Triplets renew Gypsum family hit with tragedies
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM, Colorado ” With the birth of triplet babies on Dec. 24, Chris and Susan Spiegel’s life turned around.
When those infants, two boys and a girl, arrive at their home in Gypsum, it’s not just the proud parents who will be beaming. There’s going to be an entire community eager to welcome the baby trifecta.
It’s the same community that stood by the Spiegel family in times of incomprehensible sorrow. And in fact, those many friends and supporters unknowingly played a role in the new happiness the Spiegel family has found.
The Gypsum couple’s life has been tragically marked with the loss of three children. An infant son, Scotty, died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome when he was just short of three months old. Five years ago, son Skylar, 16, was killed in a car accident near Edwards while on his way to high school homecoming festivities. Two years after
that, tragedy struck again when 7-year-old CJ died after being struck by a car in Grand Junction.
Stunned by their losses, the couple somehow managed to continue on with work and everyday living. But joy was hard to come by. They avoided holidays, making a point of taking vacations at Christmas time.
Then two years ago Susan caught a television news report about gestational carriers ” in essence, women who carry other people’s embryos. Susan, 42, could no longer bear children because of a surgical procedure after CJ was born. She asked her husband if he would consider having another baby.
“He didn’t even hesitate,” she says.
“I was all for it,” Chris says.
They contacted a couple of different agencies who handle the complex business of gestational surrogates. In effect, they were contracting with a woman to provide a surrogate uterus for their embryos for the pregnancy.
Shortly after CJ’s death, friends of the Spiegels, anxious to do something for the grieving parents, staged a fundraiser that drew a huge crowd and raised thousands of dollars.
“When we got that money we felt kind of funny about it. We put it in an account, and never really touched it. We didn’t want to spend any of it,” Chris says.
Then they discovered that the cost of the gestational carrier was nearly the exact amount of money that had been stashed in that savings account. The couple considered that “kind of a sign,” Chris says.
“It just seemed kind of right,” he recalls.
Both Spiegels are quick to note that regardless of the money available, they would have found a way to pursue the gestational pregnancy.
“That is how we paid for this miracle that we have,” says Susan. Actually, the Spiegels used that money and then some.
Working through an agency, it took them about six months to locate a gestational carrier in Kansas. In a face-to-face interview they immediately connected with the woman.
The first attempt at pregnancy was not successful. The second attempt was ” and then some. In May, the woman became pregnant.
“We were hoping for one healthy baby,” says Susan, with a laugh. During an ultrasound procedure in early June, the technicians identified one …two … three babies.
The Spiegels’ first thought was that three was the perfect number, Susan says.
However, the doctors suggested that everybody involved consider reducing the number of embryos down to two, to better the chances of a successful pregnancy and healthy babies.
The Spiegels let the woman carrying the babies decide. She told them that she had had a sign that she should carry all three embryos.
“We thought ‘yeah, that’s great,'” Chris says.
“From the get-go, we thought it was meant to be. It’s fate. We lost three, we get back three,” Susan says.
Despite their high hopes, the Spiegels decided to keep the news quiet, given the sensitive nature of a triplet pregnancy.
“The community has gone through so much with us. We didn’t want everyone to hurt again,” Susan says.
They kept tabs with the gestational carrier via the Internet. The Spiegels made four trips to Kansas; and the pregnant woman touched base by making several trips to Denver.
By November, it was an effort to not think about the babies constantly, Chris says.
With the babies due in February, the Spiegels elected to spend Christmas at the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs. The woman who was carrying their babies flew into Denver on Dec. 23 to wait out the rest of the pregnancy.
But the babies, two boys and a girl, were ready to come, and were born at Swedish Medical Center on the morning before Christmas.
Phone calls were made, and Susan and Chris arrived at the hospital just as the babies were brought out of the birthing room.
“It’s just amazing that you can look into those little eyes and have a whole new outlook on life,” says Susan.
The names of the other Spiegel boys are shared by the new babies: Cayden Scott, Shelby Sky, and Billy CJ.
Although Susan had to come back to Gypsum once to handle payroll for their excavating business, Chris hasn’t left the babies since they were born. He’s got the every-three hour feeding schedule down ” bottles, burping, and cuddling those babies on a schedule. There’s about an hour and a half break before the entire process starts over again.
“It is a lot of fun. It’s hard to leave them,” he says.
The Spiegel triplets are scheduled to be in Denver for another three or four weeks. They’ve been gaining weight ” all three are over four pounds now. They’ll be ready to come home when they can consistently bottle feed effectively.
Meanwhile, the Spiegels and their friends are hustling to create a nursery in one of the bedrooms of their Buckhorn Valley house. They’re talking bottles, cribs, diapers and baby clothes. Susan plans to be a stay-at-home mom.
Susan has a long list of people who have volunteered to come in, hold the babies, rock them and feed them.
“It’s amazing how many people ask to be put on that list,” she says.
By agreement, the surrogate sort of steps out of the picture once the babies are born. However, the Spiegels will keep in touch with her via e-mail, and photographs.
“She’s such a wonderful person. I don’t ever see us losing contact,” says Susan.
As for the Spiegels, they’re looking forward to the happy confusion and challenges of raising triplets.
Both Susan and Chris are 42 years old. Chris freely admits that retirement got pushed back about 11 years with the birth of the baby trio.
“That’s fine. It will be fun again. I’m looking forward to everything,” he says.
“We would like to thank the entire community for their continued support. Words don’t express how important that is to us,” says Susan.