As mothers of three-year-old triplets, Jessica Kennedy, Kristen McCloy and Jeri Wright embrace each day as a new adventure, even in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
All nine babies were born a few weeks apart at Missouri Baptist Medical Center in 2016. The women, patients of Dr. Michael Paul, MoBap maternal-fetal medicine specialist, were in the hospital on bed rest and formed a close bond that continues to this day. During their annual "team" photoshoot in February, they share how life has changed.
Looking back at the past year, Kristen, Jessica and Jeri can't believe the nine toddlers are now running laps, talking more and becoming independent.
Jessica says one of the biggest changes is the developing friendships between Reed, Knox and Finn. "They talk and interact more with each other and with their older siblings," she described. "They are into puzzles, and it's fun to see them use teamwork to fit the pieces together."
As she watches Emalyn, Lucas and Colton play, Kristen sees them asserting their independence, while Ema still rules the roost and likes to be in charge. "Ema loves to sing and dance, whereas Lucas and Colton enjoy wrestling and playing with trains. Even though Ema's dance studio moved to online classes, Ema finished her dance class virtually and had a recital."
Jeri added that Oliver, Beckett and Finn have vivid imaginations and fill afternoons with make-believe. "They line up the kitchen chairs to go on bus rides and dress up as policemen, firefighters, or superheroes and pretend to save the world," she described. "They also love to ride their bikes around the yard and make stops to fix their 'cars' and deliver packages to imaginary friends."
Life During COVID-19
Before the pandemic, Jessica and her husband, spent time running kids to sporting events, practices, camps, and classes. "With the shutdowns, our family has enjoyed more time together, and we've spent hours playing in the backyard," Jessica said. "Even though the break from our usually hectic life has been nice, the kids are starting to miss their friends and summer activities."
While the Wright toddlers haven't ventured out much, Jeri says that when they do, they take precautions like masks. "The boys and their sister, Betty, use hand sanitizer regularly. We call it 'bubbles' and we 'fly like birds' to let the bubbles dry on our hands," she described. "When we walk into stores, they pretend to be little fishes. They hold their hands together like fins and swim through the aisles, so they remember not to touch items on shelves."
Kristen agreed, "It's been challenging to explain to my three why the world is 'sick,' and they can't go shopping or go to playgroups. They've adapted, and we've been having a lot of fun playing pretend games like 'bear hunts' and spending time in their tree fort."
Preparing for School
All the toddlers were preparing to start or return to preschool this fall. "With our school district going to virtual learning, they will have to wait," said Jessica.
"We are in a similar situation," said Jeri. "Oliver, Beckett and Finn are looking forward to going back to their Montessori school two days a week, but that may change based on the school's policy."
Besides preparing for the eventual start of preschool, the McCloy's enjoyed a trip to Alabama. "It was the first time the kids saw the ocean," Kristen said. "While on vacation, we took precautions like social distancing and wearing masks."
Keeping in Touch
One of the biggest impacts the pandemic has had on the Kennedy family is the new normal for visiting the kids' 95-year-old great grandmother who lives in an assisted living facility that is closed to visitors. "We've been able to enter the outdoor courtyard at her facility while she sits on her balcony and watches the kids run around and play," Jessica described. "While it's been nice to see her, we miss hugging her."
Jeri added. "Keeping in touch through social media and having virtual phone calls have helped."
Recalling the photoshoot, Jessica says it seems that just yesterday that the boys were two.
Kristen added, "This year has thrown us some challenges, but I take advantage of all the snuggles I can get and hold onto these small moments."
Jeri agreed, "In spite of all the unexpected changes the pandemic has brought, I feel incredibly blessed and thankful."
More than three years later, the moms still feel the impact that Missouri Baptist has had on their journeys as parents with multiples. "MoBap continues to be a great resource and will always hold a special place in my heart," Jeri said.