The heartbreaking story behind triplets' first birthday photo

Kamilia Palu
News Editor

It’s a beautiful image of three triplets on their first birthday, dressed in traditional Maori cloaks and surrounded by flowers.

But just behind them is the headstone of their mother, Chervonne Magaoa, who passed away shortly after giving birth to the three boys.

The shared celebration of the boys’ life and the anniversary of Chervonne’s death is a bittersweet occasion for father and husband Martin Magaoa.

“I miss everything about her,” Martin told Yahoo7, explaining he did not want to keep the occasions separate but wanted to combine them both as a celebration of life.

The triplets visit their mother’s grave on their first birthday. Source: Supplied/Martin Magaoa
Martin and Chervonne Magaoa, pictured with their eldest son Tanner. Source: Supplied/Martin Magaoa

“As hard as it was, I wanted to celebrate her life and boys’ birthday on that special day, August 31st, to honour her by celebrating with her at her final resting place.”

Chervonne, who was born in New Zealand, studied at Brigham Young University in Hawaii where she met Martin.

The couple married in 2007 and had their first son, Tanner, four years later through IVF.

Wanting to give their boy a sibling, Chervonne and Martin turned to IVF again, and fell pregnant with triplets.

On August 31, 2017, a week before her due date, Chervonne was told during a routine check-up that she needed to undergo an emergency caesarean immediately.

The 34-year-old suffered an amniotic fluid embolism during the birth – where fluid, cells or other debris enters the mother’s bloodstream – and passed away shortly after.

LEFT: Martin Magaoa holds one of his newborn babies. RIGHT: The triplets are cuddled by their papa from Niue. Source: Supplied/Martin Magaoa
The triplets were born on August 31 2017, a week before their due date. Source: GoFundMe

Her boys, Aayden Kahiau, Blaise Taofimau and Carson Rawiri, were thankfully alive and healthy.

“Every day I see their mother in them,” Martin said.

“They are thriving, healthy and growing full of laughter and joy.”

For Tanner, now seven, learning to adjust to life without his mum has been difficult.

“Tanner misses his mom just like any child,” his father said.

“He is learning to cope with her loss. A huge part of his life is no longer present and I can see the impact that it has on him.”

Chervonne pictured with her first baby, Tanner. Source: Supplied/Martin Magaoa
The night before the triplet’s first birthday. Source: Supplied/Martin Magaoa

Raising four young boys is no easy feat, but a generous outpouring of support from the community has helped to ease the pressure.

A team of more than 100 volunteer nannies help on rostered shifts, filling out a log book on each child that records their weight and eating and sleeping patterns.

A GoFundMe page set up after Chervonne’s death has raised more than $70,000 in the past year.

“The community has made it possible for me to live my life comfortably. A heavy load made light makes a huge difference,” Martin said.