Identical Triplets Born at Methodist Women's Hospital, 3 Years Later: 'A Blessing That They Have Each Other'
Published: June 29, 2020
Pregnant with identical triplets, Lindsey Teten considered every week that passed in the spring of 2017 a reason for celebration.
Every week meant her three baby girls were a little bit bigger and stronger. Every ultrasound and doctor’s appointment brought the triplets one step closer to being born healthy despite a high-risk pregnancy.
Now, 31 weeks pregnant and “pretty darn swollen and uncomfortable,” Lindsey had been admitted to Methodist Women’s Hospital. Maternal-fetal medicine specialist Brendan Connealy, MD, told her and her husband, Derek, that she wouldn’t be going home until the babies arrived.
After seven nerve-racking months that included a gallbladder surgery and concerns about one of the baby’s growth, the Tetens were ready to meet their little girls. But the scariest moment of the pregnancy was yet to come.
A terrifying moment
Two days after arriving at the hospital, Lindsey had an ultrasound – but the technician found only two heartbeats.
“You know the look that something’s not right,” Lindsey said. “When they couldn’t find one of the heartbeats for one of the babies, that was pretty terrifying to think, ‘We’re here. We’re so close. I’ve been trying my best to keep them in.’”
Moments later, a doctor tried again and found the heartbeat. The Tetens breathed a sigh of relief.
“All these thoughts are running through your head,” Lindsey said. “But they were OK. She was just hiding.”
When the Tetens, who live near Nebraska City, decided they wanted children in 2016, they had no idea the wild ride that awaited them.
Lindsey recounted the story: “We were ready to have our first kid, and we started trying. After six or nine months, we started to get a little nervous. It was like, “Uh, is this ever going to happen?’ We found out in early December that we were pregnant. And you know, we were super excited. I just expected a normal pregnancy.”
Then came the first ultrasound at around eight weeks. The technician found one baby, then another. She asked Lindsey to empty her bladder before continuing the scan. When she returned, the surprise grew even bigger.
“She said, ‘You’re pregnant with three babies, and I think they’re identical,’” Lindsey said. “Neither of us knew what that meant, and all I kept thinking was, ‘I need to see my doctor.’ And, ‘How did this happen?’”
Lindsey and Derek were thrilled but shocked, and rightfully so. The odds of such a pregnancy – identical triplets conceived naturally – are about one in a million.
“I was OK when she said it was two babies,” Derek said with a laugh. “I thought, ‘I kinda wanted kids. So two would be OK, I guess. We’ll deal with that.’ And then when there were three, I was kind of like, ‘Gah. What?’ And I knew they were going to be girls immediately. I’m like, ‘I’m doomed. They’re girls.’”
Confidence with each milestone
The Tetens’ local doctor referred them to Methodist Women’s Hospital and its maternal-fetal medicine team, which was better equipped to handle high-risk pregnancies. They met with Dr. Connealy, who immediately put them at ease and helped them develop a plan of attack.
“He would say, ‘We want to get you to 28 weeks. That’s our big goal,’” Lindsey said. “But he was really good about keeping those short milestones. ‘Let’s get to 12 weeks. Let’s worry about getting you there. Then let’s get to 16 weeks. Let’s get to 20 weeks. Let’s get to 24 weeks.’ He was helpful in keeping us focused on where we needed to be.”
She added: “He reassured us in those scary times and celebrated those small victories with us. And that was very powerful.”
Lindsey had to have her gallbladder removed at 16 weeks, another “pretty scary” moment, but otherwise things were smooth until about 24 weeks.
“My body did what it was supposed to do: growing these babies,” she said. “Every week felt like such a big milestone. Every extra week we kept them in there, it was like, ‘OK, we got another week.’ They’re a little bit bigger. They’re a little bit stronger.”
Lindsey began experiencing preterm labor issues around 27 weeks. Her blood pressure became a concern around 30 weeks. The end of her pregnancy – and the beginning of parenthood – was near. The day after Father’s Day, the Tetens headed to the Women’s Hospital campus for the last time as a pregnant couple. They talked with the NICU staff about the babies’ possible challenges with breathing and feeding. But with the end in sight, Lindsey and Derek had a sense of calm.
“After getting to that point in the pregnancy and thinking so long and hard about these babies being on breathing machines, or, gosh, they’re going to come out at 24 weeks, 26 weeks, 28 weeks – just making it this far, they’re going to be OK,” Lindsey said. “We felt so confident with the NICU and the docs. I was scared like anybody else, but I had so much confidence in them in delivering those babies and keeping me stable, and getting those babies stable.”
“They just made us feel so comfortable”
On Friday, June 23, Dr. Connealy and maternal-fetal specialist Todd Lovgren, MD, delivered the girls by cesarean section. First came Juliet at 4 pounds and 16 ½ inches. Next was Marian at 3 pounds, 15 ounces and 16 ¼ inches. Adeline rounded out the trio at 3 pounds, 4 ounces and 16 ¼ inches.
The girls were quickly taken away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), but not before Lindsey was able to kiss one of them on the forehead.
“I was surprised at how big they were,” Derek said. “I was expecting them to be really small. And they were 1-2-3 whisked out of there and taken upstairs. And everything was good. There weren’t any real complications.”
The girls spent three weeks in the NICU, learning to eat, gaining weight and growing strong enough to travel in car seats. The Tetens appreciated how reassuring David Minderman, MD, and Khalid Awad, MD, were as the girls grew stronger. The hospital nursing staff, whether in the maternal-fetal medicine office, maternity floor or NICU, also hold a special place in the couple’s hearts.
“They just made us feel so comfortable,” Lindsey said of the NICU staff. “We lived an hour away, and it was terrifying to go home at night and leave those kids. It took everything I had to not stay there and do one more feeding or one more this or that. Knowing that they were there and that the girls were safe there, it was super reassuring.”
Four weeks after their birth, the girls were all home, and the family was ready for the challenges and special moments that awaited them.
Taking on challenges together
The girls turned 3 last week – just days after the Methodist Women’s Hospital 10th anniversary – and they’re doing all the things 3-year-olds do.
With their “you do it, I do it” mentality, they mastered potty training last fall. Transitioning to toddler beds hasn’t been quite as smooth – “That’s an adventure,” Lindsey said.
In some ways, she said, not much has changed since the girls’ earliest days.
“It’s funny. We look back on when they were born, and even that first month in the NICU, Juliet was the sweet one. She always gave off a very sweet demeanor. And that’s still here. She’s definitely the peacemaker of the crew. She sits back and watches the other two get into things and get into trouble.
“Adeline, even inside of me, she was the one who gave us a couple little scares. She was our smallest, and we always kind of rallied behind her a little more. She’s just a wild little girl. No fear. Super adventurous. Willing to do whatever her sisters tell her to do.”
“And Marian is kind of boss baby, definitely the most stubborn of the three.”
They’ll take those big personalities to preschool in the fall. In that and every journey that follows, Lindsey and Derek hope the girls stay close, like they have been from the beginning.
“I hope they stick together. Have each other’s backs. Value their friendship. Value the fact that they have each other,” Lindsey said. “It’s such a blessing that they have each other, and I hope they’re able to keep that.”