Handful of teens Milap, Mansi Big bro Harsh with Hartika and Harshika, all four Ten by three gives Vyoma, Ushma and Brinda Over two, a trio still Sussanna, Sarah and Samantha
Multiple births pose multiple challenges. In a world short on time, triplets might spell vexation for many. A division of labour is definitely needed to bring them up. The rule of three their bawling together, feeding together and dirtying diapers together is enough to perplex the most calm mother of them all and if mom thinks she is going to get a fraction of time for herself, well, she must be mad.
In these times when young couples are postponing and in many cases putting off the decision to become parents altogether, what is the world like for parents of triplets? Do they feel thrice blessed?
As for triplets themselves, relatively little is known about those who come into this world in sets of three.
SSS not SOS
Catherine Jane Fernandes knows all about them. This schoolteacher at Mount Mary School in Goregaon, a western suburb in Mumbai, faced a tough test when she was told she was expecting three children at once.
I was very worried because my husband has a job which required extensive travelling. My mother and brother were a great moral support though, dissipating my apprehension and fear. And so, two-and-a-half years ago, three girls, Sussana, Sarah and Samantha filled the maternity ward with their lusty cries as they came into this world.
Now, grandmother Dorothy looks after the triplets as mom attends school. Dorothy says, Yes, it does get tough at times but I am very happy looking after them. They are identical triplets. Now, they can say their names but when they were younger, we used to tie an arm band on one, a thread on the others leg and no sign on the third so that we could differentiate who was who. Both mom and grandmom say that the three Ss are extremely close.
If I take one of them to the verandah, the other two will cry as they cannot bear to be apart even for a short while, says Jane. So, do triplets run in the Fernandes family clan? Any other threes on that family tree? No. Not even twins, laughs Jane.
They want to know all about them. The hard work is just one side of the coin when you have triplets.
The other side is joy and happiness. I conceived after eight years. You know what they say, jab bhagwan deta hai to chappar phaad ke deta hai says Jane.
One, two, Shah, Shah, Shah
Sachin Shah feel divinely blessed. A jeweller by profession, his triplets put sheen onto his life. Two girls Vedika and Veda and one boy Vedant came into Sachin and Mitali Shahs world one-and-a-half years ago.
When he first heard the news, Sachin Shah could not be faulted for wondering whether he had heard right. I was going to be the father of triplets. It was unbelievable. I was so happy, he says. That happiness rolled itself into a ball and bounced right into the Shahs living room at Byculla.
The three Vs have Mitali and Sachin looking after them the whole day, but we have domestic help. Besides, there are many hands as we live in a joint family, so bringing them up is not a bother at all. Proud papas words to other couples expecting triplets? Do not be apprehensive about what will happen. Keep your fingers crossed and everything will fall in place. Naughty Veda, Vedanta and Vedika are loving examples of his point.
Dial T for triplets
More than a decade on, Dina Shah still remembers her difficult pregnancy. At that time 15-year-old Milind and Milap, both boys, and Mansi a girl were curled up in the foetal position in mommys stomach. I recall being so uncomfortable right though those nine months. After five months I was advised complete bed rest. Imagine three bodies developing in your stomach. In the last month of pregnancy even taking a deep breath was extremely painful.
Dinas life was made easier by the huge support base she had after the triplets were born. My in-laws were very encouraging. My mom-in-law especially, and my own mother and my sisters everybody pitched in to help out. Without that kind of help it would be impossible. In fact koi chance nahi, says Dina emphatically. A large slice of praise is reserved for ma-in-law who is a very strong person mentally. She was like a rock during those difficult years.
At 15, it is the time for first crush-mush, school exams and the storm and stress of adolescence. Why only childhood? asks Dina. It is difficult to bring up triplets even after the baby years are over. For example, consider school admissions. Even getting one child admitted at a good Mumbai school is a nerve-wracking task. Think about how parents manage admission for three of them at once.
The purse is also stretched to the limit. With the rising inflation, it is tough providing for three people at once. Take the example of tuitions. The rates for tuitions are approximately Rs 15,000 per year, per student only for one subject. Multiply that by three and just imagine forking that out in a year just for one subject.
Apart from that, both Vipul and Dina have a trying time controlling the sibling quibbling, which takes place on a regular basis. At the same time, the triplets are extremely close, though I do not see the telepathy of twins between them.
They also have very different personalities. Milap is the naughtiest, but is reaping the rewards for being Mr Mischief. Whenever we go out of town, it is always Milap who accompanies us as nobody else is willing to take care of him, laughs Dina. She goes on, Though they quarrel so much, there is that indefinable close bond linking all three of them. When Milap is out of town, the triplet set is broken and Milind and Mansi realise that it takes two to tango but three to be truly happy.
Girls will be girls, Brinda, Vyoma and Ushma prove that. These 10-year-old triplets born to Alpana and businessman Himanshu Desai, look, their mom says, slightly similar, though one can differentiate between them.
Filling the house with girlish chatter, Vyoma is the most vocal of the three while the reticent Ushma believes silence is golden. Alpana says, It is difficult bringing up three children at once.
Thrice as nice
At four years of age, Harsh Rohira is quite the protective young man in the family. His mother Rishika laughs, Harsh is fiercely protective of his sisters Harshika and Harthika. He cannot bear to see them crying, she says. The Congratulations! You are going to be the mother of triplets took 10 to 15 days to sink in, she recalls. I was numb when I heard the news. Nobody in our family has had triplets before.
A difficult pregnancy, neared its end with a two-month stay in the hospital. It was a time when I needed to be home and with the family the most. A joint family set-up meant there was plenty of help for Rishika once the kids were born, but yes, it is tough at times with the three of them being such different personalities. If I buy two gifts they fight with me. They are very close and yet, even both the girls are different. While it is jeans for tomboy Harshika, Harthika is more traditional and conventional.
Parting words from this wife of businessman Tusli Rohira? Rishika laughs, All I can say is that if you are going to have triplets you need, well, will power and loads of patience.
When it comes to kids, parents often feel, two is one too many while three is in some cases, simply too much.
Mike Whitney, host of the AXN television show Who Dares Wins, is proud and happy to belong to that unique club, father to triplets.
This former Australian pace bowler says, It was simply mind-blowing to hear I was to be a father of triplets. Of course, I was a little apprehensive about how we would cope, but we had a huge family and many friends who supported us. That is absolutely crucial for triplets.
Whitneys children are eight now son Fergus, the oldest, daughter Madeleine, followed by another daughter Juliette. The triplets are currently at school, in separate classes. According to Whitney, There has been a deliberate attempt to help them retain their individuality. When I was growing up I had seen some twins and noticed that their parents dressed them in the same clothes. We did not do that and encouraged them to be unique.
Whitney who is divorced and resides at Sydney says, Though the triplets are different in personality, they have a certain telepathy, something special which is different from other siblings. I am very close to my older sister but the bond between these triplets is unique.
He acknowledges that it is difficult to cope with three kids initially, Everything is multiplied by three, Boom 1, Boom 2, Boom 3 but it is a great joy too,
For those who are expecting triplets, Whitneys words of advice are, Be prepared to be very busy and divide everything equally. Do not favour one child. Whitney gives his own example, I have one son, so everybody talks about how my son could play cricket for Australia, but if any one of my daughters wants to play too, I will not stop her. It would be great.
Handful of teens Milap, Mansi
Big bro Harsh with Hartika and Harshika, all fourThe girls babble in Konkani with a smattering of English. The terrible three as they are called are part of bringing up baby folklore. Naughty Sarah eggs on the other two to get up to mischief. Every morning the trio chorus, I love Jesus, in unison, as taught my grandma and the entire day is spent together at home. Says Jane, People are so excited overwhelmed actually when they learn I have triplets.
Ten by three gives Vyoma, Ushma and Brinda
Over two, a trio still Sussanna, Sarah and SamanthaThe biggest problem is finance. Even a small thing like a school picnic costs Rs 200 each. Multiply that by three and it is not a minor amount for one time. This may sound little but it is small things like these that add up. Even when buying clothes, one has to buy three sets at once. So, I think both husband and wife need to work because of the expense involved. The pinch is harder as one has to spend all at once. However, the sum total of happiness that her triplets give her, cancels this negative point. I am filled with joy, when I see how fond they are of each other, she says.