Kerry Pitt of Searcy said she had an inkling when she was young that she was going to give birth to multiples.
She got that right. Her 18-year-old triplets are getting ready to strike out on their own.
Wade and AneElise graduated from Searcy High School on Friday; Drew is home-schooled and plans to take the GED.
Time flew by, as people predicted, and raising triplets wasn’t always a breeze.
“When they went to kindergarten, it was like, ‘Are you crying?’ I said, ‘No, I’m doing a happy dance,’” she said, laughing.
Pitt, 53, knows a lot about babies. She’s a full-time labor-and-delivery nurse at Unity Health in Searcy, and she recently started working some shifts in Ozark Health Medical Center’s emergency room in Clinton.
“I pick up shifts when I can. With three kids graduating, a lot of money is being sucked out of mama’s billfold.”
She said her mother said that as a child, Pitt was always curious and compassionate about people with casts or health problems.
“Since grade school, I said, ‘I’m going to be a doctor; I’m going to be a pediatrician. I did everything scholastically and then some to make that happen. I just started thinking about, I’m going to have to watch babies die, and I’m too softhearted for that. I didn’t think I’d be able to handle that,” she said.
After graduating from Bald Knob High School, she went to the University of Central Arkansas in Conway for a year; then she moved to Memphis for a year. Pitt decided to become a nurse, and she graduated from Northwest Baptist School of Nursing in Fayetteville in December 1992.
After moving to Searcy, she started working in post-op medical/surgery at Unity Health, then White County Medical Center.
In 1996, a labor-and-delivery nurse asked Pitt to come “catch a baby” on a shorthanded night shift.
“She said, ‘You’d be good at this,’” Pitt said, and she transferred to that department.
After helping deliver countless babies, she had her own. The triplets were born in 1999.
People often ask Pitt if she took fertility drugs. She said she took the lowest possible dose of a fertility drug, Clomid, for five days.
“I always preface that with my great-great-grandmother on my dad’s side had triplets, and dad’s aunts had two sets of twin boys; mother’s dad had twin sisters; my husband’s grandmother was a twin,” she said.
Pitt said she was an only child, and she wanted more than one baby.
Her cousin, Kelly Smith, performs ultrasounds at Unity Health in Searcy, so she asked her cousin to make sure everything was OK, with her baby — singular.
“My cousin put the ultrasound on my belly, and it went boop, boop, and immediately, two bubbles were there,” Pitt said. “She said, ‘Did you see what I saw?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I did.’”
Pitt said she and Tim watched the two babies interact.
“They waved at us, and they sucked their thumbs and hit each other. They’re still the same kids that they were in [the womb],” she said.
Then, Pitt said, her cousin moved the ultrasound wand and saw the third baby.
“I started laughing and crying and shaking,” Pitt said.
She was 34 years old. “They called me advanced maternal age in my chart,” she said.
She was on “house arrest” starting at 18 weeks. At 28 weeks, her blood pressure spiked, and she was on complete bed rest, except for bathroom trips and doctor’s visits. She saw Dr. Bruce Thompson in Searcy and Dr. Paul Wendel at Freeway Medical at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.
She had to be admitted to the hospital at 29 weeks. The triplets were delivered, each one minute apart, at 30 weeks and four days’ gestation on Nov. 10, 1999. They were fragile at first.
The two boys — Drew is the oldest, and Wade is the youngest of the three — weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces each; AneElise was 2 pounds, 14 ounces, and the sickest.
“After they were born, we spent seven fun-filled weeks at three different hospitals,” she said. They were at UAMS; a week after being born, they were transferred to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and transported to White County Medical Center on Dec. 17.
The triplets were discharged from the hospital Dec. 23.
“My birthday is Dec. 26, so it was a big present; I was really glad,” Pitt said.
The doctor wanted her to take one baby home at a time, but she insisted on taking all three.
“I said, ‘I’m not leaving the hospital without my babies,’” she said.
She still remembers the grueling nighttime feedings.
“After I had one wake up, and I breast-fed and changed and fed them and gave them a bottle, an hour and a half later, they were waking up to eat again because it had been three hours,” she said.
She joined Searcy Mothers of Multiples, or MOPS, when they were little. “I stayed home, and I just needed a day out,” she said.
“I’ve always tried to enrich them by having them participate in different sports,” she said. The boys played baseball and football; all three played soccer. AneElise played softball; Wade wrestles.
Wade and AneElise work at Sonic, where she is a crew leader. Drew worked there, too, but he now works at Lomanco Vents in Jacksonville.
He likes to fish and can build anything, Pitt said. “He tears his truck apart and can put it back together,” she said.
“Drew is the protector of the group and the speaker of the group; AneElise is next. She’s the typical girl; she bossed them and worked on her vocabulary skills while they were working on crawling. She’d make them do little plays,” Pitt said.
“Wade is pure baby. For three years in a row, he had his brother and sisters carry his Easter basket,” she said. “He’s also the daredevil.
“There’s still that sibling order, even though they’re just one minute apart.”
Wade is an all-state champion wrestler in the 152-pound weight division. AneElise manages the wrestling team.
“She’s a rock, and she’s meaner and tougher than I am,” Pitt said of her daughter. “I knew she was going to be a survivor when she was in the NICU (neonatal intensive-care unit) and they thought she was septic and might die.”
AneElise was a Searcy High School honor graduate and plans to attend Harding University in the fall, and Wade will attend Arkansas State University-Beebe. Drew said he wants to go to welding school and become a pipeliner.
“I instilled in them, find a job that you love, and it won’t be a job,” Pitt said. “That’s what I do.”
Pitt said as the children were growing up, she looked to adult twins and triplets for advice: “I asked them, ‘What’s the one thing you wish your mom and dad had known?’”
The answers included making sure each child got his or her own birthday cake and taking individual pictures of the children instead of always having the three together.
The Pitt children were in the same classes in kindergarten and first grade, and she said they each expressed their strong desire to stay together.
“When I asked Wade, he said, “Mommy, if I’m not in a class with my bubby and sissy, I will get up and find my bubby and sissy,” Pitt recalled.
AneElise said the best part of being a triplet is “having someone to spend time with.” The worst part is “having to share.”
She said her mother “made sure we’ve had everything that we’ve needed.”
Drew and Wade agreed that having to share things was the least fun part about being triplets, and having someone to be with was a positive.
“The best part about being a triplet is the fact that there’s always someone there if you need them,” Drew said.
The brothers also said they appreciate their mother and what she has done for them.
“My mom taught me right from wrong, how to love and take care of things, how to be respectful and responsible, how to treat women,” Drew said. “She taught me how to take care of myself and, lastly, not to ever give up.”
Wade said, “She’s there for us. I’d say she’s a good mom because she lets us do what we want, as long as we tell her what we’re doing.”
Pitt said she has “no regrets” as a mother.
She recalled that one Valentine’s Day, she wrote each of them a special card. All three made a comment about being her favorite, she said. “They all felt that way.”
“I’ve known them inside the womb, and I’ve known them outside, and I know them better than anybody in the world, and they know that,” she said.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.