Shocked is probably a bit of an understatement when it comes to how the Pazderniks felt during an ultrasound appointment a few months ago.
“I had my regular, first trimester appointment to do the first ultrasound,” remembers Terri Pazdernik. “And the technician told me I was having twins and to come back for a more detailed ultrasound. When Pete and I came back two days later, the tech said she had a bit of a surprise for us.”
“Right when she said there was a surprise, I knew it was going to be another baby,” recalls Terri’s husband, Pete.
In addition to baby A and baby B, Terri and Pete found out there was also a baby C. And if triplets weren’t already a shock, they discovered all three were girls and would be identical. The chances of identical triplets occurring naturally without the help of fertility treatments are literally one in 2 million.
“We were really excited and a little scared,” says Pete. “But I also knew that together we could handle it.”
Expert care close by
And there to help them handle it was Peter VanEerden, MD, and the entire team at Sanford Health Fargo. Dr. VanEerden is the only maternal fetal medicine physician in the entire state of North Dakota and can handle almost any complications that can arise from high-risk pregnancies like Terri’s.
“Terri’s situation was pretty rare, but I have taken care of identical triplets before,” says Dr. VanEerden. “Plus, this is routing for me. I am trained and have the experience to handle almost any medical problem that presents during pregnancy in the mother or unborn baby, or in this case babies.”
With identical triplets, all three babies came from the same egg that split during the early stages of gestation. Being from one egg, the girls shared the same placenta and, like any multiple birth, were at a high risk of developing certain complications.
“You just get nervous about what could happen,” says Terri. “There are just so many unknowns. But a nurse told me the best advice after one of our first appointments. She said to let Dr. VanEerden be my Internet and not to Google things that are just going to scare me. Ask him instead. And he is brilliant and really the best resource we could have.”
A quick arrival
Terri, Pete and Dr. VanEerden had scheduled a C-section for the 36-week mark in the hopes of allowing the babies plenty of time to grow. But the girls decided to arrive a little ahead of schedule at 32 weeks and four days.
“I woke up around 2:30 a.m. and was feeling something, but I thought it was just Braxton Hicks,” remembers Terri. “But two hours later I woke Pete up and said we had to go now.”
Terri was already 8 centimeters dilated when she arrived at the Sanford Health Fargo Medical Center. She was quickly whisked away to the operating room where three healthy girls, all weighing more than 3 pounds, were delivered via C-section on New Year’s Eve.
“It was amazing watching it all unfold,” says Pete. “As soon as the girls came, there was a team right there for each of them and one for Terri. It all happened so fast and we were a little scared, but we had such confidence in the team at Sanford that they could give our girls whatever they needed.”
The girls were taken to the NICU and cared for around the clock by expert physicians and staff. Terri was discharged with no complications after three days but she and Pete spent a lot of time with their new daughters.
“You never know what’s here until you need it,” says Terri. “And having this level of expertise and the NICU at Sanford was such a blessing. I can’t imagine the challenges we would have had if we had to go farther away from home.”
“A lot of patients think they have to go to Minneapolis for care, when that’s not the case,” says Dr. VanEerden. “Any complications that arise, with the exception of extremely rare congenital heart disease, we have the capacity, technology and expertise to handle it here in Fargo.”
Happy to be home
Natalie, Hannah and Elise are now home after a little less than a month in the Sanford NICU, and the whole family is now adjusting a to a little fuller house.
“We have a son, Ben, who is 4 and a daughter, Evie, who is 2,” says Terri. “They are excited, but I think Ben is just in shock that he is now the only boy.”
And as they adjust to their new normal, the Pazderniks want to say thank you to the entire team at Sanford.
“We cannot say enough good things about the people we met there,” says Terri. “The whole team who took care of us and our girls are simply angels.”