Hartwick Triplets Only Identicals In Otsego County
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Hometown Oneonta/The Freeman’s Journal
Edition of Thursday-Friday, Nov. 27-28, 2014
When Beth O’Brien saw one little body on the sonogram, it was a thrill.
When she saw two more, it was a miracle. “I was in shock, but I knew we were so blessed,” she said. “I thought poor Robert was going to pass out!”
The O’Brien family – Beth and Robert, and daughters Hannah, 2 and Abigail, 5 – grew by three on Sept. 30, when Beth gave birth to three healthy baby boys, Hunter, Noah and Lucas. “I grew up an only child, so I always wanted a big family,” said Beth.
The odds of having identical triplets are one in 60,000. And although the Tallman family of Hartwick and the Catan family of Oneonta also have triplets, the O’Briens’ are the only set of the same gender.
After suffering a painful miscarriage, Beth and Robert decided to try one last time for another child. In April, they went to get the first ultrasound at Bassett Hospital. “They showed us one healthy baby and then, suddenly, there were two, and then another! I was thrilled, then excited, then I was terrified!”
“You have so many mixed emotions,” said Beth. “But the girls took the news like champs. Hannah offered up her crib, and Abigail took the ultrasound pictures to show-and-tell.”
“I love them,” said Hannah. “We’re going to play tag!” said Abigail.
The girls help put their brothers into their swings, sing lullabies, help put them down for naps and give them check-ups with their play doctor kits. “When we first got home, Hannah didn’t understand why the boys couldn’t go on the slide,” said Beth.
Bassett doesn’t have a neo-natal intensive care unit, so Beth’s care was transferred to Albany Medical Center. Though the pregnancy was mostly worry-free, at 29 weeks she began having blood flow problems. “They thought they were going to have to deliver them within 24 hours,” she said. “I was terrified.”
The problems ceased, but the doctors decided to induce labor at 33½ weeks. “Each baby had their own team, plus mine,” she said.
The babies were delivered by C-section – Noah, then Hunter and lastly, Lucas – but because of tests doctors had to run, it was an hour before the proud papa could even hold Noah. “I was sent to recovery, and it was 12 hours before I could see them,” Beth said. “I was crying, trying to negotiate with the doctor to let me see them. Finally, I said, ‘You can either take me to see them or I will go myself.’ They got me in a wheelchair and took me to see my children.”
Noah and Hunter weighed just over 4 pounds at birth, while Lucas weighed 3 pounds, 14 ounces, and they had to be incubated for the first few weeks. Noah and Hunter came home after two and a half weeks, with Lucas making his arrival a week and a half after that. “We’re so relieved to have everyone home,” said Beth.
And yes, the parents can tell the little ones apart. “Hunter’s right ear sticks out a little bit, and Noah’s doesn’t,” said Robert. “Lucas’ face is a little smaller than the other boys.”
And the community pitched in when she brought the new babies home, bringing toys, clothes and gifts. “We went to the Fly Creek Cider Mill, and they watched the boys so we could shop,” she said. “At Price Chopper, they offered to shop for me, because the carts only have room for two, and I don’t have a stroller for three yet!” It’s true that finding a stroller for three must be a struggle for Beth. Luckily, sites like www.strollerbuzz.com/best-car-seat-stroller-combos offer great reviews on strollers of all shapes and sizes to find an ideal one.
The proud grandparents, on mom Beth’s side, are Patricia Morgan of Cooperstown and Robert Booker; on dad Robert’s side, Richard and step-mom Marcelle O’Brien of Milford. (Robert’s mom was Deborah O’Brien, who passed away in 1989.)
While in the hospital, Beth befriended a woman who had lost her infant son, but who made the triplets pumpkin hats for Halloween. “Hannah and I were pumpkin princesses, and they were the pumpkins!” said Abigail.
Because daddy Robert is a hunter and the fire chief of Hartwick, the boys received plenty of camo and fireman-themed presents, and the Community Bible Church of Toddsville has been bringing meals over weekly. “They have a schedule of who’s bringing us what through December,” said Robert. “The support has just been tremendous.”
And though they’re not quite the size of a full-term baby, the boys are already rolling over, holding their own pacifiers and turning their heads to see the world around them. “Everyone always asks if it’s rough,” said Beth. “But right now, they’re all doing great.”