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Triplets bring thrice the joy

Stagecoach couple welcome 3 boys, juggle life with 5 kids younger than 4

Susan Cunningham

Every now and then, Mark and Bonnie Porter stand in disbelief in front of the crib holding their three baby boys.

The couple had triplets Dec. 7, a rare occurrence in the Yampa Valley. By all accounts, there is only one other set of triplets in the area.

“Pretty much everywhere we go, people say, ‘You’re the ones with the triplets,'” Mark said.

The boys — Henry, Kyle and Christopher — are fraternal triplets, which means they are as different as any brother or sister, except that they share the same birthday.

“When I look at three little babies — it’s amazing,” Mark said. “I have my own basketball team.”

“We think it’s wonderful,” Bonnie said about having the three boys. “We really do — we can’t think of anything better.”

The Porters always wanted a large family. They initially planned to have four children, but after their first two — Zack, 3, and Natalie, 18 months — they thought they would try for just one more.

They will never forget being at the doctor’s office when they learned they would have triplets. Bonnie was getting so big so fast that the doctor thought she could be pregnant with twins. An ultrasound showed two babies right away, but the story didn’t end there.

“Right as he’s finishing up, he goes, ‘Oh, wait,'” Mark said. Then the doctor told the couple that they were expecting triplets.

Their reaction was to feel “shocked at first, then disbelief, then we were thrilled,” Bonnie said. “We feel so incredibly blessed.”

A triplet birth was very different than a “singleton” birth, Bonnie said. For one thing, her stomach grew so big it reached her knees when she was sitting down, and she had to go on bed rest weeks before the birth.

There were weekly ultrasounds and a special diet — Bonnie had to eat almost 4,000 calories a day early on in the pregnancy so the triplets would have enough food before they were so big they crowded out her stomach and made it impossible for her to eat all they needed.

And, the boys moved a lot, seemingly keeping each other awake and riling each other up, Bonnie said.

“They were all pretty feisty,” she said.

Triplets are born earlier than a single baby, and the Porters’ boys came just about on time, at 32 weeks. All were very healthy, though they had to stay at the Denver hospital for more than a month because they were premature.

Since then, the Porters’ life seems to be a “study in threes,” Mark joked.

“Everything is in threes,” he said. For instance, when changing a diaper, he’ll get through one baby, then turn to the next, and the next.

One of the hardest parts is when all three are hungry or upset at the same time. There are little tricks, such as letting each baby get a taste of formula before fully feeding one, but really it comes to taking them “one by one,” Bonnie said.

The couple now thinks of their day as beginning at 8 p.m., the hardest part. That’s when one parent — three-quarters of the time it’s Bonnie — takes the night shift. One son must be fed every three hours, one every four hours and one every five hours, a schedule that only allows for a couple of 45-minute catnaps a night.

Both parents are up at 6:45 a.m., then their day is filled with getting Zack and Natalie up and fed, taking Zack to preschool, feeding and caring for the three boys, picking Zack up from school, having another round of feeding, having lunch and naps, feedings, dinner, bathing the two older children and getting them to bed, then starting the night shift again.

The Porters moved to the Yampa Valley on Valentine’s Day, 2001. At the time, Bonnie was pregnant with Zack. They had been living in a one bedroom house in San Francisco and decided they needed more space to start a family, and that they wanted their children to grow up in Colorado.

Mark has a home automation and home theatre business, and he started bringing his work down a notch just before the triplets were born.

Preparing for the triplets meant various changes, such as buying and wrapping all Christmas gifts by the summer’s end, buying a van so they would be able to drive their five young children, and buying three of everything else: three car seats, three bouncy chairs, three high chairs.

Although one parent has to be with the triplets every hour of every day, and there is not much sleep for anyone, the couple realizes that this is the “easy time.”

“Yes, we may be sleep deprived, but this is not hard,” Bonnie said.

It really will be more challenging, she said, when all three boys begin to crawl and walk and get creative.

But, Bonnie and Mark said, they are thrilled that all five children are close in age and will be able to grow up together.

The Porters said they are thankful to have families that have been more than happy to help and friends and neighbors who have shown support in various ways.

In the couple’s words, they are lucky and blessed to have three healthy babies.

“We just hit the jackpot,” Mark said. “It’s a great jackpot.”

But the couple is not planning for any more children.

“We’re so done,” Mark said. “This is a great number.”


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