Thursday, January 5, 2017 12:00 AM

What not to expect when you’re expecting

You have probably heard the saying, “All good things come in threes.” But what happens when those three things come all at once as in triplet babies?

For parents Aaron and Natalie Blankenship, it has been a rollercoaster going from a family of three to a family of six in what feels like the blink of an eye.
At 16 years old, Natalie was diagnosed with a type of spinal cancer that exposed her pituitary gland to radiation during treatment, causing permanent damage to the way her hormones function. So when she married her high school sweetheart, Aaron, she had to rely on fertility drugs to start a family.
“After being successful with our first son, J.J., we decided we wanted to try again in hopes of becoming a family of four,” Natalie said. “And when we saw three babies on the first ultrasound instead of one, I had to reach for my husband to make sure he didn’t faint!”
At 31 weeks into her pregnancy, Natalie was transferred to Community Regional Medical Center from Kaiser Permanente Fresno Medical Center to be monitored for signs of early labor or fetal distress before delivery.
Natalie delivered babies August, Dominic and Chloe at 33 weeks on August 17, 2016. “I am so thankful that I was able to deliver at Community Regional and stay with my babies,” Natalie said. “That is such a special time and the doctors were wonderful and gave me peace of mind that we were in the best possible hands.”

Though healthy, all three babies stayed in the NICU at Community Regional for about a week and were all treated with bubble CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) , which allows preemie babies to be off ventilators sooner and helps avoid chronic lung problems later in life.
Community Regional’s extremely low birthweight babies are three times more likely to improve enough to be removed from ventilators within the first four hours of life, compared to premies statewide, according to data from the California Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative which tracks 131 NICUs in the state.
“Chloe ended up having a few more complications and was put on the ventilator but was off fairly quickly,” Natalie said.
Today the whole family is back at home, happy and healthy. If they had to do it all over again, Natalie said they wouldn’t change a thing. “Having triplets was definitely not what we expected, but I can’t imagine life without them now.”
Ashlie Graef reported this story. Reach her at