Like most first-time parents, Peter and Christine Coutilish, of Macomb Township, were anxious to see the ultrasound images of their new baby. The big day came when Christine Coutilish was just three weeks along and the image quickly reflected twins.
Then dad saw something else flickering on the screen.
“My husband just saw this little light and it was a third one and he was hugging the doctor and wanting to know if there were more,” Christine Coutilish said.
In order of arrival, the fraternal triplets, Alexis, George and Sydney, now 11, were actually part of an in vitro process where five fertilized eggs were planted in their mother’s womb.
“At 24 weeks, we knew one was a girl and one was a boy, but Alexis we didn’t know about for the longest time,” Christine Coutilish said. “I think at 30 weeks we finally knew it was another girl.”
The triplets were born after 33 weeks and considered preemies. They arrived home one at a time–George after 11 days, Sydney at 13 days and Alexis on day 24.
“It was definitely hard at first,” Christine Coutilish said. “We were used to getting our sleep and they needed to be fed every three hours, so pretty quickly we got everything colored coded and on a schedule.”
Having her mom, Carol Urban, of St. Clair Shores, literally move in and stay for the first six months of the babies’ lives was a huge help for the young Coutilish family.
“It’s funny what you remember now when you look back,” Urban said. “I know we ate nothing but peanut butter and crackers because there was no time for meals and we both used to fall asleep in the tub at night. And I remember when we took the two babies out to the store in the stroller, people would ask, ‘Where’s the other one?’ We just started saying, ‘She’s in layaway, we can’t afford to get her out.’”
Christine Coutilish recalls equally funny memories as the children grew and she took them out to places like the mall and zoo. The triplets were an instant draw and people constantly stopped the stroller to ask questions, simply fascinated by the trio.
“We were at the zoo one time and people were sneaking and taking their pictures and it was just so weird. Like, we are not one of the exhibits here, people,” Christine Coutilish said, laughing.
Taking everything in stride is something Urban said she sees as her daughter’s strong suit.
“She has a lot of patience and has done her parenting so well,” Urban said. “They are very polite kids who still like to spend the weekends at grandma’s. Christine has just done a terrific job.”
Currently fifth-graders, in separate classrooms for the first time at Graebner Elementary School, Christine Coutilish said her children have their own distinct personalities: Alexis is the boss, George is easygoing and Sydney is the little mother.
As they’ve grown, the triplets have come to rely on each other as friends but like to have their own pals, too. One regular trio of playmates is the children of Brenda Parker, of Macomb Township. The six pack likes to hang out together and Parker said she finds her friend quite a role model as far as moms go.
“She’s just a really great mom,” Parker said. “Her kids really respect her, she’s straightforward, tells them what she expects and that’s it. And they are all very close too.”