I got to know Dani through the triplet and child loss communities after several people connected us to each other because of our eerily similar situations: Both news anchors, both pregnant with triplets in a very public way, both experiencing the loss of children. This is Dani’s first holiday season after the birth and loss of her triplets. Please send her healing thoughts and virtual hugs as this time of year can be very difficult for grieving parents.
A guest post by: Dani Maxwell
Our triplets were born on a typical spring day. The thing is, we weren’t expecting them until summer. It was two days before my husband’s birthday. They lived only a few hours. But they were loved every second.
I started feeling labor pains during our April 8 broadcast of Wake Up Wisconsin, a morning news broadcast that airs on the ABC station in Madison, Wisconsin. I’m the co-anchor and Executive Producer of the show. I had felt contractions during much of this pregnancy, just like I had with my daughter Rylan, so at first I thought nothing of it. I breathed through two hours of news content and contractions that were three minutes apart until I could lie down to see if they stopped. They didn’t. So I went to the hospital.
Going into labor early with multiples is common, and there’s nothing doctors can do to stop it. If I was carrying a single baby, yes. But not two or three. And doctors don’t know why women carrying multiples go into pre-term labor, but ask anyone and they’ll tell you, it was my biggest fear. Especially since I had gone into pre-term labor with my daughter… twice. Doctors were able to stop labor then. But of course, they couldn’t this time.
I’ll spare you all the details of labor, but it was intense and fast. It was physically painful. But what made me cry out in pain was knowing full well I would be giving birth to three babies who would not survive. Our boys were not quite 22 weeks gestational age. The policy of that hospital is to resuscitate at 23 weeks. They would not try to save their lives. We didn’t have a choice in the matter. Knowing all of this, when it came time to push, I refused. I could still feel my boys moving around inside my belly, and I knew if I pushed their time would be limited. So I sat through – I don’t know how many – painful contractions just to keep them alive. Eventually McKay was born, with little effort on my part, at 1:59 p.m. Asher followed at 2:01. Kenji was born ten minutes later.
The nurses wrapped them in blankets, but I wanted to feel my babies’ skin on my skin so I unwrapped them and held them all close to my chest. McKay held out his hand and my husband, Steve held out his finger. McKay grabbed hold. Asher moved around on my chest. Kenji, the smallest, didn’t move much, but just feeling him there was enough. The nurses and doctors left us alone for a few hours. We don’t know when they passed away. A doctor came back around 6:00 p.m. to make the “pronouncement.” They were gone.
Many people become a parent the day they find out they’re going to have a child. I don’t know if that’s true for me. It may have been more gradual. I’ve had severe fertility problems, so my first experience with pregnancy was a miscarriage that happened shortly after I found out I was pregnant. I was devastated. I didn’t feel like a parent. I felt robbed. Then I had another miscarriage. And another. And another. Six documented miscarriages and I was told by one doctor he couldn’t help me because he didn’t know what was happening. He told me to give up. Adopt. Don’t have children. He was sorry.
I was ready to adopt. I think it’s a wonderful thing (still do) and talked with my husband about it. He wanted to get a second opinion first about my fertility problems. Our second doctor was much more positive and told us he would find a way. He did. It was a combination of a follicle-stimulating hormone, inducing ovulation and other hormones and drugs that kept me pregnant with my daughter Rylan. The follicle-stimulating hormone made me release six to eight eggs that month, but only one was fertilized: Rylan.
After two more miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy that burst and nearly took my own life, we used the same method to get pregnant this year. Doctors said I was ready to release three eggs, so knowing what happened our first round, we went for it. But all three were fertilized: McKay, Asher and Kenji. As blessed as we felt, we knew our boys were also at a major risk for premature birth and other serious health problems because they were multiples.
As a local news anchor, I live much of my life in the public eye. I wrote about my pregnancy and shared stories with viewers in blog posts and on air. So when they died, I felt compelled to share that story too. I wanted the world to know my sons existed. I wanted people to know what happened. I wanted them to know the boys had lived and are loved.
I was amazed by the response I got. Thousands of e-mails, messages, phone calls, cards, gifts. Many people told me their own stories about how they lost babies. Some had never shared their story with anyone else before. They felt they couldn’t talk about it. It was taboo. Frowned upon. They were told to forget about their child, sometimes by family members.
After hearing others’ stories and sharing my own, I decided to continue the conversation with on-air stories about coping with child loss. We shouldn’t feel the need to stay silent about our children because they are no longer here. I am proud of all my children and when someone asks me how many kids I have, I tell them four, even though they may only see one.
I am ‘Mom’ to:
Dani Maxwell is a morning news anchor for the ABC affiliate in Madison, WI. She’s an Illinois native and a graduate of Illinois State University. Dani is married and a proud mother to her daughter and triplet angels.
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