WEST MICHIGAN -- This Mother’s Day is extra special for one woman in Zeeland.
After a successful pregnancy four years ago, followed by several miscarriages, Betsy Koop and her husband Jonathan recently welcomed triplets into the world, but it was a difficult road to get to delivery day.
“Our day-to-day is just a lot of handing babies to different people and feeding them and snuggling them," said Betsy.
But Betsy Koop wouldn’t have it any other way.
She said, “I spend a lot of time feeding babies, which is wonderful.”
Early on in their quest for a full family, the Koops knew they might run into some road blocks, so they started different fertility regimens.
Their first son, Brecken, came naturally, but then came a miscarriage, followed by more heartbreak.
“We became pregnant with our second son, whose name was Iver,” she said. “The pregnancy was fine and seemingly normal, until about 30 weeks along, when I spontaneously went into labor here at home.”
Iver passed away at the hospital several hours later.
Betsy said, “We looked at him and my husband Jonathan and I said ‘Buddy guess what? We love you so much, we are not going to let this break us, instead we are going to be better for it,’ and we know that if he would have lived, he would have brought so much light and joy and beauty to this world, and since you’re not able to do that, we are going to do it for you.”
She said they made a pivotal decision, right then and there, to not wallow in the darkness
“Or we can choose to tip towards light, and that does not mean ignoring the grief, because obviously that is unhealthy, but it means when possible, to choose joy and to choose life and to choose love,” said Betsy.
Now the Koops celebrate “Iver’s Day” on December 18, inviting everyone to do random acts of kindness in their community, just as they know Iver would have done.
“The goal of that day was just to brighten the world,” she said.
The “Iver’s Day” Facebook Page now has hundreds of followers.
“I thought it was just going to be a few people participating with us, but instead we had hundreds of people post pictures of way they spread kindness to people around them and it just blew us away.”
After three more miscarriages, and pursuing adoption, the Koops decided to give it one more shot, but was they got was three little heartbeats.
Betsy describes her first ultrasound as joyful.
“She said, ‘There’s one baby, oh there’s two babies.’ and my husband and I looked at each other and she said, ‘I’m gonna keep looking and here’s three.”
With triplets, plus Betsy’s history came higher risks, so in January, she was admitted to Spectrum Hospital in Grand Rapids for the remainder of her pregnancy.
Dr. Lisa Thiel, a Perinatologist with Spectrum Health said, “Some of the complications with the triplets, with some extra fluid around the babies and some contractions and some issues with her triplet pregnancy caused her to stay, to monitor them really closely so we could have the timing of delivery just right.”
Dr. Thiel and an entire team of High-Risk Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialists rotated seeing Betsy every week, for nearly 12 weeks.
Dr. Erin Fricke said, “She became just as much a part of the team as everyone else.”
Betsy said, she knew a prolonged hospital stay would be tough.
“I thought, ‘Okay I have to make a game plan or I’m gonna go nuts. I’m an active person, I’m a bust person, I’m a social person.”
So Betsy set out to make friends with anyone and everyone on her floor, celebrating the big moments and the seemingly mundane ones.
“We’d get in our wheelchairs and do little wheelchair races, we’d call them, but they were the world’s slowest wheelchair races, because we could barely scoot forward.”
Her doctors say her attitude was contagious and she helped other patients who were getting discouraged.
Dr Thiel said, “She would find ways, like do a countdown calendar or find reasons and things and goals that would make them want to stay pregnant in a positive way.”
On April 5, Betsy had made it to 35 weeks and two days: The time for her scheduled C-Section.
She said, “My husband I and were literally just dancing in the hallways at the hospital.”
The delivery went smoothly, thanks in part to Dr. Vivian Romero.
She said, “It was amazing, it was an amazing experience, there were a lot of people in the room.”
Betsy and Jonathan were overjoyed.
Betsy said, “It was amazing, we just looked at each other and were sobbing as we saw these healthy babies.”
Now at about five weeks old, Willem , Olive, and Townsend are healthy, happy and at home with the Koops and Brecken, who is already a natural big brother.
Betsy said, “I just looked down at them and thought, ‘I get to be their Mom, I’m am the luckiest person in the world.”
Though it was a tough journey, Betsy says it was worth every second.
“I’ve learned that joy and sorrow can co-exist. For me, it felt like the one thing I could do to give these babies everything.”