Levi Nelson and Amber Ertley of Oneonta, Alabama, had their lives neatly organized—small house, small car, and two small girls, Lilly and Josey—and they weren’t planning on having anymore children.
But upon discovering that Ertley was pregnant again, they made plans to expand and welcome a new child into their family. Nelson and Ertley were spending their time in anticipation of the delivery gathering supplies, coming up with a fitting baby name, and going in for routine checkups to make sure the baby was developing well.
On one such visit, however, things took a turn the expectant parents were not expecting.
The nurse gave them some surprising news.
Nelson and Ertley were actually going to become parents to triplets. The technician who had been performing an ultrasound on Ertley noticed three separate heartbeats.
“I said, ‘What does that mean? What does three heartbeats mean?'” Ertley told local news AL.com. “And she’s like, ‘You’re having triplets.'”
Not only were Nelson and Ertley going to become parents to triplets, but the babies, who were going to be all girls, were also going to be identical. According to some medical experts, such an occurrence has only a chance of 1 in 200 million of happening.
If that wasn’t a big enough surprise, they couldn’t have been prepared for what happen when the babies were born.
Erley’s pregnancy was progressing nicely, but as her due date came into sight, she realized that something was very wrong. She was showing signs of pre-eclampsia, which is a pregnancy complication resulting in high blood pressure and swelling of the hands and feet. As a result, she had to be admitted to the hospital for treatment.
Five days later, on February 20, 2016, Ertley went into labor.
Due to her condition, the doctors decided to perform a c-section to make sure the babies were okay. After safely delivering the first two girls, thing got bad when the third came out.
Ertley began to have a seizure as her blood loss reached dangerous levels.
And then Ertley’s heart stopped—twice.
Nelson witnessed the entire thing, going from feelings of joy to terror in minutes.
“It was the scariest moment of my life,” Nelson told AL.com. “I was afraid I was going to be bebopping home with three new babies and no momma.”
Thankfully, Ertley managed to be resuscitated.
After receiving a blood transfusion and recovering somewhat, she was able to meet her new children, who they named Nora, Rylan and Remi. All three babies were healthy and weighed 4 lbs each.
Ertley, however, had a slow recovery, suffering with bleeding and a blood clot in her lung, but thanks to the love and care from her family she pushed through with a determination warranted of someone who nearly died for her children. A GoFundMe page was set up to help with medical expenses.
Although it was hard caring for their two older daughters and three new babies–they went through 21 diapers a day, Nelson told AL.com—they wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“We are forever grateful to be a happy family together,” Ertley told AL.com. “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.'”