Chantilly's Maria Witt, 29, always wanted to be a mother. But never did she imagine that, seemingly overnight, she and her husband Jason, 31, would go from being a family of two to a family of five.
On Jan. 11, they became the parents of three boys — fraternal triplets Benjamin, Jack and Owen. Yet even though doctors had implanted three fertilized eggs, they initially told Maria not to get her hopes up.
"I was excited about the possibility of having twins," she said. "But the doctors made it very clear that their goal was for me to go home with one baby."
However, the boys had other ideas — and Maria, a first-grade teacher at London Towne Elementary, and Jason, an AOL executive — couldn't be happier. "Part of our excitement was that it took some effort to be assured of getting one," he said. "So we feel like we hit the jackpot."
Residents of Poplar Tree Estates, the Witts have been married 4 1/2 years. When Maria had trouble conceiving, she had surgery and then fertility treatments. "But the odds of my ever getting pregnant were pretty non-existent — even with in-vitro fertilization," she said. That's why, she told a blue-pajama-clad Benjamin as she kissed him on her couch, "You guys are miracles."
The procedure was done in June at Genetics & IVF in Fairfax and, fortunately, it worked the first time. "I knew it would, despite what the doctors said," said Maria. They gave her a less-than-50-percent chance of conceiving, at all, and a less-than-1-percent chance of having triplets. But, she said, "I think I just knew I was meant to be a mom, so I had faith."
Ten days later, doctors said it would be a multiple birth and, although her fertility medication then caused some painful problems, Maria weathered the storm. A few weeks later, they saw triplets via an ultrasound.
At school in September, Maria's students from the previous year "wanted to know why I was so fat," she said. "And some of them didn't quite understand that I had three babies in there." Then when she was 17 weeks along, she had to stop working and go on three months bedrest. At 29 weeks, she entered Inova Fairfax Hospital for 4 1/2 more weeks of rest.
"They gave me two shots to speed up [the babies'] lung development," said Maria. "I had the greatest doctors — Perinatal Associates of Fairfax — who specialize in high-risk pregnancies." While in the hospital, different grades from school would send food to Jason and crossword puzzles and video-store certificates to her to help keep her occupied. "And the first-grade team came over and gave me a baby shower," said Maria.
"You realize how generous people are," said Jason. "Neighbors visited Maria in the hospital and brought us meals and clothes. It was touching — it makes you appreciate people's humanity."
He also praised the nurses in the hospital's High-Risk Pregnancy Unit: "They were fantastic and were like family, in terms of caring." And Maria said Dr. Robert Beck, her neonatologist at the hospital, was "phenomenal. Every day, he'd come and tell us what was going on."
On Jan. 11, with Jason by her side, doctors performed a C-section and the boys entered the world. Jack Logan and Owen Walter were each 4 pounds 15 ounces, and Benjamin Xavier was 5 pounds 7 ounces. Maria said the doctors were shocked and delighted that the babies were so big. And the Witts — who hadn't known their sexes beforehand — were surprised to have three sons. First came Jack, then Owen and Benjamin.
"They all came out crying," said Maria. "Owen had his eyes open and his tongue out." She had some bleeding complications afterward, but was eventually all right. The triplets remained hospitalized for 13 days to make sure they could eat and could maintain their body temperatures. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurses taught the Witts how to care for their newborns and, added Maria, "They got them on a schedule — which was such a gift."
The boys came home Jan. 24 and, although she's a tad sleep-deprived, Maria seems to have things going smoothly. They eat every three hours; Maria nurses one at a time and feeds them in rotation. Jason was home to help, the first two weeks, but returned to work, Feb. 10. But Maria keeps things humming. When one baby's nursing, for example, another will be propped up beside her on a Boppy pillow and another will be sitting contentedly in his swing.
"I'm managing," she said. "I think my training as a teacher has definitely helped; my scheduling and organization have carried over [into motherhood]. And she's so thrilled to be a mom, at last, that every task for her sons is a joy. Besides, she said, "I've been on bedrest for so long, it feels good to be up and around, doing things."
Even Jason is impressed. "She's cooking dinners and cleaning," he said. "It's unbelievable what she's been able to do."
However, Maria's not returning to school this year because she's got plenty to occupy her at home. "I never feel, 'Oh, I have to get up and feed them,'" she said. "I just feel blessed to have them here." Jason says having three babies at once is taxing on the mother and can be risky. But this proud dad wouldn't trade his three sons for anything.
"They're great," he said. "The most important thing is that they're healthy. I think they'll have a good relationship with each other. And they'll be the only kids at school who'll always know two other kids, no matter where they go."
Already, the boys have distinct personalities. "Jack's the most intense of the three — he goes from sleep to scream immediately," said Jason. "Benjamin is very laid back. We'll think he's asleep, and his eyes are wide open and he's entertaining himself. He hardly ever cries — he's very peaceful. Owen is in the middle. He seems to be a little more aware [of his surroundings] and seems to be the most lighthearted and playful."
With three brothers, himself, Jason says it'll be fun to "have three guys to play sports with. I'm looking forward to teaching them how to throw a baseball, like my dad did with me and my brothers. I just hope they grow up and do what they're good at and what they want to do."
Maria just wants them to be happy. And she doesn't even mind the 24-30 diapers a day. "I just feel so lucky," she said. "Every day is more exciting than the next."