Rich and Kiah Cravens felt blessed to have their daughter, Rayna, after three years of trying for their first child. Still, they longed to grow their family. After another two years, they were about to try fertility treatments when Kiah learned she was pregnant. Imagine their surprise and glee when they learned she was carrying triplets!
“No one on either side of our families as far back as we know has ever had multiples,” said Kiah. “We were completely surprised, a little bit scared, and very excited.”
Early on, Kiah’s pregnancy was uneventful. Seemingly overnight, everything changed at 14 weeks. Her doctors were worried after routine exams and referred her to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Kiah and Rich would travel there twice a week for three weeks before receiving the news that the triplets were in serious trouble.
At 17 weeks, Kiah learned that her babies were afflicted with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, except triplet-to-triplet in her case. TTTS is a condition in which the blood flows unequally between twins or multiples that share a placenta. Baby Gentry was receiving more blood than Walker and Creed, putting them in extreme danger, Creed more so of the two. In fact, doctors braced the couple to be prepared for the possibility that Creed would not survive the pregnancy.
“It was a very stressful time for us,” said Kiah. “We went to every appointment worried that we would not hear three heartbeats. We were beyond in love with our babies and could not imagine not taking all three of them home with us.”
Doctors performed endoscopic laser ablation, an in utero surgery to correct the blood-sharing imbalance. They hoped the surgery would enable Kiah to go for another 10 weeks in her pregnancy but were happy when she made it a full 12 weeks before giving birth.
Because of the risks involved, Kiah was referred to The Women’s Hospital in Newburgh for delivery of her three boys, who were born after just 29 weeks. Despite their early arrival, the triplets were healthy for the most part but did need NICU care. Doctors wanted to monitor their growth and ensure their progress. Kiah, Rich, and Rayna settled in to their new home at Ronald McDonald House on the Deaconess Gateway campus.
“I knew about Ronald McDonald House because a good friend of mine had stayed. I was still a little nervous but everyone was so nice and welcoming. All my nerves went away pretty much as soon as we checked in,” said Kiah. “Words can’t even describe how blessed we felt. We live more than 2 hours away and it would have been nearly impossible to travel back and forth.”
Rich, a corrections officer for the Illinois Department of Corrections, had to return to work shortly after the triplets were born but was able to be with the family on his days off. Kiah’s mother, Barb, lived with her at Ronald McDonald House to help care for Rayna while Kiah was with her babies in the NICU.
Walker, Gentry, and Creed, together with big sister Rayna (known as “our little Ray of sunshine” to staff and volunteers) returned with their parents to their own home in Oblong, Illinois, after 63 days of living at Ronald McDonald House.
The best view comes after the hardest climb. — Author unknown