. Parker Jack came into our lives and made us the proud parents of three boys in our arms and three in Heaven.
Flash forward to the spring of 2018. I turned 35 in March… an age I set for us to be done having children. Our oldest child turned 10 and it seemed like the baby stage of our life was naturally ending. I would be lying if I said I didn’t wonder if we were really done. I started imagining getting pregnant again. “Should we try just one more time? Is it too dangerous?” My medical condition makes each additional pregnancy a little riskier, and we have no way of knowing if I would be able to carry another baby successfully. I started praying for a sign. A clear answer. And boy did I get one.
In mid-April, the night before our oldest turned 10, I was informed of a birth-mother who was set on adoption and wanted her baby to go to a family with children. She was looking for an experienced couple who could give her child a life she never had. Someone who knew our hearts for adoption suggested we meet her. I thought of how, in the early days after our loss, we began talking about adoption. It was placed on both of our hearts and really never left our thoughts. Over the years, we had both mentioned it at times. We never had the chance to give our triplets the beautiful life they deserved. The thought of being able to do just that for a child in need of a forever family kept our hearts open to the idea.
Adoption doesn’t just happen though. People wait years and spend tens of thousands of dollars on agency adoptions to connect with a birth-mother. I just couldn’t imagine this would happen for us. We had not been planning or saving for adoption at all. Was it even possible to adopt with the impending due date only 12 weeks away? I had no idea where to begin, but somewhere deep down inside, I just couldn’t shake the idea. We talked through the financial side, the impact this would have on our boys, and all the details we could think of. We ultimately decided to take a huge leap of faith and see where the journey took us. Soon after that, we found out the baby’s due date was July 20th, the day we lost the first of our babies. I remember laughing as I thought, ‘Okay, God, I hear you loud and clear.’ This was the journey our family was meant to be on. If there is one thing that is for certain, it is our life together has never played out the way we have expected. We’ve been thrown so many curve balls while building our family, we know better than to assume we know what is around the corner. So we took a shaky step toward pursuing adoption. Then we took another. And another.
I always say our love for our children is so big because it has to reach all the way to Heaven. We knew we could give this child a life full of snuggles, kisses, silly jokes, big brothers with hearts the size of Texas, and a Mommy and Daddy who love with a fierceness not easily put into words. We could give this child the life his biological mom dreamed of for her baby.
Doors continued to open and in three weeks, we were sitting in front of an amazing young girl, who after an hour of talking with her, chose us to parent her child. The paperwork, doctor’s visits, home study preparations, home study visits, and planning kept us moving at a whirlwind pace. We found out the baby was a boy a few weeks before he arrived. We were so happy… and not surprised at all. Parenting boys is kind of our thing.
On July 25th, what we now lovingly refer to as our Double Rainbow Day, our seventh son was born on his big brother’s birthday. Six years to the day after welcoming our first rainbow baby, our family welcomed another reminder of the beauty that can come after a storm. When Mike and I met him, he was snuggled tightly in his birth mother’s arms. With a smile on her face, this sweet, young girl placed her baby in my trembling arms. I don’t know if words could ever do justice to that moment. My heart shattered and rejoiced at the same time. I wanted this baby so much. Mike and I had planned and prayed and loved this boy for only a few weeks, but he was ours in every sense of the word.
Eight days after his birth, we sat before a judge and vowed to love and care for Jensen always. A chapter in our family’s story that started a mere 12 weeks earlier drew to a close as we walked out of the judge’s chambers as the proud parents of seven boys. Three of our boys have brought love and joy to our lives over the last twelve years. Three of them changed the entire course of our lives when they went to Heaven. They constantly push us to be the best parents we can be. And one tiny little baby came into our lives when we least expected it and showed us the true meaning of sacrifice, hope, and family. We finally have the crazy, chaotic, beautiful, full life we have dreamed of for so long.
When you see our family now, I hope you see the joy and beauty that came out of our battle. I hope you see how we made peace with the cards we were dealt, and how we made our own path. Most importantly I hope you see hope. After all, it’s the thing that got us to this place.