"A person's a person no matter how small" Dr Seuss
This memorial website was created in the memory of our beloved triplets, Henry, Jasper and Evan Smith. Triplet brothers destined to stick together.
"So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing." The House at Pooh Corner, A.A.Milne
The pregnancy progressed well, with scans every few weeks showing the babies developing normally. People would see I was pregnant and ask if it was my first and I’d proudly say: “it’s my first three!”
However our hopes and dreams for our instant family were dashed when, at just 21 weeks, my waters broke while I was at the supermarket. I drove myself to hospital where I was told I would probably go into labour within 24 hours, and that our babies were going to die.
My whole life came crashing down, it was like a terrible nightmare. I sobbed and pleaded with the doctors to do something, anything to stop me going into labour. However, intervention cannot be given this early. At 21 weeks, the babies wouldn’t live more than a few minutes. It was just devastating.
A scan showed that one baby’s waters had broken, but all three babies were alive and healthy.
Five days later, our first son Henry was born, so beautiful and perfect and looking just like Ash. He gave a tiny cry and was laid on my chest where, for one precious hour, I held him and felt his heart beating against mine. His tiny hands squeezed onto our fingers and then, an hour after he was born, he passed away.
Incredibly Henry’s siblings didn’t follow their brother into the world that day. As intervention isn’t given to babies born before 24 weeks, we had a long way to go. But as the days passed our hopes grew.
At 24 ½ weeks, after three weeks of bedrest in hospital, my waters broke once again and Jasper and Evan were born by emergency caesarean. They were immediately intubated and transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at the Royal Hospital for Women.
Weighing less than a kilo each my boys had a long fight ahead. However, babies this small had survived before and we were optimistic.
The first few days were promising. Both boys were taking my expressed breastmilk through tubes into their stomachs. We spent every day sitting by their humidicribs marvelling at how beautiful they were and falling in love with them.
But when our babies were ten days old we rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night as Evan had taken ill. We sat with him through the night and in the morning learned that he had suffered a severe brain haemorrhage. Heartbroken, we had no choice but to remove him from his life support.
This was the first time Ash and I had held Evan. We told him how much we loved him, kissed him and he slipped away while he was in my arms.
Over the next few weeks Jasper began to grow stronger. Amidst the worry and sadness of this time, we also have some beautiful and happy memories of our time with him. There was the amazing day that he opened his eyes for the first time, the handful of times we were allowed to take him out of his crib for a cuddle, and the time I gave him one precious breastfeed.But, like many such premature babies, our baby had chronic lung disease. Jasper’s lungs kept collapsing and many times over the next few weeks we came close to losing him. However each time he amazed his doctors and fought on.
At 58 days old Jasper’s lungs collapsed again, but this time he could not be revived. Once again we took our baby out of his crib, and held him while he passed away.
The days and weeks following Jasper’s death were terribly hard. Ash and I talked about them all the time, and about the incredible love that they had brought into our lives. We were determined that they would never be forgotten and that something good would come from their lives.
When I should have been run off my feet looking after three tiny babies, I instead was facing maternity leave with empty arms. To help me get through the days, Ash suggested I train for a half marathon, and dedicate it to Henry, Jasper and Evan, raising some money for the Royal Hospital for Women in their memory. I asked a few friends to join me and put out a flyer at a few local cafes. That’s where things snowballed and Henry, Jasper and Evan’s legacy was born.
Nine months to the day since Evan and Jasper were born, and six months after Jasper died, I ran the SMH Half Marathon with a team of 98 people! Together we raised $80,000 for new humidicribs. With the help of the Royal Hospital for Women Foundation we set up the Henry, Jasper & Evan Smith Trust Fund, to provide life-saving equipment for critically ill premature babies in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Hospital for Women.
Each year since then I have organised a team to train and run the SMH Half Marathon to raise funds for my boys’ Trust Fund. In the 5 years since they left us, over 1000 people have run with me and over $520,000 has been raised in their memory. This has bought ten humidicribs and ten neo-natal monitors, which are saving the lives of hundreds of premature babies just like mine.
Each year a group of amazing people join my team – some are also parents of precious babies who have died, others are parents of miracle children who have overcome their premature start to life and directly benefitted from our teams fundraising. Many are just inspired by my brave little boys! So many generous people support us – Five months of free weekly training is provided for the team by a professional excercise physiologist and runners also get a free team singlet and cap, donated by Running Bare. This year Tommee Tippee have joined Running Bare as our major sponsors. We have loads of fun along the way, and I organise regular social events in the lead up to the race as well as a team after-party.
This year, 2012, is a record breaking year for my team, with 360 runners – our biggest yet – with a goal to raise $140,000 for two special ventilators which are gentle on even the tiniest lungs, and are urgently needed by the hospital. Please, if you’ve ever thought of running a half marathon, make 2012 the year you do it, and join me in saving premature babies in memory of Henry, Jasper and Evan.
Knowing that my beloved babies Henry, Jasper & Evan are helping other premature babies to live makes me the proudest mum in the world.
In 2006 my husband Ash and I were amazed and delighted to become pregnant with triplets. A blood test showed my hormone levels were very high so we went for our first ultrasound at seven weeks and there they were - three hearts beating on the screen. It was such a miracle, and we thought we were the luckiest people in the world.
If you would like to join my team in the half marathon, make a donation, or just find out more, please visit www.runningforprematurebabies.com .
Thank you for your support.
"But of course, it isn't really Goodbye because the Forest will always be there...And anybody who is friendly with Bears can find it." The House at Pooh Corner, A.A.Milne
In one of the stars
I shall be living
In one of them
I shall be laughing
And so it will be
As if all the stars
When you look
At the sky at night.
The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
We would like to thank Dr Siobhan Lee, Dr Lyn Townsend, Dr Kei Lui, Dr John Smyth, Dr Meredith Ward, Dr Jeff Aiken, Dr Sandra, Dr Annette, Dr Lolitha, Dr Ravi, Dr Swapnell, Dr Manoj and all the doctors at the Newborn Care Cenre, Royal Hospital for Women for their enormous efforts to save Jasper and Evan's lives.
We would like to thank Allison, Maria, Michelle, Sarah, Claire, Wendy, Tenille, Deb, Nick, Andreja, Anne-Marie, Mary, Jenny, Cara, Janelle, Jo, Erica, Tanya and all the nurses who so lovingly and tenderly cared for Henry, Jasper and Evan, and worked so hard to try and save Evan and Jasper's lives.
We would like to thank Anne Mayo who helped us through the most difficult of days.