CHARLESTON, S.C. - Lynne Carroll tried to relax on a doctor's office table as she awaited an ultrasound to check on her new pregnancy. It's an exciting moment for many pregnant women, a chance to see the tiny life growing within.
But Mrs. Carroll mostly felt anxious, fearful that something might have gone wrong - again.
After their first child was born, she and her husband, Tom, had trouble conceiving. Over the next four years, Mrs. Carroll miscarried twice and was about to begin fertility treatments when she became pregnant with their second child.
Thankful for their two healthy children, the Carrolls hadn't tried to conceive again.
Then came the little pink line. The 36-year-old had been especially exhausted this time, but figured it was because of their recent move back to Charleston, starting a new job and raising two children.
Dr. Victor Weinstein arrived and began the ultrasound.
Mrs. Carroll didn't look.
"Honey, we've got twins!" Mr. Carroll teased. His wife didn't laugh.
"You're right!" Dr. Weinstein added.
Tom peered at the grainy image and spotted what looked like two lima beans. Then he saw a third emerge from the grainy darkness. Dr. Weinstein saw it, too. In a second, the mood turned serious.
Mr. Carroll laughed. Mrs. Carroll started to cry.
They'd just moved to Charleston and were jammed into his sister's house. They'd just started new jobs.
In January, Mrs. Carroll had to go on partial bed rest for almost three months to keep labor at bay. At 27 weeks, she landed in the hospital facing preterm labor. As she took steroids to pump up the baby's immature lungs and magnesium sulfate to try and halt the labor, she turned scared. Luckily, her labor stopped. For six weeks, she was on total bed rest in the hospital.
"It was hard giving up being a mother," she recalled.
In week 35, Mrs. Carroll went into labor. Three boys were born May 4, each weighing a bit over 5 pounds. A healthy David Keegan, Nicholas Cooper and James Collin went home.
The routine became no routine. The Carrolls changed 24 to 40 diapers a day. Each boy wanted to eat every couple of hours - and not the same hours.
Except for Collin, who ate less because he had a virus. He spent more than a week in the hospital, much of it in the pediatric ICU, fighting for his life.
It was the worst week of the Carrolls' lives. They stopped thinking about their survival. They thought of Collin's.
Amid the chaos, the Carrolls welcomed help. People unpacked boxes, helped with feedings, bought gifts. Others drove Carson to swim practice and took Sully out to play.
Mr. Carroll realized he and his wife haven't come home to a slower pace of life. They've come home to a community.