There are some stories that I love to share. Describing the scene and environment surrounding a family just before and after they meet the newest member of their family. It’s exciting, emotional, heartfelt and an honor to get to do so. Some stories, however, can’t be shared so easily.
Ashley contacted me about 6 weeks before her due date. Well, not technically her due date, but her induction date. You see Ashley was carrying triplets. You read that right, she had three precious girls in her womb. When we talked on the phone I knew we would connect quickly, and after hearing her story I knew we weren’t meant to meet. Her heart for Jesus, her husband and children, and everything she shared built a quick emotional bond. I felt honored that she shared her pregnancy journey with me and then to be asked to capture her labor and delivery, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
The rest of the story isn’t so simple, and I felt it couldn’t be told by anyone but the mother of these babies.
Here is the story of the Barnes babies, from the heart of their mother.
We wanted another child. Just one more to even out our crew of 3. My husband Kevin and I have been married for 12yrs. We have two boys ages 10 and 8 (Luke and James) and a daughter aged 4 (Grace). We would soon realize that we were in for much more than we bargained for in trying to have one more.
When I was around 6-8wks pregnant I went into the doctors office to do a urine test and confirm the pregnancy. I went alone because this was our fourth pregnancy and my doctor wasn’t supposed to do an ultrasound that appointment. Well she changed her mind and decided to do an ultrasound. She got very quiet and after a few minutes told me that she needed to get an ultrasound tech in to look at the ultrasound because she was seeing three heartbeats. Three heartbeats. Three!?!
Sure enough after three more ultrasound techs took a look with an even stronger ultrasound machine, there were in fact three heartbeats. We were expecting triplets and I was in complete and utter shock. I texted my husband. He thought I was joking. I would have too. I called him and assured him that I wasn’t joking. He rushed down and saw for himself the three steady heartbeats. We were both in shock and afraid as well. We knew this would change everything. It would change our family dynamics, it would change our finances, it would change every aspect of our lives.
The next few months were filled with awe, excitement, and fear. I had all day and all night nausea from the excess of hormones from all of the babies. I couldn’t do anything to care for our children much and my husband now became mister mom. Finally around the 4 month mark the nausea vanished and I could function again. I was on strict orders not to lift things, exercise, or do much housework though. We found out two of our babies were in the same placenta and were identical and that one was in another placenta. At 16wks we found out that we were expecting all girls! Our boys were a little disappointed but we were thrilled. Our daughter Grace wanted sisters so badly. We named them Hope Rose Barnes (Baby A), Faith Rose Barnes (Baby B), and Joy Rose Barnes (Baby C). We announced their genders on Thanksgiving and I dedicated their middle names to my Grandmother Lottie Rose Howell. We had finally wrapped our minds around the fact that we were having triplets and were so ecstatic to soon be welcoming them into the world.
Our first ultrasound after Thanksgiving came just as all the others. We were 18wks and excited to see the girls up to their normal tricks and moves. Once the ultrasound tech got to baby C she became very quiet. We had had so many ultrasounds by this point we knew also what to look for. Before she even told us we knew. Joy had died. There was no heartbeat. Our sweet little fraternal daughter who always gave the ultrasound techs problems had passed away. We were devastated. They had no real answers for why she passed away. We had never imagined a life without her in it. We had dreamed about what her hair looked like and how her eyes were shaped. How her laugh would sound and the way she would make her first sounds. Just like that she wasn’t in the picture anymore.
The next few weeks I grieved as best I could but tried to stay happy for our surviving daughters inside me. I knew if I didn’t keep my emotions in check it could be detrimental to the other girls, so I put most of my grief on hold. Joy stayed under my ribs the entire pregnancy. In a way I feel very blessed to have been able to carry her for all those months after she passed. Most moms do not get to hold on to their little ones once they are gone. I got to hold her in my womb and rub and talk to her at night in bed. It’s something I will treasure forever.
The rest of my pregnancy went perfectly. No issues with the girls. No maternal health problems. Everything went smoothly. I think God knew I couldn’t handle anything else. I prayed to Him and asked Him to please protect my girls and myself during delivery. I went in to be induced at 36wks and 2 days. Because of carrying the triplets I had to deliver a month early. Thankfully I was able to deliver the girls naturally. After 6hrs of labor the girls were born. Hope came first weighing 7lbs and 20inches. Faith was born 2 minutes later feet first. She weighed 6lb 14oz and was 20in. Joy was delivered last.
I can’t explain the relief of finally having the girls out safe and sound! The months of worry and countless doctors visits. But it was all worth it. Every stretch mark, every tear, every worry. So very much worth it. Our girls will be a year old in two months. The time flies by when you are taking care of multiple babies. Thank you so much Cassie for capturing the end of a beautiful journey. A journey into being a multiple mommy and a loss mommy all on the same day. You captured it beautifully and for that I am forever grateful.
[note: this was a very emotional birth story and I chose to exclude images for the privacy of the family and the daughter that they lost, thank you for understanding]