Mother's Day: Being a mother-to triplets
When Brittany Graba went in for a checkup last September, after feeling what she thought were contractions, the Verndale mother never thought she'd be delivering her triplet boys that day. Afterall, it was 121 days before their due date.
But after a quick check, she was immediately put on bed rest and later that night delivered three tiny boys weighing just over 1 pound a piece. It happened so quickly her husband Kody was unable to make it home from the oil fields in New Town, ND, to see them come. Brittany recalls taking it all in on her own, rather calmly. Just as she did at her eight-week checkup when the nurse gave her the news.
"Are you seeing what I'm seeing?" she recalls the nurse asking her.
"No?" Brittany responded, wondering what she was seeing.
"There are three of them!" she told the now 26-year-old mother, who took the news in stride.
"I didn't get too worked up," Graba said. "Twins run in the family."
Having a bunch of kids around was nothing new as she comes from a family of 11. Her parents are Kim and Wade Kern, also of Verndale. Brittany's mom is the one with a twin.
Now fast forward seven months and the boys that would be just over 3 months old are average weight for 3-month-olds, Graba said. Oddly enough, Archie who weighed the least at birth, 1 pound 1 ounce, is now the heaviest at 12 pounds 5 ounces. And Axel, who weighed the most, 1 pound 3 ounces, is now the lightest at 10 pounds 15 ounces. Cooper remains in the middle, right at 12 pounds.
Graba said her husband did a little research and believes that the boys are the earliest born triplets to survive. The other earliest appeared to be 117 days before their due date.
While Graba's husband is away for two weeks at a time working, she handles being at home with the kids quite well. She was working as a dental assistant at Wadena Family Dental but now gives full attention to these boys. Considering the attention one child requires, it would seem three babies would be a lot for one person. Graba said the months she spent with the babies in the neonatal intensive care unit helped her be prepared for the amount of mothering needed.
"It gave us more time to be prepared," she said. "We kinda take it one day at a time."
Graba recalls one of her doctors telling her that she doesn't need to be worried.
"She said if I needed to worry, she would tell me," Graba said. And so far, the worst of the issues has been prematurity of the retina, and hernias. The boys have had no brain or heart issues.
"We're not real worriers," Graba said. "Whatever happens, happens."
She was glad to have such great doctors through those early months. Now she can focus on parenting these growing boys from her own home.
"They sleep through the night," Graba said. And when they are awake, they are normal babies, crying when they need food, a change or help taking a nap. She goes through the same routine feeding one at a time, cleaning up after them one at a time and loving on them all constantly.
She takes advice from her mother to heart daily, especially during the bewitching hours of 6- 8 p.m. when the boys are winding closer to bedtime. She said she learned a lot from mom and knows how much she went through with all her siblings.
"She said it's fine to let them cry sometimes," Graba said. "You can't hold them all—so we listen to them cry while taking care of their needs."
Graba doesn't take motherhood lightly but she seems to be a natural at it.
"I dont think it's that hard," Graba said. "I know it changed our lives, but we just kind of fell into it."
The Grabas have been married since Oct. 2015 and while there seems to be some disagreement over if they will have more children, they agree that there's no rush right now. They are eager to watch these three boys continue to change their lives.