In these days of in vitro fertilization, there seem to be more and more multiple births. When I walk through the park, I see not just lots of double strollers, but triple ones as well.
So this is a story about what it's like to spend 24 hours a day with triplets born to loving parents, who just happen to be gay.
Raising a family is a difficult job for many loving couples. But it's even more difficult when it's a couple with triplets, now a little over a year old.
Donor and Surrogate Mothers, In Vitro Fertilization
In the summer of 1999, Jon Langbert, 36, and his partner, James Garcia, 27, decided they wanted to become fathers.
"I've always wanted to have kids, and we started hearing about other families like the one we would have," said Langbert. "It was something we both wanted."
So they hired a company to do two things: find a surrogate mother who would carry the baby, and find a donor mother who would provide an egg.
"I made a list of people that were attractive and that were smart," said Garcia. "Health was a big issue," he added.
While they don't know who the donor mother is, they do know that the surrogate mother is a woman named Patricia.
Last summer, sperm from Langbert and Garcia was mixed in vitro and used to fertilize the donor eggs. Then Patricia began carrying four fertilized eggs — more than was needed, but often not all of the eggs will take.
In Patricia's case, three of the eggs were fertilized. Langbert and Garcia were about to become fathers of triplets.
Sometimes with multiple births, a decision is made to reduce the number of fetuses for the health of the mother and the children.
"We had long conversations with Patricia and her family," said Garcia, "and came to the conclusion that we would go ahead and go through with all three."
Two Girls and A Boy, Eight Weeks Premature
On Christmas Day in 2001, the fraternal triplets, two girls and a boy, were born eight weeks premature.
"They were attached to machinery, and it was pretty difficult," recalled Garcia. "They were struggling and to see them struggle like that is just pretty hard."
Adding to the difficulty of watching their children — each weighing just over 3 pounds — clinging to life in incubators for weeks, Langbert said, was the way the gay fathers were treated.
"When they moved the kids into the neonatal care unit, they moved all three of ours together into the back corner, so that people wouldn't be walking by and seeing us holding the kids and sitting with the kids," he said.
After four weeks in the hospital, the triplets were finally healthy, and the two proud dads brought their babies home to New York City.
They named the girls Tosca, after the opera, and Chaucer, after the medieval poet. The little boy was named Carter, because it sounded distinguished.
A Typical Day
They began to set up a daily routine to raise their kids.
A typical day begins somewhere between 4:30 a.m. and 6 a.m., when one of the baby monitors goes off, signaling that one of the kids is up.
As soon as the first baby stirs, they try to take her out into the living room before she cries too loudly and wakes up her siblings.
Then, said Langbert, "[I] whip up her bottle, feed her breakfast, change her, and hopefully get her to go back to sleep before one of the other kids wakes up."
They go through the same routine all over again when the second baby wakes up. And by 7 a.m., as the sun comes up, both dads are awake, busy taking care of all three kids.