May 9, 2016
It was all hands on deck when six Pirate patients from across the East came together recently to celebrate their healthy babies.
Six new mothers of triplets – who all received prenatal care at ECU Physicians’ high-risk obstetrics clinic within the past two years – gathered April 30 with their families and clinic staff on the health sciences campus for photos, fun and fellowship.
Some first met when they or their babies were in the hospital at the same time. Others previously connected through social media. Regardless of what came before, it was obvious on this day that their shared experience of mothering multiples had created an unshakable bond. They took turns holding each other’s children, encouraging one another and offering up tricks of the triplet trade.
Their physician, Dr. Christy Isler, maternal-fetal medicine specialist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Brody School of Medicine, said, “Looking out over all these people, I’m thinking about all we’ve been through. The journey we’ve all taken together is truly amazing.
“It sounds corny to say this, but I usually see these children in black and white [on a sonogram],” she continued. “It’s so exciting to see them all in living color. They are all so beautiful.”
Isler added that the successes represented were the result of teamwork by hundreds of health care professionals in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Vidant Medical Center as well as folks from ECU pediatrics, ECU obstetrics and gynecology and other groups.
She said the incidence of triplets is only one or two per every 1,000 births, although that number increases with the amount of assisted reproduction.
Which makes Jennifer Pigg of Havelock extra-special. Pigg, herself a triplet with two fraternal brothers, delivered fraternal boy-boy-girl triplets in August 2014.
Pigg said early on in her pregnancy she and husband Ryan joked about having triplets. “We decided on the way to the ultrasound that I would call my mother afterwards to tell her we were having triplets, just as a joke,” Pigg said. “Then we found out we really were having triplets. On the way home, I called my mother. She was driving at the time and so shocked that she had to pull over. My husband said, ‘Guess that wasn’t such a funny joke, huh?’”
Lauren and Adam Faul of New Bern were already proud parents of two children when they delivered fraternal triplet boys – Harrison, Rowan and Sutton – in October 2015. Adam said the triplets have three distinctively different personalities.
“It was harder going from zero to one, than from two to five,” Lauren said. “It took us four or five months to get confident about going out with all the kids, but we realized this is our new normal. We were social and active people before we had triplets, and we wanted to continue being that way. And people are usually so helpful and supportive.”
Teri Smithwick, who’s worked as a sonographer in ECU’s maternal-fetal medicine clinic for 15 years, choked back tears as she bounced one of the babies she’d scanned multiple times before birth.
“I work with miracles every day,” Smithwick said. “I have quiet, intimate times with these moms in a closed, dark room. They become family. This is not a job; it’s a passion.”
Tracy Rouse of Cove City and her husband David said they were shocked when they
first found out they were being inducted into the triplet parenting club.
“It took a while to process the thought of three,” Tracy said. “But Dr. Isler was so helpful and understanding, and especially good at making me confident that I could do this. She explained the potential challenges we might have, but she did it in a way that was optimistic without sugar-coating anything.”
The Rouses are looking forward to the day when their babies can hold their own bottles and interact more with each other. They say their lives require a lot of patience these days.
“There’s no quiet time with three babies,” Tracy said. “It takes lots of extra time to prepare and gather the stuff we need to get out the door. We attract lots of attention when we go out.”
“But the reward is definitely worth the sacrifice,” her husband David added.