On Sept. 10, Kayla Richardson gave birth to triplet baby girls. Olivia, Shiloh and Sanaa were born at just 24 weeks and six days and each weighed just over one pound.
During the babies’ three months in the NICU, it’s the small but meaningful milestones that are giving their family hope. Richardson has been sharing photos and updates about their amazing progress on Instagram.
On Nov. 5, the mom posted an emotional photo of herself holding all three babies at once for the very first time.
“I’m so thankful their nurse Holly offered to let me hold all of them tonight, it was such an amazing feeling,” Richardson wrote in the caption. “Holding all of them at the same time made the reality of me now having three babies sink in even further.”
She added, “I know it’s going to be stressful at times but I’ve grown to see these girls as the blessing that they are and I know I’ll be thanking God countless times throughout my life for blessing me with these three beautiful, healthy, and outstanding girls.”
The babies’ journey has not been easy. Richardson struggled with hyperemesis gravidarum early in her pregnancy and visited the emergency room many times for IV therapy. Because the pregnancy was classified as high risk, her doctor recommended she have a scheduled C-section on Nov. 13, at 34 weeks.
At 22 weeks, on the day of her baby shower, her water broke and she went into pre-term labor. “I was already scheduled to be admitted into the hospital the following week because my doctor wanted me to be closely monitored the remaining two months of my pregnancy, so I ended up there a week earlier,” she told The Huffington Post.
After her water broke, Richardson spent two weeks in the hospital before giving birth to the triplets via C-section.
“Being in the hospital, I was very bored, lonely, and afraid,” she recalled. During that time, the mom found comfort in the many blogs and Instagram accounts from parents sharing their preemies’ stories. “Some of it was scary and hard to look at, but it showed the reality of what my daughters and I could be faced with,” Richardson said.
“I remember faithfully going to this woman’s Instagram every day to see if she posted anything new about her twins because they were born at 24 weeks and seeing their progress made me feel like my girls had a chance at surviving and thriving as well,” she added. Richardson said she also corresponded with fellow preemie parents and parents of multiples and found their love and support so encouraging and helpful.
That’s why Richardson decided to pay it forward and share her journey when the triplets were born. It’s moments like the first time she held her babies that embody hope and love during challenging times.
“It was very calming, and I felt at peace,” the mom recalled. “It felt normal and like how things are supposed to be. It kind of felt like taking a Band-Aid off after having a cut; when you look at how your skin stitched itself back together and that feeling of relief that everything is back to normal and how it’s supposed to be.”
Richardson added that she felt “whole and complete” in that moment, which solidified her belief that she and her babies are meant for each other.
It took time for the mom to reach this point of joy and peace with her girls. When the babies were born, a team of nurses and respiratory therapists had to immediately whisk them away to the NICU.
“When I woke up from the C-section, I was not excited to see my girls at all,” Richardson said, adding that she even stalled visiting them for as long as she could because she was nervous about what she might see.
“I knew that they had come incredibly early, and I didn’t want to see my innocent babies in a compromised way,” she said. “My first time laying eyes on the girls left me feeling broken and incapable of gathering up the strength that I needed to see them through this journey.”
“I’ve seen photos of what it typically looks like in the NICU with babies that had tubes in and around them and dependent on so many machines,” Richardson continued, noting that she always found these photos hard to look at.
“So to look at my girls with barely flexible tubes down their throats and an IV in their scalp knowing those girls are MY babies that I wanted to be strong and live felt like I was snapped in half,” she said. “My babies’ time in their safe, protecting womb was cut short and there was nothing I could do about it. It made me feel helpless.”
Richardson found strength and purpose by pumping breast milk for her babies. She also received encouragement from family, who reminded her how powerful a role she plays in her daughters’ progress. “I poured love into my daughters by reading books to them while I stood outside of their isolettes,” she said.
The mom also credits the hospital’s team of doctors and nurses for her babies' incredible progress. “The girls’ transformation happened before our eyes,” she said.
Today, the girls continue to thrive in the NICU. They can take bottles instead of being fed through a tube. And Richardson was excited to report they can now wear clothes. “It might seem like a silly thing to be excited about, but for preemie babies it’s such a huge accomplishment!” she said. “It means that they’re able to control their body temperatures which is something that a lot of premature babies have to grow into being able to do.”
Richardson said she’s been overwhelmed by the number of people following her babies’ story, and she hopes it’s been a moving journey for them too. Said the mom, “I hope they feel an overwhelming sense of love, happiness, and inspiration.”
Visit Richardson’s Instagram to learn more about Olivia, Shiloh and Sanaa.