Sunday, April 5, 2009

And then there was one.... Chelsea's beautiful life story.

**This story was orginally posted April 2009. This story is what made me the person I am today.  These events changed me as a woman, wife, daughter, Christian and mother.  I hope you will take the time to read about my very special little girl!**

For any of you that have been following me for a while, or for those of you who personally know me, you know that I have a 16 y.o. daughter, Chelsea. Chelsea is the sweetest, most loving child that a mother could ever ask for. We have been so blessed to have her in our lives. As I wrote in the comments section of this post, I wanted to eventually share her story with all of you. I thought my 100th post would be just the time to do that.

I warn you, this is a very LONG story, much different than the fun and cheerful things that I normally post. So, if long and sad stories aren't your cup of tea, then come back tomorrow for my "normal" funniness! I have struggled with the decision of making this one long post, or breaking it up into several, smaller posts. But, there is just no way I could do Chelsea's story justice by breaking it into little pieces. I will also warn you that I've never been credited as being a great storyteller, so I hope that all of my random thoughts will make sense to you.

So if you are still here, go to the potty, get you a Coke Zero (or your beverage of choice), and settle in for the story.

The year was 1991, I was turning 22 years old, and had been married for 3 years (yes, I got married 5 days before I turned 19). Looking back, I was so young, so spoiled, so immature, and I'm sure several people that know me will agree with that. It was all about "Me! Me! Me!" I didn't love God like I should, either. Sure, I had been baptized, but it had been many years since I had lived my life as a Christian. The only time I graced the inside of the Church was for weddings and funerals. Marty wasn't even a Christian at the time.

(Attack of the MULLETS)

Despite all of this, Marty and I had decided to start a family. We tried for several months, but nothing was happening. After a few tests by my OB/GYN (including a very "uncomfortable" ultrasound), and months of taking my temperature, it was finally determined that I wasn't ovulating. So, the doctor gave me some meds to help me ovulate.

This was 17 years ago; the Internet wasn't around. The doctor didn't really elaborate about what he was giving me other than "Here's something to help you ovulate". My father-in-law got a Physician's Desk Reference (PDR) for Christmas, so we decided to look it up:

Clomiphene: a fertility drug (trade name Clomid) that is used to stimulate ovulation and that has been associated with multiple births.

Multiple births, huh? Wouldn't that be funny? Yeah, REAL FUNNY!

Unfortunately for us, we didn't read that until I had already taken the meds for that month.

Sure enough, two weeks later....there was a BRIGHT BLUE POSITIVE on the pregnancy test. I guess I should have noticed that it turned a little too blue, a little too fast!

We were THRILLED! We were going to have a baby!

The next few months were fantastic! No morning sickness at all! I felt great! The only odd thing was....I HAD to start wearing maternity pants around 11 weeks into the pregnancy. All my co-workers laughed at me, thinking I was wearing them just because I was so excited. WRONG! I HAD to wear them! I couldn't get into anything else!

My doctor never said anything was wrong, but decided to move-up my routine 20 week ultrasound to 17 weeks...."Just to see how big the baby was".

All the way to the ultrasound appointment, we joked "What if it's twins?"
Little did we know how right AND wrong we were!

As soon as the ultrasonographer put the probe on my belly, I saw TWO heads! I screamed "IT'S TWINS!!!" Then she said "Well, no there's THREE....TRIPLETS!" "Two Girls and a Boy!" Marty said "Oh SH**!" and I don't remember much after that! HaHa!

I cried all the way home from the ultrasound. NOT because I was worried about the health of my babies, or the possibility of loosing them, but because I didn't know how we were going to be able to afford to pay for daycare for three babies so I could continue working. See, "ME, ME, ME!" I wish I could go back and slap that person...really!

The next few weeks were really a blur. I had to leave my job, was put on bed rest, pelvic rest (which means....uhhh, no hanky panky), and was told that our goal was to make it to 34 weeks into the pregnancy. I was determined to make it 34 weeks or even longer!

At around 22 weeks, I started having some major complications. I was having contractions without feeling them, and I was dilating. I was hospitalized, put on Magnesium Sulfate, and then eventually started on a Brethine pump, that I would be able to use while at home. I was in the hospital for about a week, and during this time, I began to think very differently about this pregnancy. I started to realize that I could really lose these babies. I was sent home with a monitor for my contractions and a Brethine pump, and with strict orders to be on complete bed rest. I missed my baby shower, but I was determined to get every day I could for my babies!

At my next doctor's appointment, we were horrified to find out that I was dilated even more

(4 cm) and Baby A's bag was bulging. The doctor immediately called the ambulance and I was transported to St. Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham, which had a Level 3 nursery (NICU). We were told that the babies would probably be born that day. I was only 24 weeks pregnant.

If I delivered them, there was NO chance of survival.

Once I made it to the hospital, the team went into action. I was placed in trendelenburg position, where my head was tilted down and my feet were up in the air, and they restarted the Magnesium Sulfate at a very high dose. The "Mag" made me feel horrible, but I didn't care. I told them to do ANYTHING to save my babies! Thankfully, I didn't deliver that day....or the next.....or the next. The contractions had stopped, and my cervix even closed slightly.
We were thrilled! I just knew we were going to make it!!

After staying pregnant for 7 more days, the doctors were now hopeful that the babies would be viable if born, so they decided to give me Celestone injections to help their little lungs mature. I would be given two shots, 12 hours apart, every seven days until I delivered.

A few hours after my second dose of Celestone, I woke up with contractions....lots and lots of contractions. I immediately called my nurse, and told her that I thought something was wrong. My contraction monitor didn't show anything, but after readjusting my monitors, they realized I was contracting about every 3 minutes. They called my doctor, and once he came in and checked me, I was already dilated to 7cm (10cm is how far you dilate to deliver a full-term baby), and all three babies were very low in my pelvis. He immediately called for an emergency C-section.

I started FREAKING OUT! Marty wasn't there (he was working) and I was ONLY 25 weeks pregnant! WAAAAAY too early to be having these babies! The doctor wanted to immediately deliver the babies, but my sweet nurse (my favorite) convinced him to wait until Marty could get there. I remember her telling the doctor "He NEEDS to be here....he's been here for her every step of the way." He was about 1 1/2 hours away, but somehow made the drive in 45 minutes. Minutes after he walked in the door....I was in the O.R. starting my C-section. I also refused to be put to sleep for the delivery. I told the doctors that I had to either have an epidural, or they had to cut me without anesthesia. There was no way that I wanted to wake up and not know if my babies were dead or alive!

On June 18, 1992, at 12:51 pm, Lena "Courtney" Hill came into the world, screaming her itty-bitty head off, weighing 1 pound 6 ounces. At 12:53 p.m., Sara "Chelsea" Hill, quietly came into the world, weighing 1 pound 8 ounces. Then, at 12:53 and 25 seconds, Timothy "Bryant" Hill, came into the world weighing a "hefty" 1 pound 12 ounces. In that two minutes and 25 seconds, My life changed forever!

The rest of the day was a blur. But one thing I do remember, my OB/GYN came into my room and told my mother "Two of the babies have a shot, but the third one.....she doesn't have a chance at all." That baby was my little Chelsea.

From birth, Chelsea was the most critical. Her lungs were the most underdeveloped, and to add insult to injury, she developed a bleed in her brain. Nothing they were doing was helping her.
We were called to her bed to say our goodbyes.

We cried and prayed, prayed and cried. We stroked her little arms and legs, and told her how much we loved her. She was so beautiful, so could a baby this small live? This was the first really bad thing that had ever happened to me. I prayed like I've never prayed before. I prayed, not as a Christian, but as a selfish, desperate mother begging and bargaining for more time with her little girl.

The seconds turned to minutes, and the minutes turned into half-hours, and then hours. Our little girl survived the night! We still weren't given any hope for her survival, but she had lived far longer than everyone predicted!

Over the next few days, she slowly began to improve. Her brain bleed was still there, but had not gotten any larger, and her blood work slowly began to show some improvement. She was still on the highest vent setting and on 100% oxygen. We were still not given much hope, but she was still with us, and for that we were very thankful.

As Chelsea slowly began to improve, Courtney, our tiniest baby....who had been doing FANTASTIC, started having some issues with her stomach. She later had to be taken to surgery, where she was found to have Necrotizing Enterocolitis or (NEC), which meant that part of her intestines had died. The dead intestine was removed, and our little girl came back from the ER with a teeny-tiny colostomy. She weighed only 14 ounces at the time. After that surgery, Courtney did wonderful! She was a teeny-tiny little fireball that definitely lived up to her namesake! Her first name "Lena" was after my maternal grandmother, Lena "Mae", who was a stubborn, feisty, holds-nothing-back, wonderful lady, that lived to be in her 90's.

Bryant held his own during this time. He wasn't doing bad, but he wasn't doing good, either.
He was being the typical "Wimpy White Male". (You see, for some reason, in the preemie world, white boys do much worse than any other race or sex.) At least he was behaving while his sisters were acting up!

Here are some of the first pictures we have of them.
This was was July 4th, 1992....they were 16 days old.




Slowly, the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months. The NICU was a roller coaster ride of emotions. Highs when all the babies were doing well, and unbelievable lows when they were doing poor. We were pretty fortunate that usually only one baby would have a crisis at a time. Such considerate children they were!

In August, two months after they were born, I got to hold one of my babies for the very first time....BRYANT! He was still acting like a WWM, and refused to get off his ventilator, so the nurses thought a little mommy-son time was the ticket. (This was in the days before "Kangaroo Care" became the "norm" for NICU babies.) Things went great until the NICU MD came in and saw me holding him. He immediately made me put Bryant back into his bed, and "banned" any babies being held while they were still on the vent. What an improvement today's NICU policies are! SO, I wasn't allowed to hold any more of my babies for few more weeks.



Bryant (The nurse let us snap a picture without his oxygen)

Slowly, they began to improve. There were all of the typical preemie baby hurdles to overcome. Breathing problems, eye problems, hearing problems, feeding problems, weight gain, apenic name it, they had it. But my babies were still alive and doing fairly well! Courtney was off any form of oxygen, had her colostomy reversed, and was eating like a champ! Chelsea slowly weaned off the vent, went to C-pap, and then to oxygen per nasal cannula. The bleed in her brain started to resolve, too. Then there was Bryant, poor little Bryant. In typical "WWM" pattern, he would get off the vent, then back on the, on, back and forth. We never knew what we would find when we got to the NICU in the morning. Eventually, he was able to get off the vent and stay off, but required a good bit of oxygen through his nasal cannula.

This is the first time I got to hold Courtney.
(Yes, this is ME....100+ pounds ago)

She was still on the vent, but only because she was still under 2 1/2 pounds.
She was doing all the breathing and was on room air.

Me holding Bryant (L) and Chelsea (R)

This is the first time I got to hold Chelsea.

This is the first time Marty got to hold Bryant.

This is the first time the triplets had been together since they were born. The nurses surprised us with this picture when we got there that day.

Chelsea (L), Bryant (M), and Courtney (R)

Chelsea (L), Bryant (M), Courtney (R)

Marty holding all three babies for the first time.
Chelsea (R), Bryant (M), and Courtney (R)

Bryant (The chubbiness is from steroids)

Chelsea (In her Doll dress)


September 26th, 1992 came and original due date....and all my babies were still in the NICU. Marty and I went to an Alabama football game! It was the first time since May that I had been away from the hospital in the middle of the day.

In October, they started talking about going home. HOME? We were actually going to get to go home? Our little Courtney, who still barely weighed 4 pounds, was the first to come home. She was on no oxygen and on no medications! The only thing she had was a heart monitor to watch for any apenic episodes.

Paw Jones (my Dad) holding Courtney for the first time, before we went home.

Courtney ready to hit the road!

One down, two to go!

A month later, Bryant was the next to come home. He was still having a very difficult time with his lungs, but the doctor's felt it was safe to take him home. He was on oxygen, a O2 saturation monitor, a heart monitor, and a counterfull of meds....but he was home!

Marty holding Bryant while we were rooming in right before Bryant came home.

Bryant about to go home. (He didn't want to leave his sister)

Two down, one to go!

Then two weeks later, our little Chelsea came home. Yes, our little Chelsea, the baby who wasn't supposed to make it through the night. Like Bryant, Chelsea came home on oxygen, an O2 sat monitor, a heart monitor and a counterfull of meds. But now, ALL my babies were home!!!


Chelsea excited about seeing her brother and sister again!


Here is a picture of everyone together, at home, for the very first time.

Bryant (L), Courtney (M), and Chelsea (R)

We had so much to be thankful for that Thanksgiving!!

Courtney (L), Bryant (M), and Chelsea (R)

Things were very stressful for us once we all got home. Courtney did well, and acted and ate just like a "normal" full-term child. But Bryant and Chelsea required constant attention. It would take 2 1/2 hours out of a each three hour feeding schedule to feed Bryant and Chelsea...EACH. We also had a very difficult time getting all of their multiple meds in them. We did have nursing care, and my parents, and were very thankful for that help. There were multiple doctor's appointments every week. We were constantly busy...but we were happy because all of our babies were home!

Courtney and Paw Jones

Chelsea and her Daddy


Since Christmas was right around the corner....we had to get our cards done! So, we took our Christmas pictures.

Courtney (L), Bryant (M), and Chelsea (R)




A few days later, right after I mailed our first "family" Christmas cards....
The worst thing imaginable happened.

Bryant died.

He had been sick with a cold. His pediatrician wasn't too concerned, and thought he could be handled at home. He had been very fretful, and was requiring more oxygen than normal, but we were finally able to get him to sleep. As he slept, his O2 saturation rate slowly began to drop lower, and lower. Then suddenly, it plummeted to almost nothing. CPR was immediately begun, and his heart and breathing resumed. Once the paramedics got there, they took him to our local hospital. He coded several more times on the way to the hospital, and once he was there, we were told there was nothing they could do. Our sweet little boy was gone.

How could that be? GONE? No, no, no, no, no.....we had made it HOME!
We were supposed to be SAFE!

The next days were a blur. We wanted an autopsy....we had to know WHY this had happened. We had the typical funeral home visitation, graveside services, entertaining people in our home. Hugging, hugging, hugging, forcing smiles, small talk with hundreds of people that somehow knew us. Whether it be directly or indirectly. "I used to work with your aunt's husband" or something like that. Listening to people tell me "It is for the best", "Well, at least you have two other babies", "It was God's will", "He's better off", "Things could be worse". Yeah, every one of those phrases uttered at some point or another, multiple times.


OK, let me sidetrack just a minute here. I want to bring this to the attention of every person that may possibly come in contact with any other person who has lost a loved one:



I know that you THINK you are helping....but you are not! I know that you feel that you must say something. So, here is some things that you CAN say:

I am so sorry.

I will be here for you.

I love you.

Yes, I know it is very simple, but it works, it's sincere, and it's very much appreciated.

OK, rant finished and back to the story. Thank you for listening.


While still at the cemetery, we got a phone call from the nurse who was watching Chelsea and Courtney, telling us that Chelsea was "acting just like Bryant did". We raced home, packed her up and took her to the hospital. Chelsea did have a little cold, but was doing OK.
She was sent home after a couple of days.

During this time, my parents became very close with Courtney. She was just like a "normal" newborn....just itty-bitty (about 4 1/2 pounds). She had everyone wrapped around her teeny-tiny finger. My dad, who was a very stoic, quiet, gruff man, would just melt whenever Courtney was around.

I don't know what we would have done without my parents!

Chelsea had a small surgery to repair a hernia, but was back home in time for Christmas. At that time, our doctors let us know that Bryant's autoposy results came back without any conclusive reason for his death. We were just told "You know those preemies, their electrolytes can get just the least bit out of whack and they die." Humph, that's not what we wanted to hear.

Fortunately, the girls were able to have a good Christmas.


Chelsea and Santa

Chelsea (L) , Santa, and Courtney (R)

During this time, I had convinced myself that Bryant's death was "for the best" (you know, since everyone had been telling me that), and I tried to go on with my day-to-day life. I never allowed myself to grieve properly. I didn't have time. Things were still very stressful at home with two tiny little newborns around. Especially with Chelsea. We still had feeding problems and problems getting and keeping her meds in her. It was still taking about 1 1/2 hours of every 3 hour feeding schedule to get everything in her.

New Year's Day 1993 came.

Chelsea (L), Courtney (R)

We hoped for a much better year.

We didn’t get our wish.

On January 2nd, we were in the process of trying to get Chelsea to eat and take her meds. Suddenly, she started choking and turning blue. This had happened before on many occasions, but she always was able to pull through it on her own.

This time was different.

She turned from blue to gray and became limp. She wasn’t breathing…at all.

I immediately began CPR, but I couldn’t get any air into her lungs. The trauma of the aspiration had caused a spasm in her windpipe, slamming it closed…TIGHT! No matter how I repositioned her, I couldn’t get any air to go in. 911 was called.

After what seemed like an eternity, we heard a “GASP”, and Chelsea started to breath again. She was blue, she was wheezing, but she was breathing.

She was transported to our local hospital, and then transferred to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. She was doing OK, but they wanted to watch her for a few days to make sure there wasn’t more significant damage to her lungs.

Courtney was still doing great. Charming all of her in-home nurses and my family...especially my dad!

For the next couple of days, we commuted back and forth from home to Birmingham, trying to spend as much time with Chelsea and Courtney as we could. Mid days were Chelsea’s time and mornings and night times were Courtney’s. We couldn’t wait for both our girls to be at home, together again.

We didn’t realize that would never happen.

We had been with Chelsea during the day, and had come home and spent the evening enjoying our little Courtney. She had been to the pediatrician the day before and had been declared a “well baby”. She was starting to eat baby food, after all, she was 6 months old now. We still had a nurse with us (because of Bryant’s death and Chelsea’s episode, our insurance company allowed 24 hour care), so we went to bed.

Sometime in the night, we woke up to the sound of Courtney crying. Not just crying... screaming. We jumped out of bed, and ran into where she was. The nurse was trying to console her, but couldn’t. She said “I just don’t know what’s wrong with her, she was asleep, and woke up crying like this.” Between the cries, she sounded like she was trying to strain...maybe she was constipated? We immediately called our pediatrician, he listened to her over the phone, and came to the same conclusion we did...she sounded like she was straining. He told us what to do, so I immediately left to find a store that was open for 24 hours. This was the times before Wal-Mart was open for 24 hours. I drove to a nearby town, found an open grocery store, loaded my cart with prunes, prune juice and glycerin suppositories, and quickly drove back home. Something kept telling me I needed to hurry.

When I walked in the front door, our nurse was doing CPR on my little Courtney. Marty was on the phone with 911, arguing with them. They were telling him that THEIR unit wasn’t in our district, and we needed to call the unit in an adjacent town. ( Yeah, that really happened….we have the 911 message on an old answering machine. You know, when you call 911, you just expect that who they connect you with will be the right place. You shouldn’t have to look up another phone number to call for help.) The nurse was hyterical. She was trying to do CPR on my baby while holding her...incorrectly. I grabbed her from the nurse, and started performing CPR myself. It wasn't working. She wasn't breathing and her heart wasn't beating. Marty hung up on 911 and yelled "GET IN THE CAR!"

We ran to the car, with our dying baby and took off towards the hospital. We literally drove 125 mph trying to get our baby to the hospital. I know we shouldn't have done that, but if you can't depend on 911 to help you, what are you supposed to do? Our nurse was screaming and yelling because we were going so fast (she literaly peed on herself, too). I was oblivious. I was still trying to save my little girl. We ended up meeting an ambulance (after my husband hung up on the operator, they dispatched the correct service), so they quickly got her and drove her the rest of the way to the hospital.

She was already gone when we got there. Really, she was gone before I had ever made it back home. The nurse and Marty said "It was like someone flipped a switch, and she was gone."

I remember sitting in that ER with my mom and dad, (I don't even know how they knew....did I call them? Did Marty? I don't remember.) and that doctor coming in that room telling me that my baby was dead. I screamed, I yelled, I sobbed. I wanted to be DEAD! I blamed God. He was punishing me for my past sins. Then, I saw something that I had never seen before.

My dad started crying.

That one moment changed my life and my family's life FOREVER. (But that, my friends, is another LONG story. Let me just say that he became the spiritual backbone of our family!)

I have no idea what time it was, if it was still night or if it was morning...I had no concept of time. All I knew was that I COULD NOT go through the whole "funeral thing" like I had gone through LESS than one month before. There was no way I could see all those people, smile, be polite, listen to all of the "It could be worses". They asked if we wanted an autopsy. I yelled "NO!" Why do that to my baby when it wouldn't tell us anything, anyway? I then told my family "I want this over with TODAY!"

Somehow, we managed to put together a graveside service that day for my perfect little girl.

I remember giving strict orders "I don't want to see or talk to ANYONE except for my husband or my mother!" I went to my bedroom, I closed the door, and just layed there in the dark and cried....for hours and hours and hours. I remember someone coming in the room, thinking it was Marty, and it ended up being another family member. I remember being SO MAD that he came in there. I did NOT want to see anyone! I also remember the "so-called friend" who pushed her way through the small crowd at the graveside saying "I know she will want to see ME!"
Isn't it dumb that I remember those insignificant details?
I couldn't tell you who was there, other than those two people.

I couldn't wallow in my grief, however, I still had another daughter to tend to. Right after the funeral, we made the long drive to the hospital to be with Chelsea. I remember holding her and just crying. I remember the looks that her nurses gave us as they passed in and out. We spent as much time as we could with her....because we didn't have anything to go home to anymore.

This is Marty holding Chelsea after we got there.

Chelsea improved and after a couple of weeks, she was well enough to come home. The doctor came in and told us "I don't have to tell you that it doesn't look good for Chelsea, considering the history of the other two babies." NOT what we wanted to hear!

We took her home, and tried to begin our lives as a family of three, instead of five. My days were filled with trying to feed and medicate Chelsea, doctor's appointments, clinic appointments, and therapy appointments. Marty went back to work, and all the calls and visits stopped. It was just me and Chelsea, my parents, and a friend/babysitter/helper Teri. I wasn't allowed time to grieve for my babies.

A week later, Chelsea got sick. Really, really sick. She ended up back in the hospital, on a ventilator. She tested positive for RSV. A potential deadly respiratory virus for micro preemies, like Chelsea. Ironically, she contracted it at her pediatrician's office.

One day while walking into the PICU to see Chelsea, she had some sort of "spell", and the team of doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists were "working" on her. I FREAKED OUT! I turned around, walked out of the PICU, and sat down in the waiting room. For months, that's where I stayed. I could not go back into the PICU unless someone called or went into the unit, checked on her, and come back and told me she was still alive and doing OK. I would then walk into the unit, kiss Chelsea, tell her how much I loved her, and then go back and wait in the waiting room.

I could not go see my own baby.

I knew that since my "sick" baby had died (Bryant) and then my "well" baby had died (Courtney), it was only a matter of time before Chelsea died too. I could not bring myself to become even more attached to this little angel, because she soon would be leaving me too! I would have moments of abnormal elation, and then periods of scary depression. I was quickly headed down a road that nobody wants to be.

I thought that God was not in my life. He had abandoned me. He didn't love me any more. I just wanted to "go away and never come back". It was at this time that Marty stepped in. He got me to the doctor, and I got treatment in the form of a prescription and a few therapy sessions. Over the next few weeks, I started to feel a little better.

The best therapy was Chelsea.....she started to get better!

We had a very long hospital stay, but by late Spring, she was finally back home with us. She was in and out of the hospital every few weeks, but her problems were minimal compared to what she had endured in the past. I started to believe that she may actually make it.

Chelsea had her first birthday. She only weighed 8 pounds, and wore a size double-zero shoe. We all made it through the first year, but with scars so deep, nothing could ever begin to fill them.

As fall approached, Chelsea's pulmonary doctor told us to be prepared to spend the winter in the hospital, just as we had done the year before. He said that her lungs had not matured enough and there was just no way she could make it though the winter without incident.

I was determined to prove him WRONG!

Chelsea, 18 months old.
(The chubbiness is from the steroids)

When the first wave of cool air came through, I decided that we would not leave the house, except for doctor's appointments. No visitors (other than extrememly close family members), no shopping trips, NOTHING. I would leave once every couple of weeks to buy groceries, but that was it.

I gained 100 pounds that winter (literally), but CHELSEA STAYED WELL AND STAYED HOME!!

It was worth every pound!

Chelsea's Second Christmas

That summer, we caved in to the doctor's wishes and had a feeding tube placed. That was the best decision we've ever made. Not only could we get her meds into her quickly, we could get the food in her too! She rapidly began to improve. From then on, she only had one minor hospitalization.


Chelsea's Second Birthday

By now, Chelsea weighed 18 pounds, and wore a size 0 shoe.

Chelsea continued to be on oxygen, was primarily fed through her feeding tube, and slept with an apnea monitor, just in case her nasal canula became dislodged during the night. She didn't talk or make sounds, and she didn't crawl or walk. She started therapy through the United Cerebral Palsy and continued to improve.

Since she couldn't talk, she had speech therapy every week and was taught simple sign language so she could communicate with us. It was so sweet to see her sign "Mama", "Daddy", "Apple", "Cup", "More". She had me wrapped around that little finger!

We also worked on getting Chelsea to eat. Since she had been on ventilators so much during her first year, she had a real aversion to swallowing things. She loved her pacifier, but hated baby food. It was a real struggle to keep anything down. At least we had the feeding tube. There were two things that she would eat.....Sweet potato baby food, and my mom's peanut butter pie. She ate so many sweet potatoes, we were afraid she would be permantly orange!

Chelsea's Third Christmas (we helped her stand up, she was holding the chair for balance)

And in case we didn't have enough stress in our lives, I decided to go back to college to become a nurse. What was I thinking?

The next few years were great. Chelsea was growing and getting cuter every day! She had a head-full of blonde curls. WHERE DID SHE GET THAT? She continued with therapy, and even finally started saying a few simple words. Her very first word was "Baaaaaa Nanananana" or "banana" to all of you reading! Not "Mama", not "Daddy", not "No"....but "banana".

Only my child......

She still wasn't crawling or walking, but she could "scoot" with the best of them. We had oxygen tubing stretched all over that house so she could get around. We learned to travel very well with that oxygen tank. It became second nature to us. Chelsea loved to get out of the house and charm every person she met. She was still teeny-tiny, but she had a HUGE heart.

This is Chelsea's third birthday. We were working on weaning her off the oxygen.

She now weighes 23 pounds and wears a size 2 shoe.

I was blessed to have a fantastic friend/sitter/helper, Teri, that loved my little girl just as much as I did. She started helping us right before Bryant died. She kept her while I went to school. I was also very fortunate to have my parent's help. It was tough, but I did it. By the time I graduated, Chelsea was 5 years old and doing great. She had been "hospital free" for three years! She was off oxygen, but still had her feeding tube, but we rarely had to use it.

She was our JOY!

Chelsea dressed as "Babe".

Chelsea dressed as Baby Bop and her Nana.

Chelsea in our very favorite picture!

Within the next year, Chelsea was WALKING! She was finally becoming a "normal" little girl!

Chelsea standing in front of "her tree".

(In this photo, Chelsea is almost 6 y.o., she weighed 32# and was 41" tall.
Jameson at 6 y.o. is 55# and 53" tall.)

Then she started to school. We held her back a year, hoping to give her an advantage. But after the first week, we knew that something wasn't right. After about day 3, the class was going off and leaving her. She spent the next few weeks coloring while the other kids learned their ABC's. We had a meeting with the school, and testing was done. The tests confirmed what I didn't want to admit. Chelsea was no longer considered "developmentally delayed"...

Chelsea was considered "mentally retarded."

UGH, I HATE that word! It has such a negative connatation.

The difference between "developmentally delayed" (DD) and "mentally retarded" (MR) is you can "catch up" if you are DD, not so if you are MR. This meant that my little girl was never going to be "normal". This had come as such a shock to me. I had ALWAYS believed that my baby would eventually catch up with her friends. Sure, it would take some time, but she would do it. That diagnosis was almost like a death to me. It was the death of my "perfect" child.

So, then began our life raising a child with PERMANENT mental disablilities.
We had made it through all the physical came the hard part!

Chelsea's first day of school.

Chelsea was put into Special Education classes where she began to THRIVE! She was finally getting the education she needed and deserved! We were thrilled! Then something terrible happened.....the "No child left behind" act was passed. Now I know that I will probably be slammed by some for saying that, but in Chelsea's case, this was a HORRIBLE set back for her. We were back to her sitting in the back of the class coloring. We called a meeting, and had her put back into her Special Ed classes.

The next couple of years were great! Chelsea was doing well and learning so much....then, 4th grade came along, and they decided to try "mainstreaming" again. It didn't help matters that she was put with the loudest, most obnoxious teacher available. Chelsea came home in tears every single day. We never knew what her homework was supposed to be because Chelsea wouldn't be able to remember to tell us. The "aide" she was supposed to have, had been pulled to teach in another classroom. We sent note after note to school, with no results. So, we called another meeting. We demanded she be put back into her Special Ed classroom....FOR GOOD!

The next few years were the best yet! Chelsea had the most wonderful teacher, Mrs. Richey. Mrs. Richey had many years experience with Special Education children. She was able to do what no other teacher could do.....

She taught Chelsea how to read!

We were thrilled!! We never thought our little girl would learn how to read! Not only could she read, she could write all her letters, too! She started writing little notes to us. It was so sweet! In those few years she had Mrs. Richey, Chelsea blossomed!

Also, during this time....Chelsea was "gifted" with something that would change her quiet, calm, peaceful life FOREVER...

Chelsea's Elementary School Graduation.

Then the inevitable happened.....Middle School. Chelsea was going to have to leave her dear Mrs. Richey. It was at this point that we werethisclose to attempting to home school her. We never worried when Chelsea was at the Elementary School. Everybody there loved her and watched out for her. As long as she was under their watchful and loving eyes, we knew she was safe. The Middle School was a whole 'nother ballgame. Sure, we knew many of the teachers there, but would they watch our little girl like she NEEDED to be watched?

We called another meeting.

It is here that I would like to thank a very special teacher for being our advocate. For her sake, I will not say her name, because she could get in trouble (if she is still even teaching), but she knows who she is. She helped us understand exactly what Chelsea's rights were, and what we could
ask for. We walked into that meeting armed with our information, and we got exactly what we wished for, much to the school's dismay. Chelsea would remain in a self-contained, Special Ed classroom, with the individualized instruction that she needed. She would also be taught "life skills" that she could take with her. Today, she is still working under this system. Since we asked for this, a few other children have asked for this, too. Sure, on paper, the "No child left behind" act looks good, but it doesn't work for all children.

This year, Chelsea entered "High School". Fortunately, it's in the same building as the Middle School, so she still has the same classroom, same teachers, same classmates.

Chelsea has never been happier!

Sure, we have the "normal" teenager problems. Boys, Boys, and did I say Boys?
Thankfully, all of the boys she is "in love with" are on television or movies.
As long as it stays that way....we are good!

(BTW, the names on her shirt.....are all characters played by one of Chelsea's favorite actors....James Marsden)

Chelsea has changed our lives in ways that we never thought possible. She is just the most happy, sweet, loving, kind, tender-hearted child that has ever walked the face of this Earth. WHY did I waste tears over her diagnosis? There is absolutely NO WAY I would EVER, EVER, EVER want her to be any other way! If she was society's version of "normal", she wouldn't be who she is today.....and that would be such a LOSS for all who know her! Especially me.
Chelsea made me grow up....quickly. 
I look back to the person I was those 17 years ago, and I don't even recognize her.
I was this selfish, spoiled, stuck-up child, who was used to getting everything she wanted.
Instead of giving me what I wanted, God gave me what I NEEDED!
I am so thankful and blessed that God allowed me to be Chelsea's mother.
I am so thankful that he saw something inside of me that I had no clue was there.

Because of my babies, my dad rededicated his life to Christ and became the epitome of a Christian...Never once wavering from the path once he made his decision (which was the day that Courtney died). My mother immediately followed his lead. Several years later, I too followed, and rededicated my life to Christ. Two years later, Marty dedicated his life to Christ.

That's a lot of Christian soldiers coming from some mighty small babies!

It scares me to think about where I would be now without her.

Would I be in the Church? Probably not.

Would I still be married? Probably not.

Would I have had Jameson? Probably not.

Would I be thankful for every little accomplishment my kids do? Probably not.

Would I be a nurse? Definitely not.

Would I get to Heaven to see my two babies again? Definitely not!

Would I be 100 pounds thinner? Well, the verdict is still out on!

Now, are you all still with me? I warned you it was a long story!

I hope that my story will bring a little insight into my life. It has been EXTREMEMLY difficult for me to write all of this. But if Chelsea's story can help just ONE person, it has been worth it!!

If any of you have any questions, please don't hesitate to send me an email, or leave a comment.


  1. Wow, what a beautiful story... I didn't you went through all of that in your life. I guess things really do happen for a reason, though it doesnt seem like it at first, and sometimes we never know why bad things happen. Thank you for publishing Chelsea's and her siblings story. You couldnt have written it more beautifully! Robin, you're a GREAT mom!!! :)

  2. Oh Robin, that was such a hard time for the two of you to go through...Thank you for sharing your babies with all of us. Would you mind if I out a link on my page?

    Cant stop crying...LOL

  3. Robin,
    I am sittinh here reading this while holding my sleeping baby and bawling my eyes out! I thank God every day for my healthy baby boy, but I think it is hard to TRUELY realize how blessed we are until you see what other babies struggle with. I had no idea what your family had been through. Chelsea is such a beautiful young lady. She is a very lucky girl to have such a wonderful family. I hope I get to meet her one day.


  4. Kori, I don't mind if you link this at all!

  5. Oh by the way, as a former teacher I will agree with you on the No Child Left Behind stuff. I never saw it benefit anyone!!!

  6. YIKES Robin.. I have known for years that something happened with the triplets but I never knew the entire story. I am bawling my eyes out right now. Love you dearly!!!!!!

  7. Can't stop crying! Thank you for sharing your story. You are a wonderful story teller. I love you.

    Susan Brewer

  8. wow Robin,i have been sitting here reading your story for about 45 minutes, i didn't want to miss a word, i cried, i laughed and i cried some are truly a remarkable woman in my book, a great mother and a wonderful person, Marty is a very lucky man to have you but i'm sure he knows that.
    Chelsea its a gorgeous girl and a great sister i bet!.
    i'm so happy to have met you through this blogging thing but i'm most proud of the fact that i can call you my friend...YOU ARE AWESOME....thank your for opening you heart and life to all of us....

  9. Robin, this is one of the most heartbreaking and heartwarming stories I have ever read. You really are a remarkable woman, and you have a really remarkable daughter! God bless you for sharing this. I'm sure that there are alot of families out there struggling with some of these same issues, and it can only help to read of Chelsea's triumphs! And as someone who has been very actively involved in our school district, I could not agree with you more on No Child Left Behind. Many hugs, Kathy (PS, this may not be the time, but I am a fan of your blog, so stop by and pick up your award)

  10. Robin, i want to thank you so much for so beautifully sharing your incredible story with all of us. As i write this i am sitting in a hospital bed with a big old blog clot almost the entire length of my leg and well generally just feeling sorry for myself, talk about a selfish person. then i read the story of your family and i realize i need to buck up and get over my self. so i want to thank you for giving me the kick in the ass i needed. Your baby girl is beautiful and I know she is your pride and joy! God Bless! Sue

  11. Robin,

    Good for you. This was a very powerful move to write out the story of your triplets, your struggles, and the amazing story that got you where you are today.

    So much of Chelsea's story is so familiar. It's hard to read, to retrace those early days... but like you, I wouldn't change a thing about my miracle boy.

    You are strong. You have survived more than most people will ever have to. I am so sorry for the loss of Courtney and Bryant. I imagine you still miss them so much.

    And your Ms. Chelsea is such an inspiration.

    For parents who are trying to make this journey behind you, it is truly a blessing to read this story. Thank you for sharing it.

    with gratitude,

  12. Robin, I will never be the same after reading this and looking at the pictures of those beautiful children. What a gift you have given us all by letting us in and sharing with us. Thank you for leaving a much-needed imprint on my heart. What a blessing.


  13. My dear sweet friend - I know you are not going to believe me - but I was compelled to come here b/c after moping around for 4 days after the baby left, I knew my "dear Robin" would give me some laughs and a quick pick me up. You did more than gave me a wake up call. I am sooo blessed to have had the time with Cole that I did, and I should celebrate the moment - not be sad about it. I know you are a good person, its in your eyes. This story just validates that for me. Thank you for pouring out your heart and soul to us. I know it was hard for you. Hugs my sweet friend. Thank you in more ways than I can say.
    Blessings to you, Marty and your two PRECIOUS children. Barb

  14. I was only about 7 at the time, but I actually remember some of this! I remember visiting with the rest of the family over in Birmingham at some apartment/hotel room thing yall were staying in, and I also remember visiting the triplets when they came home! Lance has asked about Chelsea/the triplets before, so I'm going to get him to read this!

  15. Where to start? First, I read this shortly after you posted, but I couldn't respond until I composed myself. As someone who writes for a living, I feel safe in saying that you, my dear, have a true gift with words. Not many people can draw their readers so deeply into the story that we feel as though we are right beside you, sharing your joy and pain. You've allowed us a peak, no, a long look, into the depths of your heart and soul and what we see is truly beautiful. What a wonderful 100th blog. Thank you! It is an honor to call you FRIEND.

  16. What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing. You must be so proud of Chelsea.

  17. Thank you for sharing the story, Robin. You are such a strong person. Chelsea is beautiful and is a gift to everyone she meets. You are too! I love you! Christy

  18. I was totally unprepared for what I just read. But in a good way. I had no idea you've endured so much. I am SO incredibly moved by your post. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to just "be real." That takes guts and it is good therapy for other women to read.

    I praise God for Chelsea. I praise God for Mrs. Richey. I praise God that you found the strength to endure all that heartache and pain in unimaginable circumstances. The fact that you are now on the other side of that trail and are faithful to God inspires me beyond words.

    YOU ROCK. I don't how else to say it. But you just do.

  19. Robin, I'm thankful that you shared your story with us. I'm overwhelmed with emotion. You have such a beautiful family.

  20. I cried my eyes out reading this...if I'm half the mother you are, I'll consider myself a success.

  21. OMG, I am crying my eyes out right now..i find it hard to breath without brandon, and you lost two precious angels. i just wanted to say that you are very strong..and i really do need to turn to god with my pain, but it is hard..i am very angry with him.
    love you

  22. God Bless You and blessed you.

  23. I found your blog tonight because Barb recommended you. I feel I am truly blessed from being here. Thank you for your testimony.

    Many blessings to you and yours, Marsha

  24. I know it was difficult to share the pain of your story, but I'm glad you did.
    I've lost four babies to miscarriage and a full-term baby boy was stillborn. I can attest that people do indeed say the dumbest and most hurtful things. They only increase pain and cause anger when they try to sound pious with their quips and quotes.

    It's obvious that God gave Chelsie the perfect mom for her. You have been a wonderful advocate for her. She looks very happy and healthy. I'm glad I came over from Barb's blog to read your story.

  25. What a beautiful story. I am so sorry for your losses. I cannot even fathom the thought.

    I am a nurse too, by the way!

  26. Tears, tears, tears!! Chelsea is absolutely beautiful...what a glow she has about her. I am so, so sorry for the loss of your other sweet babies. God choose well when he put you and Chelsea together..thank you for blessing us with her story.

  27. Oi. Parabéns por seu excelente blog. Gostaria de lhe convidar para visitar meu blog e conhecer alguma coisa sobre o Brasil. Abração

  28. I just happend upon your blog boy am I glad I got the post I did...though I am not apart of the very sad club you along with many other's have joined (angel children) Your post was uplifting and so full of raw truth. Blessings to you

  29. Thank You so much for sharing our story with us ! Im having a hard time and trying to find the way to bring The Lord into my world! I dont know where to begin but reading stories like these make it more concrete that I need the lord in my home!
    Thanks again LIsa

  30. Robin: Such a beautiful story and I read every single word! Ya'll have been through such a difficult journey and I am so so sorry for your losses. And Chelsea is SO beautiful! You are blessed and you know you are and you have blessed me by sharing this story.

    Thank you so much1

    Lou Cinda

  31. Robin...
    In the several years I worked with you I vaguely knew you had triplets and something happened but I never knew what and didn't want to ask. Now I wished I had. What a beautiful and inspirational story about God's grace. Thank you so much for sharing it. It was a blessing to me to read.

  32. thank you for sharing that difficult story- i cannot imagine the heartbreak and sadness that you all went through. you have taken something profoundly sad and given God the glory. for that i commend you.


  33. Amazing story of an amazing family. I feel so blessed to have read this. Thank you for writing it all down. This was a story I will never forget.

  34. Wow, that is such a sad but beautiful story! I cried but I can't help but smile thinking of Chelsea. She is such an inspiration! By the way I think you are a wonderful story teller. Thank you for sharing!

  35. I found your blog through Kelly's Korner. Your story touched me and has me in tears. Thank you for sharing it with the blog world.

  36. I also just found your blog through Kelly's Korner. Thank you so much for sharing Chelsea's story! She is a beautiful young lady and is very blessed to be a part of such an awesome family!

    My own son was a preemie, born at 32 weeks. Living a NICU life is definitely an experience. I can't imagine doing it with three babies. You are very strong and very brave. You are an inspiration.

    God Bless.

  37. I just read Chelsea's story and I felt compelled to comment. First let me start by saying THANK YOU!!! Finally, someone else gets it! As an educator, I too feel that NCLB has hurt more children than it could ever possibly help. We, as teachers, are taught that all children learn differently and to teach to their needs...then here comes NCLB and they are all lumped in together and expected to be able to perform at the same level. I have taught for 17 years now. One year, I had several "gifted students" and a child with severe/profound MR who was able to come to school only 3 days that entire year (homeschooled the rest) but she was made to come to school to take the state mandated test (ITBS)...the exact same test all of the other children had to take. She can't read, write, and can barely speak. Please find the logic in this??? I sure can't! I commend you for taking a stand and demanding Chelsea receive the education that is right for HER...not what NCLB says! I wish every parent, no matter their child's abilities, would take such a stance for their children. Oh, on a side top it all off, my principal had the nerve to chew me out for the little girl's ITBS scores being so low! Not even gonna comment on that one!

  38. I found your blog through Kelly's Korner; just finished reading your story. Wow. You sure have been through a lot, more than I can imagine. I'm thankful you came through it all and came back to Christ.

    Chelsea is beautiful!

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  39. i have cold chills! chelsea is such a gift from god :)

  40. I, too, had complications with my first pregnancy (brethine, bedrest). I was determined to do anything to keep my baby from being born before his time. Luckily he was born only 2 weeks early and is a healthy 9 year old. A couple years later, someone actually accused me of "laying around" so I wouldn't clean the house, during my bedrest. Gee, thanks. A clean house is worth more than my baby's life. Chelsea's story is incredible. You have received a wonderful gift. Best wishes.

  41. Hi my name is Stephanie and I came across your blog on Kelly's Korner. I got to reading Chelsea's story and wow...that's all I can say! She is such a blessing.

    I have so many things to comment about from your story....
    1. I am in school to be a special education teacher and I also hate the label mental retardation...lucky for us it is now known as an intellectual disability.

    2. I will definitely not slam you for your opinions on NCLB...I agree with you!

    3. I am so happy that you and Chelsea have had a pleasant experience with the special education services provided by the state of Alabama because that is where I will be working when I graduate.

    4. I was so moved by Chelsea's story and just had to comment. The story of your triplets filled me with so many emotions. I am so happy that I came across your blog tonight.

    5. I wish you and Chelsea the best in the future.

  42. I came across your blog from Kelly's Korner, and I just want to say this story moved me so much!! Thank you for sharing in such an honest way. I cannot imagine how many emotions you must have experienced, and it is so inspiring that you maintain such a positive attitude! I am so sorry for the losses you have endured... and I'm sorry that anyone ever tried to minimize what you went through. You show true strength and are setting a wonderful example for so many! Thank you again for sharing.
    Oh, and a side note: I used to teach in Alabama, and I also agree that NCLB is a waste! For students AND teachers! 'Yay' for you for doing what is best for Chelsea!!
    God Bless,

  43. Robin you are probably the bravest woman I have ever met. I love you and Chelsea even more after readling this. I knew ya'll then but was soooo young and had no idea how hard things were for ya'll. We all have angels and Chelsea is definitely yours and alot more peoples. She is an awesome girl and I really mean that. I love ya'll and God has blessed us all to know ya'll..Jennifer

  44. Thank you for sharing your story. Your children are beautiful. God Bless you all. I look forward to following your blog.

  45. what an amazing story - thank you for sharing something so deeply personal

  46. I stumbled upon your blog from Leslie's design site. I started out just wanting to see the layout. Then I clicked on the precious teenage girl; her smile caught my eye. This story literally had me in tears. I cannot express the compassion I have for you and your family right now. I cried and truly was blessed by Chelsea's story. I wish her the best in life and that she continues to thrive.

    Oh and she has great taste in men with James Marsden!

  47. you have an amazing story. i usually shut off my lap top at 10pm to watch something with my husband, but tonight i couldn't stop reading.


  48. Robin, thank you much for sharing your story. Your children are so blessed to have a mother such as yourself.
    And Chelsea...what an inspiration!

  49. Robin, Chelsea is beautiful. You are blessed to have her. I don't know how i'm just comming to this site but i'm so glad I did. I'm so sorry for the loss of the babies. I lost my parents much to young. It still hurts me daily. I can not even begin to understand the pain of the loss of a child much less 2. Your story brought tears to my eye's. Thank you for sharing it with me. I love the pictures. You can tell she is a happy girl. Hugs to your family. ~Trudy

  50. Robin, I just read your incredible story, and I'm overwhelmed! I had no idea when I bumped into your blog occasionally! I'm humbled and inspired, saddened and excited, all at the same time. What a treasure you have in all your children!

    And I'm so sorry for the inconsiderate and ignorant comments people made to you as you grieved your devastating loss, though it's apparent that God has used all of that to soften your heart and fill you with wisdom and compassion you might not otherwise have. I'm so glad you will be reunited with your babies again one day, too! That's a comfort and joy for me as well.

    Many blessings to you and your family!


  51. Oh, Robin, what an amazing journey you have been led on...

    I can't begin to express how sorry I am for the loss of your other two beautiful children. There are no words.

    Chelsea's story is one of great triumph and wonder. Thank you for sharing it. It is a "big story" and one well worth taking the time to read. I really enjoyed all of the pictures of your beautiful babies along the way too...

    I think you are too hard on yourself, though... we all have different seasons that we go through- some that make us prouder than others. I met some very selfish mothers during our lengthy NICU stay... the thoughts and feelings you had weren't anything close to what so many of us have seen. You were just young. :)

    Thank you so very much for visiting my blog and leaving a link to your story- I was so touched and inspired.

    Many blessings,

  52. HUGS for you, mama! I am an occasional reader, but when I saw you mention your "special needs" daughter I did a double take, not realizing Chelsea even HAD special needs, which led me to your story. Thanks for sharing, you have a very special girl there!!

  53. Thanks so much for sharing Chelsea with us!
    Love to you!

  54. Robin I dont know how it is that I have not read Chelsea's story before today but for some reason here I was on your blog and found myself reading the whole thing.

    I didnt know that so much had happened and all that you went through and the pain and loss you had suffered, though I am sure that somewhere you had shared it. I never would have guessed that Chelsea was an individual (I personally prefer that word to retarded when describing a child with special needs...they arent the one with the problem it is those that cant find out how to reach them on their individual level!!)

    Your story is a very emotional one and I can only imagine how hard it was to share but I want to say thank you for sharing it with the world as you have.

  55. Hi, I came over from Kelly's blog. I just wanted to tell you thank you for sharing yours and Chelsea's story with us. You are a very strong and amazing women. And Chelsea is absolutley beautiful!
    Hugs from Florida,

  56. Hi Robin! I saw your link on Kelly's Korner and for some reason I felt compelled to go to your blog. You are an amazing woman and your all's strength is a true testament to your faith. May God bless you all each day and you have certainly rekindled my own faith. Your babies in Heaven are watching over you every day. God Bless you dear one!

    Sarah Whitfield

  57. I felt like I needed to comment. BRAVO! As a former teacher and mother of twins...

    1. THANK YOU for standing up for your child. Each one is unique and needs to be treated that way!
    2. THANK YOU for reminding how much of a blessing I have in two children who were carried very close to term for twins.

    WHAT A BEAUTIFUL example of a mother you are!


  58. Girl - I just read this and cried all the way through it!!! I couldn't imagine. And yes, I to would think I was out of the woods once I got them all home {speaking from someone that had 2 that stayed in the NICU for a while before coming home - at the same time - thankfully!}

  59. Wow! im from the UK and just randomly stumbled across your blog. Your daughters the same age as me, so I thought it would be an interesting read, I had nooo idea of its depth! I just want to thank and congratulate you for sharing this with us all and once again reiterate what an amazing parent you appear to be!

  60. Thank you for sharing your deeply personal and touching story, Robin. As difficult as our two separate NICU stays were, I cannot imagine losing either one of my preemies. I am so sorry for your loss. I know that your story has/will save lives. God bless you and your family.

  61. Robin, It is so hard to believe all that was going on in your life at that time. I remember most of it, as it happened and I still have that little picture of all three on the couch, that you gave me. This was all going on when you & Marty were friends with BOOZER. Seems like a lifetime ago, but I do remember running into your mom & Chelsea one day at the post office and I stopped and spoke to your mom and as I was saying "HI" to Chelsea, she was already reaching out for a hug! Melted my heart, and that is not an easy thing to do! You are so right about her being a sweet, sweet child! We go back a long way, but I am just now realizing how much I never knew about you! I love you girl! Thanks for making me smile with this precious story! Pam

  62. I just finished reading your work...and I have sat here at my desk and shed tears several times! What a beautiful story. It just proves that God doesn't make mistakes.
    Thank you so much for sharing this completely awesome story!

    My grandson in NICU in Huntsville for several months, but he didn't have all the complications yours did, though he was born with hemophilia and he did have a bleed on his brain, too.

  63. First of all, Thank you so much for writing what I can only imagine was the most difficult post you have ever written. I am so honored to have been able to read it.

    I think the internet is such an amazing thing for letting people share their stories and receive support. It is because of stories like yours that I am able to look at my own children and love them all the more. Your story is a reminder that life is precious and sometimes short and glory be to God for allowing us to be a part of it.

    Thank you so much!

  64. Such a sweet story! I know you are very proud! By the way, I am from Alabama too (near Auburn). Thanks for sharing!

  65. I came over from Kelly's Corner. After reading about your master bedroom, I noticed the stories of your kids' lives and was riveted until finishing both! The Lord has given you great strength and faith through your experiences with them! I, as a retired teacher, have to agree that NCLB has been the downfall for education, in many cases! The mainstreaming of special needs kids has not only robbed them of the support they need, but also robbed the "regular ed" kids of the attention they need. And the gifted students--well, let's just say they learn in spite of getting no time from the teacher, but could achieve so much more if there were time to spend with them! The emphasis on scores and testing has also robbed us of the time to work on many fun learning projects. Now time has to be spent on teaching them "how" to test, practicing for the test, and teaching to the exact things that are on the test, rather than using teachable moments for more fun and enlightening activities! You were absolutely right to insist on pulling Chelsea from mainstreaming! NCLB was one of the many reasons I decided to take early retirement, since I felt I could not longer be as effective as I liked when teaching in this manner.

  66. heartbreaking and beautiful, thanks for sharing.

  67. Thank you all so much for your super-sweet comments on this very special post! I am honored that you all took the time to read it!


  68. Hi, I found your blog through Kelly's Korner.
    I was following the links from "Show me your Life". I am so glad I decided to read the
    story about your children.
    Your post really moved me. I admire your
    strong faith in God. You are an amazing person!
    God Bless you, your family and your angels in heaven.

  69. Thank you so much for your sweet comment Andrea!!! I really appreciate you taking the time to read Chelsea's story!

  70. Wow, what an amazing story. Thank you for taking the time to share it. :) It makes me thankful for the little things and I'm going to give my kids some extra kisses and hugs. Your children are beautiful!

  71. Robin, I've been poking around since I (didn't) meet you last week, and I came across this post. WOW. I don't even know what to say, but I knew I just had to comment. What an amazing testimony and what an amazing family. You have had so many trials, but you are blessed! WOW.

  72. Wow, what a story! You have me in tears! What a precious girl you have. I commend you for all of your persistence in persisting she be in Special Ed- Sometimes mainstreaming is NOT the best place! (I'm a teacher) How wonderful that you will see your two precious babies again, and that your daughter is thriving. Thank you for sharing this! Many blessings to you and your family!

  73. Thank you so much for sharing your story. What a beautiful family!

  74. What an amazing testimony! A beautiful story for sure! Thank you for sharing! I was so touched by your honesty and heartfelt motherly words!

  75. I am in tears Robin! Such an amazing and beautiful story! I can't imagine what you and Marty had to go through losing those sweet babies, but God has truly blessed you with a beautiful family and a wonderful little girl. What an absolutely amazing testimony!

  76. I just stumbled across your blog as I was holding my newborn fussy gassy baby and I needed to read this. I was wallowing in self pity today - cranky at my husband and 3 other kids - and I believe that God wanted me read your story. I have NOTHING to complain about - and I am so encouraged how God used these terribly painful experiences for your good. I am reminded that all things work together for good for those who believe in Him. Thanks for sharing your story - now I have some apologizing and repenting to do. LVG

  77. What an amazing story! I can't even grasp what yall went through... God has blessed yall with a beatiful family! And 2 guardian angels to watch over you!

  78. Robin
    I have known you for a long time. You have such a blessing for a daughter. Never made it with you but finally got there..You are blessed...

  79. That is the most precious story about your children, and Chelsea. So beautiful indeed. Two years ago I had a son with Down Syndrome, and we feel the exact same way about him. He is just so sweet and joyful and we wouldn't want him any other way. Even his sister has benefited from him and she has become more compassionate for those in need. She is also an amazong teacher for him. I am so thankful for my kiddos, and I see God's hand in it all. :-) Thank You for sharing your story.

  80. What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it with us. Chelsea added a song of gratitude in me today. She truly is a special girl. I am also pretty sure that she would not be the person she is today without the love of her parents and grandparents. That kind of support and love show how special her family is. Bless you all in the new year.

  81. Bless all of you.

    I would like to follow your blog. I live in Northern Alabama. Would you consider adding an email option for subscription purposes? I have no time to read email and then bounce to readers.

    Happy New Year!

    Huntsville, Alabama

  82. @Meesh1057 WELCOME! I would be glad to if I knew how. I am pretty computer illiterate. I added the "Subscribe to" gadget up top on the right-hand side bar (under the ad)....does that help?

  83. Thank you for sharing your family's incredible story. Reading this made me realize once again that no matter what, God has a purpose & a plan for everything. I am so thankful for that! You are such a strong woman & I can't imagine the pain you & your family have suffered over the years. I pray that the Lord will continue to bless you & your wonderful family!

    P.S. I'm from Alabama too:) Cullman to be exact! :))

    If you ever get the chance I would love for you to stop by my blog...For Better, For Worse.

    God Bless!!!

  84. I'm trying to find the right words...My heart breaks for your losses. I've never heard such a tragic story-with such an incredible ending. The Lord has laid his strength on you. I cannot even begin to fathom your family's pain. I just can't wrap my brain around you surviving these tragedies. You and your family are such miracles. Thank you for sharing your story-your journey-and your wisdom gained through your heart ache. Thank you. God Bless.
    Jennifer Hermann

  85. I stumbled upon your blog and saw this post. . . and I just knew. I am a grieving momma too, and I am in tears as I read this story. I have heard all of the horrid things you have that people say in order to console. I am so utterly sorry. And I know that each of the photos you have (as a mama only knows) is a reminder that your two other children should be there too. Thank you for sharing such a heart breaking story.

  86. I loved reading your story. My son was born at 23 weeks and spent many months in the hospital as well. Y

  87. Thank you for sharing your story- so meaningful. I just wanted to add that, as a teacher, "no child left behind" is very frustrating and has so many parts to it that actually hurt schools and students. The people who created it were not teachers who were out in the real world. I'm SO glad for that teacher who told you your rights, and that Chelsea is thriving!!

  88. Stopping by from Kelly's Korner and I just want to thank you for sharing your story. I cried like a baby reading it, but you had such strong determination that she was going to be ok and you had faith that she would be just fine and she is.

    I'm sure this was incredibly difficult for you to write, but again, thank you :)

  89. What a beautiful story of love and loss. Thank you for sharing it with us. I am so sorry for the loss of Courtney and Bryant. I hope you were able to grieve them.

    Praising God for the work He has done in so many lives through your story.

  90. What a beautiful, sad story your family has. Chelsea is a beautiful young lady and it's obvious that she has a wonderful family supporting her!

  91. Thanks for sharing your beautiful daughter with us. I'm sorry that you lost the other two babies, though it seems their was a reason for you having all the time to share and care for Chelsea. I found your story thru Kelly's corner and I'm thankful to have read it. Praise God!

  92. Your family's story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing.

  93. I came over from Kelly's Korner. You and your family's story is truly amazing. What an inspiration you are. God is so good. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  94. I came over from Kelly's Korner and just wanted to let you know that you are an AMAZING person! Thank you for sharing this story, I have shed a few tears while reading it!

  95. I am a special education teacher in an autistic support school. I wish that more people were aware at how much the no child and gaskins settlement have disrupted the lives of students who actually need those self contained programs. It is not for everyone, but when I see students thrive in our setting and the district takes them back to include them just for the sake of saving money, it infuriates me. I have had had some go back, have a horrible time and make leaps backward, then return to us acting like they did 2 years before.
    Your story is incredible. I hope that your daughter's educational journey continues on a smooth path from now on!

  96. What a powerful testament to God's love and provision.

  97. Oh my goodness, your story is so touching and shows what an incredible woman and Mother you are. Thank you for sharing your story.

  98. Wow! What a testimony. You are a strong woman of God, and you will touch many lives with your story. EVERYONE who reads this story will be touched, and hopefully, changed a little for the better. I know the Lord will continue to bless you, and I pray that Chelsea will continue to thrive! I chose your story from Kelly's list because my oldest (21 on Sunday) is named Chelsey!

  99. I don't normally comment, but just wanted to congratulate you on what a wonderful daughter you have. She seems like a gorgeous young woman, you've obviously done a fantastic job. Sending best wishes to you and your family all the way from Australia.

  100. Wow! What a beautiful family! Thank-you for sharing your story. So many lives touched by such tiny babies and a beautiful miracle teenager.

  101. For all of you who don't have contact information, I would like to say THANK YOU so much for all of your super-sweet comments on Chelsea's story! It means a lot to us that you took the time to read and comment!!


  102. You are amazing! Thank you so much for such a beautiful story (even though the beginning was so difficult). God is working through you and your babies!

  103. I'm studying Speech-Language Pathology and we're taught how to break the news to parents that their children will never be "normal". I'm sorry you had to go through the grieving process for that news as well as for your two other darling children, but what a gorgeous joy she turned out to be! With the children I've met who feel inadequate, I like to remind them that they're exactly who they're meant to be. Thank you for this story and for bringing such a lovely girl into the world.

  104. I am absolutely speechless after reading your story. What an inspiration you are to all mother's and christians. As the niece of an amazing 52 year old uncle who has MR, I too know how special people with that diagosis are. The MR doesn't define them. You are truly blessed...truly. God has shown you hurt to bring you peace :)

  105. WOW - That is one of the most touching posts I have ever read.
    God bless

  106. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May you I found your blog this weekend through your link on the Nester's wreath party post, and I'm so glad I did. I read your sidebar and clicked over to this story. It was told well. I was drawn into the story, your pain, and your joy. What tragedy and beauty, all in one. Thank you for sharing.

    be drawn ever closer to Him. May your life and your words continue to be used by God to touch the lives of others.

  107. I'm so sorry for the mess up in the comment above. I tried to post through my blogger account, and it kept messing up. Somehow in the process my comment got messed up too. Feel free to delete my previous comment. Here is what it was supposed to say:

    I found your blog this weekend through your link on the Nester's wreath party post, and I'm so glad I did. I read your sidebar and clicked over to this story. It was told well. I was drawn into the story, your pain, and your joy. What tragedy and beauty, all in one. Thank you for sharing.

    May the Lord bless you and keep you. May you be drawn ever closer to Him. May your life and your words continue to be used by God to touch the lives of others.

  108. I just happened across this by chance. I am not a very emotional woman, but your story has brought me to tears. I do not cry often. I also had a premature baby. He is 5 now. I just wanted to say God Bless You and your beautiful babies.

  109. I've never read your blog but just happened on it and clicked on Chelsea's picture. I am so grateful I did. I am also so grateful for you, your husband and your parents and your walks with our Lord. May God bless you all.

  110. Amazing Story! Just happened on to your Blog. So glad I did. Blessings to all of you!

    1. Thank you so much Debra!! Blessings to you and your family, too!

  111. I was admiring your pretty wreath and happened to notice a picture that caught my eye. It reminded me of my grandson who was born 2 1/2 months early and weighed 2 lbs. It was something about that tiny baby with huge eyes that reminded me so much of my little Spencer. He will be four years old December 31st. He is happy and healthy and had no serious problems after he was born. Thank you for sharing your story and God bless you and your family.

  112. I had no idea Robin. I was and still am crying about this post. I lost a baby when I was very early in pregnancy before Lillie, and I literally didn't think I was going to make it through it. I can only imagine how hard that was for you. It makes me happy to know that I will see my baby when I get to heaven as you will see yours. Thanks for sharing. I know it is not easy. Hugs :)

  113. Wow! What an incredible story! Thank you for sharing with all of us.

  114. So, I found you blog through looking up recipes on Pinterest :) To say I got a blessing today in an understatement. I just finished your story, about your beautiful babies. WOW! You truly have a crown full of jewels. Thank you so much for sharing. I can't even imagine what you went through, I do know what losing a baby is like, but not after birth. Thank you for reminding me that God has a reason for anything even if it is painful. I can't wait to get to heaven to meet my babies, and I hope that I will get to meet yours as well. Your daughters and sons are very lucky. My faith grows everyday, but I can say that I can falter. Your story makes me want to totally rely on God in all aspects of my life, and trust in His plan for me. I pray that God continues to bless you and your family!

    1. Thank you so much Emily!! I pray that God blesses you and your family, too!

  115. Thank you, Robin, for sharing your story! My heart aches for what you have gone through, but I rejoice in the miracle you have been given! God chose YOU to be her mother...YOU! That is quite an honor!

    While I did not have triplets, my story is similar to yours. My daughter, Maddy, is also a miracle. She was born at 24 weeks and spent 10 months in the NICU. She came home Trached and on a ventilator. We had no nursing. I look back now and think that we must have been CRAZY to take her home at the time! God does grant you what you need in order to deal with whatever situation you find yourself in.

    Anyway, I went through a deep depression and anger, which I couldn't explain and no one seemed to understand. I loved my daughter with all my heart, but I did fantasize about running away and getting a new identity. I was mad that everyone else's lives went on but that I was stuck and I was scared that something was going to happen and that she was going to be taken away for failure to thrive, etc. I was reasonably fine during her long NICU stay and I couldn't understand why I was falling apart after getting what I wanted...her coming home. I think it was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I finally had time to process what I had been through. There was the support of the nurses and my NICU and Ronald McDonald House friends when she was in the hospital. At home, everyone else's lives returned to normal, but I had no support and lived In a constant state of fear.

    Fast forward 11 years and I can't believe where I am now! Maddy has Cerebral Palsy from her Grade 3 and Grade 4 IVH. she is non-verbal, J-tube fed, and cannot walk or sit by herself, but she is the silliest and happiest girl you'd ever meet. If the world could have just a little of what she has, it would be a better place! It's not always easy and I'm ashamed to say at I often lose my patience, but I don't think I would change anything.

    The past two years, she has had the same special Ed teacher and has really started making progress with her iPad. I wanted them to hold her back one more year, but they would not. She is supposed to go to an all special Ed school next year and I'm scared. They do not use iPads there and I am afraid that we will be starting all over again. I'd love to have any advice you can offer about IEPs! I can't even get her her own aide, while another kid without any obvious disabilities (I.e. walking or talking) has one. I'm so tired of fighting for everything.

    Anyway, I really didn't mean to share my story like this...I just wanted to let you know that I understand SOME of what you have been through and what you are going through. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Paula, can you e-mail me at There isn't a way to contact you through your profile and I would really love to talk to you!!!

      Robin :o)

  116. I saw your pin and clicked never expecting such a story. You are such a strong woman and amazing mom. Way to go!

    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate you taking the time to read Chelsea's story! It really means a lot to us!

  117. I am so blessed to have read your story I am coming over from Kelly's link up. I can not imagine your pain. I am so thankful that you choose to write your story (their) story. You are a wonderful strong mommy I was so blessed to read this today. (((Hugs)))

    1. Thank you So much Tesha! Thank you for taking the time to read Chelsea's story! It really means a lot to us! {{{{HUGS}}}}

  118. Reading from Kelly's Korner link up. This is the most brutal, yet BEAUTIFUL account of living life to the fullest I've ever read. I am so sorry for your pain and loss, but God has truly done amazing things in your family's life. Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly. You have ministered to my heart.

    1. You are so sweet, Charla! Thank you so much for taking the time to read Chelsea's story. It really means a lot to our family!

  119. I am also here from Kelly's Korner. What a testimony your whole family has. GOD works in the most amazing ways. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain of losing your two precious babies within a month of each other. Those sweet babies made a huge impact for such a short life. And Chelsea - what a doll she is! Thank you for sharing your precious loves with us.

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