When I was pregnant with my twins I was put on bed-rest at 34 weeks because of some early-labor symptoms. The doctor told me as long as I could make it to 36 weeks, it would be considered a full-term twin pregnancy. At 36 and a half weeks I felt the contractions begin and I could not wait for those babies to be born. I was D-O-N-E being pregnant!
I labored through the night and into the next day, my only focus: getting through the pain and trying to deliver my babies safely. When they placed my tiny 5 pound, 11 ounce little boy in my arms after 22 hours of hard labor I was overjoyed! Here it was, what we’d been waiting 9 months for, and he looked perfect to me. A few minutes later they whisked him away so I could focus on delivering his sister. She arrived weighing in at just 5 pounds, with some powerful lungs, and I breathed a sigh of relief…two healthy, beautiful babies.
Twenty minutes later, my bubble of euphoria was burst. A pediatric doctor from the hospital came to talk to us. Something was wrong with my son. They had taken him to the NICU. The next few minutes were a blur of words like emergency surgery, transport to another hospital, and birth defect. My beautiful boy had been born with a condition called imperforate anus. His little body had not quite finished developing and as a result he would not be able to pass stool. If he didn’t have surgery right away he would get very sick and the local hospital where I had delivered my babies did not have the pediatric surgery specialty needed to perform the delicate operation.
At one day old my son was transported two-hours away to the University of Virginia Hospital and at two days old he had his first corrective surgery (a second surgery happened when he was 6 months). My husband followed along and I stayed behind with our baby girl because she was having trouble maintaining her birth weight and was jaundice. The following week was mostly a blur and I only remember bits and pieces. A few days after his surgery, I was finally able to travel the 2 hours to see my son. As I sat in that NICU holding my tiny boy with an IV taped to his little hand, trying to nurse him for the first time, I cried. Tears of relief, fatigue, love, fear, gratitude…all of it flowed out.
As scary as those early days were, I will always look back with fondness for the NICU teams at both hospitals. I am eternally grateful for their kindness, quick action, skill, and empathy. I also realize how lucky we were. At seven days old, both of my babies were home, making our stay in the NICU relatively short. Many families are not as fortunate. Their babies spend weeks, even months in the care of the NICU staff. Which is why I want to tell you about the Triple Heart Foundation.
Stacey Skrysak gave birth to triplets Peyton, Parker and Abby in 2013, at 22 weeks 6 days gestation. Abby passed away shortly after birth; Parker passed away in the NICU at nearly two months old. Peyton is their lone survivor, a healthy and happy 5-year-old girl.
When Peyton and Parker were first whisked away to the NICU, Stacey and her husband Ryan felt helpless. Their one-pound babies were too fragile to hold. After a few days of staring through the isolette windows, a nurse made the suggestion of reading books to their babies. Stacey and Ryan began bringing books to the hospital, creating a bedside library by the time Peyton came home at 4 months old. The books provided comfort and created a special bond during a trying time.
In 2016 Stacey and Ryan created the Triple Heart Foundation — in honor of their premature triplets — to help other families who spend hours, upon hours in the NICU waiting for the day they can bring their baby home. They Triple Heart Foundation provides new children’s books, care packages, and other gifts to families in the NICU. While Triple Heart Foundation currently serves the Springfield, Illinois area, Ryan and Stacey have plans to reach other hospitals in Illinois. Triple Heart Foundation also takes requests from families across the country.
Here’s how you can help:
- Spread the word! Follow Triple Heart Foundation on Facebook and share with others the good work they are doing.
- Donate new books. Check out this page on their website for more information on what type of books they need and how to send them.
- Hold a fundraiser or send monetary donations. Triple Heart Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity and is 100% funded through donations. Click here for more information on how to donate.
This blog post was written in partnership with the Blogging for Better Supporters, a collective platform to raise awareness and money for a different charity each month. #bloggingforbetter