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Peter Baklinski

‘We were blessed to have met them’: Parents of premature triplets find meaning in the unthinkable

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski

ROCKWOOD (LifeSiteNews.com) – The doctor performing the ultrasound had a strange look on his face. The newly married couple braced themselves for what they were sure would be terrible news.

“Now, don’t scream,” he said in measured tones. “One. Two. Three…Triplets!”

Jason and Marie Taylor, both in their 30s, had married only four months ago, in May 2012. They were eager to start a family from the moment they fell in love, but they decided to do their relationship “God’s way”, saving sex till both had promised the other ‘I do’.

It was an ongoing joke in the extended family that if Marie was going to “catch up” with the number of children her married sisters had, then she and Jason would have to have twins and triplets.

One month after wedding bells, the couple was delighted to discover that they were pregnant. Now at 11 weeks, they were excited to see their ‘little one’ - or little ones, as it turned out - through the medical magic of ultrasound.

Jason and Marie were ecstatic at the news of triplets. Jason ‘high-fived’ Marie, who was lying on the observation bed.

“We were just really, really excited,” Jason told LifeSiteNews in an exclusive interview from their home last week.

The couple’s next immediate thought was: “Oh my goodness, what are we going to do with so many babies…we only have a limited number of arms.”

The ultrasound revealed that there were two girls and a boy. The proud parents named them Bernadette, Christine, and Adam.

At a subsequent visit, doctors spoke to the parents about “selective reduction,” but the couple would hear none of it. Even though Marie was a trained nurse and knew that doctors would ask this question, it stung her to hear someone so unconcernedly offer to “kill one or two of my children.”

“That was really upsetting to us both since we so eagerly anticipated our children,” said Jason.

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The couple began to prepare themselves and their house for the new arrivals, expected in February 2013. Three little cribs were purchased and tenderly placed in the upstairs bedroom.

Marie’s belly grew, and grew, and grew some more.

Every night before falling asleep beside his wife, Jason would lean over and talk to his unborn children. “Hey Adam, hey Bernadette, hey Christina, I’m looking forward to meeting you. I love you guys!” Before leaving for work he would say to them: “Look after your mommy!”

The unthinkable

But Marie’s body was beginning to have trouble adapting to the demands of the three thriving lives inside of her. She experienced massive headaches as well as heart palpitations and chest pains if she overexerted herself. She was troubled with severe acid reflux. One day, while in the midst of writing wedding thank-you cards at the kitchen table, she suddenly blacked-out. When she came to, she managed to phone Jason for help.

Despite Marie’s health struggles, a November 13 ultrasound revealed that Marie and her babies were doing quite well. At 22 weeks, Marie was measuring more like a pregnant woman at 35 weeks.

But the day after the ultrasound, Marie started experiencing “sharp little pains” across her abdomen that became increasingly regular. That evening, the couple decided to head for the hospital to see what was going on.

Arriving at the hospital, the couple was incredulous when doctors told Marie that she was four centimeters dilated and that labour had begun. The young couple clung to the hope that doctors could do something to prevent labour from developing further while still keeping the babies safe.

But labour progressed further. Doctors broke the news that the babies were on their way.

At 22 weeks, the tiny triplets didn’t have much of a chance. Not only was their gestational development delayed because they were triplets, but their little lungs hadn’t developed enough for them to breathe. As a nurse, Marie knew that ventilation efforts on underdeveloped lungs could explode the lungs, causing immediate death. Doctors told the parents that when born, the babies would not benefit from medical intervention.

As Jason stood by his wife’s side, witnessing the unthinkable nightmare that was unfolding before his eyes, he suddenly realized that he had been giving all his attention to Marie. He realized that his unborn children were probably just as frightened by what was happening as he and Marie were. The young father leaned over and chokingly comforted his children with the loving words he had spoken so often. “Hey, I love you guys…I’m looking forward to meeting you…”

The parents prepared to greet their children and spend as much time with them as they could.

The triplets were born in the early hours of November 15, each weighing between 360 to 450 grams, less than a pound each.

“They came out, full of life, and moving around,” said Jason. “I kept on hoping that they might be the only triplets born at 22 weeks to ever survive, but they faded quickly.”

Despite the deep sorrow of having to let their children go, the parents were nonetheless taken aback by how perfectly formed their little children were, with perfect little noses, tiny toes, dainty fingers and finger nails, and most of all, beautifully lovable faces.

“We held them. We had time to study them, and we really felt like we got to know them a bit,” Jason said.

By now, extended family had arrived at the hospital to support Jason and Marie and to help bid farewell to the three children. A nurse took the babies’ footprints. The children were fitted with little hats and wrapped in coloured garments.

For Marie, it was an impossible mix of emotions: “We just held the babies. We cried. We looked at them. We studied them. We talked to them. We baptized them. And…we loved them.”

Bernadette, Adam, and Christine were loved, respected, and cherished for every moment of their short four-hour lives.

Searching for meaning

Immediately after their children’s passing, Jason and Marie wondered what should be done with the remains. They wondered if the hospital would let them have the bodies.

Marie’s father came to the rescue: “Of course we must give them a proper funeral,” he said. “They lived a life, just like anybody else. They were born, they were baptized, they lived, and they died.”

Marie’s brother built a little wooden casket with three crosses on the top. The children who had grown, lived, and died together, would now be laid in their final resting place together.

Jeff Gunnarson of Campaign Life Coalition attended the funeral service. He told LifeSiteNews that he was “deeply moved” to hear Jason’s graveside testimony about the life of his children, adding that there was hardly a dry eye in the crowd.

“Jason explained to the people gathered that his children’s lives were precious,” he said. “He mentioned his daughters’ dainty fingernails and the beautiful curve of his boy’s tiny chin. He said that even at such a young age, each child already showed distinct personality traits. He conveyed that each had its own unique unrepeatable life.”

“Believe me, anyone in that crowd with a hint of indifference to the value of a baby’s life at 22-weeks would have left that service re-thinking a pro-choice position. Jason conveyed just how wonderfully-made are these little human children of God. He was able to see in this serious, sad, yet profound moment of burying his beloved children a pro-life ray of hope that brought tears to our eyes and made us grateful to have witnessed so great a love.”

A Testimony to Life

Like any parents who have had to bury their children, Jason and Marie find themselves asking “why”. On blacker days, they find themselves prayerfully wrestling with God, asking him why he allowed this pain, this grief, this suffering, this loss.

Marie’s worst moment was waking up in the middle of the night directly after her loss. As the preceding nightmarish events crashed heavily upon her, she suddenly realized that she no longer was pregnant. “I really felt the despair when I asked myself how could anything good possibly come out of this,” she said.

The parents found themselves turning to their faith, seeking answers to difficult questions.

“We don’t know why we didn’t get to keep them,” said Marie, “but for whatever reason, God allowed them to be taken from us. We have faith that they are now in heaven reaching down trying to pull the two of us to heaven to be with them. We believe that we have three little angels up there who are interceding for us, so that we will get there someday too.”

Instead of focusing on their loss, the parents decided to focus on their blessings. “If anything, these babies are a testament to life. That’s what they have to be. That’s what we have to make this,” said Marie.

Despite their pain and loss, the parents would never wish their children’s lives away. They know that pain and loss do not have the final word.

The triplets have already made a difference in the lives of all who knew about them. Neighbors came together to support Jason and Marie. Family members saw through their petty differences and found common ground. Faith in God and family ties were strengthened. Cold hearts were thawed.

“Somehow it changes a heart just to see their lives,” said Jason.

Jason and Marie’s “hope and prayer” is that sharing their experience might “encourage” others who face difficult life choices.

They have put together a moving video tribute in memory of their triplets. The parents wrote and recorded an uplifting and heartfelt song that accompanies their story, which is told through photos and texts. The YouTube video has already received close to 3500 views.

“Hopefully our babies lives can make a difference somehow, even if it’s just giving strength and affirmation to people currently in the pro-life movement,” said Jason.

Gunnarson called the Taylor’s testimony “courageous and amazing,” saying that they showed the world that bringing 22-week babies into the world, even if they are not able to live for more than a few hours, is the “natural, healthy, and loving thing to do”.

“They named them, they baptized them, and most importantly,” he said, “they loved them.”

For Jason and Marie, their children will forever remain a treasured memory. Anyone who listens to their story will hear them say: “We were blessed to have met them.”

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See Footsteps - In Memory of our Triplets on Youtube.

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Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

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By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Building of the European Court of Human Rights. Shutterstock.com
Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website, www.babycaust.de, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon / Shutterstock.com
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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

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By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” Katholisch.de editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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