Three Little Birds

Story of 3 little birds and one who soared above us all.

The Pregnancy (in a nut shell)

Here are some of the highlights and low lights of the pregnancy journey so far. I had meant to keep a journal, but never even bought one and now post recording weekly or daily feelings seems pretty tedious. I must say I have a lot more admiration for everyone who has made this journey and dared to repeat. I’m thinking this a one time event for us.


Day of magic. Not as exciting as it sounds. All potential Johnstons are placed into a dish for 5 days of cell division. Only the tough will make it.


Two Seymour Johnston blastocysts are placed back in for safe keeping. (At least they better be SJ blasts or there will be a clinic paying for their Harvard education!) Hopefully at least one decides to stick around for the next nine months. Now the waiting part.


The call we’ve anxiously and nervously been waiting for – hopefully better results than the other times. I had the nurse leave a message on my cell phone so Clay and I could hear the news together at home. I learned in the past not to take this call at work as it left me pretty dysfunctional for the rest of the day. We finally heard the words we had thought would never come. I was pregnant!!! We celebrated with some sparkling cider and a nice dinner and had to make a few phone calls.


First ultrasound appt. to hopefully hear the sound of our baby’s beating heart. I had hoped this wasn’t a false pregnancy and was really happening. I’ll admit, I was also hoping both had taken and we had twins on the way with which Clay would reply “No, your uterus is the Thunderdome. 2 Johnstons go in, the strongest on comes out.” Clay apparently didn’t know of my 25 year plan to have twins.

First thing the doctor says as we start the US, “Well there’s the twins.” We both gasp in awe and silence. He goes to sack #1 and we hear the heart beat. Right before going to sack #2, he calmly states “Well here’s something you don’t see very often, in fact less than 5% of pregnancies.” I’m thinking the kid is upside down or something minor since there is a hint of amusement in his voice. He then goes to sack #2 and says, “Here you have monozygotic twins.” My heart and breathing stops as I realize they split had split into identical twins. He continues, “you have here heartbeat #1 and #2.” Clay realizes what this means and I believe his breathing and heartbeat stop as well. He said he nearly soiled himself then and there as well. Then the word we never thought possible to hear and it really sinks in for us both: TRIPLETS. By this point we are both in a state of complete and utter shock. Neither of us could barely breathe as tears and snot poured down my face. At some point during the doctor’s advice for picking a high risk specialist and needing a NICU, etc. we both at some point utter an S bomb – the first time I’ve sworn at a doctor.

The next day we left for our last trip for quite sometime as a twosome to Vegas. Needless to say, I didn’t have the most restful nights as visions of sickly little NICU babies danced in my head and the pondering of “how are we going to do this?”  We remained in some state of shock during most of our Vegas days until Clay’s aunt calmly told us this wasn’t the end of our lives. We had been praying for the start of a family for quite some time, I just hadn’t planned on it all happening at once!



9 weeks. Everyone’s still there. This is for real.



First appt with perinatology group. I learned I’m at much higher risk for pretty much every possible pregnancy complication that can happen due to having multiples.  We also learned  the identical twins look like they are sharing the same sack and membrane and may be possibly monoamniotic/monochorionic twins which makes them a much higher risk for fetal death due to umbilical cord entanglement and loss of oxygen and blood flow. Most identical twins basically are in the same house, different rooms where ours are in the  same house, same room.  This also means possible hospitalization at 24 weeks if they make it until then for frequent monitoring. One resource stated there is a 50% mortality rate in these type of twins. It’s either 0 or 100% for us so I tend not to bother with numbers. Still, not the most encouraging news.


We found out we’re having a boy and 2 girls. I was hoping for a variety pack and was really excited about the news.  since my mom is a twin, I always thought it would be fun to have a twin sister. At this point all is going well and everyone checked out in good health. Still no sign of a membrane so we were pretty sure the girls are mono/mono twins which happen less than 1% of identical twins.




After several good appts, we now learn that one of the girls has a complex heart defect. It is likely right hypoplastic heart. I can’t describe the devastation felt not knowing if or how long your child will live and knowing the difficult road that lies before them. I now understand the grief and worry felt by all the mother’s of patients I have taken care of in the past.


We had an Echo done with the cardiologist Dr. Rajan from Children’s Mercy. Lydia does have the hypoplastic right heart meaning her right ventricle just did not fully develop as well as a ventricular septal defect and a double inlet single ventricle. It’s more complex than I can fully picture or grasp. It is a condition that is unable to be fixed, but they can do a series of surgeries to reroute the blood flow of the heart. The oldest survivors with this condition are in their 20’s and she may need a heart transplant as she gets older. We accept the fact she won’t be our Olympic athlete and can only pray she will do well throughout her surgeries and we can enjoy every moment we are blessed with her. She has several tough grand and great grandparents so hopefully she got some those genes! We recently had just met a father of triplets at a congenital heart defects group whose little girl has the same condition. She is 10 months old and doing well. Their blog is an inspiration as I see pictures of a beautiful little girl who you would never know had surgery or any problems.


I came to the hospital for my daily nonstress tests planning on returning home and hitting the couch for an afternoon cat nap with Harris. This was my new routine and had gone well for the past 3 days. Friday was my last day of work and everything was going pretty well even though I was getting pretty uncomfortable. I had expected to be hospitalized at some point this month for more frequent monitoring but had thought I’d get another couple weeks at home. One of the girls was having heart rate decelerations and I was apparently having contractions. I was sent to the observation area for longer monitoring and was told I could probably go home in a few hours when I had a large unexpected hemorrhage. This resulted in getting a mag sulfate drip for a couple days and a permanent change of residency to my new condo at St. Luke’s on the Plaza.


Crisis adverted after a rough 48 hours of feeling pretty lousy on the mag sulfate and I got my new long-term holding cell in the comps unit where early pregnant women get to hang out and wait. Nothing like a couple days of strict bed rest to really appreciate showers and the freedom of bathroom privileges!


During the night another bleed occurs and I’m back to labor and delivery for a few more days of new meds to stop contractions and a few more days of continuous monitoring. Once again, a few more strict days and I greatly appreciate showers again!


Back to holding cell #2547 to resume my daily routine of 3 monitorings per day, bland food (now from the diabetic menu thanks to gestational diabetes), lounging and gestating.


Tomorrow is D-Day. The C-section is scheduled for 10AM.  I’ve been having twice weekly ultrasounds to check the girls’ umbilical cords to make sure they are getting adequate blood flow and one has had continuously high doppler pressures with increased periods of absent blood flow. The decision is made to go ahead an deliver them at 32 weeks rather than wait and risk them having further problems and needing an emergent delivery. I’ve had 2  separate steroid dosings to help the babies lungs mature. even though I’d rather let them hang out and grow another couple weeks, I’m very grateful we’ve made it this far. Surprisingly the 5 weeks here in the hospital have gone by pretty fast. Thanks to all the visitors who came in, the magazines and books brought by, contraband food, flowers and the loan of the Playstation 1 for my nightly Scrabble game. I’ve had my little routine and figure this is the only time in my life (until retirement) when I can just decide what leisurely activity to next or just take a nap which happened daily. I think Clay has had the rough time, running from home to work to see me back to work and then home again and trying to remember to bring me everything I need from home. He’s been a great support occasionally having overnight slumber parties in the room. We are also so thankful for all the love, support, well wishes and prayers that we and our babies have received before their arrival.

Tonight I’ll try to calmly meditate, take an Ambien before bed and wait for the biggest and most life changing event of my life to occur. Wyatt, Ava and Lydia – we can’t wait to meet you.





  1. Jenna Seymour

    I am in hysterical tears of joy right now after reading this post Amanda. I love you two, now five so much- I’d do anything for you all. I’m verklempt waiting for the phone call to know how you all are. Praying, praying, praying- we are all praying that God is with you through all the good and hard moments to help you through.

  2. Mary Lou Crawford

    Amanda & Clay, today is Tuesday night, November 17th and I have just drawn up all the info on your pregnancy. I have really appreciated it with all of Clay’s pictures since the birth of those three great babies. I am glad you are home and I will be “gladder” when you get Wyatt, Ave, and Lydia home. What a nice family that will be. I look on the computer 2-3 times daily to see if there is any new info. But as you can see I don’t always get it brought up. I keep praying for all five of you and can hardly wait until I can see all of you. Love, Mary Lou

  3. kristen

    I’ve really been thinking so much of you lately, knowing the time of delivery had to be near. My goodness, So much I didn’t know and it was absolutely captivating to catch up. Love all your posts. It was only a little over a year ago we met and think of where you and I were back then on that CEU night where I just couldn’t keep from telling you my life story….

    Love and prayers,


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