Esmé, Henrick and Scarlet »
Esmé, Henrick and Scarlet Erickson prove that miracles do happen
When Esmé, Henrick and Scarlet were born to Ann and Brady Erickson, they had already beaten insurmountable odds. After numerous infertility treatments and two previously unsuccessful in-vitro attempts, Ann and Brady were given a 15% chance for one embryo to implant and a less than .05% chance of all three implanting. “When we learned we were pregnant with triplets, we knew there was a special plan for these little lives,” Ann said.
After several unsuccessful attempts to delay it, which included weeks on bed-rest and 11 days of hospitalization to attempt to stop contractions, Ann went into active labor at just over 24 weeks. “For 11 days, I would have a contraction every five minutes and feel pure panic. The babies were so alive and safe inside me, but I knew my body was trying to push them out to a world they weren’t likely to survive. I spent 11 days fighting my own body to try to save our children.”
The babies arrived 16 weeks early on February 1 with weights ranging from 1 pound, 6 ounces to 1 pound, 12 ounces (babies of this size are classified as micro preemies). “The babies were born perfectly formed, just really, really small,” Ann said. “In seeing them, I experienced the profound love of a parent. It’s amazing how life takes on a whole new meaning in those moments.”
During the first 24 hours of fragile life for the triplets, the medical team at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis worked to determine all the details of the babies’ care. Esmé had a bleed on one side of her brain, but was the most stable of the three. Scarlet responded to her mother’s voice first and yet needed the most intensive support, with bleeds on both sides of her brain. Henrick was the largest of the three and needed a more supportive ventilator, which is common for male preemies.
When the triplets were two days old, Henrick took an unsettling turn. He was on medicine for nearly every major organ in his body (for some organs he was on two). He needed multiple blood transfusions, which are extremely difficult for such a little baby to endure. Doctors determined he had a brain bleed on both sides, as well as a heart condition common to preemies. Every day seemed to present new challenges, but Ann and Brady endured, taking on each new day as it came.
After two weeks, the family was able to hold Esmé and even change diapers and help the nurses with cares – vital checks and tube changes. Before the babies were two pounds, they endured three heart surgeries and one brain surgery among them. “Obviously, when operating on babies this fragile, we didn’t want to be more than a few steps away,” Ann said. When Ann and Brady learned of the Ronald McDonald House, they were amazed such a place existed within the hospital. “The Ronald McDonald House provided us with a gift. To have a place to stay nearby made us feel so much more at ease,” Ann said.
The girls continued to grow stronger, but Henrick experienced challenges. “This rollercoaster ride would be scary enough with one baby…it seems like no matter what, there is always at least one of them in a scary place. In the blink of an eye things can look dramatically better or worse.”
A typical day for the Erickson’s is packed full of time with the babies and includes: Mornings: pumping for breast milk; getting dressed and packed up from the Ronald McDonald House; a quick breakfast; holding the babies, infant massage and stretching. Afternoons: a quick lunch; cares for the babies, massage and stretching; pumping and holding the babies. Evenings: pumping; a fast dinner and check to see if there is a Ronald McDonald House room open for the evening, then time with the babies.
By the end of March, the babies were weighing in at over three pounds. In mid-April, they moved from the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care unit) to the ICC (Infant Care Center). “It has been a flurry of high frequency ventilators, lung x-rays, brain scans and feeding tubes, but we have three fighters who are continuing to take small steps in the right direction,” Ann said. “The girls are taking on the role of ‘I can do this myself’ and are strong-willed like mom. Henrick seems to be as easy going as dad. It is such a joy to see their personalities already forming,” Brady said.
“A new parent’s reaction is to take on the needs of the child first,” Ann said. “There is no way I would have been able to meet my own needs had the Ronald McDonald House not been there to help. When you spend four months at a hospital, it’s so nice to have a place that feels like home. You never expect to be in a situation like this, therefore you can’t prepare for the heart wrenching challenges coming at you. Luckily, there is a place to help take care of the logistics so you can keep your perspective and focus on the little miracles in your life.”