Instant family? When babies happen in threes

tripletsCalifornia, Hollywood, MD - Momma used to say that things happen in threes, but we’re not sure this is what she had in mind.

Consider the modern American family. Heck, consider the typical Southern Maryland family.

In recent years we’ve gotten away from the huge families of our forebears (my father had 12 siblings in his family, for instance, 13 kids altogether), to where we have one or two kids and we’re good. Shoot, considering the cost of college tuition these days, who would want more than a couple of kids? Well, sometimes life doesn’t give you the choice.

Joy and Tory Shrum of California were only expecting a sibling for their young son, Izaak. What they got—although in mighty little packages—was three at once: triplets.

The couple weren’t expecting the unexpected. Joy hadn’t taken fertility drugs or anything of the sort. Regardless, pretty soon Izaak had Gabriel, Hope and Jeremiah to pal around with.

joy shrum“It was kind of surreal,” Joy admitted. “I delivered at 35 weeks. All were over 5 pounds.”

Because of the lack of facilities for high risk pregnancies in Southern Maryland, the couple was sent to a specialist in Annapolis.

“We made a lot of trips to Annapolis,” she said. “I remember snow and snow and snow.”

Finding out they were about to produce an instant family was a bit unnerving at first. “It was kind of a shock to find out that I was about to become a parent times three,” Joy noted.

The early birth proved beneficial as Hope had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, but all was well and at age 2, the triplets are thriving with brother Izaak.

“Only one more to potty train,” mom noted.

Joy has joined several groups like Mothers of Triplets Born in 2014 and traveled to Nashville at a conference where mothers of triplets from all over the United States gathered to swap notes. “To see all of those triplet mothers of all sizes and shapes was really something,” she said. “As if having triplets wasn’t surprise enough.”

Her three triplets are as different as night and day, she admitted.

Tory said the kicker for him was that his best friend in high school ended up having triplets as well. Just like he and his wife, that couple did not dabble in fertility drugs either.

Jill Robinson of Hollywood is the mother of teenage triplets, and said she did take fertility drugs. “We did have help,” Robinson explained. “We had one and were hoping for a sibling for him. Somebody said we hit the baby jackpot.”

A boy and two girls later, Robinson acknowledged that despite coming into the world at the same time, “They’re all pretty different.

robinson triplets“My son is into baseball,” she said. “He’s very athletic, likes to be on the move. One daughter is more artistic. She is left handed. The other is a little more outgoing, more social. Yet they all get along really well.”

Robinson noted that being a mother of triplets was more physically demanding when they were younger. “Chasing them around, helping them do things,” she said. “Now, it’s just more mental. Trying to help them deal with friendships and challenges of life, it becomes more of a mental thing.”

And then there is the odd man out scenario that sometimes develops.

“With kids going to different events, it’s hard to drive everyone to where they need to go,” Robinson stated. “I remember one time one had a swim meet in Waldorf, the girls had volleyball and the other son had baseball conditioning. Three destinations. Somebody had to miss something. My husband travels a bit, so sometimes we’re down a driver.”

The older son has been driving now six months, which has helped, she admitted. “I call it organized chaos,” she said.

She has the benefit of having watched them develop over time, to watch as they evolve and shift as life unfolds.

“I feel like it changes as they go through different phases of life,” Robinson added. “When they were younger, two of them seemed pretty close. Now I feel the girls are a little closer and can relate to each other better."

Ben, high school senior and big brother, gets along well with Matthew, Megan and Anna. She said being parents of triplets comes with its own unique challenges, especially when one considers cell phones, laptops and pending college tuitions.

“They were born at 26 weeks,” she added. “I was always very thankful. They could all have some physical problem. For being born that early, they were born at the right time to have all that medical help.”

There was another mother of triplets who lives in Lusby we approached about contributing to this article. She’s a nurse with newly born triplets. We weren’t too disappointed that she didn’t get back to us. After all, we understand. If the other two mothers we talked to are any indication, she has her hands full.

Contact Joseph Norris at

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