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When I Decided to Celebrate My Children After Losing Them

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There are 86,400 seconds in a day and 31,536,000 seconds in a year — that’s a lot of time to create your life story. While some will tell you their story is picture-perfect, others will undoubtedly admit there is room for improvement. And while every person is sure to face some hiccups in the story of their life, I have found it is the way you react that sets the pace moving forward.

My story was fairly simple: I grew up in a happy family, married Prince Charming and found success in a career I love. Sure, there were a few bumps along the way, but overall, everything was good. Then, three years ago our story took a drastic turn. After years of infertility, my husband and I became pregnant with triplets: two identical girls and a boy. We finally had the last piece of the puzzle in our picture-perfect life. But some things in life are out of our hands. I did everything by the books during my pregnancy, but my body failed me. Our triplets were born more than 17 weeks premature. In the first two months, our daughter, Abby, and then our son, Parker, both passed away, leaving us and our daughter Peyton, to face an uphill battle. She spent four months in the NICU before eventually coming home on oxygen.

two premature babies in hospital bed
Stacey’s daughter, Peyton, and son, Parker.

It’s hard to describe what it’s like to hold your child as they die in your arms. It’s a surreal moment in which your hopes and dreams for your baby disappear as they take their final breath. I remained strong for my children, reading books to my son in his last few minutes, making sure he knew only of my love, not my sadness. Still, a little piece of me died on those two days when my children left this earth.

There is no handbook for losing a child; every parent grieves differently. As sad and heartbroken as I felt, I knew I needed to stay strong for our surviving triplet. Peyton has thrived over the past two and a half years, and we feel blessed that she is a happy and healthy toddler today. Her traumatic birth and rough first months are now a distant memory.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to handling the death of a child. As parents, we are not supposed to outlive our children — it is uncharted territory, an unfortunate reality for those of us who become part of this club no one ever wants to be part of. Through many therapy sessions and sleepless nights, I made a decision: I will change the course of my life story. I will find the positive within this heartbreaking piece of my life.

blonde mom with arm around young daughter
Stacey and her daughter, Peyton.

I opened up my computer and began to write. I poured my heart into my blog and shared the happy moments and my deepest, darkest feelings with the world. I opened myself up to criticism, but I didn’t care — this was how I was going to change my path in life. Instead of dwelling over the death of my children, I chose to celebrate them.

Over the past two years, my story has reached thousands of people around the world. By baring my soul, I am helping others. By sharing the short, precious moments I had with my angels, I am helping to keep their memory alive. And my 22-week micro preemie is a true medical miracle. She’s helping to start an important conversation in the medical community. My triplets are touching more lives than I could ever have imagined. And while that major bump in the road brought tears and heartache, my children have made me who I am today. I’m honored to be their mother and proud of how my life story has unfolded.

A version of this post first appeared on Mamalode.

Originally published: February 2, 2016
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