Featured Grief Journal

Two Angels, One Surviving Triplet

Written by Stacey Skrysak

Many of you have followed Stacey Skrysak’s journey to become a mother. From sharing her story of infertility to embarking on a triplet pregnancy, she has let thousands of people into her life. In June, Stacey delivered her triplets, more than 17 weeks early. Her daughter Abigail survived for two hours, while identical sister Peyton and brother Parker were sent straight to the NICU. Stacey and her family were left mourning the loss of one child and praying for the survival of their two fighters. After 55 days, Parker joined his sister Abby in Heaven. He put up quite a fight, but health complications were just too much for Parker. In her first blog post since losing a second child, Stacey shares what it was like having to decide when is the right time to let go.

 

It’s hard to believe it’s already September. My family has been through quite the whirlwind over the last few months. And I have to admit, I’m ready to forget the summer of 2013. On one hand, bringing three beautiful lives into this world was absolute joy. On the other hand, no parent should ever have to bury a child…especially two babies within two months.

Peyton is our little miracle and doctors say she is doing remarkably well for a baby born that early and tiny. And look at that adorable smile! Every time I get sad, I just look at her beautiful face and it melts my heart. I’ll give an update and plenty of pictures below, but first I want share with you the emotional toll Mr. Skry and I have faced. 

Losing Abby was devastating. After going through that loss, we never thought we would have to experience that heartbreak again. After P & P reached the one month milestone, I really started believing that they would survive and thrive. But on day 37, our world came to a screeching halt. Parker never fully recovered from his major intestinal surgery. And worse, the stress of his health caused a massive brain injury. He would never fully recover. I remember that day perfectly. Ryan and I were back to our cheerful selves. Our babies seemed to be doing well. We were meeting with their doctor for a routine visit, but never in a million years did we expect to hear the grim news. My body began to shake and I could barely breath. I remember trying to hold it together until the doctors and nurses left…and hysterically crying the moment they stepped out of the room.

So now we were left with a decision no parent should ever have to make. We knew Parker’s time was limited, we had to decide when was the right time to let him go. It was one thing losing Abby hours after she was born, but we didn’t have a choice. Here we were watching our perfect little son moving and smiling, knowing that he would slowly become paralyzed and wouldn’t survive another surgery. We were left not with a choice, but with having to tell doctors when to pull the plug. We sat on the information and did hours of research, hoping that a miracle would happen. But deep down we knew, Parker was sick and we didn’t want to see him in pain.  After two weeks, our families flew in to say goodbye and Parker joined his sister Abby in Heaven.

Those two weeks were so memorable, filled with moments that I will cherish for the rest of my life. A local photographer from Lincoln, Jim Grimaldi, volunteered his time and took these beautiful pictures of P & P. When I look at the hundreds of photos, I see absolute bliss. Ryan and I forgot that a camera was there and Jim captured such candid moments that show how happy we were with our children in the NICU.

 

(P&P started holding hands. The ultrasound pic in the background shows all three triplets)
 

(The shoes are the same ones that I used to announce my pregnancy on television)

We bought a video camera and filmed our babies. Even the most mundane tasks, like changing Parker’s diaper, were captured. I can’t wait to show Peyton those videos years down the road. We never want her to forget that she is a triplet.

 

We enjoyed precious moments that nurses made possible. It took a lot of work, but they managed to let us hold both of them together. As you can see, they loved their time together. Peyton had her arm around Parker. I remember holding Peyton for the first time after Parker passed away. The first thing she did—reach her arm out looking for her brother.

 

(They really looked so much alike!)

The week leading up to August 16 was gut wrenching, but we stayed strong for our babies, not wanting them to see us in any agony. Before Parker passed away, one of our nurses took some beautiful pictures. Parker was wide eyed for Nurse Paige and these pictures show the love surrounding our family.

 

Ryan and I woke up the next day and we were at peace. I thought the grief would set in, but we spent weeks grieving before he passed away. Seeing Parker so happy and peaceful, made us realize that it was time for him to go. Now I won’t lie, I cry every single day over the loss of my two babies. I always pictured Parker following in his father’s footsteps and playing football. I imagined Ryan coaching his little league team and gathering around the tv for NFL games. But instead, I’m left with an adorable picture of Parker sporting his Oregon Ducks football hat. He sits in a frame next to me, watching college football with us in spirit. Some days are more difficult than others. When I open Facebook and see pregnancy announcements, I shut down my computer. It brings me back to the day we found out we were pregnant with triplets…a perfect day that would end in tragedy months later.

 

But those tough days are becoming “less” difficult. I read every single email, message and comments from all of you. When I post a picture, I get excited to hear from you. We have SO many people praying and thinking of us across the country. I love when people will “send me love” from their state (I think we have people reaching out from every single state in the country!). And the stories people share, make me realize the good that has come out of our tragic experience. Parker and Abby have touched thousands of lives. They have made people realize that the trivial things in life aren’t so important. They have made parents hug their children a little tighter. And if that was their purpose in life, they I’m at peace with it. I’m not going to spend my life dwelling on our losses. I’m going to cherish every single second I spent with my babies and use my experience to help others. Plus, I have one precious little miracle that keeps up our hope.

 

It’s time to dry those tears and move on to happier news. Miss Peyton finally reached 3 pounds!! It took about 10 weeks, or 70 days, but she’s slowly getting bigger….or should I say long and lean.

 

This picture shows her size. That 2 month sticker is what people put on onesies to show how big their child is. Well, Peyton doesn’t quite fill it out yet, but she is well on her way! She keeps the nurses busy and keeps the entire NICU entertained with her collection of bows and hilarious facial expressions.

 
 
 

She’s been smiling a ton and is starting to look around wide-eyed, taking in the world just like her brother Parker used to do. And while we remain cautiously optimistic, I truly believe that Peyton will be our miracle child and will be coming home with us sometime this fall. Keep up the prayers and comments. Ryan and I feel so grateful for all of the good people in this world, helping us work our way through this whirlwind experience.

 

 

About the author

Stacey Skrysak

Stacey Skrysak may not be a native of Nebraska, but she called it home for many years. You may recognize her from her days as a morning and noon anchor on NTV in Kearney. She liked Nebraska so much, she even married into a Cornhusker family! These days, Stacey lives in Springfield, Illinois where she is a news anchor for WICS-TV. Stacey and her husband are parents to Peyton, their surviving triplet, who was born more than 17 weeks premature. Abigail and Parker are their triplet angels watching from above. Through her heartbreaking experience, Stacey has become a voice for dealing with grief, infertility and life with a micro-premie. Her triplets have touched thousands of lives around the world, thanks to Stacey’s blog “Perfectly Peyton”. Stacey looks forward to sharing the trials and tribulations of balancing work and home life, all with a little humor thrown in.

4 Comments

  • Hello. I saw an article about your story on yahoo news and huffington post. Back in 2007 I went into labor with my twins at about 21 weeks 4 days gestation. I went into the hospital on a Sunday evening, and our twins were born on that Wednesday, on my turnover day for 22 weeks. I was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix that began to dilate early, and I already had bulging membranes when my husband and I arrived at the hospital. I took magnesium sulfate and steroids to try to develop their lungs. My doctor explained to me that they would not be viable if they did not stay in for at least a couple more weeks. He described the damage to their bodies and pain that they would experience if resuscitation were attempted at their age. I asked for a sort of compromise, I asked if the pediatricians could be present during their births so they could make the decision whether there was a chance in person. I did agree that I did not want to subject the twins to pain if they were just too young. The twins were born after just a few days in the hospital, and the pediatricians decided it would do harm if they intervened, and our twins passed away in our arms, what seemed like about 20 minutes after they were born. Not positive of the exact time frame.
    Since then, we have had three boys born to us, one on the twins’ birthday in 2009, one in 2011, and one just a few months ago in April of this year. Now, during each pregnancy I get a cerclage- stitches to keep the cervix closed that are not removed until 36 weeks.
    My husband and I have both struggled with the loss of the twins. We feel like we should have insisted, begged that the doctors try to save them. But, the reality is that I do really believe that if it had been entirely our decision, I would not have wanted to cause our children unnecessary pain, and would have made the same decision. My husband, on the other hand felt like we should have fought, kicked and screamed, whatever. He feels guilty about it. Sometimes a story will appear in the news about a micro premie, but I still have not heard of one surviving at 22 weeks gestation. I read about Amilia Taylor, who was conceived by invitro fertilization, and born 21 weeks 6 days after conception. I understand that the mother was not aware that gestational age and fetal age were different, that when the doctors asked her how far along, she initially gave them the fetal age, but when they did an ultrasound, they determined she was 2 weeks further along than that, because they were measuring gestational age, with those two weeks between the last period and conception are included. The mother agreed with the doctors, and thought she was lying about the true age. So, when the story first hit the news, it was being reported that she was 21 6 days gestational age, but in fact I baby that was conceived 21 weeks 6 days ago has a 23 week 6 day gestational age. When my husband and I are looking back to try and figure out if we did the right thing, seeing those early stories that gave the fetal age as gestational age was difficult. Also, Amilia’s mom had been in the hospital for several weeks receiving steroids that would help the lungs develop more quickly before Amilia was born. Our twins were 22 weeks gestational age exactly, which is the same as 20 weeks fetal age. I was only in the hospital 2 full days, a night and a morning, that was not enough time to allow the drugs to develop their lungs and other organs.
    I think it would be nice to have the luxury to believe we tried everything, but I think the idea of the type of pain that the attempts would cause when they are that young should be considered. Things like burst blood vessels and internal bleeding, and just severe pain. I am glad they passed away peacefully in our arms, and I do believe we did every thing that was good and reasonable. I have seen some of the discussions under your article and on your Facebook page that say that doctors should have to fight to save every child, no matter what gestational age they are born, and I don’t really agree. I think that age of viability has been pushed up in the last couple of years, to the latter part of 22 weeks, or 23 weeks, whereas in 2007 they were saying 24 weeks. But, at 22 weeks exactly, babies do not have lungs yet. I think cause a child to burst their tiny blood vessels and bleed to death giving air to a child that doesn’t have lungs at all to be a little extreme. I did not want to watch that as a parent.
    I did want to ask if your triplets were 22 weeks 5 days gestational or fetal age, right now I am assuming gestational age, is that correct? Thank you for your story.

    • Hi Shura, Sending you a hug from a fellow angel mom. I, too, was diagnosed with an incompetent cervex. At 18 weeks, doctors performed an emergency cerclage. As for delivering, Abby’s water broke at 20 weeks and I stayed put in the hospital until I went into labor at 22 weeks 5 days gestation. I delivered my triplets one day later at 22 weeks 6 days gestation. We were given a dose of steroids right before I went into labor, and I truly believe that is why my children were alive and had a chance of survival.