Triplets Thrill New Parents 2018-01-05T09:16:51+00:00

JULY 20, 2006 | Dennis and Shelly Armstrong, both R.N.s at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), knew that life would be different when they learned she was pregnant.


Six weeks later, at Shelly’s first ultrasound, they learned how much different. Two fertilized eggs had been implanted using In Vitro Fertilization, so the Armstrongs figured they were lucky if one egg developed and they became the happy new parents of a boy or girl.


But both eggs developed into fetuses. What’s more, one had split. They had triplets.


“You could have knocked me over with a feather,” Dennis said. “We knew that was possible, but we weren’t expecting it.”


After the June 23 births of the two girls – Emily and Gracie — and boy, Luke, all were spending time in UAMS’ Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and the parents from North Little Rock were spending as many hours as possible with them. Mary Stelzl of Maumelle, a longtime UAMS volunteer, knitted red, white and blue caps — for each baby to wear on the Fourth of July — and local television stations reported their story.


Shelly, who works in the Intensive Care Unit, had carried the children for 34 weeks and was never ordered to bed rest. All three weighed more than 4 ½ pounds, a remarkable feat for triplets.


“That was the most difficult thing I have ever done,” said Shelly, 35. “It was hard – hard. I gained about 90 pounds.”


For Dennis, who works in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, it was “seven months of worry.”


Being nurses didn’t help as they waited for delivery, he said. “We had a few things that scared us in the beginning and because of Shelly’s age we knew there were more risk factors,” he said. “Knowing all the terminology, you’re a little more scared than the average person because you know exactly what the doctor is saying.”


The Armstrongs said family and friends have rallied around them to help – the nursery is complete – and Shelly said she plans to return to work after three months off.