A local news anchor shared her own heartbreaking story on the air this week, bravely talking about the death of two of her infant triplets in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month.
“In 2013 I delivered my triplets more than 17 weeks premature. We are blessed with one survivor, but two of my children didn’t make it,” Stacey Skrysak, an anchor with WICS Newschannel 20 in Springfield, Ill., told viewers on Thursday. “My daughter Abigail passed away shortly after birth. My son, Parker, he died just shy of 2 months old. It’s a club no parent wants to ever join, but for those of us angel moms and dads out there, there is help getting through the hardest days of our lives.”
Skrysak, 35, wiped away tears and became emotional as she spoke directly to the camera from the studio. She then reported from the NICU at a local hospital as the first part of an infant-loss series, speaking to many of the doctors and nurses who had helped her and her husband, Ryan, a carpenter, through their own births and losses two years ago.
Son Parker, who died shortly before turning 2 months old. (Photo: Facebook)
“I pitched the story a couple of months ago to my boss, and at first I thought, this is not going to be about me, because as a journalist, you try to separate yourself,” Skrysak tells Yahoo Parenting about her decision to go public — something she did previously, when she was pregnant, by reporting a story on infertility through a personal lens. “But my story is kind of well-known locally — it’s kind of hard to hide being pregnant with triplets — and I thought I could either close myself off or embrace it, and I decided I’m going to be an open book with this community that’s helped me so much. … I thought, well, to really get the point across, I could be the face — I could be the one to let people know that yes, I’m still grieving two years later.” In doing that, she says, she hoped to raise awareness and help others in her position feel less alone.
And it’s already done that for so many, judging by the flood of supportive and grateful comments she’s received on Facebook and through email. “Very hard to watch this, but thank you for sharing. I lost my son 5 years ago. It never gets easier. Thanks for being a voice,” wrote one mother on Facebook. Shared another: “This brings back memories of when I lost my baby girl 25 years ago. It surprises me how easily the tears still come. The hospital gave me a birth certificate with her footprints on it & a lock of her hair. I miss her so much.”
Skrysak says people’s comments have been both wonderful and hard to read, though she’s made her way through them all, leaving her with “puffy eyes” from all the tears.
Daughter Peyton, 2. (Photo: Facebook)
In addition to speaking out on the news station, Skrysak blogs about her grief and her joy — over her thriving daughter Peyton, now 2 — at Perfectly Peyton: Navigating Life With Our Surviving Triplet. She says that writing about her heartache — as well as seeing a therapist, attending support-group meetings, and being comforted by friends, family, and parents in the triplet community, has really gotten her through what’s been a complex bereavement.
“I had a unique situation, because my grief was kind of put on hold [after Abigail died] as I was trying to be strong for my other two,” she recalls about the death of her first baby, just two hours after her birth. Parker held on in the NICU for only two months, but Peyton continued to thrive, despite needing oxygen, having a heart murmur, and undergoing eye surgery. Skrysak found it difficult to navigate the juxtaposition of emotions for a while after that.
Stacey and Ryan Skrysak at a recent March of Dimes fundraiser. (Photo: Facebook)
“I remember thinking that my grief should be ending, and it wasn’t,” she recalls. “But someone told me you never get over it, and that grief doesn’t end, it changes.” Even now, she says, she’ll have moments of such happiness when Peyton reaches a milestone, but then think, “Oh my God, her brother and sister should be here with her.”
As her daughter continues to grow and mature, Skrysak says the “tricky part” will be figuring out how to talk to her about her lost siblings without putting pressure on her to uphold their legacy as the sole survivor. “It’s going to be difficult,” she admits. “But we decided early on that we want her to know she’s a triplet. We have photos of her brother and sister around the house and sometimes she kisses them. And we’ll do stuff to remember them — like we planted a butterfly bush — but we’ll let her guide us in finding ways to remember and celebrate them together.”
(Top photo: WICS NewsChannel 20)