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Triplets, twins mean special challenges for parents

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There’s a constant manic atmosphere when the Hobbs triplets are awake.

Brothers Hudson, Harrison and Henry are always at play, yelling, laughing and running through the house. Tantrums are intensified by three. When one of the 3-year-olds cries, the others join in.

“Someone is always crying. Someone has been crying since 2010,” father Matt Hobbs said. “It’s 100 miles per hour and doesn’t slow down.”

More and more families in Johnson County can relate to the Hobbses. Multiple births seem like they’ve been multiplying in Johnson County, reflecting a trend in Indiana overall.

The county has maintained a reputation of having even more twins, triplets, quadruplets and even a set of quintuplets in the recent past. For multiples and their families, that has created a community of support, friendship and a common bond.

“When you first hear that you’re having three, it’s so overwhelming. But when they’re born, you realize how fortunate you are,” Hobbs said.

Indiana as a whole has been experiencing a rise in the number of multiple births. In 1990, 2.4 percent of all of the births in the state were twins, triplets or some other multiple birth. But by 2011, that portion had increased to 3.6 percent, or 2,838.

Johnson County has been ahead of state averages as well, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. In 2011, 80 multiple births were reported — all twins. That represented 4.7 percent of all the babies born that year.

For the parents of multiples, the shock is that you can go from expecting one child to preparing for two, three or four at a time.

Chad and Amanda Doss of Franklin were anticipating their first child together when they learned they’d be having identical triplets. They had a room set aside, a crib ready, and a car seat that would fit in their four-door sedan.

And with one doctor’s visit, they were suddenly woefully underprepared.

Avery, Bentley and Cassidy Doss were born Dec. 30. Because they were seven weeks premature, the babies were kept at the neonatal intensive care unit until the end of January.

Since they’ve come home, the family has been adjusting to a new pace of life. In addition to the triplets, Chad and Amanda Doss have Chad’s two children from a previous marriage, Caleb, 12, and Kaitlin, 9.

“It’s busy; but they’re such easy babies, that we haven’t had so many stressful moments,” Amanda Doss said. “I pictured it to be chaos. But it hasn’t been so bad so far.”

Together, they’ve set up a system to make the household function. Feeding the triplets takes about 90 minutes, and the Dosses change up to 30 diapers each day.

The Hobbs family can relate. Every activity, chore and motion is magnified by three.

Simple errands require masterful planning.

The family rarely goes out together to restaurants. On the rare occasions they do go out, Lindsay Hobbs stays in the car with the triplets while Matt Hobbs and Nora go in to order for everyone.

Only when the food has arrived is everyone herded into the restaurant.

With a 6-year-old daughter, Nora, the Hobbses knew what to expect from newborn to infant to toddler. But triplets offered challenges as a group.

“It’s group control versus individual. With one kid, you’re able to give them so much individual attention. With the two of us, we’re outnumbered with the boys,” Matt Hobbs said.

Their triplets have all developed at a similar pace. They were crawling at the same time, began to talk together and started walking all at once.

“It hasn’t really gotten easier; it’s just gotten different,” Lindsay Hobbs said. “We don’t have to use the stroller every time we go out, but other things have become more difficult as they’ve gotten older.”

Though they look almost exactly the same, the Hobbs triplets have unique personalities that shine through, their parents say.

Henry is the investigator, scoping out new sounds and new people when they come to the house. Harrison is a daredevil. Meanwhile, Hudson is more sensitive and worried about how his brothers are doing.

It’s important to make sure the boys all know that they’re not solely defined by being triplets, Matt Hobbs said.

While they share a unique bond, each child is an individual. Matt and Lindsay Hobbs have made it a priority to plan special outings where one parent goes out with one boy. Sometimes, it’s as simple as going to the store with their dad or spending a few hours at the playground with mom.

“We want to give them their own special day. Right now, their identity is the three of them, so we spend a lot of time giving them their own time,” Matt Hobbs said.

Older multiples have found that identity to stick around for their entire lives.

Growing up in Brown County, Cassie Root, Katie Briles and Amie Frame knew that the “triplets” tag would stick with them wherever they went. Everyone at school knew they were part of a trio, and rarely were they separated.

“Which was also hard because we all shared so many activities,” Frame said. “We wanted to be different, but we were all so very much alike.”

But their individual personalities were evident to anyone who knew them. Frame was very goal-driven and, as the oldest, was the “mother bird” of the group. Root was the baby of the trio and is described by her sisters as innocent and naive. Briles is the most outgoing and independent.

When the triplets went to college, those qualities manifested even more. Root attended Franklin College, while Briles and Frame went to Indiana University.

The experience prepared them for the rest of their lives. Now 32, Root and Frame live in Franklin, while Briles is nearby in Whiteland. They play softball together, so although they have their own lives, they all get to still share in that sisterly bond.

“It was weird not being with them all of the time. But we’re used to it now and see each other all the time,” Root said.

Sara and Jessica Thom, 18, are freshmen at Franklin College.

While looking for colleges to attend, they had specific requirements that couldn’t be negotiated. They wanted to play softball, they had to feel comfortable with the social and academic atmospheres, and they had to attend the same place.

“We were going to stay together no matter what,” Jessica Thom said.

They share a dorm room at the college, work out on the softball team together and hang out after class together. Rarely, if ever, are they apart. They’re known around campus as “The Twins.”

“It’s nice to have someone there with you all of the time. Your best friend is with you 24-7,” Jessica Thom said.

But other twins like to have their space.

Franklin College juniors Michael and Matthew Icenogle originally planned to attend separate schools but decided as they were visiting schools to go to the same campus.

Though they were dorm mates for the first two years, this is the first time they’ve been apart.

Matthew Icenogle became a resident assistant, while Michael Icenogle signed up as a student mentor, so each had his own rooms.

“For our whole lives, we’ve either shared a room or lived right next to each other. This is almost preparing for after we graduate,” Michael Icenogle said. “It’s been good for us, not having to spend every moment together.”

The Hobbs family will be making school decisions for the first time this year. The triplets will attend preschool together starting in the fall. But Lindsay and Matt Hobbs are debating their strategy moving forward.

“We’re already thinking down the line if we should split them up in school. They’ll be in the same class next year, so we’ll see how it goes,” Lindsay Hobbs said.

The family acknowledges that life can get out of control some days with triplets. But it’s worth the increased chaos just to see the boys interact together.

Every night after story time, Lindsay and Matt Hobbs ask the boys what bed they want to sleep in. Though they all have their own beds, they always choose to sleep together.

After they fall asleep, their parents move them into their own beds so they can sleep better. But each night, they still want to be together.

“It is so neat to see them together and see that special bond together,” Lindsay Hobbs said. “When they hug each other and when they talk to each other, you don’t get that with just one.”

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