By Guest Blogger Cherie Brewer
I met the love of my life on September 15, 2000. I was at my dad’s high school for their homecoming football game. My cousin’s wife had begged me to change my work schedule and come to the game, so I did. While at the game, this tall handsome blonde guy stopped by to talk to my cousin and then my cousin introduced us. After this guy, Marcus, walked off; I told my cousin’s wife, “I will marry him.” He was in the store I worked in that Sunday. We talked for a minute and then I got a phone call about 30 minutes later from him. We went on a date a week later and by then were inseparable. We dated six weeks before he proposed and were married 9 months later June 30, 2001.
We wanted to start trying for children right after we married. After a year and a half of no success, my doctor put me on Chlomid. I was on it for five months and he then referred us to an ART Program. We waited another year before going to the Fertility doctor. We did one round of Follistim injections with an insemination to help improve our chances of getting pregnant. About a week and a half later, I found out I was indeed pregnant. We were the happiest people in the world.
In May 2004, Marcus and I went to the doctor’s office to have our first ultrasound. We found out that day we were having triplets. Our doctor came in the room to tell us that all the babies could dissolve or we would have maybe one or two. I was in shock … to have prayed for a baby for so long and to be told about one or all dissolving?? We were told to come back the following week. The following week’s ultrasound showed four heartbeats. The doctor was wrong, very wrong.
We moved from Alabama to North Carolina for Marcus’s work promotion and I was seen by a Perinatologist at 9.5 weeks. We were told at that appointment that we were not having four babies but indeed having five, quintuplets. The biggest shock to my husband and I was not the number of babies that had been conceived but the “talk” we received. We were told we should reduce the pregnancy to two babies. They call it selective reduction. The doctor could only give us statistics but not any statistics where someone of my age and/or health had issues or lost the entire pregnancy. We chose to keep our five babies and to do everything humanly possible to give the babies and myself the best outcome.
We researched doctors and had set up interviews with Forsyth Medical Center, Duke and UNC Chapel Hill. After talking with our doctor at Forsyth Medical Center and the NICU doctors, we felt great about having the babies there and me being admitted at 24 weeks.
My admission date was moved up due to preterm labor, which is very normal for a quintuplet pregnancy. I was on bed rest for 50 days prior to delivery. All five of the babies were doing well but Baby E was growing at a slower rate than the others. On November 2, 2004, we were told to deliver to save our sweet Baby E, one of our girls. We did exactly that. So on November 3, 2004 at 27 weeks and 6 days, I gave birth to Morgan Layne 2lbs and 13.25 inches long, Sean William 2 lbs 5 oz and 13.75 inches long, Robert Benjamin 2 lbs 3 oz and 13.75 inches long, Carson Matthew 1 lb 9 oz and 14 inches long and Madelyn Justene 1 lb 5 oz and 12 inches long.
The babies were in the hospital for 2-3 months. Carson was our sickest baby. He had to be transferred to Brenner Children’s Hospital at 14 days old. He had five surgeries there (eye, 2 belly, heart and trach). We found out the first week of April 2005 that our sweet baby boy had been diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension. We were told the gloom and doom of this disease. I heard what the doctors told us but had hope in our baby. He was a strong fighter, an absolute miracle!
Six weeks later, on May 16, 2005 at 5:45am, our sweet miracle son, Carson Matthew Brewer, left my arms straight into the arms of Jesus. That morning left me numb, sick, heartbroken and empty. I had to leave my baby there and left the hospital with my husband and a box of Carson’s things. After being awake for over 40 hours with my baby, I was sent home.
When walking in the door of our home where a friend was caring for our other four babies, we heard crying. All four babies were crying as soon as they heard our voices. We tried to get some rest but instead started calling our family and friends to share our devastating news. We learned that day, at 29 years-old, the details of funeral services and burial. We had to learn information no parent wants to know how to do. We had services in NC and then traveled to AL to bury our baby with family.
We celebrate Carson’s life with our children at every birthday, Angel Day (the day he went to be with Jesus) and Christmas. We sing Happy Birthday five times, we have five children. We talk about him with our surviving children. They ask questions often, draw pictures of him and for him and love him so dearly. They know that he fought for them so they didn’t have to. We want the kids to know how much we love Carson even though he is not physically here with us. We get an ornament every year for Christmas in his memory. We have pictures of him around our home. When we travel to Alabama we visit the cemetery where he is buried. We change out flowers, straighten up if needed (the kids have put toys there for him) and just sit. We are present in the moment with all of our babies. We love to talk about Carson. He is our son, our hero.
It has been over seven years now. Currently, our children are in the 2nd grade and doing great in school. They have no delays and no physical issues from prematurity. Morgan loves softball, running and is a wonderful helper. She is a tall girl. Sean loves baseball, football, basketball and has such a tender heart. He is a very tall boy. Ben loves baseball, football, basketball and is a comedian. He looks the most like his Daddy. Maddie loves having fun with her family, friends and loves helping others. She is still the smallest of the bunch.
We are on a long grief journey. One journey that will not end until we hold our baby again. We are very blessed for all five of our children but still long for the sweet, brown haired, hazel-eyed baby boy that we never heard cry. For the one we never saw without tubes until he passed away.