The Colgate Scene
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Three at once
|by John D. Hubbard|
Leslie Kirby with, from left, Chandler, Lindsay and Jake
Chandler was born first, then Lindsay and, less than three minutes after it all
began, Jake arrived. Leslie Taylor Kirby '84 and her husband Bill became the
parents of triplets January 20, 1998 and daughter Cameron, four-and-a-half, was
suddenly a big sister with quite a story to tell.
The Kirbys discovered they would have triplets when Leslie was eight weeks pregnant. At first it was thought there were two fetuses during an ultrasound exam. "No, no," said the doctor, "there's a third."
"I was shocked," says Leslie. "Bill handled it better than I did. His response was, `Okay, we'll buy a Suburban and build on to the house.'"
Today, the huge vehicle is surrounded by pickup trucks and the babies have settled into a routine undisturbed by the sound of hammers swung by workers creating an addition.
"The first four months were really crazy," says Kirby, who looks terrific and seems calm. "Then Jake and Chandler started sleeping through the night. That was pivotal."
Even with the help of a baby nurse and the efforts of family and friends, the Kirbys were zonked -- Leslie says the words "sleep-deprived" in a way that makes a visitor shudder.
"Most days are much better than we expected. Once you're not sleep- deprived, it's not bad. When they start walking it might get crazy again," says Taylor as she returns Jake, who is the only baby able to sit on his own, to the full upright position after a tumble. Chandler is, well, flirting and Lindsay is smiling and gurgling. It is a happy scene, times three.
"I was big but it was a really good pregnancy," says Kirby. Her doctor was relaxed -- he delivered 11 sets of triplets in a six-month period -- and allowed Leslie to play tennis up until the fifth month. She was monitored for contractions from 24 weeks on but never was confined to bed. The babies were born by Caesarian section at 38 weeks. Jake was the biggest at 5 pounds, 10 ounces, Chandler weighed in at 5-6 and Lindsay, the smallest at 4-10, "has been playing catch-up ever since."
Despite at first being "emotionally all over the map," Kirby headed up an organization of family, friends and employees that streamlined the process of having three babies at once. She also didn't shy away from opportunities that would seem to be overwhelming challenges.
"The way I look at it, you have to keep doing things." And the Kirbys have
been busy. Everyone's been to Florida and they make frequent trips to New
Hampshire, where Leslie grew up and her parents still live. She even took the
kids to Seattle to see her brother. "Other than getting on and off the plane,
it wasn't too bad. There is a lot of paraphernalia."
Today, the schedule that has been established is adhered to with a zest that would make old-time railroaders happy.
The sacrosant nap times run from 10 a.m. until noon and from 2 to 4 in the afternoon. While the babes sleep, a flurry of activity ensues. General cleanup, laundry, cooking all get squeezed into the quiet hours. At first, Leslie also used nap time to write more than 225 thank-you notes to everyone who had lent a hand or shared a kindness. Friends set up a meal plan and still offer to take Cammie. Leslie manages to escape for a game of tennis now and then and often goes with Cameron for her ballet or gymnastic lessons.
"I'm afraid to give up the New York Times but if I pick up the paper, I feel lucky."
By the end of the day, even good days, Kirby is ready for someone else to come in and it is usually Bill, a government bonds trader for Prudential Securities, who works the nightshift. "Bill has to be a good helper. There's no choice. Everyone has to pitch in."
When she was pregnant with Cameron, Kirby answered the mother's question. She had worked for seven years at Dun & Brad-street after graduation and then was a development officer in Colgate's New York office for two years when she was "faced with the decision to work or stay home. It's a hard decision. I'd like to work," says Kirby, who does some decorating, "but it's hard to see that day. Still, I have no regrets and I feel fortunate I was able to make that choice."
The babies have been fed and have gone upstairs. Cameron is in pre-school and the house, even with the hammering, seems still as thoughts turn to the future. "As far as giving everyone the attention they need, this will max me out," says Kirby, thinking of her family. "They are well loved, that's for sure."
Kirby feels she is a more relaxed mother, more willing to "grab a baby and a bottle and go," while at the same time recognizing there are limitations. Chandler, Lindsay and Jake won't be enrolled in the swim program Cameron had. "I can't worry if they aren't swimming at six months."
The Kirbys talk already about school and whether the babies should be in separate classes, with separate friends and separate lives. "People who don't know the babies well see them as a unit. We see them as unique."
It is an early autumn day in Darien. "Hey, we have to take everyone to a Colgate football game. We'll have to figure that one out."
Leslie Taylor Kirby seems to have it figured out pretty well.
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