Charlie Whitmer seemed to have it all. He was living in Chicago, he had a stable job, and was an all-around happy guy. Things only got better when he met his future wife Kathryn and the two fell in love, becoming husband and wife. However, after they had some trouble conceiving a child, it was discovered that Kathryn had severe bleeding in her brain. She would go on to pass away just days after giving birth to triplets. This is the couple’s story, and how Charlie has managed to press on.
Charlie Didn’t Believe In Bad Luck
Earlier in his life, 33-year old Charlie Whitmer of West Town, Chicago didn’t believe in bad luck. Everything in his life was working out perfectly, so he didn’t think that he would have to worry about tragedy striking.
Unfortunately, it would all come crumbling down when he would least expect it, and he would be faced with the biggest challenge of his life. He would be forced to re-evaluate his life and it wouldn’t just be him that he had to worry about.
Meeting His Future Wife
In 2013, Charlie Whitmer, a partner at a trading firm, had his breath taken away when he ran into Kathryn, his future wife, at a Wrigleyville bar in Chicago. Although Charlie was enamored by Kathryn, little did the two know that they would grow to love each other and start a family.
Kathryn, who was an operations manager, hit things off with Charlie instantly, and their friendship blossomed into a loving relationship. By August of 2016, they had plans to get married, however, something interrupted their happiness.
Everything Seemed To Be Going Fine
While everything in the couple’s life appeared to be going fine, mysterious bruises began to appear all over Charlie’s body. On top of that, he was beginning to find day-to-day life to be increasingly tiring.
He knew that something was wrong. There was something oddly familiar about the way that he was feeling. He had been diagnosed with aplastic anemia when he was 15 years old and received a bone marrow transplant at the time. While that seemed to have solved the problem, the condition came back to haunt him in 2016.
Switching To Medication
After discussing his options with several doctors, Charlie made the decision to begin medication in order to treat his condition. Luckily, this worked, and he and Kathryn were married. They were eager to start a family.
Unfortunately, the medication that Charlie was prescribed resulted in some fertility troubles with the couple and they weren’t able to have a baby. The couple had to undergo fertility treatments if they ever wanted to get pregnant.
In December of 2017, Kathryn learned that she was, in fact, pregnant and with more than one baby! She had two embryos implanted in her uterus which could have resulted in a variety of outcomes, and the couple was definitely surprised!
When Charlie asked how many babies his wife was pregnant with, assuming it was one or maybe even two, the answer was shocking. As it turns out, Kathryn was pregnant with three! One of the eggs had split in two, resulting in three embryos.
The Pregnancy Was Going Well
Everything seemed to be in order with the pregnancy right up until Kathryn hit the 27-week mark. On Memorial Day in 2018, she woke up with a headache so severe that she had to be rushed to the hospital. It was then, that she received some unfortunate news.
As Charlie told the Chicago Tribune, “I was in the waiting room … and someone came out and said, ‘Your wife has a big bleed in her brain.’ At that time, I didn’t know anything about what a brain bleed meant.”
A Long Month Ahead
Just like any family, Charlie and Kathryn just wanted what was best for their children, doing everything to make sure that their babies were born and healthy.
It was only about a month until the triplets were expected to be born, but little did they know that it would be one of the hardest months of their lives. Kathryn’s condition was only getting worse and the stress of being pregnant was weighing heavy on the couple.
The Babies Are Born
The triplets, named J.P., Bobby, and Arden, were born via cesarean section on June 4. Unfortunately, all three of them required immediate medical attention the moment they were born. They were born underweight and required CPR so they were taken immediately to the NICU.
Luckily, all of the newborns turned out to be okay. However, the same couldn’t be said of Kathryn. Just two days after the cesarean, Kathryn’s headaches returned and it was decided that she had to undergo emergency brain surgery to relieve some of the pressure.
Charlie Lost His Wife
In a devastating turn of events, Kathryn never woke up from her surgery and never got to spend any quality time with her babies. Charlie’s brother was there for her last few hours. His brother consoled him while Charlie cried that his babies would never truly know their mother.
When the triplets were placed into their mother’s unconscious arms, the doctors were taken aback. Kathryn began to cry even though she wasn’t there mentally.
The Doctor Couldn’t Believe It
Kathryn’s doctor, Dr. K, said in amazement, “I can’t explain that medically.” However, he explained that even though she was on the brink of being brain dead, it didn’t mean that she couldn’t feel the presence of her three newborn babies.
Even though she was almost gone, she could still sense her precious babies, which is a testament to the connection between a mother and her children. Unfortunately, it would be the last time she would hold them.
Her Death Saved Others
After bringing three new lives into the world before her death, Kathryn also helped to save the lives of others after she passed. Six other lives were saved due to the donation of her organs, the ultimate gift.
Her organ donation was a testament to the kind of person that Kathryn was. Because she was such a giving and loving person while alive, it only made sense that she would keep on giving even after she had passed on.
Kathryn Passed Away
On June 8th, Charlie was notified by the doctor that Kathryn had officially passed away. Charlie knew that his whole life was about to change for the worse.
Yet he knew that he needed to stay strong, no matter how much he was suffering on the inside. He was a new father of three and needed to be there for the babies. They were a gift that Kathryn had left behind.
Charlie Spent His First Father’s Day In The Hospital
After everything he had been through, the new father and widower spent his first Father’s Day watching over his three newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit.
He sat by their sides as they became strong enough that they no longer needed medical assistance in order to survive. To make things even sadder, Father’s Day was the day after Kathryn’s funeral, a ceremony that many of the doctors had attended.
He Left His Job
Because of his delicate situation, and even though Charlie loved his job, he left it in order to focus on taking care of his three newborn babies.
It was time for him to face his new reality, and no matter how heartbroken he may be, he knew that the most important thing was that he be there for his children. Even though they were too young to know what was going on, without a mother, everything was up to Charlie.
A New Man
Charlie knew that he wouldn’t be able to deal with the death of his wife and raising three children if he stayed the same person. He had to grow and evolve to become an even more improved version of himself.
While he was already been a strong person, there was no doubt that losing his wife and nurturing three kids would only make him even stronger. It wasn’t going to be easy but it was necessary.
His Dreams Changed
After Kathryn had died so unexpectedly, Charlie opened up that his dreams had even changed since the loss of his wife. He commented, “You have to find hope, and you have to find some kind of joy […] All of this happened for a reason. It’s my job to find that.”
Even though he had suffered a loss that would be beyond devastating to anyone, he knew that he needed to keep living if not for himself, then his children.
The March Of Dimes Helped Raise Money
In the spring of 2019, Charlie, along with friends, family members, and just about anyone that knew or had helped take care of Kathryn, came together to participate in the March of Dimes “March for Babies” in Grant Park in Chicago.
The walk is done for the purpose of raising money for maternal, fetal, and neonatal health. Charlie’s group walked under the name of “Team Kathryn” and managed to raise over $80,000 for the cause. It was a truly touching event.
Charlie Has Had To Push Himself
In the couple’s relationship, Charlie had always been the more quiet one whereas Kathryn was a lot more outgoing and has been described as a “people person.” After Kathryn passed away, Charlie was forced to work against his inherent tendency to be introverted and interact with people more.
At first, it was hard for him to accept help from others, but over time, he found himself saying yes to things a lot more often. He knows this change is necessary for his children.
Kathryn Left A Lasting Mark
Charlie often thinks about the kind of woman Kathryn was, and uses it as inspiration for him to be the best man and father he can be. He knows that Kathryn always put other people before herself and how much love she put into every relationship that she was a part of.
All that Charlie wants to do is make her proud, so he always acts with her in mind. He just wishes she was still around to watch their children grow.
Moving On As Best He Can
Of course, Charlie misses the love of his life every day, however, he knows how important it is to get on with his life. This is not just for himself, but for his three beautiful children as well. It’s now his responsibility to make sure that they grow into people that Kathryn would be proud of, especially with Charlie doing it all on his own.
He notes that Kathryn “had figured out the important things in life,” which is something he’s also learned since the birth of his children and the loss of his wife.