It was a happy surprise the day Cassie and Thomas Parker found out they would be having another child, a surprise that soon doubled and then tripled in size.
Cassie went to a doctor appointment to discuss changing her birth control medication, only to find out that she was already pregnant!
The Parkers soon found out at an ultrasound appointment that they would have twins. As if two surprises weren’t enough, they received a third surprise at their next ultrasound appointment: their family was going to grow by three.
“To have triplets was definitely a shocker,” Thomas said.
The Parkers have three children who were born prior to the triplets; Odell, 9; Wyatt, 6; and Augustus, 4.
Reflecting back on the reactions to her pregnancy, Cassie told of her four-year-old crying, the reason being that he wanted two babies, but not the third one. Fast forward a few months, and Augustus loves his little brothers and likes to give them their pacifiers when they are fussy.
The Parkers see Chad Hill, M.D., who is an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Siloam Springs Women’s Center. Dr. Hill knew that it was likely they would need the support of a local neonatal intensive care unit, so he recommended the couple deliver their triplets at Willow Creek Women’s Hospital in Johnson.
“The Willow Creek Neonatal Intensive Care Unit has been our practice’s go-to NICU since they first opened, due to the fact that they offer the highest level of acuity in our region and also always treat both our patients and providers with a great deal of compassion and courtesy,” Dr. Hill says.
“Many triplet deliveries are performed early either by being induced or via caesarian section, as in this particular case, because it would be riskier to take the birth to term than to deliver early,” explained Jessica Janes, RN, supervisor of the hospital’s NICU.
Natalie Eiland, D.O., obstetrician and gynecologist at the Siloam Springs Women’s Center, performed a caesarian section, delivering the triplets on May 19, almost two months prior to Cassie’s due date.
The triplets, born premature, stayed in Willow Creek’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for about three weeks. Instead of going home themselves, the Parkers decided to stay in Willow Creek’s courtesy room while the triplets were in the NICU.
It was the first time they had used a NICU, as they had been in and out of the other three fairly quickly.
Hospital staff encourages parents to stay in the hospital while their babies are in the NICU, according to Tina Babb, MSN, RN, NICU director at Willow Creek and Northwest Medical Center – Bentonville. This in turn encourages the parents to participate in the care of their children, while also helping the newborns bond with their parents.
The staff was nice, helpful and there for any questions the couple had. “I liked Willow Creek,” Cassie said, “They were awesome.”
Willow Creek’s lactation consultant helped Cassie with any breastfeeding questions or difficulties. The consultant showed her how to feed two of the infants at one time and then rotate them. The staff was also very informative and kept them up to date about the triplets’ care.
“They took great care of the babies,” Thomas said. “We didn’t have to worry.”
Hospital staff also encouraged kangaroo care. This involves placing the infant directly on the mother’s bare chest. In Cassie’s situation, she held all three boys at the same time.
These education practices helped Willow Creek become the first in the state to earn the designation of a “Baby-Friendly” hospital. Baby-Friendly is an international designation from the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer a high level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.
Deliveries of triplets are rare at Willow Creek. About two sets of triplets are born at the hospital each year. It is especially rare that the Parkers’ triplets were natural, since many triplets are the result of fertility treatments.
Cassie, Thomas and their six children are now healthy and happy at home. The Parkers named the triplets Ty Warren, Connor James and Duke Allen.
The three older boys help with their baby brothers by holding them, feeding them and giving them their pacifiers. The oldest child, Odell, even said that he is “so glad the babies are home.” He helped a bit when Augustus was born, but he is helping even more now. He can even tell the triplets apart from the backs of their heads.
“He’s like a mini adult,” Cassie says.
Odell thinks the triplets are cool. Though, he mentions, it’s not very different from when his other brothers came home after being born.
“There’s a lot more crying,” he says.
Overall though, Cassie says the experience has been great.
“They’re pretty good babies,” she says. “They’re content.”
For more information about obstetrics and maternity care at Willow Creek Women’s Hospital, call 479-684-3000 or visit northwesthealth.com. Expectant mothers may schedule a tour by calling 479-684-3054.
Photos by: Laura Febbo