Two families are enjoying every minute spent with their newborn baby girls, two sets of triplets who boldly made their debut into the world at Jamaica Hospital two days apart from each other.
On Nov. 9, 2021, the Cruz family, of Jamaica, welcomed their baby girls — Celeste, Alma and Sol —into the world. The Hoyos family, of Brooklyn, celebrated the birth of their little girls — Akoma, Eliette and Arlet — two days later.
Luz Cruz said she’s happy that her newborn baby girls are home and healthy, as she thanked Jamaica Hospital for their assistance and care throughout the pregnancy.
“When we found out we were pregnant, we were very excited,” Cruz said. “The news didn’t come until after the fourth doctor’s visit. For the first couple of weeks, the doctor hadn’t determined whether there were three babies yet.”
For Jasmine Hoyos, who comes from a family of twins, the triplets are truly a blessing from God, she said.
“The doctor had said, ‘Oh, there’s a little problem here’ and she said there’s not two babies, there’s three,” Hoyos said. “My younger daughter was there and my husband couldn’t believe it; he needed to see proof,” Hoyos said. “We are very happy that they’re home and healthy.”
Months of preparation and planning resulted in two successful deliveries.
Both sets of triplets were born early, during the 32nd week of the pregnancy, and transferred to Jamaica Hospital’s Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where they remained for several weeks to receive round-the-clock care.
“There are certain things we want to achieve while babies are in the NICU,” said Dr. Ajey Jain, chairperson of the hospital’s Pediatric Department. “We want to ensure that they can breathe on their own without support, that they can maintain a stable body temperature and are able to breastfeed or bottle-feed.”
According to the most recent statistics reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 3 million babies were born in the United States in 2019. Among this group, only 3,136 were triplets. Very few of these births occurred spontaneously (without the assistance of fertility treatments). This is because the chance of triplets being conceived naturally occurs only once in every 10,000 pregnancies.
Spontaneous triplets are uncommon, and with birth rates declining across the country, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center was not anticipating that it would be setting a record for the facility by delivering two sets of triplets, both naturally conceived, two days apart.
“The chance of this happening is rare. So, when we learned that two of our moms were expected to deliver triplets very close to each other, we were excited. We also knew there would be a lot of hard work and careful planning ahead,” said Dr. Ugochi Akoma, maternal-fetal medicine specialist and director of Perinatal Diagnostic Centers and Obstetric Ultrasound at Jamaica Hospital.
Having triplets or any form of multiple pregnancy is considered high risk. There are often health problems that can develop and lead to preterm labor and birth.
“We encountered a few complications during both pregnancies,” Akoma said. “Both moms at some point in the early third trimester had to be monitored closely for cardiac symptoms. Moms who are pregnant with multifetal pregnancies have a higher risk of developing a cardiac condition called peripartum cardiomyopathy, which fortunately was not diagnosed.”
Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a weakness of the heart muscle that by definition begins sometime during the final month of pregnancy through about five months after delivery, without any other known cause. Most commonly, it occurs right after delivery. It is a rare condition that can carry mild or severe symptoms.
There were also concerns about the babies’ health. Doctors diagnosed one of the triplets with fetal growth restriction, a condition that causes babies not to grow and develop according to gestational age standards.
In the other set of triplets, two of the babies shared one placenta. Several problems could occur when this happens; the most significant is called twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) which can potentially be life-threatening.
Caring for the moms and babies was a well-coordinated effort between multiple departments. There were frequent meetings and mock drills conducted that involved OB/GYN, NICU, nursing, pediatric, cardiology, respiratory, BioMed, anesthesia, medicine, social work and blood bank professionals.
“We worked together as one team and our collective goal was to ensure a safe pregnancy and delivery for both families,” Akoma said.
On Dec. 6, Jamaica Hospital graduated the first set of triplets and on Dec. 18 the last baby remaining in the NICU went home to join her family.
“These days will be celebrated forever among everyone involved in this journey. All the babies went home in time for the holidays, and one mother got her little girls in time for her birthday,” Jain said.
Following their discharges from the NICU, the hospital continues to celebrate major milestones with the babies, including their first Christmas. Employees gave the families baskets filled with gifts for the holiday.
The babies are also now patients of the hospital’s family care clinics where they receive wellness checkups to ensure they are well and growing as expected.