Nearly two months have passed since Amanda and Chad Doss welcomed home their daughters, Avery, Bentley and Cassidy, and the couple is following one simple mantra for dealing with three identical babies: “Keep calm, they’re only triplets.”
One thing that’s easing life with their rare set of naturally occurring identical triplets is a pink Sharpie marker.
The girls, who are 12 weeks old now, have tiny differences that enable their parents to just barely tell them apart.
One of Bentley’s eyelids has a red mark, and Cassidy has a prominent vein on her nose, though it is starting to fade. The infants are changing almost daily, though, so after bath time the Dosses reach for the marker.
“We keep their initials with Sharpie on the bottom of their feet just in case they wake up one morning and those (facial) marks are gone,” Amanda said last week.
The triplets, born about two months early on Dec. 30, thrived in the hospital and went home on Jan. 29, still about a month before Amanda’s due date. “It was a little nerve-wracking but very exciting at the same time,” says Amanda.
By all accounts, the Franklin, Ind., couple is adjusting to their new life since the girls joined the family, which also includes Chad’s kids from a previous marriage, Caleb, 12, and Kaitlyn, 9. After he and Amanda married in 2011, he decided to get his vasectomy reversed in order to expand his family "just a little bit." The naturally occurring triplets were a welcome surprise.
The Dosses have become a family of seven in a three-bedroom home, each baby in her own crib in the master bedroom. The couple has settled into a routine, sharing the parenting and household duties, with regular help from relatives.
While the triplets were still in the hospital, Amanda told TODAY.com that she couldn’t wait to start caring for her babies herself. Now that they are home, Chad, 31, and Amanda, 27, say they are tired and life is busy, but they are overjoyed by their daughters, matter-of-fact about the daily grind.
“For the most part, it’s not as difficult as I thought it was going to be,” Amanda says. “I pictured mass chaos in my head. Now, at this infant stage, they’re pretty easy to take care of.”
“It doesn’t feel like work,” she adds. “It feels like being a mom. There’s three little babies who need me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Friends tell Chad they are surprised how smoothly their life seems to be going, expecting a house filled with constant screaming and disorder. People often comment about how well rested Amanda looks and how laid-back she seems, though she’s aware that things may change.
“I know I’ll get more frazzled and tired later on when they’re mobile and wanting to be on the go all the time,” Amanda says.
While just having one baby can try a new parent’s patience, Amanda says she handles her three by trying to stick to a schedule and not letting herself get stressed out. For Chad, it’s the cooperative spirit they share, with one taking over when the other is too pooped to function.
“We’re both so good together, about helping each other out,” Chad says. “We want each other to be happy. That love between us is the biggest thing that keeps us going.”
Caleb and Kaitlyn are also enjoying their baby sisters. “Our two older kids just love them to pieces and offer to help all the time,” Amanda says.
Caring for the babies is like working on an assembly line. They eat every three to four hours, and it takes about 90 minutes to feed all three. The goal is for them to need to eat about a half-hour apart. Then there are the diaper changes, 20 to 30 a day. “There’s not a whole lot of downtime,” Amanda says.
When it comes to those middle-of-the-night feedings, Amanda takes the first one, Chad the second, around 5 a.m., and then gets ready for his job as an information technology director.
As the triplets spend more time awake, they are showing a little emotion and slight personality differences. “You sit and talk with them and just try to get them to smile, and when they finally do, it melts your heart,” Amanda says.
Cassidy is the loudest. “It seems to be she’s going to be our drama queen,” Chad says. Bentley is laid-back, and Avery is very alert. “She wants to look around and she wants to see everything,” he said.
Relatives pitch in with hands-on help. The babies' grandmothers each typically spend at least one night a week with them, and Amanda’s grandmother comes over on Wednesdays.
“Our moms taking one night where we can get a good eight hours (of sleep), it’s a tremendous help in trying to recharge us so we can keep going,” Chad says.
Amanda’s mother, Darlene Harden, feels proud of Chad and Amanda, noting how well they have adjusted to their new life and how calm they are.
“They don’t seem to panic,” said Harden, 56. “There’s no visible stress or anything. They never snap at each other. They never seem to be at the point where they can’t handle it.”
She’s not surprised though, given that Amanda always wanted to be a mother. “Whenever she was little, she talked about, ‘When I’m a mom …’ ,” Harden recalled.
It was the hope of fulfilling that dream that led Chad to reverse his vasectomy and allow Amanda to experience pregnancy and motherhood.
“It’s the greatest gift I could have ever asked for,” Amanda says of her brood. “I don’t think I could possibly love them any more than I already do.”
Lisa A. Flam is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitter: @lisaflam