In 2016, a special bond was formed between expectant mothers Jessica Kennedy, Kristen McCloy and Jeri Wright. The women, patients of Dr. Michael Paul, Missouri Baptist Medical Center maternal-fetal medicine specialist, were each expecting triplets.
As first-time mothers of multiples, they created a unique support system as cheerleaders for each other, encouraging one another through the weeks leading up to their due dates.
Born only weeks apart, all nine infants spent time in MoBap's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) before going home.
Dr. Paul recalled the tremendous support that Jessica, Kristen and Jeri provided to each other before delivery, and he believes it really helped them cross the finish line and contributed to the health of their babies.
Since the triplets' birth in 2016, MoBap's maternal-fetal medicine program has seen a growth of its own in the number of high-risk expectant mothers treated.
"This expansion gives us the opportunity to help more women in our community who are dealing with high-risk issues by bringing them specialized medical care to support a healthy pregnancy and birth," said Dr. David Weinstein chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Missouri Baptist. "We are with moms through every step of their journey from prenatal care through delivery and postpartum."
The Kennedy, McCloy and Wright triplets are now two and have returned for their annual "team" photo and to share what they have experienced in the past year.
Growing by Leaps and Bounds
The photography studio is filled with high-pitched shrieks, laughter and even a little crying as the triplets walk and run around in their St. Louis Cardinals outfits. It's obvious that the nine toddlers have become much more vocal – and active – over the past year.
"They get into anything and everything," Kristen said. "Besides reading books and playing with building blocks, Emalyn, Lucas and Colton are into climbing, jumping and exploring."
"Oliver, Finn and Beckett are definitely more mobile," Jeri agreed. "It's a challenge to get them all ready for the day."
Jessica laughed, "I have the same issue with Reed, Knox and Finn. Since they've turned two, every day is a new adventure."
Looking at the nine rambunctious children, Dr. Paul smiled. "It's wonderful to see they're healthy, growing and passing milestones. They are little miracles."
All three moms share that their children have reached developmental milestones on schedule, or very close to schedule, and have continued the support system they first formed while pregnant.
From energetic extroverts to calmer introverts, each child's unique personality is emerging.
"Just when we think we have their personalities figured out, Reed, Knox and Finn will switch roles from leader to troublemaker to cuddler," Jessica said.
Although juggling three toddlers with distinct personalities can be difficult, Jeri sees the love between her children. "It's heartwarming to see the bond that's already formed."
Expert Advice for Parents
No matter if a family is bringing home one baby or multiples, first-time and experienced parents alike can have feelings of exhaustion.
"It's easy to get overwhelmed," Jeri said. "I learned that you have to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your family."
"Never turn down help when it's offered," Kristen added.
Knowing that parenthood has good days as well as challenging days, Jessica added, "I find it helpful to take one day at a time."
Even though it's been harder to see each other in person, Kristen, Jeri and Jessica maintain their strong bond and keep in touch through social media and text messaging.
"I am thankful for every day," Jessica said. "I credit Dr. Paul and the MoBap team for keeping us healthy during pregnancy and for the great care the babies received in the NICU after their birth."
The MoBap Team Expansion
The growth of MoBap's maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) program now includes a new MFM provider joining BJC Medical Group.
"It's exciting to be part of the program's growth and to be a trusted partner for families in our region," said Dr. Paul. "With the expansion of our program, we've recently welcomed MFM physician Dr. Amanda Trudell to the BJC Medical Group."
Looking forward to providing expectant mothers with the care they need, Dr. Trudell said, "I am passionate about contributing to the work to improve maternal health. By bringing services and care directly to women within their communities, we can continue to provide the best outcomes for women and babies. I'm excited to be a part of the MoBap team and the future of the MFM program."