Mother's heart stops while giving birth to rare identical triplets

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Credit: Levi Nelson

Just imagine thinking you are done having kids and you get the news that your expecting again to find out not only one, but three. Imagine a family of four turns into a large family of seven quickly!

Levi Nelson and Amber Ertley had beautiful identical triplet girls on Saturday, February 20th.

The Nelson triplets were all girls who shared the same amniotic sac and placenta, which meant they were identical. Identical triplets are extremely rare and form when a single fertilized egg splits two times. At least one study puts the odds of identical triplets at one in 20 million births.

The unthinkable turned towards Amber as her health went down during the C-section. The first baby came out and cried, and Ertley turned to Nelson who told her everything was fine. Then the second one came out and cried, and Ertley smiled at Nelson again. But after the third baby was born crying, Nelson looked at Ertley and saw her struggling. It looked like she was having a seizure, he said.

He heard "Code Blue" and saw people running to Ertley's room. Amber's heart stopped twice after the third baby came out and coded twice. 

"It was the scariest moment of my life," Nelson said. "I was afraid I was going to be be-bopping home with three new babies and no momma."

Ertley lost a lot of blood, Nelson said. Six hours after her heart stopped, he was able to visit her. She was sedated and hooked up to a breathing tube.

“I believe that God has been watching over her closely knowing it is not her time to go, her babies need her.”

The triplets named, Norah, Rylan and Remi all weighed more than four pounds at birth and didn't need any oxygen or IV fluids, Nelson said.

Ertley fought to recover, but suffered more blood loss two days after the birth and didn't leave the hospital until early March. Four days after discharge, she started bleeding again and had to be readmitted to UAB. She has been home since her last discharge on March 7.

Ertley has three to four doctors' appointments in Birmingham every week. Nelson said the babies go through a minimum of 21 diapers a day. Friends and neighbors have supplied diapers, food and formula while Nelson was out-of-work caring for Ertley and the babies.

"We are forever grateful to be a happy family together," Ertley said. "We say every night, 'We don't have much, but man are we blessed with kids and the outpouring of love and support from friends and even strangers.'"

The couple has started a GoFundMe page where you can donate money for medical expenses and baby supplies.

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