For a few moments on a recent Thursday, 7-year-old twin brothers Ronan and Rory Rosputni huddled quietly on the couch in their South Buffalo home, watching an animated movie.
But it wasn’t long before an impromptu wrestling match began, with Ronan grabbing a handful of Rory’s hair and drawing a gentle admonishment from his mother, Brighid M. Rosputni.
“You don’t know anything,” Rory teased his older brother. “You were born last year.”
It’s an inside joke, a reference to the fact that Ronan was born on Dec. 31, 2011, and Rory arrived 33 minutes later, on Jan. 1, 2012, in Women & Children’s Hospital.
Now, the quirky tale of the Rosputni family has another peculiarity. Brighid, 38, is pregnant again – and this time she and her husband Thomas, who already have seven children, are expecting triplets. Brighid Rosputni was stunned when her doctor revealed the news last August. Triplets accounted for one-tenth of 1 percent of live births in the United States in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I feel so greedy. I feel like, ‘Why us? Not, ‘Why us?’ in a bad way. ‘Why us?’ in a good way,” she said. “Who has triplets? Not a lot of people.”
Then again, the Rosputnis may have been destined for it.
Their Kenefick Avenue house was once the home of the first known triplets in Buffalo to survive beyond birth.
The Blake triplets – Robert L., Joan A. and Eileen M. – were born Jan. 29, 1938, in Millard Fillmore Hospital. They grew up at 156 Kenefick, in the same two-story house that the Rosputnis bought in 2003.
“What are the odds of that?” said Robert Blake, first-born of the triplet siblings. “That’s a nice house. My mother was there until ’86 or ’87. It was a nice neighborhood, a beautiful neighborhood.”
Local newspapers celebrated the Blake triplets for years, providing updates on the children in news articles and photographs when they graduated from elementary and high school. The Pet Milk Co. used images of the triplets in its advertising and provided free evaporated milk to the family for five years.
Brighid first learned about the Blake triplets in 2004 from her friend Susan Danieu. Danieu attended a party at the house and recognized it as soon as she stepped inside. She’s the daughter of Robert Blake.
“She said, ‘Oh my God, this was my grandma’s house. This was the house my dad grew up in,’” recalled Brighid Rosputni. “And she said, ‘Yeah, my dad was a triplet.’”
Robert Blake, who still lives in South Buffalo, worked at Bethlehem Steel for nearly a decade before joining the Buffalo Fire Department. He retired as a lieutenant after 27 years.
Thomas Rosputni, 40, works as a Buffalo firefighter, too. To keep up with the expense of three more kids, he quipped, “instead of my 24-hour shifts, I’ll be doing 72-hour shifts.”
The Rosputnis said they love the home but need to find something bigger. As it is now, five boys – Ronan and Rory; Afton, 9; Eamon, 11, and Owen, 12 – share one bedroom; their sister, Ava, 13, gets her own bedroom; and their youngest brother, Maccus, 2, stays in the same room with his parents. That’s where the triplets will be, too. The family also has a Goldendoodle puppy named Milo.
It’s impossible to disguise the presence of boys in the house. All of them except Maccus (he's too young) play ice hockey and baseball, and the kitchen and living room sometimes double as makeshift sports arenas. The walls running alongside the stairs are scuffed from horseplay. Hockey sticks and skates and other sports equipment are tucked into corners.
“They’re always making my house into an ice rink. Mini-sticks, balls bouncing everywhere,” said Brighid.
Ava said she doesn’t mind being the lone daughter. She retreats to her bedroom when the boys become too rambunctious.
“We all just kind of do our own thing,” said Ava, who rides horses and is an eighth-grader at St. Mark School in North Buffalo. “They’re not a big problem.”
A large and expanding family feels very natural for the Rosputnis, who seem to thrive on the chaos.
“It’s nuts, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” said Brighid, who is one of nine siblings herself.
Thomas also grew up in a large family, with four brothers.
“I always knew I wanted a lot of kids,” said Brighid. She’s not sure yet if she wants to stop after the triplets, either. “To have 10 and then control it now, is that for me?”
It was still early in her pregnancy when Brighid attended a family wedding last August. Friends and relatives who knew that the Blake triplets had once lived in the same house needled her all night long with predictions of triplets.
“My cousins all knew the Blakes, because it’s South Buffalo,” she said.
Brighid shrugged it off as silliness. But four days later, a sonogram showed three healthy fetuses. When she sent a picture of the image to her friends and relatives, they didn’t believe her.
Others asked her why she was taking fertility drugs – the cause nowadays of most triplet conceptions.
“I have seven kids, why would I start doing in vitro now?” she said with a laugh.
Dr. Paul L. Ogburn Jr., chief of maternal-fetal medicine, University at Buffalo and medical director of the Perinatal Center of Western New York at Oishei Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, said he's treated patients who had twins and then another set of twins. But he couldn't recall a case in which he treated a woman who gave birth to twins and then triplets.
"It's certainly not highly likely, but if there's a tendency to have multiple ovulations, it may be more likely for someone who's had twins to have triplets," said Ogburn.
Rosputni is 31 weeks into her pregnancy. Each of the babies already weighs at least 3 pounds, and one of them is over 4 pounds. “It’s already 11 pounds of baby,” she said.
Rosputni said she feels great despite the extra weight. She continued working as a restaurant server at 716 throughout her pregnancy, until a few weeks ago.
She anticipates the babies will arrive early, as most triplets do. She and Thomas set up a crib this past weekend.
The Rosputnis chose not to have the gender of the triplets revealed to them, so they are winging it. There’s a 12.5 percent chance that all three of them will be boys.
If it happens, Brighid joked that she “will drink in the delivery room.”
“Can you imagine," she said, "if I have nine boys and one girl?”
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