ELKHART — Erica Guevara smiled down at her newborn daughter, Tessa, as the tiny bundle fidgeted in her arms.
In the chair next to her, Erica's husband, Marcel, fed the equally small Melody with a bottle. Eva slept soundly in her isolate nearby.
The Guevara family grew from two to five on May 3 with the birth of the first set of triplets Elkhart General Hospital has seen in 15 years.
“These are our miracle children.” Erica said softly, looking back down at Tessa.
Erica, 28, was seven weeks into her pregnancy when the doctor showed her and Marcel, 30, an ultrasound that featured three distinct figures.
Erica covered her mouth in shock, while Marcel managed a laugh. It was their first pregnancy, and neither of them had a history of multiples in their families.
“It was just one of those things where you were like, ‘OK, here they come! Let's get ready,'” Erica said.
The Guevaras' parents were just as shocked as the couple was.
“My mom knew immediately what she was looking at, she knew it was triplets right away,” Erica said of when she showed her parents the ultrasound picture. “It took my dad a little bit longer. I don't know if he believed me at first when I told him it was three. He could hardly wrap his mind around three little ones at once.”
When Marcel's parents, who live in Venezuela, saw the ultrasound through a Skype video chat, Erica said his mother kept saying, “Tres!” over and over again while Marcel's father nearly fell out of his chair.
Next came the planning.
“It started by figuring out what one baby would need as far as diapers go and everything and just trying to estimate our needs and figure out what was absolutely necessary for us to have in threes and what we could get away with only having two of,” Erica said.
Erica said Elkhart General prepped her for the process of giving birth to multiples, such as telling her the average term for triplets was 33 weeks and that they were typically born very small.
Erica and Marcel arrived at the hospital in late April, where the medical staff stopped her contractions to allow the triplets an additional week of development. When May 3rd rolled around, Erica said her daughters “decided to be born.”
“It was kind of funny because both me and my sister were born on Thursdays, and a lot of people in my family were born on the third of the month,” Erica said. “So it was like they just knew when to come.”
Melody came out first, 15-and-a-half inches long and weighing 3 pounds, 2 ounces. Tessa and Eva (pronounced “Ava”) came minutes after, measuring 16-and-a-half inches and weighing 3 pounds, 7 ounces, each.
Despite being born healthy and screaming, the sisters remain under the care of EGH until they can regulate their own body temperatures, eat and gain weight and breathe on their own.
Eight days after giving birth, Erica and Marcel can already see personality traits developing in the triplets.
Eva, they say, “is very chill.”
“She doesn't seem like much bothers her,” Erica said. “She doesn't cry. She's just kind of like, ‘Eh, whatever.'”
Tessa is a different story.
“She's the one that is going to be vocal,” Erica said, as Tessa fidgeted with her feeding tube. “She'll let us know when she's hungry. She's ornery, pulling all her tubes out - and here she goes again pulling her feeding tubes out. She's definitely going to be the spunky one.”
Melody remains something of a mystery.
“She doesn't really want to be disturbed too much,” Erica said after thinking for a moment. “She starts fussing when you start to mess with her.”
Erica she knows another mother of triplets, who passed on the following advice:
“Sleep,” Erica recited. “Sleep and try to enjoy every minute, because with one, it goes fast, but with three, you're so crazy busy that it goes even faster. So that's what we're going to try to do, just enjoy every second and even enjoy this stage too, because there will be stories to tell.”
Perhaps it's fitting that the Guevaras welcomed their first, second and third daughter into the world so close to Mother's Day. They'll celebrate at the hospital on Sunday, and Erica's family will come in town to see the babies.
“I felt like a mom for a really long time and now I actually have them to match that,” Erica said. “It feels, now that they're here and everything, it feels like this is what we were supposed to be doing all along.”
She glanced over at Marcel, who smiled back.
“This is why we're here,” she said.