Niles area Parents of Triplets group convenes for holiday party

Published 11:50 pm Monday, December 15, 2003

NILES -- Visions of sugarplums are beginning to dance in the tiny minds of children all over town these days, but on Saturday those visions were in triplicate for each of the families who were celebrating the upcoming holiday in Niles at the St. John Church.
Judie Mengel, founder of the local Parents of Triplets group, said much of what she does is in triplicate, thanks to the fact that three of her four children are just that--triplets.
Celebrating in a relaxed, small gathering of friends who have met through the years, Mengel smiled as she recalled more than six years ago when she sent letters to area families that shared the same triple blessing that her and husband Victor were becoming very familiar with.
That's why she pursued other Michiana families who were in the same boat, so to speak.
They have found they rely on each other, indeed, benefiting from the experiences that other members share during their monthly meetings.
The Mengels were fortunate to have a fairly normal pregnancy and delivery with their triplets, three adorable girls who all weighed in close to, or more than, five pounds on the day of their birth more than seven years ago. Mengel acknowledged some families who are not as fortunate as they were to take triplets directly home from the hospital shortly after birth.
Such was the case for more than one family in attendance at the holiday gathering on Saturday. Families related how they were on complete bed rest, even hospitalized for months, prior to giving birth to their triplets. Many had to leave the hospital after their babies' births empty handed, and waiting as much as three months to bring them all home. Thankfully, as medical technology has improved over the years, health problems for these families have been minimal.
All triplets in attendance at the party were celebrating the Christmas holiday, but one special set of triplets will also be celebrating their birthday during the season. Born on Christmas eve, the Burge triplets, Jake, Grace and Emily, will celebrate turning four just a few days before the holidays get into full swing.
Meribeth and Brian Burge, parents of the triplets, and a five-year-old son, Sam, credit a lot of their ability to cope with multiple newborns has been due to the help they received from Meribeth's parents, Larry and Betty Reichanadter. Grandpa Larry said it's definitely been a lot of work, but seems to be getting easier as the children get older.
Apparently, that's not a joke. Other parents chimed in on the diaper conversation, adding the expenses for formula, diapers and wipes to be at least $500 each month.
Add that figure to the fact that the mom carrying the babies normally cannot work during most of the pregnancy and even that first year, the cost of triplets coming into a family can be staggering. The benefits far outweigh the costs, the families agreed.
As families shared their stories, one thing was certain; when multiple births occur in any family, certain things have to be set aside, and other priorities surface.
Schedules, routines, dressing the children the same so there's no fighting about clothes when they get to that age, and having supportive family and friends seem to be the key to the success of this group.
Her and husband Ron are a team effort in the home her mother jokingly referred to as the "house of gates," a time when they owned a gate for nearly every doorway in their home, and their living room was only a couch, a television set and toys for three.
Mother of two-and-one-half-year-old boys, Kara Driscoll said they won't even be putting up a Christmas tree this year, due to the fact that it probably wouldn't stay standing. Active little boys, with impish grins, sneak away from Driscoll's side to find mischief, but they are seldom out of someone's view.
If you are interested in knowing more about this local support group, Mengel encourages calls from parents of triplets, at (574) 234-9973.