Letting Go of What Could Have Been

Stacey Skrysak essays

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Exactly two years ago, Mr. Skry and I walked into the fertility center for our six week ultrasound. We knew the blood work was leaning towards twins at four weeks, which we thought was perfect! We spent years dealing with infertility and having twins would make our family complete. Little did we know that we’d be in for the shock of our lives that day. As the ultrasound tech searched for heartbeats, our smiles and nerves grew. Baby A looked great and Baby B had a strong heartbeat. We were relieved! But before we could even catch our breath, the lady simply said, “And here is Baby C.” What?!?! How is that even possible? They transferred only two embryos, so that didn’t seem right. As our doctor explained, one embryo split, creating two identical babies. It’s a moment in life that I will never forget. The shock was visible across my face, while pure joy swept over Ryan’s face. And so began our journey of the Skrysak triplets.

Our picture perfect family didn’t end up exactly as planned. As the months went by and my belly grew, plans were in place to bring three precious little babies home from the hospital. We had three of everything and were creating plans for a beautiful gender neutral nursery. But at 18 weeks along, everything was put on hold. The complications grew and prayers were being said for us from people around the world. June 23, 2013 was the best day of my life and one of the worst. We met our beautiful triplets, but we also said goodbye to our daughter Abigail.

Fast forward 20 months and I’d like to think that life is going well for my family…considering the circumstances. Our survivor is doing great and we find plenty of things to laugh and smile about every day. But there are always triggers, constant reminders of our two children who are now angels. Friends and family helped exchange most of the gifts we had received for our triplets. There was no need for three burping pillows or three bouncers and swings. But, there was one box that sat in our playroom for 20 long months, only glanced at as I was putting Peyton’s old clothes away. I knew it was there, but couldn’t bring myself to go through it…until now.

I finally felt ready. This month, I opened that final storage box and went through the contents. Clothes, burp clothes, towels for three triplets. Everything was catered for two girls and one boy. As I say time and time again, there is no timeline for grief. And there was no one telling me that I needed to go through that box. I could have kept that box as it was for decades. But I was finally ready. After 20 long months, I was ready to let go. I knew what was in that box and I knew that I didn’t need most of the gifts that sat untouched for more than a year. So I slowly laid out the items and decided what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to donate. I kept three adorable duck onesies that were the first triplet gifts my in-laws sent us early on in the pregnancy.

I saved the three onesies I purchased right after we found out the genders, the tags still attached. And I kept some funny little “Pee-Pee Teepees” for Parker, a gift from my sister-in-law. But I didn’t need the other things, they were just material items. I hung onto the sentimental stuff, the tangible things that remind me I really am a triplet mom and I really did give birth to three children. The other stuff, I wasn’t attached to. It was time to pass it on to someone who could use it.

As I put the items back into the storage box, I added a few other sentimental memories. A baby shower game that had friends picking the names of our trio. It was so special because I was admitted to the hospital the day of my shower. While it was mostly canceled, a few close friends arrived at my bedside to give me a makeshift shower, complete with games and cake. I also kept our welcome home sign that my college friends sent to celebrate Peyton’s arrival at home. Those are just a few of the memories I want to savor. I have every little sentimental memory of Parker and Abby organized in separate boxes.They are the only things I have to physically hold onto. So while they aren’t here with me today, I can at least touch Parker’s clothes or Abby’s little hospital hat.

Other parents who have lost a child have shared their experiences with me. Many say it doesn’t get easier, but it gets “less difficult” over time. That comment has stuck with me since the day my first child passed away. It’s true. I’m always going to grieve the loss of Parker and Abby, but that grief has changed over the past 20 months. And this month made me realize how much I have changed. I was finally ready to let go, to move forward with life. That simple box, held so much hope, yet so much heartache. It was as if letting go was a weight being lifted off of my shoulders. It may have been a simple gesture, getting rid of some baby things I know we will never use. But, it means so much more. This emotional task is symbolic of where I am heading. It’s a reminder of my children, but also a glimmer of hope for the future. I’m going to be ok. Life will be ok. We’re always going to be a family of five, we’re just lucky to have two angels to guide our way.


About the Author

Stacey Skrysak

Stacey lives in Central Illinois where she is a news anchor for WICS-TV. Stacey and her husband are parents to Peyton, their surviving triplet, who was born more than 17 weeks premature. Through her heartbreaking experience, Stacey has become a voice for dealing with grief, infertility and life with a micro-premie. Her triplets have touched thousands of lives around the world, thanks to Stacey's blog .

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