Have you heard the negro spiritual? "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child"? The song was written by William E. Barton in 1899. The songs original intent was related to slave children who lost their parents in the slave trade. Some say the original intent was that Mother Africa is what the writer is longing for. Either way, any artist who attempts this song must match its soulful and moving lyrics with the same tone in their voice. It's just not the kind of song you try on a whim. Anywho, that's my history lesson for the day. I invite you to google it or listen on YouTube. It's a beautiful song.
This post is one I've wanted to write for some time now. I've shared my story with friends and family, but it means even more now that I am at my first Mothers Day as a mommy. No, I'm not motherless. No one is, obviously. Even if your mother passes the day you are born, you are never motherless. A piece of her lives inside of you, literally and figuratively. I know there are so many instances of people who denounce their birth mother or believe that she is not the best or whatever, but the fact of the matter is that they ARE apart of you. The good thing is that you can shape and mold your life into whatever you want it to be. I digress.
My mother passed away when I was 17. A tragic death. Not related to violence, not related to illness, but related to a medical error. Yup. You don't hear of things like that often, but it does happen. And while stories like hers will make you cringe anytime someone mentions the word doctor, there really is nothing much you can do about it. People get sick, you need medical professionals, and they are human beings. Human beings who are not void of error or fault. I once had a doctor tell me they (doctors) are practicing medicine and it's impossible for them to know all right off the top of their head. Yeah, that's a bit disheartening to hear, but did you really think your doctor was a walking medical textbook? Anyways. I'm not going to discuss the details of my mothers passing, it's not necessary. But I will talk about what I experienced after that. A loss that seems so black and white to some, but has literally effected me and my life to this day. You see, everything that has happened to me since then could almost be tied back to her death in some form or fashion. I really found God during the days before her death. And I learned to pray. Did my prayer stop her untimely death? No. I learned that, too. But, my prayer (along with guidance and support from my dad), gave me enough peace to make it through her funeral and services. And gave me enough peace to go on with my life. You see, when you lose someone major in your life, you sometimes feel like you can't go on.
"What do you mean my mother died? What am I supposed to do now? I can't go on without my mother. No way."
Yes, you can. And the Lord put a wave of peace over my heart that allowed me to move on. I had my first dream of her two days before her funeral. We were back in her hospital room...lines, wires, tubes all removed. Hospital gown replaced by a normal outfit. Closed eyes and non-responsiveness replaced by a smile, hug and conversation. Words.
Words of comfort.
"They (the funeral home name), took care of me."
"How are you?"
Yeah, it was a dream. But if you knew the amount of tears I shed that week. And the emptiness I felt in my heart, then you'd know that dream was everything. That's the best way I can describe it. And since then we've had probably a dozen or more dreams together. Just me and my mommy. We chat, catch up, and she reminds me that she is okay. Her big smile from ear to ear, and her undivided attention. Wow.
Moving away to college was tough, but necessary. Tough because I was leaving home, especially my father who I am very close to. And given the fact that I lost my mom just 7 months earlier, leaving for college and leaving my dad in Buffalo seemed like a bad move. Losing someone major like your mother at a young age makes you paranoid about losing other major people in your life. You're never ready, but because my moms death was so sudden and such a shock... it made me want to cling to my dad tighter. But here I had this great opportunity to move to Florida, attend the University of Florida (my dream school), and be closer to my grandma who had permanently moved down. I missed her so much. And my dad was not going to let me miss out on this opportunity to move on, grow up, spread my wings and chase my dreams. So he told me, "go". And we packed up the car and took the drive down to Florida. Side note: I met David two days later. ❤️
The days, months and years I spent in college were a transformation for me. I grew and matured as all of us do. But I learned so much from my grandma. She poured so much into me as a woman, and she went from grandma to second mom. If you missed my previous blog post about my grandma Gloria, see "I do, we do". Grandma was tough, but loved hard. And she was everything to me. It's funny because I look back now and regret not being mature enough to learn more from my mommy when I was younger. Of course there are things you don't know you need to know when you're younger. My grandma definitely filled that void, but how much better would I have been to have both of them in my life at the same time? Hmmm, I don't know. As a side note, I did make an offer to God to stay in Buffalo and attend college if my mother pulled through - just before her death. I had an offer from two colleges in Buffalo and could have stayed. I know now that wasn't meant to be, or else I wouldn't have met David.
Life moved on and God found a way to fill my life with everything I needed that I was missing from my mother being gone. My grandma, step mom, sister in law, cousins, aunties, best friends, sorority sisters, and eventually a mother in law.
For years I thought that I couldn't face anything more difficult than losing my mother so young. I thought that was my big testimony. But then I got married and faced infertility. Huh?
"You know me! I've always wanted to be a mother!"
"Am I supposed to go through life without my dear mother AND not be a mother myself?"
I had forgotten that the Lord told me I was going to be a mother. I just couldn't see how or when that would happen. Fast forward a handful of years and here I am, a mother. 18 years after losing my own mother, I became a mother to 3 beautiful children. There was 3 of us growing up, so I always knew I'd have at least 3 children myself. Maybe somehow in heaven my mother, pop pop, grandma Mildred, uncle Ronnie, and my great grandparents all came together and decided that David and I could manage triplets. I don't know.
What makes this story more heartfelt for me is that my grandma Gloria passed about 3 weeks before I had the triplets. All of my fellow mothers reading this blog can relate to the hormones that rage through your body when pregnant. And how those raging hormones quickly leave the body post baby. Imagine those hormones times three. Three babies equals triple the hormone levels. Postpartum was tough. I was stressed, worried about my babies in the NICU, and still mourning the loss of my grandma. My grandma who was my second mother, and who I lost while I was on medical bedrest in the hospital trying to keep my miracles in and safe. Then I have my babies 9.5 weeks premature and they remain at the hospital. I'm away from home, staying at the Ronald McDonald house, and I'm experiencing severe post c-section pain and discomfort. I was in a bad place. And although I was surrounded by my husband, family and a huge support system, I went through phases. Some phases I needed my mom and grandma, bad. But that was impossible. Some phases I wanted no one but David and my babies. And some nights, while I was up pumping breast milk for my babies a block away, I cried. And I felt motherless. I had what I needed. But I didn't have who I wanted. There are some who may never understand that.
For those who wonder if I was experiencing postpartum depression, I say no. I did go though many emotions though, and as a self check I reviewed the signs of postpartum literature that the hospital gave to me. Were my feelings of being motherless warranted? Probably not. But that is how I felt in that moment. And that's how I felt when my mommy died. I understand better now and appreciate all of the love and support God sent my way. And I'm grateful for the experiences and time we did have together. However long or short. I tell people this all of the time and I'll say it here again. It bothers me when I hear of or see people at odds with their parents. Being at odds with family is bad, but at odds with your parents is worse. Take the time to make amends and straighten things out. If they ignore your attempts, try again. All isn't lost. But most of all, love on your mother and father. Tomorrow isn't promised, and losing them is life altering. I can only hope to teach our 3 P's everything my mother and grandma placed in me, and sprinkle in all of the love I have in my heart. I can also only hope and pray David and I are around long enough to see them grow up, graduate, marry and have children of their own. And of course, make them proud that we are their mommy and daddy. Because we sure are proud to be their parents... parents to three miracle babies.
Sending love and a Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers! Especially first time moms. Enjoy your day!
My true due date: October 17th (40 weeks)
Triplet due date: September 19th (36 weeks)
Major milestones to pass for health concerns:
July 25th (28 weeks)
July 4th (25 weeks)
My personal goal date to meet or exceed: September 5th (34 weeks)
Ob-gyn and Fetal-Maternal Doctor’s goal: As long as possible
Date of delivery: August 12th (30 weeks and 4 days)
That seems like a lot of dates, huh? That’s just a taste of the uncertainty we dealt with the entire pregnancy. We just didn’t know when we would deliver and these babies would come into our lives. So honestly, all we could do is pray day by day that they remained healthy and strong. August 12th was not too early, yet not as late as we wanted, but in the end just right because the babies were born healthier than any health professional has seen for triplets at that gestational age!
Every woman has her delivery story. And I’ve had countless people ask me about my story, so I decided to make this post about that. The day before I went into labor, I managed to book a hair stylist to come out to our home and braid my hair. At this point I was released from the hospital bedrest to home on a strict bedrest. I had a doctor's appointment the next day and knew they may re-admit me into the hospital for bedrest until delivery, so I wanted a low maintenance hair-do that would last me awhile. The next morning, Thursday, August 11th, I woke to some dull aching in my lower abdomen and a very faint tinge of blood after using the bathroom. We didn’t freak out because our appointment with the fetal maternal medicine doctor would involve a check of my cervix and I could share any other concerns. Given the weight of my belly these days and the discomfort from the baby's’ movement, I knew there was a great chance of being re-admitted so I brought along my suitcase of nightgowns and items from my most recent stay. This time around, I was prepared to stay and return home at some point after our babies were born. As we began our trip to Orlando, I noticed my dull ache felt a bit like menstrual cramps. I reported all of my feelings and concerns upon arrival and we prepped for my appointment. This time when using the bathroom, I noticed a spot of bright red blood, and the achiness in my lower pelvic area seemed to throb. The ultrasound showed 3 healthy and growing babies, my cervix was still short but holding on, and the fetal stress test showed just one contraction. The doctor planned to send me home. If you read David's Deets entitled “The First 48…” you know that the doctor and David had a meeting of the minds and the doctor decided to re-admit me to the hospital on bedrest after all. Upon readmission into the hospital, I told the nurses that I thought I was having contractions. They asked me how and I told them about the achiness in my lower pelvic area that seems to intensify and release every few minutes (I asked David to time it for me). The nurses dismissed my concerns because they stated that contractions would cause my entire belly to tighten and contract, which was not what I was experiencing. But in my mind I knew something was not right. The fetal monitoring listens for each baby's’ heartbeat and with triplets, it’s always a treat to see if the nurses can track down all 3 heartbeats and keep them for a period of time. That’s 3 different monitors…then you add on a contraction monitor and it’s a sight to see! I need to dig in my old photos and see if we ever took a pic of it. I insisted that I was contracting so the nurses placed the contraction monitor on my lower abdomen (rather than the middle of my belly) to see if it picked anything up. As soon as they did, they discovered I WAS contracting, and contracting just 7-9 minutes apart! They moved the monitor to another part of my belly, and the contractions continued. They could not explain why my belly was not fully contracting like it should, and all I could tell them was that the doctor told me my feelings and contractions wouldn’t be like the typical pregnancy because I have 3 babies inside. To think, we could have been on the road traveling back home from Orlando. What if the contractions picked up? What if we went home, called the after hours line and were told not to be concerned about the pain because it wasn’t my entire belly, therefore no contractions? Lord I don’t want to even think about it. I just thank God the doctor heard my husband and had the thought to readmit me that day.
The contractions continued so the hospital ran an IV line to slow things down, if not eliminate the contractions. Hey, maybe I was dehydrated, maybe it’s Braxton Hicks. The IV didn’t work, in fact, the contractions were now 6-7 minutes apart! I could also feel the contractions coming on a bit stronger. I would watch the contraction monitor and whenever the line swelled past the 30 mark, I felt things intensify, and die down when it lowered. Now it’s time for bed, yes, they actually expected me to sleep with 4 monitors strapped to my belly and contractions 6-7 minutes apart. Oh yeah, and just in case I had to deliver that night, they took me off of food earlier that evening… so I’m also starving. Sleep was not even an option that night… and I want to say now that I haven’t had a full nights sleep since before that night. The contractions continued on, I vaguely remember crying to David that we were about to have our babies and praying they were alright… and David telling me over and over again, “We are not having these babies tonight. They are not coming tonight.”
“...This man doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he hasn’t carried a baby one day in his life. Who is he to tell me what is NOT going to happen. Doesn’t he see that contraction monitor? Doesn’t he hear my moans as the pain becomes more and more uncomfortable? I cannot continue on like this forever. Eventually my cerclage, that is keeping my short cervix together, will tear and our babies will make their grand entrance. OR, the doctors will call it and schedule my cesarean section stat.” These things ran through my head as I argued and tried to reason with my husband. He then laid his rump down for a good night's rest. I was floored. The pain increased throughout the night, the nurse came in and gave me a med that was supposed to knock out the contractions once and for all. Didn’t work, in fact, the contractions sped up to 5 minutes apart and more intense. When the pain was getting worse, I texted my cousin, dad and mother in law, telling them the pain was getting so bad and I just couldn’t make it stop and I don’t know what to do. My cousin suggested I ask the nurse for something to take the edge off. An epidural was not an option because we needed to deliver via cesarean. The nurse did have another med for me, and this one made me so drowsy and loopy that the whole world slowed down to the speed of molasses and I had a few incoherent conversations. It did, however dull the pain for about 2 hours so I could sleep. Just as quickly as the drowsy side effects wore off, the pain returned, and stronger.
8:00am the doctor enters and tells me they have tried unsuccessfully for 12 hours to make the contractions stop and they cannot. Therefore they have decided to deliver the babies in the next hour.
Did he just say deliver my babies? I was floored, ...but accepting, ...yet, ...floored. This was really happening, I was going to meet my babies that day! As we began to flood our parents with info on what was about to take place, the doctor returned and stated the hospital needed more time to assemble the team to deliver the triplets, therefore my surgery was pushed back to give the team time. That was from 8 to 10am, and then 10 to 12pm. By 12 noon I am in the pre-op room ready to go in and they again have to push me back as they work to assemble the team. At this point the contractions are 1 minute apart and the contraction monitor reading was at the top of the chart. I was in PAIN. So much so, that I refused to wait any longer for that room to open up. I told the staff to take me there right away, or better yet, I would walk to the operating room, because the pain was just too much for me to bear. The nurse finally came in to wheel me down and it was time to get this huge birthday party started.
22 people. 22 staff members from the Florida hospital participated in our baby's’ delivery. Don’t ask me all of their names, roles or titles. Just know that we had 22 smiling faces ready to bring our miracles into the world. Spinal tap anesthesia, nausea, lots of laughs, smiles and some prep, and before we knew it, our babies were delivered. David IV came first, 1:31pm, followed by an almost immediate cry. You have to understand the feeling of disbelief that ran through my mind.. Is that really my child? Such a loud and strong cry. Followed by Ariel, 1:32pm. And Jaslyn, 1:33pm. 3 of the longest minutes of my life, and voila, I am a mother! The teams each worked on a baby and I asked (probably a million times), “Are they alright?”, which of course each team answered yes. My honey girl, Ariel required a c-pap for some supplemental oxygen, but otherwise there were no major issues. David was removed from the room almost instantly and taken to the NICU for further monitoring, Ariel followed shortly after, and Jaslyn lingered for a few moments longer, stopping for pictures with mommy and daddy.
Following delivery, I was taken back to the recovery room, where family came in to greet me and David. As you can imagine, I was beyond exhausted, so I vaguely remember much more than the nausea that took over following surgery. The recovery nurse did offer to bring me by the NICU to see the babies before taking me up to the mother-baby unit, and I’m glad she did. Had she not done that, I would not have seen my babies again until I was able to walk! The nurse rolled me into the NICU, and I got so many stares… I could overhear people whispering, “there’s the triplet mom”, my new nickname. The problem was I wasn’t smiling, I was so nauseated that I was embarrassed to see my babies. Don’t ask me my name, the color of the sky or anything because the “empty” contents of my stomach just may come up. The sickness was consuming and add in weakness… I could barely reach my hand out to touch my babies. After a brief visit with them, I was taken up to the mother-baby unit where I stayed for the next 3 days. At that point my chief complaint was nausea and exhaustion. I actually thought having a cesarean wasn’t so bad… HA! I didn’t have a clue.
In the days and weeks to follow, the pain from my cesarean left me barely able to walk. Try feeling like someone is ripping the stitches out from inside of you. My incision leaked for almost 2 weeks, and David was forced to transport me via wheelchair. And to top it all off, I felt guilty for not being there for my babies. They needed me and I was too weak and in too much pain to help. 24 hours later, I was cleared to walk about in the room, and have wheelchair access to the NICU to see my babies. My God, seeing them connected to all of the machines and hearing all of the monitors was depressing. However by the looks of things in the NICU, this very fragile place, things could have been much worse. I truly thank God for his covering over me and the triplets. I was discharged that Monday, and by the grace of God able to go straight into the Ronald McDonald house. One (very long) block away. It was there that I truly began my healing process, the night sweats, chills, pain, aches, you name it. And it was there that I also began to grow as a mother. No, my situation wasn’t like the traditional experience where you give birth and come home with you baby. I had to spend my days and nights in the hospital, learning all I could from the nurses, doctors and therapists. David and I were the students. Thinking back on it all, God had me right where I needed to be, at the right time, in the right place, and in the right situation. Although very difficult, it was his plan all along.
Next up... be on the lookout for my upcoming posts:
What were our days like in the hospital?
2. Got milk?
You guessed it, my post about breastmilk and my formula journey.
3. Trippin’ aint easy
What’s a day in the life of a triplet parent like? Find out what works, what doesn’t, and when I have no clue about what I’m doing.
And now, a little surprise, please enjoy the video! Subscribe and like on YouTube at 3 Lil Paynes to keep up to date on all videos! Happy New Year to you all!
l'm a mom.
I am someone's mommy.
I am a mommy to triplets.
Life completely changed the moment I became pregnant in January, and things have not been the same since. This whole year has been building up in anticipation of the babies coming. How soon? Dates? Doctors? Location? Etc, etc, etc. I know I've been away from the blog for quite sometime, but I just don't have the time some days to pause and write like I used to. Sometimes I miss the days of being bored, sleeping in, and sitting at home being an occasional couch potato. I also miss my pregnancy days and the rest (I was supposed to take). And hospital bedrest. Man, oh man. I thought it would never end. 21 of what seemed like the longest days ever are in the distant past. Now my days are filled with diapers, wipes, crying, tears, bottles, pumping milk, breastfeeding, dressing, holding and rocking. I'll also sprinkle in coughing, spit ups, pee and poop. Lots and lots of those. And finally, I'll shower it all with love. I am absolutely in love with my babies. They bring me the greatest joy that I never imagined I'd feel. Don't get me wrong. I'm exhausted. Like, delirious at times. And sometimes I feel like, man, I just can't do this. I'm SO TIRED!! But guess who gets no time or days off? You guessed it, momma! I'm fortunate my husband is so helpful and does what he can. But he's a man. A good man, but a man. He may or may not understand and doesn't bear the same weight of responsibility that I do. No, I am not trying to start the great debate on men and women parenting roles and responsibilities, so I'll stop there. But again, my husband is phenomenal and I can't thank him enough.
So here I am. Same Monet, yet a newer version of myself. There's something about those little people that takes over your heart and soul. My heart and mind doesn't know the difference between one baby vs three. It just knows they were cut from my womb and I'll do anything to protect them. Full. Mama. Bear. Mode.
So on August 12th, 9.5 weeks premature, we were thrown into parenthood. Delivery went by so quickly. Before we knew it, they were here! Recovery was rough. Leaving the hospital without my babies was devastating. Our babies needed to stay in the NICU for a period of time, which I knew that before they were born. But to leave without them? My poor heart. I didn't have the words initially, so I just sat in the wheelchair and let David roll me to the Ronald McDonald house. I sat in silence while he chatted away, trying to keep the air light and spirits high. It didn't really hit me yet, but something was brewing inside. My first thoughts were "man, how am I leaving the hospital so soon when I can hardly walk? This pain, is tough!" I didn't want to take pain meds because I was pumping milk (or attempting to), but I couldn't survive without them. Dang. How was I gonna manage this one? Then, they expect me to leave the hospital, knowing that I'm leaving 3 extensions of my heart?! No way. I thank God that we were able to secure the Ronald McDonald house. It allowed me to be 1 block away, vs 1 hour away from them. The room had an Orlando Magic theme, even equipped with a basketball hoop. Everyone seemed so friendly, and I received the usual comments like, "you had triplets?! Omg". But I was hollow. Flat. Trying to process my feelings.
I remember coming into our room and David went to use the bathroom. As I began to unpack my suitcase I came across a little baby hat from the hospital. Tucked inside was a bulb syringe (nose/mouth) suction. I remember one of the neonatologists giving it to us post surgery. It was on one of the babies birth table and wasn't used. I took one look at that bulb and burst into tears. "How could I leave my babies?!?!" I asked myself. "How could I do that to them?!", "What kind of mother am I?!" It all finally came out, I sobbed for quite awhile. I knew they were receiving the best care, and I knew physically I couldn't care for them in my condition if they were home with me. Yet, being away from them was difficult.
In most cultures, it's common practice for the woman to remain at home with her newborn for at least a month. Leaving home for very little, maybe appointments at the pediatrician. Old school yes, I know, but that's what I remember being told for so many years. "Your body needs time to heal", they said. "The baby is too young and fragile", they'd exclaim. But what if your baby is still in the hospital? Breastfeed??? Nope. Pump. Every 2-3 hours for a baby a block away who cannot eat by mouth yet. Waking every few hours, even at night. Awakened by not baby cries, but your cellphone alarm. It was unchartered waters! Those first few days, and week following delivery were the most difficult. The original plan was for David to spend a few days with me and then get right back to work. Saving his leave time for when the babies were home. Go home during the week, come back on the weekends. His mother would stay with me during the week. But he chose to stay with me that full week instead, and I was so happy. I was a mess physically and emotionally and the only person I wanted was him. And physically, my limitations were far beyond what any book or advice could tell you. He was my rock during that time, and I couldn't be more appreciative.
The next chapter has begun, and boy oh boy, we're just getting started. The story will continue... stay tuned.
Be on the lookout for my upcoming posts:
I'm constantly asked about my delivery so I'll share my story.
What we're our days like in the hospital? How did it become our second home?
3. Got milk?
You guessed it, a post about breastmilk!! Who would have thought that would consume my life?
The Triplets are coming! The Triplets are coming!!
Like Christmas in September, we simply could not wait any longer for the day when we could unwrap and unplug our precious angels to take them home. Ariel Moriah surprised us all by being discharged first, this past Monday, 9/19. It was a rough couple of nights in the Payne household, with Mommy and Daddy both trying to go sleep just as the sun was coming up.
Jaslyn Monet was later discharged on Thursday, 9/23, and she wasted no time keeping her parents on their toes. A couple of bottles and soiled diapers later and her Daddy snuck away just enough to get this newsletter out!
The best news is, is that our trio is finally expected to be fully reunited on Sunday, when David L Payne IV makes his way back home to ensure that they'll be no more rest for the weary. We have tons of great new pictures, all of which you can view at A Peek at the Paynes.
See you soon!
David, Ariel and Jaslyn born Friday, August 12th at 1:31, 1:32, and 1:33pm.
This blog is still very difficult for me to write. Yeah, it all seems to flow, I’m sharing so much… but it’s difficult to share what I’ve experienced and I am going through. It just seems so deeply personal. I can sometimes imagine people with bad intentions reading through this site, judging every word, every post, and forming their conclusions. Or better yet, taking a screenshot of every page and sharing with their friends as a way to mock or ridicule. Putting some or all of your business out to the world leaves you vulnerable, and what we’re sharing here is personal. I do not claim to be an expert in infertility, pcos cures, homeopathy, nor do I know all of the ins and outs of a pregnancy with multiples. You will find very few scientific and research based references here, too. That’s not what we intended to do. Yes, as a professional, my background may have a little more insight. Yes, I have read countless articles and blogs. And yes, we did complete some homeopathic work… but getting into that on this site would involve a level of research and care that goes beyond our intentions for this page.
But, what is most difficult for me, is while I write these postings, I have friends and acquaintances that are still in the trenches. They were either ahead of me, starting their journey long before I did. Or behind me, starting after. Some have given up. Some have taken breaks. Some haven’t begun yet. And some are still hiding behind their situation. I did take some time out to share with a few who I knew were in the trenches at some point when I was. And I cried as I told my story because I knew they were still fighting. How do you tell someone who you know has struggled that this wonderful miracle happened to you? I couldn’t keep it from them, because in my mind, it is a slap in the face to find out by hear say. So I shared from the direct source, me. But it hurt. No two stories are alike they say. However, I wish several stories could end with happy endings. I’ve been on the other side of that news before. Many times. I’ve sat in on baby showers and kept a smile on my face. Afterall, I was genuinely happy for whoever the mother and father was. Never would I ever feel envy or hate towards them and their blessing. Some of the stories were true inspirations to David and I and we held on to the promise that God had for us. Yet here I was, excited about my story, but hurting to share it with a few.
Maybe this blog will be enough to encourage someone to keep going, or to tell a friend how sorry I am. And that I’m praying for them, and still holding their hand through their journey, just as they held mine. Or maybe, this blog will be enough to keep the negative readers away, so they understand just how serious this journey is or can be, and that many may or may not share because of the stigma associated with it.
Judge less, love more. A motto I need to live by more and more each day.
Whew, it’s been a while since I left you with the news that we were pregnant with quadruplets. No, that wasn’t a typo and your eyes weren’t deceiving you. I WAS pregnant with quadruplets. We skipped ahead in the story to update you on my hospital stay and the loss of my grandma. Now we rewind back to continue the story. The last story was, “Sit back and watch God work.” If you haven’t read it, go back now, refresh, and then continue with this story. The time frame is somewhere between late February and early March. Enjoy!
And then there were three….
In the two weeks after learning about our Quads, life sort of went back to normal. We went back to work, I came home and put my feet up. Morning sickness and other hormonal changes slowly began to seep in. I also learned I had a cold virus and that took me out for a day or so. I thank God for my crockpot and homemade turkey noodle soup with LOTS of ginger. I ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! It settled my stomach and satisfied my taste buds… and the ginger helped with the smells that were taking over my nose. --Side note: Turkey is always a good alternative to chicken, and I began making mine with turkey some time ago, now I love it; plus the turkey thighs supplied a better portion of meat.-- Of course, being new to pregnancy, a cold virus meant I was very limited on what I could and couldn’t take for a remedy. I remember feeling impressed that my doctor took my call so quickly after hours. In fact, I spoke to him directly! He advised me that tylenol was my best option to keep my fever down, as a fever could pose a threat to the babies. And of course, drink lots of fluids.
One day, about a week later, towards the end of a long day at work, I went to the bathroom and discovered some light pinkish/brownish discharge when I wiped. That really freaked me out, so when the day was out, I cleared my afternoon schedule and ran home. Straight to the bathroom I went and discovered more. Nothing heavy. Nothing bright red. But it WAS something. I notified David (yes, I tell him everything), step mom and mother-in-law and I immediately went to rest on the sofa. I then began to pray. I mean… the Lord and I had a deep, real and serious TALK. I pray daily, don’t get me wrong, maybe not like the prayers you hear in church. I believe in praying like I’m having a conversation with the Lord right there in my room. My prayer that day was so full of raw emotion. Here I was, fearful of something that I didn’t understand, pregnant with 4 babies, and I didn’t know what was happening. And I felt guilty and convicted for that fear… like, didn’t God just give us this miracle? Are you doubting now? How could you after all he’s taken you through? So I prayed and cried about my fear, prayed and cried about my guilt, and prayed and cried for protection over my babies, myself, and my husband. I CRIED. The discharge continued into the next day, so I called the doctor’s office and shared what was happening. They assured me that everything was probably fine, but as long as I didn’t have any heavy bleeding and such, that there was nothing I could do. My appointment was approaching in a few days, and I was directed to continue to drink plenty of water, rest, avoid exercise, heavy lifting and anything that lead to pelvic pressure.
At our appointment, here we were again. In the room, lights out, David to my left holding my hand, and I am staring at the ceiling. This time David understands what he may or may not see on the ultrasound screen. At the end of the examination, the lights stayed off, the doctor turned the screen so I could view, and he had a different response. “There are now three babies”. Before we could utter a word in disbelief, he then showed us a little flicker of light. That light on each tiny baby was their heartbeat. “Would you like to hear their heartbeats?”. We then proceeded to listen into each heart beat; loud and strong. I smiled in amazement, David choked up a bit. Those were our babies. And although they were itty bitty, teeny tiny beings on screen… they were so full of life. Yes we were told they were there, and we had faith. But there is something comforting in seeing them on screen, it renews your faith and gives you hope.
As we exited the doctor’s office that day, we didn’t cry about our loss. We actually had a peace over us, that we knew was nothing but God. And we prayed. We prayed for that fourth baby, wherever it went, and we prayed for the 3 that were hanging on strong. We were still expecting 3 little miracles, and we couldn’t stress or cry over our loss; because they depended on us. Our next appointment was critical, because that would confirm our 3 viable babies and release us back to my ob gyn. And as the doctor stated, every week in the first trimester is critical to their survival, so it was important for us to follow his orders and take it easy. Somehow those directions were much easier to follow this time around. We continued on with our journey, much quieter than before, and much humbler. Triplets, we’re having triplets.
I want you to try and imagine what was running through my mind in the days that followed. After years of trying for a baby, we never miscarried. So…. was this a miscarriage? Was it a “vanishing twin”-- a phrase that we’ve heard about before? Did my body just absorb what was supposed to be a baby but never truly developed into one? And the even deeper question….one I never spoke out loud… Did I cause this? I mean afterall, I do work hard and i’m on my feet most of the day. I can’t just go on leave in the first trimester. It leaves you a little helpless, and the burden was on me. Or so I thought. I was the incubator, I was the one being asked to sit, slow down, stand up and not bend over, wear comfortable shoes, and follow every other old wives tale that was thrown at me.
Those who know me well know that I can be a busy body. I am practically on skates at work with all of the running I do, picking up students here and there. Then I come home, work my private job 2 days per week, and try to cook and keep my home tidy. I am NOT superwoman, however, being a wife is a full time job. And, I enjoy cooking, so I try to do so at least a few times per week. I love the preparation of fresh ingredients, rocking out to my music, watching all of the ingredients come together and sharing my creation with my husband. And dog, lol. I’ve been this way since I was old enough to cook. Cleaning is a different story, I can’t get to it all each day… but I do tidy daily and keep things in order as time is available. So imagine the shock mentally I felt when I had to sit my rump down. It’s easy to say, but difficult to do. Add in exhaustion and sickness and it would seem even easier, but the guilt of not performing your normal duties (slacking), can weigh on you like a boulder. And the big one… how do you keep a smile on your face when your husband walks in, so he doesn’t come home to ratty hair, old sweats, sleeping on the couch, a dirty home and no dinner? I know I probably sound like I’m crazy or from the 1940’s… after all, I AM carrying 3 babies... but these are things I like to do in my home, and I’m not sorry for it.
David and our family assured me that it was okay, and that I had to rest as the doctor said… and my body was telling me to sit down, but I was dealing with an internal battle. It took some time, but I then gave in to the sickness and just sat, even when I wanted to do more. The nausea and vomiting took over and I was strapped to the trash or an emergency barf bag. Not exactly the sexiest. Some days I could only eat between 9am-6pm, before a sickness came over me that left me feeling terrible. I called it twilight time because my morning sickness became worse at night. David had to then verbally force me to eat because I just couldn’t do it. Everything smelled to me, everything tasted terrible, and the thought of opening my mouth to put more than a few spoonfuls of food in was not working. So I stayed curled up on the couch like a sad sack of suds. Suddenly I lost 8 pounds and was the lowest I had been in 3 years. I finally discovered my secret to weight loss--pregnancy! I kid. Sitting and resting were the new directions daily, especially at work. I would sit whenever I could, and rest my head, because I was just too tired to do anything else. I thank God I completed the bulk of my teacher performance review in the first half of the year, because I knew it was impacting me professionally. I’m still trying to figure out how some teachers go the entire school year pregnant… I was struggling and it was just the 2.5 months!
Anything for our babies because I can never forget, God remembered us.
Smile, though your heart is aching.
Smile, even though it's breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by.
If you smile, through your tears and sorrow.
Smile, and maybe tomorrow.
You'll see the sun come shining through, for you.
Light up your face with gladness.
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear, may be ever so near.
That's the time that you keep on trying.
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll see that life is still worthwhile.
If you, just, smile.
Smile, one of my grandmas favorite songs. Someone told me just today, "A lot of what's in you, your grandmother put there. Don't forget that." I couldn't agree more. Grandma was and will remain an extension of the term "mother" in my life. I lived with her for a short while after my grandpa died, and I remember how she grieved. I mean, 40+ years of marriage will do that to you. Initially I didn't know what to say, I would offer my shoulder, rub her back and offer tissues. But mostly, just my presence was a huge help. Here she was, one of the toughest women I knew, weak and fragile. I remember praying for that kind of love, naively admiring love and marriage when I truly didn't understand what went into it. Yes my grandma loved my grandpa, I know that. But as an adult, I now understand what it means to love someone with your whole heart. For grandma, it involved giving your all to them for over 40 years. And then one day, that person leaves and you're left alone.
I moved closer to my grandma when I came to college. My mother passed my senior year and I always wanted to attend the University of Florida. Each year we would make our trip down to Florida and spend Christmas or Easter. And each year we'd pass the UF campus and I would stare out of the window imagining what life in college was like. So it was a given that I would apply for college there and when accepted, I chose Florida. This was such a time of learning and growth for me as a young woman. I just lost my mother and then half of a year later I was in Florida with my grandma and she picked right up right where I needed her to. I mean, we talked about everything and my grandma was not shy.
While respecting the fact that I was a college student and in a new environment, she told me sweetly one day. "You can do whatever you want on Saturday night, but you will be in church Sunday morning." And she meant it. And not only did she look for me, she saved a seat for me and whatever friends that decided to join. She didn't care much about how many or who, she just knew little miss Monet WAS going to be there. Period. That was another time of growth for me. Growth in my faith. I knew God, I knew the Lords Prayer, the books of the bible, and some scripture. Heck, I grew up in church since I was a kid! But there's a change that takes place in you when you're a young adult, and an adult. And the learning and growth that take place far exceed anything you learn as a child. That childhood experience was the foundation. But my growth as a young adult was the building blocks. Each weekend (or week depending on the time in the semester), my grandma also expected me to take a drive out to her house. It didn't seem so far when we were kids, but my grandmas house was a good 30 minutes away, on a good day. And that drive in college, plus the time spent there took a good chunk of my Saturday or Sunday. Grandma would feed me, well. Talk to me, see how school was going, studying, friends, professors, you name it. She kept tabs on my every move and for good reason! I was young and immature and as much as I thought I had it together, I didn't. I came to school at 17, I was NOT together. Lol. After my meal, and no, you couldn't leave without eating, I would also zonk out for an afternoon nap. My grandmas guest room bed was so comfortable, so soft, and so big compared to my twin back at the Ivy House. Grandmas home was my get-away from all of the stresses of college life and my grandma pulled me out for that breather every week.
My grandma always had this thing she would say:
When I finished a big exam or paper: "We finished that big exam or paper."
When I finished a semester: "We finished a semester."
When I scored an A in a class: "We scored an A."
When I graduated from college: "We graduated."
She and I. Why? Because everything I went through, she went through, with me, because she was so heavily involved in my life and she was there every step of the way. I remember one night, I decided I was going to have a drink or two with my friends in their room. Her grandma senses must have gone off because she dropped in the next day for one her surprise inspections. No time to prep because she is calling me from down the road. She could immediately hear I wasn't feeling well. Upon arriving, grandma insisted we go to our little soup and salad spot, McCallister's for lunch, followed by a trip to Publix to ensure I had quality groceries. I got in the car looking a mess. Grandma, who never misses a thing, asked me if I was alright. I told her my tummy was upset... and she suddenly decided she was going to take me directly to the hospital because I needed a check-up! I came clean, and accepted the lecture that followed. She was right. I was being stupid and I needed to be more responsible, especially as a "young lady". I continued to enjoy my time in college, but my grandmas advice and knowledge always stayed with me. She was definitely in my head.
Fast forward a few years and I finished graduate school. Oh excuse me, "We finished graduate school." And I moved back to Gainesville to work. In my mind I thought I would stay with my grandma for awhile until I got on my feet. Wrong. After two weeks, I secured a job as a speech therapist and I was already working full-time at the part-time job I had in college. Just until the new job started. One day grandma said, "Okay, let's go look for some apartments". What?? Grandma wasn't going to let me freeload for months?! No way! She was always encouraging me and teaching me to be smart, responsible and independent and that included after becoming a recent college graduate. Found my own place, 15 minutes to grandmas house, 15 minutes to work. I resumed my church involvement but stepped it up a notch. I even began to participate in some of her club activities, after all, we both wanted to keep up with each other.
As you can imagine, with time came age and my grandma couldn't do the things she used to. I get it. It's funny how the tables turned a bit. My grandma, the once over protective guardian became a bit softer, and I turned into the over protective granddaughter. You messed with her, you messed with me. I was right there, on the job. Time passed on and grandma aged more, I began to host Thanksgiving at my place. I could never match the meals that grandma made and to this day I would give anything to have a sample.
Fast forward to my wedding day and it was decided that grandma would move north to spend more time with family. The day after marrying David, we loaded the car and moved to North Carolina. That was such a tough day. Yes, I was so happy and in love. Yet I was leaving Florida. Especially my daddy and grandma. I cried and I wept, and David gave me a moment to get it together. But that move was so significant. Yes, "We got married". But no, "we weren't moving". At least not moving together. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but there was a change for me.
Since becoming pregnant, I decided to wait and tell my grandma face to face. After all, she didn't quite understand iPhone FaceTime, and she deserved more than just a phone call. Now that grandma has passed away, I regret that decision. How could I let that opportunity pass? She knew about my PCOS. And she knew of my fears years ago. She also believed that I had nothing to worry about.
Once, a while ago, while visiting family.... My grandma was meeting one of her great-granddaughters for the first time. As she was talking to the baby, "...Hi!! Aren't you beautiful? I'm great-grandma, I love you." Oh how the baby lit up. But then she said something that has rung deep in my heart for years.
"Now great-grandma just has to see your auntie Monet have a baby and then I can pass on to heaven."
So today, I sit here thinking of our relationship. --Not excluding my family, just speaking from my experience. I want to note they were always there with us and we're all a close family.--
But I reflect on our relationship, how far we've come. And I sit here pregnant with a very important surprise that I waited too long to share. And now it's too late. And to make matters worse, I'm here locked down in the hospital protecting our 3 little miracles. How could I miss her funeral? I've always enjoyed dreams that include deceased relatives. Especially ones with my mother because we always sit, talk, and catch up on life. It's like our girl time. Maybe one day, after the triplets are born, I can share this huge surprise in one of my dreams with her.
And tell my grandma, "We did it. We had 3 babies."
RIP grandma, and love you always! I will sweetly sing your song to the babies. And place some of your light within them. ❤️❤️
Doctor: Okay Mrs. Payne, so based on this information, our next course of action will be to admit you into the hospital.
Silence. Blank. Stare.
David: Okay. So are you talking today, tomorrow, next week?
More silence. Blank stare. Actually, I wanted to look at David and that doctor like the picture of the giraffe above. But I was neither shocked nor sad. Actually I knew, correction, we knew this day may come. And it did. And it left me looking like the giraffe… in the picture above.
I know what you’re thinking. I already know. If you’ve been following our blog posts thus far, I last left you with a post discussing our pregnancy involving quadruplets. This is true. And I have many, many more posts ready and prepared to share with you to continue the story. However, we just couldn’t drop the entire story on you all at once, could we? And this sudden change of events is cause for an immediate update. I promise, promise, promise to continue the story soon.
Last week was pretty interesting. We went to the doctor for a routine visit, and left there and went straight to the hospital. I always knew medical bedrest was possible. Every blog, book, doctor and nurse I spoke to told me it was possible. I, knew it. But until it happens, and it becomes a reality, you kind of wish it away and not really think it would happen. I even had a few women close to me suggest that I pray about it and pray that God does not place me on bedrest. Don’t get me wrong, I pray about any and everything. Yet something kept me from praying “away” bedrest. In fact, my prayer was along the lines of asking God to allow his will to be done. And whatever he believed to be fruitful for our children, then it be done. And I also prayed that he continue to speak to us through our doctors, using them as a tool to achieve his work, and that whatever our babies needed, it be done. Correctly. So there you have it. I accepted the possibility of bedrest and I knew it may or may not happen. Well today it did.
What does medical bedrest mean to us? A hospital stay, for an extended period of time, possibly weeks. It may involve just a few weeks, or until the babies are delivered. We were 25 weeks at admittance, with the doctor’s goal set at 28 weeks, then 30, etc, etc. Following check in, paperwork, gowns, socks, beds, vitals, and fetal monitoring, we were left with just the two of us… trying to figure out what the heck we were going to do next. Afterall, this IS a major disruption in our lives. I don’t care how “prepared” you are for something like bedrest. When that doctor says go to the hospital and check in, you go. And while you’re “going”, you think of everything you didn’t do before you left home. Nesting, laundry, meal prep, bills, securing your pet, preparing that room, donating that last bag of clothing. Everything. At least I did. Next, we had to notify our parents, update them on the situation and make adjustments to accommodate this very real situation.
So here I am, writing you today from my hospital bed. It’s cozy, I have a great view, the doctors and staff are all so warm and welcome. However, I am not home. Not in my bed, not under my own covers and not snuggled up with my husband and doggy. I’m here, far from home protecting our babies and ensuring they make it home with us one day soon. It’s funny how these little lives take over your life so early and you fall in love before they are even born. I’m reading some blogs and posts about how to survive bed rest, and I’m adjusting well. David too has some adjusting to do. Anything for our 3 P’s.
That was the word of the week. Word of the month! All of those years of worry, all of the years of praying, and we were set on a path, a journey to lead us to not one but FOUR babies. QUADRUPLETS! In the two weeks that followed, our emotions went up and down, but those close to us used the word blessed. I remember crying one night, asking David, “Why can’t we just be normal?”. Here we were, all of these years setting ourselves up for our 1 baby, 1 car seat, 1 daycare bill, 1 nursery, with 1 crib. And all the while, the Lord had other plans in mind. Was I upset about our miracle? No. Was I complaining about our blessings? Not at all. However this was an experience that we did not plan for, and we were taken by surprise. And the weight that comes with this type of blessing is massive. Here I was, carrying 4 little lives, and I was expected to just carry on like everything is normal. Why? Because carrying a baby, especially multiple babies is so high risk, that the risk of miscarriage is great. And given this risk, it has been suggested that we keep our miracle a secret for some time. Goodness, I can only imagine the heartache of sharing your good news, only to come back and share the opposite. So we sat on our miracle, bursting inside with great news, and we carried on with our lives.
This blessing made me think back to the Sunday before we found out our test results. Our Pastor’s message that Sunday was “You’re not alone”.
The three key notes from the lesson were:
1. You’re Chosen;
2. You’re a Champion;
3. Walk in your Commission.
At the end, for the altar call, Pastor Watson extended an invitation to come up for extra prayer. David and I went up, hand in hand, knowing what we were praying for, and knowing what we were testing for the next day. Pastor specifically laid hands on us both and stated, “Today, this week, this month, before 2016 is out, a major blessing is coming your way. Mark this day, that the Lord has spoken.” He then continued to pray for renewed and strengthened peace and faith. The next day we learned we were pregnant, and shortly after we learned we were having 4 babies! David joked with him a few months later, after sharing the news, and said, “…next time, we don’t want you to lay your whole hand on us, just a pinky finger”. Because clearly our Pastor heard a word from the Lord and it surely came to pass!
We joke about that now, but truthfully, God had been speaking a word like that to us for months before we became pregnant. Years even. That is why we held onto our faith and knew a blessing was coming, we just had to hold out and wait for him to say yes. ‘Sit back and watch God work!’- was my saying that rang through my head all week…and it was true. He wove us a blessing beyond anything we could imagine. And we just thank him from the depths of our souls.