tampabay.com

Bundles of joy, challenges

By GAIL DIEDERICH
Published May 13, 2007


On the day set aside to honor mothers, three Pasco County women - one with a new daughter, another with twins and a third with triplets - are taking time to reflect on the joys, and the challenges, of being a mom. They watch over their kids and wonder about the years ahead as they manage day-to-day life. And as unique as their individual experiences are, they also are typical of what every mother, everywhere, goes through.

Liona Brown of New Port Richey doesn't cry much. But when she saw the ultrasound image, tears came in a rush.

"Suddenly it was real. There was my baby, " said Brown, 27.

The grin on husband Scott's face dissolved her fears. So what if he was still in college. The finances would work out. They could manage. Their baby was coming.

Kimberly Riannon Brown was born April 4.

"I thought she was the most perfect thing I'd ever seen. I couldn't take my eyes off her, " Brown says.

Looking ahead, Brown says she hopes to teach Kimberly independence and give her the strength to make right decisions throughout her life.

"I hope she's not a handful when she's a teenager, " Brown says, laughing. "I hope she doesn't bring home a guy we don't like."

Brown cuddles Kimberly close, stares into her eyes. The tiny baby yawns, stretches and drifts back to sleep.

"She'll be a smart girl, " Brown says with conviction.

* * *

Kelly Hauschen got the news as she prepared to move back to New Port Richey after three years in Alaska, where she had moved with her husband, a Coast Guard pilot.

She stared at the ultrasound images and asked "What's that?! Is that twins?!"

"I think it is, " said the doctor.

"I grabbed her arm and held on like it was a rope. I was overcome with utter and sheer panic, " Hauschen says.

How could she tell Mike? How would he react? They already had a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old, an SUV that barely held them all, and they were moving. She ran out of the doctor's office in tears.

Before her ultrasound, Hauschen, a former Pasco County teacher, said she started noticing things in pairs.

While driving, two eagles flew overhead. Another time, two young fawns crossed the road together. She recalls these events now with wonder.

"Somewhere deep inside, I think I knew, " she says, looking toward her twins.

On Dec. 6, 2006, Jennifer Ailynn, tipping the scales at 6 pounds, 7 ounces, was followed by Jared Michael, weighing in at 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

"Ailynn was handed to me and she looked at me with big bright eyes. She was so beautiful. Jared was very calm and peaceful, " says Hauschen, 33.

"Having twins is not that bad, " she continues. "We help each other as a family; even the other children help me with them.

"I want all my children to be happy, be friends together, and I want them to be good citizens, " Hauschen says as she thinks about the future.

"I focus more on the moment. Teenage years? I don't go there, yet, " she says.

"We just hope we'll be at the right place at the right time. You have to rise to the occasion whatever the situation."

Responsibilities come three times as fast

Angela Haskell waited patiently to see the ultrasound. Images began to appear. One, two and then, nestled in back, three.

Triplets.

"I was shocked, scared and nervous. I guess ignorance was bliss. I had no idea what was coming with three babies, " Haskell says, laughing.

She looked at husband Brian. He was sinking fast into a chair, speechless.

The New Port Richey couple waited nervously for the big day.

It came Sept. 2, 2004, nine weeks early. Alessandra and Cameron, each weighing slightly over 3 pounds and Carter, at 2 pounds, 12 ounces, entered the world.

Alessandra and Cameron would remain in the neonatal intensive care unit for five weeks. Cameron would stay seven.

"I was overwhelmed at first, " says Haskell, 30. "It was a bit sad to see them in the NICU, but they were healthy. They just needed a little more time to grow."

Then they were home. The long, sleepless nights began.

"We were sleeping in two-hour increments. I felt like I was drowning, " she says.

She and Brian sought a night nanny who could care for the triplets and provide about six hours of uninterrupted sleep for the weary parents.

"As much as I love them, I would not want to relive that first year, " Angela says now.

Today, the 2 1/2-year-old triplets race around the house. Alessandra, the brown-eyed toddler, sits on the sofa arm, making a ponytail in her mom's hair. Cameron, with green eyes, grins through the window of a collapsible fabric school bus.

Carter, the blue-eyed one, shoves a large ottoman across the wood floor, climbs on it and flicks the light switch.

"That'll be the one that jumps off the roof, " says Haskell, laughing as she directs Carter to get down.

What does the future look like with three children who will all turn 16 the same day?

"We're not looking forward to all three learning to drive at the same time, " says Haskell, an English teacher at Chamberlin High. "Dating? Well, Alli has two brothers. I hope they'll look out for her and she'll let me know what they're up to."

They're devoted parents but Angela and Brian, a lawyer in Tampa, go out, without the triplets, once a week and about every six months they go away for a few days.

"The children are about 95 percent of our focus, but we know that for the children to have a healthy side of us, we have to have time for the two of us, " she says. "You just take one day at a time."

Families of all sizes get lots of support

The three mothers all recognize the importance of family support.

Brown, a commission analyst, will return to work in June. Scott's mother, Sue Brown, will babysit through the summer. Scott, a recent college graduate with a degree in business, will be job hunting. Liona and Scott live within minutes of both sets of parents. They like it that way.

"It's very important for us to be close in the family, " she said.

Hauschen also credits family support. "Put family first - that is a personal choice. My mother has always been one to find positives in every situation. And close friends are a great support."

At Haskell's house, she looks across the room at her mother, Pam Frantz, who quickly retrieves one toddler and reaches for another. She smiles and says, "Family support is everything."