The title of this post was my mantra throughout their newborn session(s) and while editing and posting sneak peek images on Facebook for Cannon family. Mellyssa (mom of 3 identical baby girls and 1 toddler boy) is an acquaintance from my “The Knot” wedding days. A whole bunch of us became close on their online forum for brides to be and many kept in touch through Facebook over the years. When I saw she was pregnant with TRIPLETS, I messaged her that very second about photographing them. I was humbled when she told me she would definitely be using me and had planned on contacting me already. Mellyssa was really sick throughout much of the beginning of her pregnancy, so our communications were spread out. I finally recently learned the full story of how this incredible mother persevered through pregnancy, labor and delivery of her three beautiful baby girls.
Photographing triplets was an amazing experience, but a feat that I knew I couldn’t tackle alone. I asked my good friend Jennifer of Jennifer Snook Photography to fly up from Atlanta, GA and assist me with their session. She excitedly said yes!! I just adore Jennifer’s work and I totally trust her in the studio having worked with her before in Philadelphia, PA during a retreat amongst close colleagues. We instantly clicked when we met in person and I had a blast with her while she was here! Thank you so much Jennifer for helping me that day and being an amazing friend and fellow photographer!!!
The session just FLEW by. Each girl was identified by their signature color (that matched their nursery decor!). It was definitely a challenge when photographing all three of them together, but their individual shots were a breeze. When it came time for a sibling shot, we just did not have time. I told Mellyssa when she booked that we would try to add Xander into a shot but logistically it just didn’t work out since posing the three of them together already was a challenge since we were pressed for time. We completed the session in the regular time I slot for a SINGLE newborn (3 hours)!!! So that in itself was a feat accomplished. Mellyssa and her crew came back a few days later for a sibling mini session add on, which I am now totally convinced is the way to go!!!
This shot was a composite of MULTIPLE shots (no pun intended!). Triplets are hard, but imagine throwing in a two year old in the mix!! Xander did really well for his mini session for the first 15-20 minutes. After that he was pretty much done (as predicted and expected of any two year old). I took that extra time during that mini session to get just one more shot of all three girls together.
After hearing some tidbits of her story during our session, I asked Mellyssa if she’d be willing to write an excerpt for the girls’ blog post. She was more than happy to!! Here is her story:
Our Birth story: after 9 long months of trying, I was beginning to feel very defeated. Having a large family had always been my dream. Finally, two little pink lines! I ran out and purchased a big brother shirt, put it on Xander, and sent him in to show daddy. It took about five minutes for my Rick to realize what his shirt said, and we were bursting with excitement. I was 3.5 weeks along. Still too early to tell anyone. By 5 weeks, I was so sick I could hardly tolerate water. The doctors gave me the “morning sickness remedies”, and a prescription for zofran. By 8 weeks, I still was sick and getting very week. The OB had me come in, she ran a urine test and immediately sent me to rex for fluids as I was EXTREMELY dehydrated. Once at Rex, they started fluids, and ran some blood tests. The doctor came by and said “Mrs Cannon, your abdomen is a little swollen and I would like to send you for an ultrasound to make sure everything is alright.” My mind immediately went to the negatives…maybe this pregnancy wasnt viable, maybe I was experiencing an eptopic pregnancy… both were mentioned by the doctor. She said they needed to get more fluid in me, so Rick went to grab something to eat.
Before he had gotten back, I was rolled back for an ultrasound. The tech turned the screen away as she scanned my abdomen, not saying a word until she was complete. She stood quickly and said, “I need to go show the doctor,” and briskly walked out. The longest 15 minutes of my life went by while I was waiting for her to return. She knocked and had Rick standing beside. Again, I thought the worst. She stated, ” I asked and the doctor said I can show you all this, as its easier to accept when you can see. She turned the screen and again scanned my abdomen. She stopped, “here is baby one’s heartbeat”–imagine my surprise when she said baby one!–, “here is baby two’s heartbeat”– wow twins!–” and here is baby three’s heartbeat!” “Please stop counting I remember saying!” Of course she was the first to ask what became the most aggrivating question “are they natural?!?! Or did you do fertility treatments?” For the record, no, we did not, and yes our triplets are natural whatever that means. (Also for the record, PC is spontaneous.) And so our adventure began. The ED docs prescribed more medication to fight the neausea, and after losing nearly 30 lbs, I began home IV treatments to combat the neausea.
By 10 weeks I was diagnosed with hyperemesis, and began on a zofran pump. I was finally well enough by New Years to wean off the pump, and had three weeks of peace before my body decided to go into labor at 23 weeks. I was admitted to Duke and was ambushed by NICU doctors with ” your babies will not make it, its too early for them to survive.” A social worker was sent in on day two in the hospital to talk with me about palitive care since they couldn’t get the contractions under control amd my cervix was dramatically shortening. By day three, I was an emotional wreck. Not only was I being told my babies were going to die, I was also told I couldn’t see my toddler due to flu precautions. However, by day three my contractions stopped with the meds and I wasnt dialating anymore. By day 4, I decided I had enough. I turned to God and said ” Lord, you have already decided the outcome. Please forgive me for the moments I will be weak, and help me be strong whatever your will.” I asked the doctor to send me home. I could be on bedrest there and at least see my toddler. The doc obliged warning I probably would end up right back there. Between God, my husband, parents, and siblings I managed to stay in bed for 10 more weeks. Xander turned two on March 25, and I was as big as a house and knew the big day was coming soon. I was just relieve the girls were well and didnt share a birthday with Xander!
Friday, March 29, I felt awful. Even walking to the restroom was painful. Nothing was helping me get comfortable, so I decided to try a bath around 11:30 pm. I stood from my bed, and felt a dribble. Surely that couldn’t be my water, it was nothing like the movies. I walked to the tub and as I went to step in, and had a huge gush! I knew then, it was definitely my water. I texted Rick as I didnt want to wake Xander up, that it was time! The contractions immediately began to get intense 2 minutes apart, and we had an hour and 20 minute drive to Duke. He grabbed Xander buckled him in the carseat as I called the high risk oncall doc and my mom. The high risk doc was in a delivery, so I had to leave a message. We dropped Xander off, grabbed more towels from my mom, and raced to Duke as the contractions began to get closer. Well, we somehow got lost and ended up at the Duke Chapel. We drove in a circle until we found the entrance to the hospital. The high risk doc called, told her we were pulling in. As Rick helped me Into a wheelchair, we were stopped by security and told to go to the emergency room. Rick told him we were going to L&D… he could join if he wanted, but we were going up! I immediately was sent to leave a urine sample and as I sat to give my sample, I broke into tears. Baby A was coming. Rick came in, scooped me up, and put me on the triage bed where the nurse attempted to hook up monitors. The highrisk doc came in, and all I remember is her saying “I’m Dr..” Before I cried “I can’t hold her anymore!!” And, Baby A was born!” If this gives you an idea of how fast this went… we were stopped in the lobby by security at 12:58 am, and Peyton was born at 1:05 am. I was rushed back for an emergency C-section, as baby C (Brooklyn) had dropped breech and was compressing baby B’s (Jordan’s) cord. Brooklyn was delivered followed by Jordan a minute later. The girls were all rushed to the NICU born at 32 weeks and we expected complications but there were relatively none. By the time I was released from the hospital, Peyton and Jordan were moved to the Special Care nursery as Feeders and Growers. The following day Brooklyn joined them. Duke requires newborns be in the 35th week of gestation before they can come home. Peyton was released on April 16 followed by her sisters on April 20th. My girls are a gift from God. When I went into labor at 23 weeks, I never would have expected them to be where they are now. Healthy, beautiful 9.5 lb almost 3 month olds. (Story written on June 17th, 2013).
Shortly before posting, I asked Mellyssa what “Feeders and Growers” meant in an effort to educate myself as well as my readers. I also asked her if there were any organizations or charities that she was especially grateful for during her experience. She responded: “So when my girls were first born, they went straight to the NICU for evaluation. All were given IVs immediately for antibiotics since I hadn’t had GBS testing done and delivered one naturally and had my waters ruptured on their own. Jordan had a little trouble breathing so was put on CPAP but was taken off CPAP 6 hours after birth. The girls had done so well and were gaining weight, didnt need any IV care after the antibiotics. They were transferred to the special care nursery, where their goals were “eat, grow, go”.my girls were also being monitored for bradys which they didnt have, they were scanned for brain bleeds (common in premies, more common in muliples) they didn’t have any. Since Duke requires babies to be in their 35th week gestational age before they can go home, they classified the girls as feeders and growers since all they had to learn to do was eat full feeds from bottle/breast without getting tired. Peyton mastered eating and was released 17 days after birth. Jordan and Brooklyn still needed a few NG feeds a day, but caught on and were taking full feeds by 19 days and were released 21 days after. The girls are now between 11-13 lbs mot sure exacts because thats based on our home scale. We havent had their 4 month appt yet… they are 15 weeks today! We participate in March of Dimes, but I am especially grateful to the Ronald McDonald House. We didnt stay there, but they have a room in the hospital that we were able to get snacks/small meals/use computers/read/do laundry/shower for free. But, I met so many other moms with babies in the NICU there, and I appreciate how blessed I was that my babies were just feeders and growers.”
A big thank you to Mellyssa for sharing her incredible story with me and allowing me to share on my photography blog with my readers. I feel so lucky to have had a part in their lives and be able to create beautiful newborn images for her and her family.