The mother learned the good news when she went for her ultrasound at the beginning of the first trimester. She and her partner were stunned to find out they were expecting not one but three babies, as they were ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇɪᴠᴇᴅ naturally.
When Shawna MacDowell, 31, and her fiancé, Justin Thompson, decided to have a child, they were thrilled to get pregnant almost immediately. MacDowell’s daughter would “finally” be a big sister. Thompson, 35, would be a first-time dad. And it would be the couple’s first child together. So, they were all excited to jump into new roles.
But they weren’t ready for what happened next. At their first doctor’s visit, an ultrasound tech counted not one – or even two – but three separate ꜰᴇᴛᴜsᴇs. In what might be a bit of an understatement for most parents, “It was a lot to take in,” MacDowell said.
Navy Grey Thompson
Meanwhile, MacDowell and Thompson prepared the nursery and checked other to-do items off their list. That meant finding a stroller (and a vehicle) that could fit triplets. “We weren’t going to be able to fit all the kids in the car, so I got a minivan for my birthday this year,” she said.
They also chose baby names. MacDowell’s 7-year-old daughter, Scarlett, inspired the couple to “go with a color theme.” Knowing they were having three girls, they settled on Hazel Jean, Navy Grey, and Sage Ann. Both parents were thankful to work for companies that allowed them to take parental leave. MacDowell is a patient flow coordinator at Novant Health, and her fiancé works at Legion Brewery in Charlotte.
Hazel Jean Thompson
Multiple births (delivering twins, triplets, or more) are common with ꜰᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴛʏ ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛs. But the couple ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇɪᴠᴇᴅ naturally. Spontaneous triplets are rare, occurring in 1 in almost 7,000 pregnancies. Other data puts the chances even lower, with naturally occurring triplets occurring in 1 in 10,000 pregnancies.
They were excited about bringing three more children into the family. But it also meant they faced more ʀɪsᴋs. Around 32 weeks, MacDowell developed ᴘʀᴇᴇᴄʟᴀᴍᴘsɪᴀ, a known potential ᴄᴏᴍᴘʟɪᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴ with multiple ɢᴇsᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴs. Doctors couldn’t get her ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ ᴘʀᴇssᴜʀᴇ under control, so she delivered on October 11, 2022.
Sage Ann Thompson
Navy weighed in at 4 lbs. 8 oz., Hazel was 4 lbs. 2 oz., and Sage trailed just slightly behind at 4 lbs. Each little one appeared to be healthy, but they went to the N.I.C.U. Waddell previously stated that any baby born before 35 weeks will end up there.
While they were monitored for ᴄᴏᴍᴘʟɪᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴs, Mom was experiencing quite a few of her own. “I had a ᴘᴏsᴛᴘᴀʀᴛᴜᴍ ʜᴇᴍᴏʀʀʜᴀɢᴇ shortly after my C-sᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ, so they took me back into the ᴏᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪɴɢ ʀᴏᴏᴍ. And after several unsuccessful attempts to stop the ʙʟᴇᴇᴅɪɴɢ, doctors made the decision to do an ᴇᴍᴇʀɢᴇɴᴄʏ ʜʏsᴛᴇʀᴇᴄᴛᴏᴍʏ to save my life,” MacDowell said. After a night in the Intensive Care Unit at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, MacDowell was stable enough to meet her girls.
And they all got stronger as the weeks ticked by. Hazel went home on Oct. 30, Navy left a day later, and Sage completed the trio when she left the N.I.C.U on Nov. 12.
The Thompson triplets are thriving as they settle into life at home. “They’re doing great,” MacDowell said. “All three have gained weight. They can hold up their heads. And two have already learned how to roll themselves over. They’re incredibly alert, too. People are surprised to learn how old they are.”
Thompson is “adapting incredibly well” to being a dad, while Scarlett loves being a big sister. Now her daughters are healthy and enjoying cuddles and toys from their big sister, who is thrilled with her new role! “She reads to them and picks out their outfits,” MacDowell said.
And she’s already back to work, saying her manager, Katie Prater, “has been amazing and tries to accommodate me in any way she can.”