For Mahalia Meeuwsen and her husband Mike, having a baby would be a miracle.
But instead of one miracle, the Salmon Arm couple got three.
Meeuwsen, 42, is 30 weeks pregnant with identical triplet girls – conceived naturally without the use of any fertility treatments.
Doctors say that only one in every 50 million births result in identical triplets.
“To look on the ultrasound and see the three of them growing, to see their hearts beating, it is simply amazing,” says the mom-to-be. “And to know how rare this is, it’s staggering.”
Meeuwsen says the babies, which range between two and three pounds, all appear healthy and growing.
“There are so many complications and so many worries, and yet every appointment we’ve heard nothing but good news, so my plan is to just try and stay calm and each day they grow a little bit more,” says Meeuwsen.
Doctors are hoping the triplets will continue to grow in their mother’s womb until a planned C-section on Nov. 16, when they will be at 34 weeks gestation. A normal singleton pregnancy is 40 weeks in duration.
When Mahalia and Mike were married in 2005, they both wanted to become parents. In 2011, they visited a fertility clinic in Kelowna, hoping to pinpoint the cause of the infertility.
“They really found nothing. It was simply termed unexplained infertility. We looked at options like in-vitro, but we decided not to go that route.”
A month later, Meeuwsen found herself pregnant, but at an ultrasound a month later, there was no heartbeat.
“That was devastating to us, but at that point we just decided we were not going to be parents and were going to love our furry-kids, our English bulldog, and that would be that.”
But in April, Meeuwsen was experiencing some unusual symptoms which she chalked up to early menopause – until she got a call from her doctor informing her she was pregnant.
“I thought I was too old, so it was pretty shocking.”
The shock increased when an ultrasound revealed what they thought was twins.
But two weeks later, the shock multiplied.
“I had another ultrasound and the tech goes, ‘there’s a heartbeat here, and here and here.’ And I thought he was joking. But he showed me — and there they all were. I was dizzy.”
When they brought her husband in for the news, they propped him up between the bed and the wall.
“They figured he’d need something to lean on,” Meeuwsen laughs.
Meeuwsen is being closely monitored, having gone through extensive testing on the triplets at BC Women’s Hospital, through her obstetrician in Kamloops and with Dr. Kim Grieve, her family physician.
Already looking like she is full-term, Meeuwsen rubs her belly as she feels the babies move and wonders just how big it can get.
“It’s uncomfortable and I’m really slowing down now, but I know every day they are in there growing is a good day,” she says.
“We are so excited and we know we are going to be so busy, but it’s hard to wrap your mind around it,” Meeuwsen says as she sits on the couch of the couple’s townhouse, waving her hand at the recently purchased $1,500 triplet stroller. “Just look at that stroller. It’s like a train.”
With few family members close by, it’s going to be a heavy load for the couple, especially through the haze of feeding, bathing, diapering and caring for three infants. She will tell them apart by putting a different colour nail polish on their toes.
As a first-time mom, Meeuwsen is trying to also get a handle on just how much gear three pre-term newborns are going to require. While the couple has a stroller, three baby seats and two swings, they would appreciate help with supplies, including diapers, wipes, bottles, receiving blankets or clothing.
Another daunting prospect is the knowledge that her babies will all have extended stays in the neonatal intensive care unit, hopefully in Kamloops. But that also comes with significant costs. In order to be close, nurse and care for the babies, the new parents will need to stay near the hospital; however, there are no options other than hotels. This will involve a major outlay of funds, as doctors have told them to expect that one or more of the babies would likely be in the hospital until close to Christmas.
To help, Meeuwsen’s employer, CIBC, is setting up a donation station in the bank branch, where people can drop off supplies, gift cards or donations. As well, a GoFund Me account has been set up under the name Mahalia and Mike’s 3 Miracles.
This is the link: https://www.gofundme.com/j56q2jfg.
“I’m not really a person who likes to ask for help, but with three babies on the way, people keep telling me I need to throw that out the window,” she says.