October Twentieth, Two Thousand Fifteen
And because time simply moves on at the speed of time, here we are.
It's October 20 and we have three beautiful healthy girls in our lives. Martha Erna Taronno (aka 'A'), born first at 1:04PM, 4lbs 10 oz, Sadie Helen Taronno (aka 'B') born 1:05PM, 4 lbs 12 oz, and Eleanor Mae Taronno (aka 'C'), born 1:06PM, 3 lbs 8 oz. Sadie, Ellie & Mar.
The morning of, I finish packing our bags and off we go to the hospital. First, though, we think to take a quick detour to Harrow United Church - it's election day and though we weren't forward-thinking enough to get advance voting in, we agree that it would be hilarious and awesome to vote now. I drop Gill off to find parking, and she checks to see if it's even do-able. (Polls open at 8:30, we're supposed to be at the hospital for 9). We ask one of the officers if we can jump ahead because of triplets. He says he doesn't know, ask the line. We do so and everyone starts gleefully pushing us to the front. Our ballots are cast and it's time to hustle, but as we're leaving a woman with a news-camera stops us.
Oh, shit, thinks I.
Another lady quickly gets a picture of us, Gill holding her voter card in triumph. News woman does a quick interview with Gill. I stand there with her, mute. I don't particularly feel like yammering at a camera, possibly for the first time ever.
Gill tells the viewers that we're voting before a triplet caesarean because it's important to vote this time. "Why this time?", prods the reporter ... Uh oh, Gill's not the most political person, and I can see her start ad-libbing... "Because it's ... always important to vote?" Bless her, she is so utterly herself.
And off we go. We meet her mother at the hospital. We head to admitting, where the hurry-up-and-wait begins. Then it's up to pregnancy triage (the room across from regular triage) and we wait a bit more. Waiting waiting waiting. I'm trying to keep the mood light. Gill is anxious. I get dressed up in scrubs and parade about, feeling mighty medical.
After a thousand years, important people start poking their head in - Dr. Schneider, the anesthesiologist's resident, the anesthesiologist himself, more nurses. All do a fairly bad job of calming Gill down, but she starts to compose herself anyway. Every time someone talks to her, she wants to know, "Will there be drugs? What drugs can you give me?" She's nervous and she wants drugs, lots of them. Everyone's tells her to wait to talk to the anesthesiologist. "Great question, ask the anesthesiologist". "I'm pretty sure the anesthesiologist can do something for you." He finally shows up and tells her she in fact gets nothing. As I'm sure they all knew all along. Way to manage expectations, team.
Anyway, no matter. Gill is a trooper and doesn't need your drugs anyhow.
It's finally game time. She's hooked up to an IV, and waddles down the hall with me and the rest of the team in tow. We go down the halls of the high-risk pregnancy corridors. Then through double doors. Then nearly to the end of a long hallway. They enter the operating room and I'm told to sit and wait. They're going to do the spinal, get settled, and then will bring me in.
So I sit.
Pulse is normal. Breathing is deep. I try to meditate. I fail, but not as badly as I expected. I try to take in the moment. I fail again, but not as badly as I expected. Every time a door opens, my entire being shifts attention to it. But they're not coming for me. One of my favourite nurses pops out to grab a towel. She's doing really good, she tells me.
There has never been a longer ten minutes.
Finally they bring me in. There's a team in there - not as large as I expected. Ten or twelve maybe. The room is just an ordinary hospital room, but with heavy-duty monitoring systems. They are all clustered around Gill's tumescent belly. A blue curtain divides her head from her body. I zip around. She looks really nice. We smile at each other. She's nervous. I stroke her face. Calm her. She tells me the spinal felt like nothing at all. That's so good, I tell her.
I chat with the anesthesiologist a bit. Talk about how surgery predates anesthesiology. "And it was pretty horrible surgery" he reminds me. We agree that 2015 is a damn fine year to be getting triplets pulled out of you.
They get to work.
As soon as I feel like I can without being insensitive to her, I poke my head over the curtain. I can't quite remember - they were either still cutting, or had just finished. Tough to tell though, as the incision is behind the huge ball of baby, so I don't have a good view. Standing up a bit taller to try and see what's going on. Back to Gill. She feels nothing but pressure. "It's weird", she reports. I can smell viscera, but decide not to share that with her.
Go time. They start rooting around. She gets an odd look on her face. Her mouth contorts - not in pain, but from deep unease.
Ohhh', she tells me. They break the first water.
'Uggg', she advises. 'Oh my god, it's wet. It's like being in a carwash.' Someone somehow warns that baby one is on the way. I'm over the curtain, cell phone out.
The doctor is maneuvering, re-adjusting, pulling, pulling. A head emerges. 'Ohh my god', says I.
A tiny, slimy human comes out. She starts to cry. 'Ohhhh my goddd', says I. She is crying heartily. Her name is Martha, but we don't know that yet.
Immediately she's given to a nurse, who throws her in a towel and takes her out the door. 'Show her to the mother!' hollers someone. The nurse boogies back in the room and around the curtain to show Gill.
Meanwhile, they've got another baby by the head. She's coming fast. Another tiny, slimy human is yanked out in less than a minute after the first. Her name is Sadie, but we don't know that yet.
She starts to cry. 'Ohhh my goddd', says I. Snap, snap, snap goes the phone camera. It's bloody, it's amazing.
The nurse knows to show us this one.
Now Doctor Schneider goes at least elbows deep in Gill. She's rooting around. She's rummaging. She's trying to find a lost shoe under a bed. More maneuvering. A butt starts to come out. The butt belongs to a girl named Eleanor, but we don't know that yet. They sort of twist her around, and pop her out - I feel like maybe she was sideways, but that can't be, can it?
She's out. Baby C. She's the little one, and we all know it. I'm waiting for the noise, but not expecting it. Then, after a few long seconds, my last ever child starts to cry.
And dad lowers his head on the table right beside mom's and joins her.
The suturing takes longer than the babies. They came out a minute apart each. They came out alphabetically, baby A, B & C.
Gill is relieved - the operation was tidy, quick, completely pain-free. A beautiful birth, in it's own way.
I'm a bit impressed with my almost sociopathic detachment - genuinely felt no queasiness through the whole thing. As I mentioned at some point in the operating room, it was like the curtain magically separated the room into my wife's head on one side, and a crazy bloody theatrical performance on the other. They were not actually related. Likely had it been the same scene without that curtain it would have been very different.
Sidebar: It's odd trying to recollect something like this the day after. The memories are already so hazy, but they're the best I'm ever going to have. Anything I write down now will become history as the actual memories fade. I wish I trusted the Inner Scribe a bit more - it's a heavy job and I'm not sure he's up to it.
I don't remember how long after they're out until I'm able to see them.
Actually, wait I'll check the time-stamp on the pics.
Ellie came out around 1:06. I met them properly at 1:36PM. A half hour of snapping pictures of the placenta, asking when I can see the babies, excitedly chatting with Gill.
The baby doctor tells me their weights out in the hall. Tells me that they needed a little bit of oxygen to help them transition into the world, but they were already off it by the time we were talking. Breathing room air. I'm beside myself. We didn't dare expect that. He lets me go see them.
Immediately I feel what I'm sure will become a frequent sensation - whom do I see first? And, honestly, I don't know who I did. I think they were lined up A, B & C, so I probably saw them in that order.
They look so, so healthy. Just babies. Normal, beautiful newborn babies. I go see our smallest girl. She's so gorgeous. And she does look premature, but only slightly. I linger with her.
I hustle back to show Gill. She's still getting stitched up, but it doesn't take long for them to finish up, and off we go to the recovery room.
I go tell the family. Hugs and tears all around. We go see Gill, and on our way there we actually see the girls being wheeled through the hall. No one was expecting them to see them so soon, and there are more tears, more hugs. I learn they're going to intermediary care, not intensive. Not for a second did I entertain the thought that they'd be going anywhere but to the intensive care unit. I'm beside myself. It's real. They're alive. They're here.
The rest of the day was very long. We learned from my brother that the morning's interview and picture had gone nationally viral. A bunch of people were trying to get ahold of us for an update.
I wasn't very happy about it. I didn't want this moment turned into... content for consumption. A sound byte. It was all too fresh. We hadn't even announced online that we were expecting triplets, and I didn't want friends and family finding out from the news.
I told them all that we're not doing any interviews. They understood.
We spent the afternoon and evening herding people back and forth to see the girls. I was able to feed baby A. And then, later in the evening, finally finally finally got to see my sweet boy, who I took to meet and name his little sisters.
We had three names picked, but no idea with what mechanism to dole them out. Enter Oswald.
He completely understood what was going on. He had three blankets, purple, orange and pink, each with a name on it. He hurried over to start laying blankets on incubators without hesitation. Baby C got the pink blanket and became Eleanor. B got orange and became Sadie. Which left purple for A, now Martha.
He actually wanted to keep naming babies but I told him he was all out of blankets, and also sisters.