Dr. Paul Delivers a Baseball Team
With enough babies on the way to start their own baseball team, three moms, each expecting triplets, formed a training camp of their own. All three were patients of Michael Paul, MD, Maternal-Fetal Medicine Obstetrics at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, and bonded over their similar experiences.
“I have delivered lots of multiples over the years, and the moms are often hospitalized for extended periods of time where they can feel isolated away from their friends and family,” Dr. Paul said. “These three moms all faced similar issues, had the same set of concerns and they learned from and supported each other.”
Jessica Kennedy, Kristen McCloy and Jeri Wright delivered their triplets only weeks apart in November and December 2016.
“All three moms helped each other by setting goals together and supporting one another to achieve those goals,” he said. “They all had the same endpoint goal of getting as close to 34 or 35 weeks as possible to deliver. They didn’t want to let anyone down.”
Value of teamwork
None of these moms had ever met until after they were pregnant, but they now have an enduring friendship thanks to their shared experiences with Dr. Paul as their doctor and the compassionate care they received at MoBap, where all of their babies arrived healthy.
In fact, Dr. Paul credits the successful pregnancies each woman had with their sense of camaraderie and willingness to be there for one another. He said that, statistically, two of the nine babies should have been born compromised in some way, but that was not the case with these sets of triplets.
Home field advantage
Dr. Paul also credits the care team at Missouri Baptist who was there for the moms through weeks of bed rest in the hospital, on hand for their unique deliveries and after to care for both moms and babies, who all were in the Newborn Intensive Care Units (NICU) for a period of time.
“It’s a real team approach. These nine babies are the players on the field, but they would not have the success they have without the ‘coaches’ and support provided by moms, dads, doctors and nurses. It’s an incredible team of neonatologists and the best and most caring labor and delivery nurses anywhere. They care enough to make sure patients get everything they can achieve,” Dr. Paul said. “All of our nurses bond with these patients and build lifelong relationships with them.
“Now that these moms are all friends, they will be able to share the unique challenges of raising triplets. And they’ll have one another.” With a team like this, these MoBap Babies will soon be ready to "Play Ball!"
Meet the Team
The first of the moms to deliver her triplets was Jessica Kennedy, who with her husband, Ben, were already parents to a son, Cohen, 6, and Laine, 5. Their little brothers, Reed, Knox and Finn, were all born on Nov. 2, 2016.
Jessica and Ben, who are both high school teachers in St. Louis, wanted to have one more child but had the surprise of their life after conceiving the triplets naturally.
"I was having some potential complications early on in my pregnancy, so I had to call my doctor to go in for my first appointment earlier than anticipated," Jessica recalled. "My husband went with me, and the doctor got really quiet when she told us we were having triplets. I was completely shocked, and my husband about fainted."
Referred to Dr. Paul, the Kennedys would not only be shocked to learn they were having three babies, but they were identical triplets.
"It's very unusual to have identical triplets and very rare. It's about a 1 in 60 million chance," Dr. Paul said. "Fortunately, Jessica made it through without any serious challenges."
Jessica stopped working at 25 weeks, was hospitalized at 31 weeks and went into labor at 34 weeks. She said she really dreaded going on bed rest at the hospital and was worried about her two children at home.
"Everybody was so nice at MoBap, and I had a wonderful experience while I was a patient and with the babies in the NICU," she said. "Dr. Paul is amazing and also helped me so much. In fact, Reed's middle name is Michael after him."
It was while waiting to deliver that Jessica learned about Jeri through a mutual acquaintance on Facebook, who knew they were both patients of Dr. Paul.
"When I was a patient waiting for the babies to arrive, Jeri would come visit me and we would talk about everything," she said. "Once my boys were in the NICU, I'd stop in to visit Jeri, who was hospitalized, and then we both met Kristen, who was admitted the same day as Jeri. We're all friends now, and we can talk about what we're going through any time we need each other."
As a first-time mom, Kristen is the youngest of the three moms at 30. She and her husband, Michael, live in Blackwell, Mo., about an hour or more from Missouri Baptist. She works for a local hospital, and Michael works for Union Pacific Railroad.
Their babies, Emalyn, Lucas and Colton, were born on Nov. 26, 2016, at 33 weeks. The boys are identical, and Kristen and Michael are the only parents to have a girl among all the triplets.
"You don't know what to expect, but we prayed and hoped for healthy and strong babies, and they all are," Kristen said.
Kristen and Michael had fostered children before getting pregnant but were ready to have a baby of their own. After trying to get pregnant without success, they chose IVF and, after their first round of the infertility treatment, found out Kristen was pregnant.
"We learned we were having triplets just a few weeks after finding out I was pregnant, and I was referred to Dr. Paul," she said. "The nurses and staff at MoBap were great and so supportive, and Dr. Paul was awesome."
Kristen was admitted to MoBap about a month before her delivery on the same day and right next door to Jeri.
"Jeri and I would walk the halls and talk all the time. Jessica would come visit us when she came to see her babies in the NICU," she said. "Today, we're all friends on Facebook and we message each other, check in on each other and make sure we're all still sane."
Kristen said her daughter showed them from the very beginning that she might need "special" attention. Her boys came home from the NICU after 25 days, but Emalyn was there for 42 days after spiking a fever and "having every test under the sun," she says.
"Everyone is home now, healthy and strong and eating every three hours," she said. "I couldn't do any of this without my husband. We've been waiting a long time for this, and he's my rock."
"I'm also so glad I had the two other moms going through the same situation," she said. "Dr. Paul told us when you are pregnant with triplets you can't read the traditional baby books. It's definitely nice to have that support."
Jeri, 39, and her husband, Aaron, already had a daughter, Betty, just under 2 years old, when they had their three boys. Oliver, Finn and Beckett were born at 35 weeks on Dec. 16, 2016. They have two identical boys and one fraternal.
The Farmington, Mo., couple both have busy jobs where Jeri is the program coordinator for the Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary, and her husband manages a Plaza Tire.
After struggling for years to get pregnant and finally having their daughter, they knew they wanted her to have a sibling, so they began infertility treatments again.
"We thought we were pregnant with twins at four weeks and at eight weeks found out we were having triplets," she said. "I had to go into the hospital seven weeks before delivery, which was difficult because my daughter was home. Fortunately, my mom came from North Carolina to help and my husband's family from Illinois. It was a long stay, but well worth it."
Jeri would often visit Jessica in the hospital when she had appointments with Dr. Paul, and all three moms bonded once she was in the hospital with Kristen.
"It's a scary time, but we were all there to cheer each other on," she said. "Being at Missouri Baptist was wonderful. I am a walker, so I would roam the halls and I really got to know everyone. The hospital has an extremely qualified, caring staff from the nurses to the people who bring your meals."
Although being away from her family was challenging, she says she always felt she was getting individualized, personal treatment.
"I felt very comfortable with my care from Dr. Paul, who is nothing but wonderful, and not only takes care of you physically but also emotionally," she added. "The NICU staff was tremendous. They were so helpful in educating me and they went above and beyond to make sure I was set up for success."
After just a few weeks in the NICU, Jeri's babies were able to go home, and she said every day is a new adventure. She's grateful that she had her healthy boys and she also made new friends along the way.
I always recommend MoBap to my friends. My delivery experience was magical and the top notch staff made every effort to accommodate my birth plan, which brought me a great deal of peace during a long, 24-hour labor and delivery. The nurses at MoBap redefined the idea of bedside manner for me. And their care allowed me to focus on the moment.
As a first time mom, I had a great experience delivering my son at MoBap. All the nurses and staff were so attuned to our needs. Especially in labor and delivery, where we needed it most. I'll never forget my delivery nurse Chris, who was so calm and reassuring. Her support brought a lot of peace to the whole experience. I will definitely be back to MoBap as soon as I plan to have my next.