At four weeks old, Jaydon is a “mellow fellow.” His sisters Jayla and Jayann are more on the “feisty” side, especially at feeding time. As with parents of newborns, the children’s mother, René Vialva-Phillip, and father, Jason Phillip, have been adjusting their routines and lifestyle, in general, more so as new parents of triplets.
They have also had to ensure that their firstborn daughter, Jené, who recently turned eight, feels comfortable in her new place as the eldest child and in her new role of big sister.
Recalling her pregnancy journey to WE recently, Vialva-Phillip shared that she was not really surprised when her OB-GYN informed them that she would be having twins at her first ultrasound last July. Fraternal twins run in the family...on both sides! Vialva-Phillip’s two great aunts and cousins are twins and her husband has twin siblings and twin cousins.
Later, when another test showed that there were in fact three foetuses growing inside her, joy was Vialva-Phillip’s first reaction.
“A month or so later, when they checked again, they saw a third sac (amniotic sac surrounding the foetus which protects and nourishes it), but that sac was empty. So we said OK, that’s something to monitor, and a few weeks later it’s triplets.
“It was shocking, yes, but as far as I was concerned, I had been praying for a pregnancy for the longest while, so it didn’t matter whether it was a single baby or a multiple pregnancy. My initial reaction was just happiness,” she said.
Hard time conceiving after birth of first child
Although she and her husband had their eldest daughter without any issues, Vialva-Phillip, 36, had been having a hard time conceiving in later years. About three years ago, she observed that her menstrual cycle had become irregular, and she was diagnosed with secondary infertility–where a woman would have had at least one pregnancy before but finds it difficult to become pregnant or carry a baby to term (40 weeks) later on.
She started receiving treatment in June 2022 to regulate ovulation in the form of tablets and had to take home pregnancy tests regularly. Luckily for her and her husband, within a month–mid-July–they found out that she was pregnant. She could not help but cry.
“It was like finally, all the hurdles are now over with because there had been many years of disappointment, hoping and praying that we would get at least one more positive pregnancy test. I enjoyed my last pregnancy.
“Even before having my own children, I have always taken care of children–siblings, nieces and nephews, cousins, and I’m an Infants’ teacher as well, so I love children,” said Vialva-Phillip who misses her Infants class, especially since she did not get to tell them goodbye.
2 months for reality of having triplets to sink in
It took about two months for the reality that they were having triplets to really sink in.
“When the reality set in, you started to say: well, what does this mean because that’s three babies, plus two parents and a singleton, that’s six people. How do we do this? In terms of transport, we all can’t fit in the car. We have to get a seven seater now and those types of thoughts came later down...like about two months later,” she said, adding that having enough room for all three babies, the cost of food and clothing as well as school supplies and expenses as the children grew were concerns they now constantly have to consider.
Phillip said it also took him a while to process the logistics of raising triplets, including the impact on their finances.
Meanwhile, as Vialva-Phillip’s was a multiple pregnancy with an expecting mother at “an advanced maternal age,” it was considered “high risk” and she had to be monitored constantly. One serious risk was twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome where an imbalance in blood flow could develop between two babies if they are sharing a placenta.
Vialva-Phillip had gained about 40 pounds whereas a typical single pregnancy would usually add 25 pounds. Carrying the extra weight proved to be difficult for the mother to be towards the middle and end of the pregnancy, she recalled. But she said she “rallied through” without having to take extra time off from work or bed rest.
Sleep a luxury
The babies made their entrance into the world on February 10 this year, almost a week earlier than their scheduled C-Section delivery because their mother’s blood pressure had been high a few days earlier. As pre-term babies, they were observed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for several days.
Now that they are all home safe and healthy from the NICU from which Jayann was the last to be released, the most challenging part so far for their parents has been sleeping. Instead of being able to sleep while the babies rest as many people tend to advise, the new mother of four said that was her time to take a shower and make preparations for when they wake up.
“Sleep is a luxury,” she laughed, stressing that the extended family was very important to them at this time.
Extended family steps in
Both the maternal and paternal grandparents, as well as some cousins have stepped up to assist the couple. Some are expected to apply for vacation time to assist more, said Vialva-Phillip whose physical movements are limited because she will be recovering from the C-section for several months.
She gives the babies a combination of expressed breast milk to be able to monitor exactly how much each baby is getting, and infant formula.
“My boy, I call him my mellow fellow. Even if you take a little while, he will wait, not my two girls. They are feisty. They (all three) get up every three hours to feed and it’s those two girls who will wake you up to let you know three hours have gone,” she said.
Coordinating colours until they are old enough to protest
Since they are so young, once they are fed, the babies go right back to sleep.
Parents of multiples are sometimes concerned that each is getting enough bonding time and attention. Vialva-Phillip said that so far she has been developing her bond with them while she feeds them.
She is able to tell her two baby girls apart because Jayla has a narrow face and Jayann has a more pear-shaped face. Jaydon could be mixed up with Jayann because his face is similar to hers.
Whether she dresses them in coordinating colours, the proud mother laughed, “I’m going to enjoy that phase thoroughly until they protest.”
Dad pulls double shift, so 1st child gets separate time
Her husband, whose five days of paternity leave were almost up last week, said he was enjoying every aspect of taking care of his infants.
“I’m always active, so it’s just another activity to my daily routine,” he said. He has also had to pull double shifts taking Jené to and from school and extracurricular activities like dance, football, and swimming.
“I think we’re making a deliberate effort to always include her in time spent with the babies as well as in having her own separate time,” her mother said.
They had a few “child-friendly” talks with her before the babies were born about how long her mom would have to carry the babies, the different ways that she could go into labour and to help her with the transition once they were born.
8 two-ounce bottles every 3 hours times 3 babies
The Phillips are still working out the cost of baby milk since the formula donated at their baby shower is what they have been using so far, but the tally has been eight two-ounce bottles every three hours times three babies. As for diapers, the babies use up a pack of 30 costing $115 in about two days, so reusable cloth diapers with the snaps would have to be her go-to soon, Vialva-Phillip said.
As to what she was looking forward to when the newborns get older, Vialva-Phillip said she could not wait for their yard to be filled with the sound of happy children playing.
“Pregnancy is a blessing and I empathise with anybody who has to go through infertility issues because it could have you in a state of depression which I struggled with for a while, so to come full circles is a wonderful thing and I want to tell anyone who is going through something that is challenging with getting pregnant that it can get better. Keep looking for answers,” she said.