Oh, baby, baby, baby

Surprise: Crystal Cornick, 19, beats the odds by giving birth to a second set of triplets.

February 05, 2000|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,SUN STAFF

Lying shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder in peaceful slumber, the tiny newborn triplets are beautiful enough to make a parent swoon, but that's just the half of it.

They are the Lotto babies, the Double-Triple babies, the Deja Vu Triplets. These babies could make a Baltimore bookie swoon.

At the tender age of 3 days, the infants are quickly becoming international celebrities. Requests for interviews (with their parents) have poured in to the University of Maryland Medical Center from newspapers and TV networks in England, Argentina, and Brazil. The children have appeared on national television.

Why? Because Tyler, Ariel and Tyree have two sisters and a brother back home who just happen to be 20-month-old triplets.

Without the aid of fertility drugs or medical intervention, 19-year-old Crystal Cornick has twice given birth to triplets. Her neonatologist suspects the odds of this happening are approximately 1 in 10 million.

"It's a feeling I can't even explain," says Richard Williams, 22, Cornick's fiancee and now the father of six. "It's overwhelming. I just feel blessed."

You'll pardon her if Cornick, a former economics student at Goucher College, is still feeling a bit shell-shocked from the arrival herself. Released from the hospital Thursday, she's been commuting several times each day from her home in Reservoir Hill to the hospital to help with the children.

"I can joke about it all one minute and then not the next," she says. "I'm still a little bit overwhelmed."

Doctors have pronounced the babies remarkably fit for triplets. They arrived after 35 weeks with no complications -- or C-section required. With just a little extra oxygen the first day, they've been breathing fine on their own.

The largest of the babies, 5 pounds- 1/2 ounce Ariel and 4 pounds-5 ounce Tyler are expected to be released in one week from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Tyree, who weighed 3 pounds-14 ounces at birth, will probably spend two weeks there.

"They're not a medical miracle -- my job was actually pretty easy," says Dr. Ira Gewolb, chief of neonatology at the UM's Hospital for Children. "But what has happened -- in terms of luck and genes -- that's pretty rare."

Incidentally, multiples don't run in either family -- aside from twin cousins on Williams' side.

Nurses say the infants are already showing some personality. Ariel, the only girl in this set, seems to be the pushiest, Tyler the most easy-going, and Tyree the feisty little guy.

The older brother and two sisters, Richard, Erin and Iman, have some idea what's going on, Cornick says, although they're still too young to fully understand.

If the new arrivals weren't keeping them busy enough, Cornick and Williams have something else on their agenda: After 3 1/2 years together (including 18 months as fiancees), they plan to marry this afternoon. Then they will move in together in the three-bedroom Irvington home that Williams shares with his mother.

Finances are tight. Medical assistance has so far paid for the triplets' care.

But soon they'll be a family under one roof and they both seem delighted about that -- particularly after feeling ridiculed by the "Later Today" hosts Thursday. First, Florence Henderson asked "Whatever happened to getting married first and then having kids?" Then Jodi Applegate wondered if Cornick shouldn't have taken "extra precautions" with birth control. "That really hurt," Cornick says.

"You need patience to raise triplets," says Williams, a delivery truck driver. "You need understanding. If something gets broken, you can't fly off the handle."

The University of Maryland Medical Center has set up a fund to help care for the children. Donations may be made to Allfirst Bank, Attn: Cornick/Williams Triplets Fund, 22 S. Greene St., Baltimore 21201.

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