The Burkhardt Family

The Burkhardt Family

Angela Burkhardt shares the NICU story of her triplets.

Our babies were in the NICU for a total of 97 days.

Most people don’t realize that a triplet pregnancy is very high risk. We knew that our babies would spend time in the NICU when we went on the special nursery tour. Our C-section was scheduled for 34 weeks and we were praying we would make it that far. Being pregnant was a job for me. I had to eat the right things, gain weight fast and rest. I was on bed rest at home for 2 months. I got gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Our doctors told us to be ready at all appointments to be put on hospital bed rest.

One night, I woke up with spotting at 27 weeks and went straight to the hospital. We had suitcases packed ready to move into the hospital for several weeks. On my second night, I went into labor and my water broke that morning, much earlier than we expected. The special care nursery sent down a doctor to talk with us about what would happen and what to expect. We didn’t have time to be scared. They acted like this was all very routine and normal to them, which was very reassuring.

As a triplet mom, we’ve heard doctors and other professionals say, “We’ve never seen triplets before,” or “We’ve never dealt with them before,” but that wasn’t the case at Northside Hospital. They did this all the time, which is why we chose to have our babies there.

We were lucky our OB was on call when I went into labor. My husband had a very important meeting that morning at work and was trying to decide if he should go or not. Our OB tried to slow labor and said he would tell my husband if he could make his meeting or not in an hour. An hour passed and our OB said, “Well, I think you’re going to miss your meeting.” All of the doctors and staff tried to put us at ease and stay upbeat. The epidural doctor was even taking selfies with me.

There were 30 people in our delivery room. Each baby had its own NICU team. Baby A (Rosalind) was born at 12 p.m. and weighed 2 pounds 4 ounces and was 14 inches long. I didn’t see her but heard her cry from across the room. Baby B (Gavin) was born at 12:01p.m., my husband saw him for a few moments. He was 2 pounds 7 ounces and 15 inches long. Baby C (Theodore) was born at 12:02 p.m. He was 2 pounds 7 ounces and 15 ½ inches long. They brought him over, so I could see him and have a few photos taken before they took him up to the special care nursery.

My husband went up to the special care nursery with the babies, while I went into the recovery room. He came to check on me and showed me a picture of the babies. I was so amazed that they were alive. I wasn’t able to see them in person until the next day. A doctor called to update shortly after I was moved to a room. I was able to pump colostrum that night that they swabbed into the babies’ mouths.

Honestly, meeting the babies for the first few times is a blur now — a year later. I was on a lot of medications and did not feel well at all! We were able to touch them, which amazed me. They were so small, but in my eyes they were perfect. I couldn’t visit for long because I was still recovering from the C-section, but we were allowed to go up whenever I felt up to it. I was pumping every three hours for the babies, so we often would go visit for a few minutes at 3 a.m. or 5 a.m.

I was in the hospital for a week and ended up needing a blood transfusion to help me recover. In that time, my husband and I were able to hold our babies. My new job as a mother was to pump milk for my babies and hold them skin to skin.

I was so happy to have something to do that was helping the babies. I worked weekly with a lactation consultant, who helped us learn to nurse eventually. She watched our babies grown with us. I loved visiting with her weekly.

As I was recovering, I would go daily to the hospital to hold our babies. The nurses were very worried about my recovery and they would often suggest that I looked tired and should go home and rest. They knew this was going to be a long journey for us and wanted to make sure I was taking care of myself, so I would be ready and healthy for the babies to come home.

One scary day, Rosalind was not doing very well and our nurse was so helpful. He was so calm and informative. He walked me through everything that was happening step-by-step. He made several phone calls trying to get ultrasounds and doctors on the weekend to come look at her. She ended up getting her first of two blood transfusions.

I sat by her bed side for a long time. When I finally went home, I called several times to check on her. I was so thankful that I could call a nurse any time day or night to ask how our babies were doing. Often, I would call in the middle of the night to make sure they were sleeping well.

We went to weekly parent meetings at first, so we could ask all the questions were could think of. After a while, it was a time for us to socialize with other parents going through what we were going through.

I did get sick one weekend and couldn’t go visit the babies. It was the first time I hadn’t seen them on a daily basis. My husband went without me and I was so sad and worried. He came home with a card one of the nurses had made for me from the babies with their handprints as their signatures. It was so touching to know she cared that much to do that for me.

Another person I remember clearly was the janitor who cleaned the NICU. I saw her every morning when I arrived and she called me by name and asked how the babies were. In the afternoon, she would clean around their cribs and chat with me. Babies in the NICU are at high risk for germs and infections. Hand-washing and cleanliness are top priority. Her work was so important to me.

We were there over Halloween and Thanksgiving. For Halloween, we had little glowing battery powered pumpkins by their cribs. It was fun and festive and many nurses commented how much they enjoyed seeing them. We also dressed them up in little Halloween outfits and one of the nurses helped us hold all three together and take photos. It was the first time they were all together. It was a very special day for us. We did similar outfits for Thanksgiving. Theodore (Baby C) was home by then.

Theodore came home a month before his siblings. He traveled back and forth with me to the hospital daily. I would carry his “rock and play” with me, so that he could be close to his siblings. As the babies got closer to coming home, I worked with the doctors getting the right medications and feedings worked out. Since I was with the babies daily, and the doctors rotated, they trusted my opinion of what was working and what wasn’t.

I felt like a valued member of the team. They often asked if I was going to have help at home and how we were going to handle having three babies. They wanted to set us up for success.

Being a mother of triplets is hard, but rewarding. Watching them grow from 2 pounds. 4 ounces and 2 pounds 7 ounces to a year later, 18 pounds and 23 pounds has been amazing.

I can’t believe how strong and brave our little ones are. We are so thankful for Northside Hospital and all the doctors, nurses and staff. I truly believe it was our destiny to move to Atlanta to have our babies at Northside. If we were anywhere else the outcome might have been different.

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