Frequently Asked Questions
Did you have assistance getting pregnant?
No, we did not. The pregnancy was unplanned; we actually planned on NOT having children (at least for a very long time, if ever).
How old are you guys?
We’re both in our early 30′s.
How common is it to have triplets?
Spontaneous: about 1 in 8,000; Fertility assistance: about 1 in 40.
What percentage of triplets are spontaneous?
The great minority. Only 10 – 15% of triplets born today in the U.S. are spontaneous.
Do you have multiples in the family?
Not the hereditary kind, no. I have identical cousins, but there’s no empirical support for the heritability of identical multiples. The conception of fraternal multiples is hereditary due to hyperovulation on the female’s side, but I don’t have fraternal multiples in my family…Yeah, we don’t get it either….
Ok, so if fraternal multiples don’t run in the family, and the pregnancy is not a result of fertility assistance, then what are the possible explanations for the conception of triplets?
Explanations exist for both fraternal and identical multiples. Age usually explains both. As women climb into their 30′s, the odds of having multiples go up due to a) the body beginning to release multiple eggs (fraternal), and b) the eggs getting weaker with age and splitting (identical). Other than age, it has been suggested that a hormone imbalance in the brain leads to the release of multiple eggs (fraternal), and some women have weaker eggs in general (identical).
Are the babies identical or fraternal?
We have a pair and a spare. ID boys and a fraternal girl, the most common combination for spontaneous triplets. Identical twins share 100% of their DNA and a placenta, while fraternal twins share 50% of their DNA, each has its own placenta, and are no more genetically similar than any other siblings.
When are they due?
90% of triplets are born premature and spend time in the NICU. Triplets come, on average, at 32 weeks (instead of the usual 40). That would be the first week of May, 2011.
How did you take the news?
We loved each other and wanted to be together, even though we had only known each other a very short time. Being in our 30′s, we went for it. Although neither of us had plans for a baby in the near future (if ever), we decided it was time for both of us. Then we learned it was triplets. We toppled over. Still, we took it in stride, right along with all the other extreme changes we had to make. From an outsiders’ view, we were doomed.
When did you have your triplets?
We made it to full term (highly unusual). 37 weeks 2 days. I could’ve gone longer, but the doc was worried about the identical boys sharing a placenta, so he wouldn’t let me. Yet when the surgeon was taking them out, she remarked on my cervix, and said I could’ve carried them longer.
How were they born?
Scheduled c-section at 37 weeks, 2 days.
Can the two of you do it w/o help from family or a nanny?
No. Well, we couldn’t. I’ve heard of triplet moms who do (just mom and dad), so it can be done. We couldn’t do it because we were first time (unintentional) parents, and they didn’t spend the expected time in the NICU (which would have meant training for mom and dad, and chance to recover from the c-section). The reflux in the identical boys made them very fussy and unable to sleep. Having babies in the NICU is horrible, but we expected it, along with training from the nurses, and time for me to heal. That didn’t happen, and because we we had no idea what having a baby is like, we tried attachment parenting (the seemingly best way of parenting). Because of that, our babies never slept at the same time, so we couldn’t sleep when they did. It’s impossible to do attachment parenting with 3 babies while both parents work. The effort nearly killed us. Jason worked and commuted 11 hours a day, plus more from home, and I’ve always been in charge of baby care…while in the Phd program, working and teaching no less than 40 hours per week. Family came and went, and in their gaps, I bring in help (maybe 15 hours a week) to get some sleep and work done.
Are you still in the PhD program?
Yes!! Can you believe it?!?! I’m exhausted and far from perfect, but I still try every day to keep working.
Wouldn’t it be better for you and the kids to be a SAHM?
In the short-term, yes. Long-term, NO.