“I’d love to ?have another ?kid one day, just to see what it’s like to have just one baby.”
Even so, experts attribute the overall rise in multiples to older mothers delaying childbirth (your chances of conceiving more than one baby at once increases as you age), as well as the proliferation of assisted-reproductive technologies.
That was the case for Savage, a veterinarian at Brackett Street Veterinary Clinic in Portland, and her husband Nathan, an insurance underwriter as ASG Risk Management.
The couple used in vitro fertilization to get pregnant, and, as Savage explained, they were aware of the chance of conceiving multiples.
But, still, seeing three babies on the first ultrasound was a bit of a jolt.
“My husband did not go back to work that afternoon,” recalled Savage.
“You can’t really plan too, too much”
At birth, the girls – identical Reese and Maizie and fraternal Charlotte, or “Charlie” – were all around 4pounds each, and they remained in the hospital until they were 41?2 pounds and feeding on their own. Charlie came home at 14 days old, Reese at 15 days old, and Maizie at 21 days old.
Sleeping three cribs in one nursery, mom and dad have since stuck to a “regimented” schedule with naps and feedings, receiving help from a nanny, as well as friends, family and volunteers from their church.
“We have amazing support systems,” said Savage, 36, who is a member of a group called Greater Portland Mothers of Multiples.
Also, she boasted, due to good scheduling and planning on their part, she and her husband can get all three kids changed and fed in the morning – and also be dressed and showered themselves – in 45 minutes.
It all requires a symbiosis, working in a rhythm.
“He picks up where I leave off, and vice versa,” she said. “The whole process has been a lot easier than we thought it was going to be.”
Still, she said, you can’t deny that it’s an unpredictable life. When you find out you’re expecting multiples, “you can’t really plan too, too much,” she said.
Sentiments shared by Heather Holland of South Berwick, vice president of the group Seacoast Area Mothers of Multiples.
She has twin fraternal boys who just turned 2. When she and her husband first learned they were coming, “our whole life changed,” she explained in a phone interview over a cacophony of little voices.
Her advice? In the beginning, “enlist as much help as possible.”
Still, like Savage, she acknowledged that it “gets to be manageable faster than you realize.”
Savage, who works 35 hours a week, considers herself lucky, because her trio is “well-behaved, happy, fun, laid-back” and eats and sleeps well.
And at 15 months, their unique personalities are emerging.
Reese and Maizie (the identicals) are round-faced and almost hairless, and often, fittingly, stick together. Charlie (the fraternal), meanwhile, is a little bigger, has a mess of hair, and is decidedly more independent.
And the hardest part about being a mother of multiples?
The love has to be spread three ways, said Savage. “You’re not able to hold them all, all the time.”
A CLOSER LOOK
For more on Seacoast Area Mother of Multiples (including their semi-annual clothing and equipment sale on May 7) visit www.samomclub.org.
For details on the Greater Portland Mothers of Multiples Club, visit www.gpmomc.org.
They go through some 15 to 20 diapers a day.
Feeding them sometimes takes a dedicated rotation of volunteers.
Outings can require a logistical plan akin to a tactical military operation.
But such is the life of a family with toddler triplets.
“I’d love to have another kid one day, just to see what it’s like to have just one baby,” Nellie Savage of South Portland said of her 15-month-old girls Reese, Maizie and Charlotte.
She chuckled, “one baby is a vacation.”
A common refrain among mothers of multiples, who have been steadily increasing over the past several decades – and have, accordingly, experienced growing attention, praise and scrutiny through shows like “Jon and Kate Plus 8,” and the ongoing saga of “Octomom” Nadya Suleman.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the rate of triplets, quadruplets or higher-order births increased about 400 percent between 1980 and 1998, most notably among mothers between 25 and 40 years old. However, due to a general decrease in mothers age 25 to 40, the amount of multiples have dropped slightly in recent years (along with births overall) to about 147.6 per 100,000 births in 2008, according to the statistics center.
The Savage triplets at 15 months, Reese, Charlotte (aka Charlie), and Maizie, enjoy a snack of animal crackers a few minutes after waking up from their morning nap.Gibson, a 6-month-old black Labrador puppy, helps keep things neat around the girls by vigilantly watching for falling crackers.Nellie Savage with her 15-month-old triplets, Reese, Charlotte and Maizie.