2013 was a year of hope and excitement. Not only were my husband and I going to be first time parents, we had triple the joy. After years of infertility, our luck had changed: we were expecting triplets! Over the months, I embraced my quickly growing belly. I chuckled when people would stop me to say I was ready to pop…yet I was only 16 weeks along. I enjoyed the roller coaster movement inside, my three children already picking fights with each other.
I absolutely loved being pregnant.
But on June 23rd, 2013, our world came crashing down. I delivered my triplets at 22 weeks, 6 days. I held my daughter as doctors called her time of death. And nearly two months later, on August 16th, we were back in that same moment; holding our son, Parker, as doctors called his time of death. I remember thinking, “how can this world be so cruel?” In a two month period, my hopes and dreams of our perfect family were shattered.
In the early days, I struggled to even get out of bed. The grief was unfathomable, weighing me down and sucking the life out of me. I shut myself off from most people, except for family. I listened to messages from friends and read emails from strangers, all sending prayers and kind words. And I pulled myself together each day, enough to visit Peyton in Nicu. I think I did a decent job of hiding the grief.
As the weeks and months rolled by, life moved forward. Nearly 4 months after my triplets were born, our survivor came home from the hospital. Another 4 months later, I returned to the working world. I learned not to dwell on what happened, I couldn’t change it. But, the grief crept up at random times. As the weeks got closer to Peyton’s first birthday, the grief became more constant. Mother’s Day was emotional; a reminder of a year before when I was happily pregnant with 3 healthy babies. June 7th, a reminder of the night Abby’s water broke, sending me to hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy. Each day was a milestone, but not a happy one. I longed to go back in time to when life was filled with the promise of bringing home three little babies.
With the daily reminders of what could have been, Peyton’s first birthday was surprisingly uneventful. I scheduled several doctor appointments for Peyton as a way to keep us busy. So it wasn’t until the evening, when my husband and I finally grieved over our children. Fast forward to this year: I expected much of the same. I assumed the month of June would be difficult, leading up to Peyton, Parker and Abby’s birthday. But, it was quite the opposite. I was so busy settling into a new job and planning Miss P’s birthday party, that I didn’t have time to dwell on the past. I didn’t have time to allow my mind to go back to 2013. But, as the days right before their birthday arrived, my heart began to thump with pain.
On their birthday, the grief took over the happiness I should have felt for Peyton. My throat tightened and my eyes became a massive river of tears. At one point, I found myself curled into a ball, hysterically crying in bed. For some reason, this year’s birth date was much worse than the previous year. My heart physically hurt, my lungs felt like they were collapsing; the grief consumed my body. As I laid in bed crying, I thought, “When will it get easier?” After spending the majority of the year happy with my life and accepting all that has happened, why is that the grief can grab such a hold of me and bring me back to those fateful days when I lost two of my children?
After Peyton’s birthday came and went, and our family and friends have since returned home, life has slowly returned back to normal. The grief has subsided and I’m able to breathe, though the tears still arrive at least once a day.
Peyton’s second birthday made me realize something: grief will never go away. I can’t take away the fact that two of my children passed away. I can’t take away the fact that Peyton’s birthday will always be bittersweet. Three beautiful children entered the world that day, but Peyton’s sister also died that same day. And I’ve learned that summertime is always going to be tough.
We have one birthday and two “angelversaries” during the summer months, so there will always be difficult days. But, I’ve come to accept that grief will be part of my life, whether it be next month or 20 years down the road. I just know that it will slowly change over time. So instead of hiding the tears, I’m proud to embrace the grief. If letting out a good cry brings back memories of all three triplets, then I am happy to wear my heart on my sleeve.