Trigger Warning: Late-Term Loss. This post may be difficult for those who have experienced loss to read.
Late-Term Loss: A Letter to My Babies Who Left Us Too Soon.
I am the face of late-term loss. After struggling with infertility, my husband and I used IVF to get pregnant. I’m apparently very good at being pregnant once I get there. I got pregnant with triplets and had a very uneventful pregnancy for the first 19 weeks. At 20 weeks, on November 7th, 2010, I delivered our babies. This is the letter I wrote the night before their funeral. 10 years later, I’m ready to share this with people outside of my circle.
Dear Avery, Trinity, and Langston,
I can tell you the exact day you were made, without you having to imagine what mommy and daddy did. In 2009 on the 4th of July, 15 eggs were removed from me, which with the help of daddy and an embryologist, were turned into embryos. Only 4 were awesome enough to become our potential children. Of those 4, we selected 2. I won’t lie; I was disappointed with the quality of one embryo (it’s too early to say who it was at this time, so stop asking me.) Apparently, you guys took it personally, and one of you split, giving us our ninja baby Trinity. The first time we saw you guys, they told us that Trinity (or baby B at that time) wasn’t going to make it. I told the doctor not to count him out yet. Yes, it’s true mommy believed you were all boys. In fact, my nicknames for you were Petri, Firecracker, and Chance. The next week Trinity (aka Chance) had not only caught up but had a stronger heartbeat than Avery (Petri) and Langston (firecracker). Mommy had to have daddy give her shots every day in her butt, these needles were huge, and the medicine in them hurt really bad. Your Grandma was too afraid to give me a shot because of how intimidating it looked. I plan on reminding you of this every time you do something extra naughty.
Daddy and I decided to start decorating your room early. Mommy’s idea won. It was a Where the Wild Things Are theme, as I could only imagine what a rumpus you 3 would cause. We had cribs, bedding, and clothing, even a triple stroller with car seats before we even knew for sure your names would be Avery, Trinity, and Langston.
You guys have probably asked yourselves why mommy keeps saying our names in that order. Why is Avery always first? Why is Langston always last? Why is Trinity always in the middle? Well, kiddos, that’s the order I know you in. On every ultrasound, Avery was baby A, which means she’ll be coming first. Trinity being her identical twin and all is baby B, so obviously kids, she’ll be next. And Langston, my patient little boy, will come last only in name and birth order but never in my heart.
On every ultrasound, Avery, you dear, were always beating up your siblings and wiggling all around. I knew you would be just like your mommy, A true tomboy, sassy, fiery, fiercely independent, a protector, outspoken. When all the teachers and my parents said, “just wait, you’ll have a little girl just like you,” well, that’s you, Avery.
Trinity, on the other hand, I knew you would be a combination of mommy’s two sisters, your aunties Ann and Sara, less sassy than Avery, but I wouldn’t count you out EVER. You are wise beyond your years and silly. You love to solve conflicts and issues with reason rather than emotional reaction. I know you will do some amazing things that no one will ever see coming because we never saw you coming. Trinity, you are our ninja fighter!
Langston, you are just like your daddy and your uncle Lee. You’ll love sports, but you won’t be a jock. You’re brave and smart and know how to argue your way out of anything. You’ll surprise us when you protect your sisters, even when we think you really believe they can handle themselves (with a sister like Avery, I’d think so too). You love to make jokes, and you are rarely serious.
You’ve all been this way since being in my belly.
5 days before I met you in person, we were told Avery and Trinity were still girls, and Langston was still a boy. Langston, you had put your butt in my rib cage and refused to move. Sitting down was incredibly uncomfortable. I asked you nicely to move on Friday and gave you little nudges in return. You kicked me hard in the ribs. Just like your father–you can’t tell him to do anything; he has to do it on his own
Here comes your favorite part, the part where I tell you all about your birth, the joy you brought us instantly, and the overwhelming love we felt for each one of you.
It was Sunday, November 7th. Mommy woke up and just knew something wasn’t right. Daddy went to work early that day. Mommy went to the hospital, and daddy came as soon as mommy asked him to. You see, babies, my body had started to quit on you. I never quit, and I would never quit on you, but my body didn’t get the memo.
The plan was put in a cerclage and keep you all locked up safe inside me for at least 4 more weeks to give you guys a fighting chance. Well, thanks to some lab results, that plan couldn’t happen either, so we had another plan, wait for a few hours redraw blood, and decide at that time what we would do.
Well, babies, we were 45mins away from surgery, and this whole time mommy was in a lot of pain. Dr. Jones, the most amazing perinatologist in the entire world, had her resident check to see what was going on, and at that point, you guys were already halfway on your way out. I screamed and cried. I begged for anything to stop it, to keep you guys safe inside me. I begged daddy to fix it. I begged granddad to fix it. I begged the doctors to fix this.
I was furious with myself because my body was doing the exact opposite of what my mind and heart wanted.
Daddy had tears in his eyes as I cried out in pain and agony. I couldn’t have any pain medication, so I felt all the physical and emotional pain of everything. I was told that sometimes people stay dilated at 4cm, and their babies don’t come, but we have to just wait and see what happens. I asked, what if it doesn’t stop? The plan was to save as many of you as possible, but the only way to save you was to keep you safe inside me.
When my water broke, I knew it was all over. In my heart, I knew I’d be saying goodbye, but I refused to believe it.
I refused to push when I felt the urge. The doctors and nurses waited patiently, knowing the hell I was going through. And finally, when I couldn’t physically stop it from happening, it was you, Avery. I knew it was you before you even made your way out. I screamed your name and begged for you to live.
They handed you to me, my little warrior.
Your little hand grabbed my pinky finger. You never made a sound, your eyes didn’t open, but your mouth was open, and you were breathing. Your heart was beating. I’m sure you remember that I told you how much I loved you and that you remember mommy kissing you and holding you. I immediately began to pray for Trinity to pull another ninja move and keep her and Langston inside.
I suspect that you guys had a pact. Trinity couldn’t leave you alone–you’re her identical twin after all, and Langston promised to protect you guys. A few minutes later and at the exact same time, Trinity and Langston, you made your appearances.
I have never cried so hard in my life.
You guys remember Daddy held Langston, and I held Trinity. I kissed each of you and told you how much we love you. I put each of you on my chest so you could hear my heartbeat. Then I sang the only song that popped into my head, a song I sang to you guys every morning while on my way to work. “Let It Be.”
Avery was the first to leave us, and she passed away as I finished singing, Trinity not long after her. Langston hadn’t given up yet, and so we held him, and I sang to him again. He passed away as I began to sing.
Did you know that I could tell Avery and Trinity apart right away? And Langston, aside from the boy parts, we knew it was you because you had your daddy’s complexion. It was obvious when next to your sisters, who got mommy’s complexion. However, you were our little big guy, so long and skinny, just like your uncle Sebastian. Indeed, your sisters are protecting you now. It must have been all the nasty protein shakes I’d been drinking. You were good-sized babies.
We bathed each of you and dressed you. Everyone came to see you. They took turns holding each of you, and we talked about who looks like who. Even your Aunt Nikki was so confused by everything that she was convinced that Langston looked like a Todd when everyone knows mommy was adopted, so that was impossible.
You were loved and held by so many people. I truly believe you were the most loved babies in the world.
I got nervous when others held you; I didn’t want anyone to break you. I could feel my heart race as family members took turns holding you, my sweet babies, and saying goodbye. I insisted on having my bed raised super high up so I could keep constant watch over you. You, my loves, did not leave my side until I had to go home without you, and even then, we made sure you weren’t alone. I walked out of the hospital, clutching a purple box that had every memory we had of you guys in your short lives, sobbing.
You’ll be coming home with us today, maybe not in the way we imagined, but you’re coming home. You were the most beautiful babies that ever lived. I cannot express how much I love you, my Avery Mae, Trinity Noel, and Langston Todd. You will forever be in my heart.
Editor’s Note: If you have lost your little one, whether through a late-term loss or any other tragedy, we grieve with you. If you would like to remember your little one on our forever loved wall, click here to share your child’s information with us.