A half-eaten piece of toast and a cup of cold coffee sit on the end table.
Three high chairs are lined up against the living room wall, flanked by three brightly decorated exersaucers, and a colourful plastic fenced play yard that covers the lion’s share of the living room. A basket filled with clean laundry sits on the couch.
And in the middle of it all are three identical infants, with mirror-image blue eyes and silky brown hair. They babble to each other happily, while finding toys to jam in their mouths.
This is what life looks like at the Meeuwsen household as Mahalia and Mike’s rare, naturally conceived, identical triplets will celebrate their first birthday Thursday, Nov. 3.
The girls, who spent six weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops immediately after birth, are healthy and growing – each one now weighs over 20 pounds.
“The girls are amazing,” says Mahalia of Hannah, Rileigh and Isabelle. “From the way they are moving around it won’t be long before they are walking. That will change life again.”
While the girls are identical, they conveniently each have a birthmark in a different place to confirm their identities.
“I can tell them apart, I haven’t mixed them up yet,” says Mahalia, who admits her husband has a more difficult time with that.
“He’ll pick up one and says ‘Hi Izzy’ and I’ll say, ‘No, that’s Rileigh.’ So we will double check.”
They also have personality differences. Isabelle is known as “busy Izzy” and is the go-getter of the three, who was the first to roll over, although all three girls learned that skill on the same day, Izzy in the morning and Hannah and Rileigh in the afternoon. Hannah is the quieter, thinker of the set, while Rileigh is the attention-getter, always waving her arms and smiling to attract whoever is close by.
Image Credit: Evan Buhler
The triplets as three little pigs for their first Halloween.
As any parent can attest, life with an infant can be exhausting. It’s hard to even come up with a word that could describe how tiring life with three babies can be.
“Everything has to be scheduled – feeding, bathing, changing, cooking, sleeping. I think that’s been the hardest part. You start to feel like that movie Groundhog Day, every day’s the same. You try to get out of the house, but it is very difficult,” says Mahalia, who recently decided to get out of the house and walk down Okanagan Avenue to go pick up her van.
Because of the steep downhill and the weight of three babes in the 40-pound stroller, Mahalia, a diminutive woman who could not weigh much more than the load, wrapped a rope around her waist and attached it to the stroller for safety’s sake.
“I went down, but only because I knew I’d be driving back up,” she laughed.
“But I also learned I won’t do that again.”
By now Mahalia is used to being the centre of attention. A recent trip to Costco in Kelowna took three hours, because of all the attention.
“It’s like the circus has come to town and we are the show… People just whip out their phones and take their pictures and everyone wants to stop and see the girls.”
Mahlia says the first year has been a bit surreal.
“I look back to where we were and whoa, has life completely changed. It’s been crazy, but I see at them and go, ‘wow, look at those perfectly healthy, happy girls.’ It’s amazing, really.”
The likelihood of conceiving triplets without the use of fertility drugs in one is 50 million.