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Triplets make family twice as rich this Mother's Day

May 12, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Terri Null had an ultrasound 12 weeks into her fourth pregnancy last fall.

The sonographer, whom she'd known for years, dropped the scanner.

"There's three of them," she told Terri Null.

Null said her head was spinning during the rest of the visit.

The news was not something she wanted to tell her husband over the phone. She drove to his office.

Ryan Null said he could "see it on her face."

"It's twins, isn't it?" he asked.

"Oh," replied Terri Null. "It gets better than that."

She showed him the ultrasound pictures of the triplets they were expecting.

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"I staggered around for three or four days," Ryan Null said. But he came to peace with it.

The Nulls have three daughters: Erica, 10, a fifth-grader at Grace Academy; Madison, 5, and Macie, 3, both in the preschool program at Boonsboro High School.

On April 3, their family changed. Triplets, three sons - Logan, Jayden and Colton Null - arrived at Washington County Hospital. So Terri Null has twice as much to be thankful for today, Mother's Day.

Making room


"It's been interesting so far," said Terri Null less than a month later in her comfortable basement family room.

Terri Null, 40, grew up the middle child of five children. Ryan Null, 37, has one brother.

Terri Null said she thought her 14-year marriage and the couple's three girls made their family a good size.

But there were other ideas.

"I actually prayed and asked for my boy," Ryan Null admitted.

Madison had once told her mother "We really need three boys. One for each of us."

Be careful what you wish for.

The Nulls had joked about the possibility of having twins. Terri Null has three first cousins with twins. The chance of giving birth to multiples increases with age, says Dr. Jay Greenberg, Terri Null's obstetrician/gynecologist.

More multiple births are happening in the United States. "Between 1980 and 1997, the number of twin births increased by 52 percent and the number of births involving three or more babies has quadrupled," according to www.kidshealth.org, the KidsHealth Web site of The Nemours Center for Children's Health Media.

After getting the news that he soon would have twice the number of children, Ryan Null took a month "to play." He went hunting and started planning the five-bedroom-one-bathroom addition to their house.

Although the babies came before it was completed, he had it "under roof."

The boys were due to arrive Monday, May 26. The Caesarean section by which they would be delivered was scheduled for April 21.

But the boys had other plans.

The delivery


At 6 a.m. Thursday, April 3, Terri Null woke with contractions. She knew she was in labor.

Greenberg was in his office on Eastern Boulevard when he got the call from a nurse in labor and delivery.

"You'd better get over here," she told him. "There's a foot hanging out."

"If you don't think my coronaries were constricting," Greenberg said of his drive to the hospital.

There was no time to hook up to monitors, Terri Null said. The babies were coming.

She said a prayer. The nurses assured her they'd be OK.

Greenberg arrived. He had to push Logan's foot back so he could perform the emergency C-section.

He never had worked in such a crowded operating room. The Null boys were premature - born at 32 1/2 weeks rather than the full-term 40. Three doctors were called from their Antietam Pediatric and Adolescent Care office, and there was a nurse for each baby. Altogether there were nine or 10 people in the room.

Within 15 minutes, there were three more.

"My first triplets," Greenberg said. He had been excited about the prospect of delivering the three babies, but he had hoped to do it totally electively.

Jody Bishop, clinical manager in at Washington County Hospital's labor and delivery department, recalled a set of triplets being born in the early 1980s, but since 1997, the Nulls are the only triplets to be born at the hospital.

The babies were taken to the neonatal unit at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Colton, at 4.3 pounds and Jayden, at 4.2, had their first ambulance ride. Logan, who weighed in at 3.9 pounds, flew to Baltimore.

Terri Null, who had gained 58 pounds during her abbreviated pregnancy, dropped 41 pounds the week after the babies were born.

After a couple of weeks in Baltimore, the babies returned to Washington County Hospital. Jayden and Colton spent just a couple of days there; Logan, the smallest, stayed until April 28.

They're all home


Terri Null is feeding her sons breast milk and high-calorie preemie formula - 2 1/2 ounces per feeding, every three hours. "We try to feed them at the same time," she said. Otherwise, feeding is all they'd do. At night, she and her husband each hold and feed a baby, with one in an infant seat between them in the bed.

Logan, Jayden and Colton go through 23 to 25 diapers a day - every single day.

Having twice as many children as they had a few months ago is a huge change for the Nulls.

They have five car seats. They needed another seat for their already large car, a sports utility vehicle.

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