FAMILY WITH 3 KIDS, INCLUDING TWINS, DOUBLES BROOD WITH TRIPLETS - The Buffalo News

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FAMILY WITH 3 KIDS, INCLUDING TWINS, DOUBLES BROOD WITH TRIPLETS

If they keep this up, Warren and Rita Hodges' family tree is bound to look a lot more like a multiplication table.

That's because the Town of Tonawanda couple, who became the proud parents of triplets Thursday in Children's Hospital, seem to have a knack for orderly numbers.

In 1991, the Hodges' son Anthony was born.

That made one.

The second pregnancy, in 1993, brought two more boys, twins Jeremy and Jessie.

Two. Three.

Now, in one fell swoop, the Hodges have doubled their brood. A set of triplets -- one boy and two girls -- was born Thursday afternoon.

"(I thought) I was a full-time mom before . . . now I'll really be a full-time mom," said Rita Hodges in a telephone interview Saturday from the hospital.

Kaitlin Marie, born at 12:56 p.m. at 3 pounds 6 ounces, will hold bragging rights over her sister and brother by two and four minutes, respectively. Marygrace Elizabeth, 4 pounds, 1 ounce, was born at 12:58 p.m., and Nicholas Dalton, 3 pounds 6 ounces, became the Hodges' sixth child at 1 p.m.

When asked if lucky number seven (eight, nine and ten) were going to be on their way, the couple, married eight years, gasped.

"Absolutely not. We're definitely done. This is it," Mrs. Hodges said.

"The whole thing started because we had all boys and we wanted a girl," Hodges, 28, said. "We waited three years, and we finally said, 'Alright, we'll try.' We figured the (wildest) thing that could happen is have twins again.

"I'm beyond excited -- I'm so excited, I'm calm. I'm glad everything is going as well as it is.

"I'm just glad they're all healthy," said Mrs. Hodges. "If they're triplets it doesn't matter, boys or girls, I'm just glad they're healthy."

Mrs. Hodges said the toughest part of the pregnancy was the last month.

Having known the trio was on the way since her seventh week of gestation, the element of surprise subsided down the stretch. She spent the entire month prior to their births in the hospital being monitored for kidney, blood pressure and heart complications due to the pregnancy.

Saturday, the proud mom was finally able to get back on her feet since the births and move around a little bit. She expects to return home early this week.

Multiple birth pregnancies are not nearly as uncommon as they once were.

A federal government report released earlier this year indicated that there were nearly 6,000 babies born in triplets, quadruplets or more for 1996 -- an increase of 19 percent from the prior year. There also has been a 312 percent increase in triplets or quadruplets since 1980.

The report attributes one-third of that partly to mothers having children at older ages and two-thirds to an increase in the use of fertility drugs.

But here's the catch.

Not only were the Hodges' single, double and triple births all in order, Mrs. Hodges is 30 and was fertility drug-free when she conceived the triplets.

"The doctor said it was a million to one," said Katie Condon, Mrs. Hodges' sister.

The newborn babies remained in the neo-natal area of the Intensive Care Unit at Children's this weekend. From there, they will be moved to the "preemie nursery" and will go home to their parents in three to six weeks.

There will then be an even dozen living at 191 Rosemont Ave. The Hodges family plans to stay with Mrs. Hodges' parents, Kim and Helen Condon; sister, Katie and brother, Michael.

"It's totally awesome," Mrs. Condon said about the three small additions. "It's wonderful."

As for the older siblings, well, they just want mom right now.

"They know what's going on, but I think they can't really comprehend it at this point. They're kind of waiting for mom to get home."

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