By Alan Burke
---- — PEABODY — Bill and Katie Medeiros, both 34, already had two boys, Wesley and Colby, now ages 3 and 4. All they wanted was a girl to make their family complete.
“Let’s go for one more,” Katie said. “We might get a girl.”
And they did get one. Then another. Then another. They came all at the same time, triplets, born last summer. What’s more, defying massive odds, the three are identical.
“We’ve scared off all our friends from trying for a boy,” Bill said, laughing.
Katie can be forgiven if she looks a little shell-shocked, sitting on the couch, watching Bill arrange Rose Abigail, Eleanor Susan and Jeanine Elizabeth side by side on the floor, three beautiful, cooing babies.
“It’s crazy every day,” she said, shaking her head. “It seems weird to say we have five kids.”
“We’re knee deep in kids,” Bill said, smiling.
The triple play was all the more surprising because Katie hadn’t taken any sort of fertility drugs. She hadn’t asked for triplets; they just came.
Katie knew at five weeks she was carrying three but was told that more than likely she would lose at least one. It didn’t happen. And it was a difficult summer as her high-risk pregnancy required frequent ultrasounds. On Aug. 8, at 36 weeks, doctors at Beth Israel determined it was best she give birth via cesarean section. All three babies weighed in at roughly 5 pounds.
“I’m getting very good at feeding two at once,” said Bill, addressing part of the problem. Katie’s mom, Susan Fabiano of Salem, deals with Colby and Wesley at the same time. The Madeiros have had plenty of help from family and friends. Katie believes they couldn’t survive without it. The new arrivals are also an adjustment for their two small boys. The parents are keenly aware they still need attention, still need to be held.
Bill is a technician for LAN-TEL Communications, often working on sites in Boston. Katie is an MRI technician at Cambridge Hospital and looking forward, hopefully, to the day she can get back to work.
“That’s the plan,” Bill said. The couple work different shifts, which makes Katie going back to work seem a possibility — again with help.
So far, the babies don’t seem very aware of one another, their parents said. Katie gave them distinctive, family names. She wants the triplets to develop individual personalities. One was born with medical difficulties — a heart condition that should no longer require treatment after age 1. Yet, for a week after birth, Katie worried while she was isolated at Children’s Hospital. Katie and Bill can easily identify her because she’s developed a little differently. The other two are distinguished by a freckle.
“One has a freckle, and the other doesn’t,” Katie said.
Family helpers are trained to tell them apart via the clothes they wear. To make certain each gets fed, bottles are color-coded. That’s 18 bottles per day and 30 diapers. On Facebook, the couple have been in touch with other parents of triplets, which allows them to buy used equipment, like a triplet stroller, which would be otherwise prohibitively expensive.
“A ton of people have given us stuff,” Katie said. “A couple of companies sent us free stuff. Nothing big.”
Sometimes, the attention they garner becomes a problem, said Katie, with strangers drawn by the triplet stroller, asking endless questions, taking snapshots without permission, even touching the girls. It isn’t easy, but the couple manage to stay polite.
For the future, it won’t be possible to fit three beds into the girls’ room, and the Medeiros plan some expansion at their modest ranch. But for the most part, said Katie, “We don’t think that far ahead. We try to get by week by week.”
“I think we’re doing surprisingly well,” Bill said.
It was pretty scary at first, Katie said, adding, “We wouldn’t change a thing now, and we know we are blessed. Our family is complete.”
Alan Burke can be reached at email@example.com.