Charlie Whitmer, a father of triplets was left shattered after his babies were rushed to the NICU after being born prematurely and his wife was almost declared brain dead.
Charlie Whitmer was over the moon when his wife, Kathryn, called him, a day after Christmas 2017, and said, "We're pregnant." That moment, he also learned that they were going to be parenting three babies. An overwhelmed Charlie recalls eagerly looking forward to starting a family with the love of his life and three little ones. Everything was going well with the pregnancy until it was wasn't. On Memorial Day morning 2018, 27 weeks and 6 days pregnant Kathryn woke up with a severe headache. They had to cut their vacation in Lake Geneva short and head back to Chicago to see a doctor.
"I was in the waiting room … and someone came out and said, 'Your wife has a big bleed in her brain,'" said Charlie while speaking to Chicago Tribune. "At that time, I didn’t know anything about what a brain bleed meant. I didn’t know what a stroke was." Things were looking fine after doctors performed a procedure on Kathryn to help suppress her swelling while giving her unborn children some more time to grow inside her. A few days later, her water broke and she went into labor. Doctors had to perform a cesarean section right away.
Their babies were taken to the NICU right away as they required CPR. Charlie was left waiting on an update on all four of his family members. While he was rooting for his infants, Bobby, J.P., and Arden, he was also praying that his wife pulls through. "I was in that waiting room again and thought, what the heck is going on? My entire family is in the ICU," he said. "All four of them could die." All he could do was cry with his brother, who sat beside him. That's when he decided that, "no matter what happens, if Kathryn’s alive, I can do this."
The 31-year-old mother regained consciousness that night after the anesthesia wore off, she began experiencing the same headache two days later. Doctors rushed to perform surgery, unfortunately, she never opened her eyes after. Following the surgery, Kathryn remained unconscious and was declared brain dead. However, it didn't change the fact that she was a new mother who had patiently waited to hold her babies in her arms. Charlie decided that their kids had to meet their mother before the inevitable happened.
At first her sons, Bobby and J.P. were placed on her chest and the following day her daughter Arden spent some time with her mother. Despite being unconscious, doctors noticed that tears began streaming down her face. "I can’t explain that medically," confessed neurologist Dr. Kim. Furthermore, she added that being unconscious and "near brain death … doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel" the presence of her children she bore for weeks. Finally, on June 8, 2018, she succumbed to complications from a hemorrhagic stroke after she "brought life and hope to five families through organ donation" according to her GoFundMe page.
Sadly for Charlie things would never be the same again. "If I look back a year ago, my life is so different," said Charlie. A day after his wife's funeral was Father's Day, a first for the man who just became a father. Emotionally wrecked by the loss of Kathryn, Charlie decided to spend the day beside his triplets who were still admitted to the NICU. The father of three never dreamed of such a life before, "but my dreams changed when Kathryn passed." Since then, the 33-year-old decided to focus all his energy and attention on his triplets. Making some major life changes, Charlie decided to quit his job and be a stay at home dad in an effort to be more like his wife.
Apart from honoring his wife's memory, he's making an effort to bring out the outgoing spirit in him. "She wasn’t happy unless the people around her were happy," he added. Charlie, who used to be a social introvert, is now channeling Kathryn's kindheartedness and doing his best to put a smile across everyone's face just like she did. Losing the most significant person in his life didn't stop Charlie from losing hope. Hope for a bright future. "You have to find hope, and you have to find some kind of joy," said the father. "All of this happened for a reason. It’s my job to find that." Today, Charlie is filled with nothing but positivity which echoes the giggles of his triplets as they crawl over him. The kids are now living a life filled with their father's love and care while being surrounded by the picture of their mother, whose memory is still kept alive in their lives.