Just 18 weeks into her pregnancy with triplets, Samone Thurston experienced every pregnant woman’s nightmare. On May 2, 2015, her sons and daughter made a silent entrance into the world. Tiny and vulnerable, weighing mere ounces, Jax, Beck and Stella tragically did not survive.
Her husband Jordan, who watched in fear for both his wife and their triplets, says the doctors and medical team made a heroic effort. “It was devastating for both of us. But I had to be strong for Samone,” he says.
Too Beautiful for Earth
“It’s shocking how immense the love actually is after loss,” Samone says. The headstone for Jax, Beck and Stella is engraved with the words, “Too Beautiful for Earth.” But, for bereaved parents, both love and loss are engraved on their hearts.
“It’s so important for parents of a child who died to know their child’s life mattered, and it won’t be forgotten,” Samone says. She and Jordan released three Monarch butterflies at the funeral in honor of their babies. “I’ve always loved how butterflies symbolize a beautiful new life that is no longer earthbound.”
Samone later got a tattoo of three butterflies on her shoulder, where it will always be visible. “When someone asks about it, I can tell them about my firstborn children. It gives them a voice,” she says.
Ways People Helped
Mother’s Day came only a week after Samone and Jordan lost their triplets.
“Some friends took Jordan and me out to dinner. It helped that they didn’t expect us to act cheerful,” Samone says. “The best thing people did for us early on was to just let us know they were thinking about us.”
“I appreciated the friends who offered me condolences. These were my babies too,” Jordan says. “Fathers may act strong, but we’re not invincible,” he adds.
Samone says she and Jordan just needed people to listen when they were ready to talk—whenever that would be. “People don’t know what to say when you tell them about your child who has died,” she says. “I know it’s awkward, but people need to know that offering advice and giving pep talks isn’t helpful. I just wanted my babies back. Unless you’ve lost a baby or buried a child, you can’t understand.”
Samone spiraled into a dark depression.
“A counselor helped me understand I wasn’t going through a normal grieving process,” she recalls. “I experienced ‘catastrophic grief’ that doesn’t move through stages in a regular progression toward acceptance. Instead, my emotions would swing wildly between denial and depression. But my primary emotion was anger.”
Her labor had been triggered prematurely by a condition known as incompetent cervix, which meant any future pregnancy also would be laden with risk. This knowledge added guilt and fear to Samone’s already complex grieving process.
“I tormented myself with an endless stream of whys,” Samone admits. “Why did my body fail us? Why is it so easy for some women to conceive and carry their babies to term? For a time, I blamed God. I was furious with Him, but, on some level, I also blamed myself.”
Her pastor’s words brought tears of relief. “He told me it was okay to be angry—God can handle it. That was huge for me.”
Samone now sees her time of questioning as an emotional and spiritual turning point. Especially when she began to move past the most unfathomable question: Why couldn’t she have saved her babies? Samone recalls Jesus’ answer was soft and gradual.
“I had to forgive myself for something I had no control over,” Samone says. “I prayed for peace, which I think is a different thing than acceptance. I don’t know that I’m there yet, and may never be, but I have the assurance that it wasn’t my fault, and it wasn’t God’s. My body failed, but I didn’t fail my babies. And Jesus has filled me with gratitude for the privilege of being Jax’s, Beck’s and Stella’s mom. They’ll always be a part of our family.”
A Community of Bereaved Parents
A photography hobbyist, Samone began to write about the loss of her triplets using her blog site, JesusMeAndPhotography.com. It was a way for Samone to talk about them—a way to keep them alive and share their story.
Her posts soon connected Samone with a larger community of bereaved parents. “I was able work through my feelings and grief by writing. And it was amazing to see my thoughts and feelings articulated by others who commented on my page.”
“Every parent who has lost a child suddenly has membership in a very exclusive club. The price of our membership is horrific,” Samone states. “But then you find you’re no longer alone with your grief. You are part of this huddled, hurting community, and you help hold each other up.”
Samone says support has been a crucial part of her healing process. She also joined The Compassionate Friends, which provides support after the death of a child. TCF has chapters worldwide.
A New Mission
“My mission became to raise awareness through my blog about incompetent cervix and preterm labor,” Samone says. “It’s heartbreaking that these babies are healthy but can’t be carried to term.”
Samone’s research led her to a surgical technique that has a success rate of approximately 90-95 percent. Trans-abdominal cerclage, or TAC, is a surgical procedure that places a permanent band around the cervix to help women carry their babies to term. However, it is considered experimental or medically unnecessary in many cases; it’s invasive and also requires a caesarean delivery.
A Second Miracle
Samone became pregnant in August 2015. They wanted to do everything possible to keep their babies safe, so she underwent TAC surgery the same week.
This pregnancy was unaided by fertility medicine, so it came as a complete surprise when her obstetrician announced they were again expecting triplets. “We are overjoyed by the miracle of it all,” Samone says. “Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine God would give us another blessing – in triplicate!”
Samone admits the idea of another triplet birth was daunting, and her excitement was tempered at first by the increased risks associated with triplets.
“But Jordan’s first response was, ‘How did we get so lucky?’ His face was so full of happiness and awe,” Samone recalls. “His confidence helped calm my fears and look forward to this beautiful, second miracle.
Faith over Fear
“Our hearts were full as we prepared to welcome our three new babies, but I found myself trying to balance such a mix of emotions,” Samone shares. “I embraced the enormity of joy, yet I still felt grief. It’s a mistake to think a second pregnancy erases the pain of having lost a child, but I chose faith over fear.”
Samone’s friends included Jax, Beck and Stella in her baby shower for their new babies, in what Samone called “an incredibly thoughtful gesture.”
“Their names graced the top of a cupcake tower, and they were included in special gifts and keepsakes. They’ll always be our first miracles.”
Samone could hardly wait to hold their second miracles—two boys and a girl: Asher, Cross and Aspen.
As she neared her due date, Samone found comfort in a drawing of Jesus holding triplets. The special piece of artwork by Jean Keaton hangs where she can see it when she is in bed.
Finally, on the evening of March 7th, Asher, Cross and Aspen made their grand entrance into the world, born at 32 weeks. Samone delivered their three miracles via caesarean, assisted by a team of 20 nurses, surgeons, a neonatologist, anesthesiologist and other specialists.
“They don’t seem real; they are so precious,” Samone says. “The doctors and nurses are amazed at how strong they are. We are beyond blessed!”
Recently, Samone reflected on her second miracles, and the artwork of her first, and offered words every mom can treasure in her heart: “You might get to share a lifetime with your kids. I hope you do. Or, you might only get a few years, days or hours. They are still miracles.”