A year earlier I began to follow my roommate from ALC (my SSG Course), and her journey. The two of us were the only two women in the class of 14 and therefore ended up sharing a barrack’s room. She was down to earth, smart in life and her job, and calm in nature. We were very different but still got along well. During our time there she mentioned that she and her husband had been trying for a baby for some time. She told me about some of the processes they had undergone, and I couldn’t help but wonder if my husband and I would have issues as well.
I started my cycle young, and it was instantly met with intense pain, followed by a doctor’s appointment. By 13 I was put on a low dose birth control as a means to manage the pain. By 21 I had a LEEP procedure, and from time to time an annual exam would come back with a form of dysplasia (pre-cancerous cells), for this reason in the back of my mind I had always wondered If I would have issues conceiving.
Shortly after the course ended my roommate and her husband were planning on undergoing IVF treatment. We all returned home from the course and she soon became pregnant with triplets, two girls and one boy. I was so happy for her. After hearing how long they had tried, and the measures they went through to get to this point, you couldn’t help but feel something for them. Her successful treatment had also given me a sense of hope. Should I have an issue, she was proof that treatment worked. Looking back it’s hard to believe how naïve I was. The reality is fertility treatments are not magic. Yes, they are a God send and help so many people have children, but for many they will not work the first time and for some couples they may never work. Others will simply never be able to afford all fertility measures or treatment.
Over the next few months I watched her posts of ultrasounds, showers and a rapidly expanding baby bump. Her husband, in true Army fashion, was not there for much of the pregnancy, but was expected to be home by the birth.
In a world where octomom and Kate plus 8 are thrust into the media the average person develops a false sense of security with multiples. The reality is that while medical advancements have drastically increased the survivability of premature babies, multiples, even twins and triplets, can still be very dangerous, often spending days, weeks or even months in the NICU. She would be no different. As with many mothers of multiples, labor came early and all three babies spent months in the hospital.
I remember checking her page often waiting for good news. Then finally good news came, the babies conditions were improving. A few month later the girls came home. Their son remained in the hospital but each picture posted he seemed to be growing and smiling. The girls were growing too. At home they got bigger and bigger each post. Months went by. Their son remained in the hospital a few more months and then the post came unexpectedly. Their son had passed. I remember I could not wrap my head around what I was reading. How could this be? Infants were born 4, 5, 6 at a time, much earlier and survive, how could he not make it? Why would this happen to them? Why would this happen to HIM? This baby boy that had brought so much joy into his family and others lives, how could he not be coming home? I was sad for her, I was angry for her, and I couldn’t think of anything to do or say to her. We were not especially close, two co-workers that had spent a few months living together and remained connected via Facebook, but it didn’t make me feel any less for her in that moment. I wanted to reach out, I wanted to do SOMETHING, but with a loss of a child what do you do or say? How do you react when there simply are no words?
This was the first time I would follow a story that would end in loss or pain. I think about her and her family often. I have watched the girls grow up through pictures and I often think about their little boy. Little did I know at the time that I, too, would soon enter a world full of stories like this one. These stories of great pain, humor, loss, growth and happiness became normal for me as I followed couples on their journeys full of impossible choices, great joys and great pain.