It’s A Rare Event Surrogate Gives Birth To Rare Triplets for Two Grateful Dads
The year 2021 will be remembered as a whirlwind for Eric Portenga and his husband, Kevin O’Neill. Since their marriage in 2016, they’ve been thoroughly ʀᴇsᴇᴀʀᴄʜɪɴɢ options for having children. However, having three – all at once – wasn’t necessarily in their plans.
Eric and Kevin welcomed identical triplet daughters on September 9, 2021. Their surrogate, Maureen Farris of Akron, Ohio, gave birth to the girls at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. Kevin and Eric met Maureen, a school teacher and mother of a 5-year-old son, Julian, through a mutual friend. While Maureen and her husband, Jeremiah Currier, had decided not to have any more children, she “loved being pregnant” and was privately considering becoming a surrogate for another couple.
“Children are my heart and my passion. When I realized maybe I could help another family, I decided sᴜʀʀᴏɢᴀᴄʏ was a route I’d be interested in taking.”says Maureen
Before beginning the process, everyone agreed on some ground rules: the eggs would be harvested from a donor, fertilized by Kevin or Eric and implanted into Maureen by in vitro fertilization (IVF). While Maureen would not be the biological mother, and has no parenting rights, the couple insisted she be part of their family and have a presence in the girls’ lives.
While IVF can sometimes require several attempts before a pregnancy occurs, Maureen became pregnant on the first try. Everything progressed normally until two heartbeats – and, later, three – were detected. It’s a rare event, there were approximately 3,100 triplet births in 2019.
When they to be there for the first ultrasound (at six weeks of pregnancy), they found out that was twin. Six weeks later, during a subsequent sonogram followed by a visit to a reproductive endocrinologist, they found out their impending family of four was about to be five. Maureen, of course, was shocked there were three babies growing inside of her. It was one of the most difficult things she’s ever done. The sᴡᴇʟʟɪɴɢ and the stretching and the ᴀᴄʜᴇs ᴀɴᴅ ᴘᴀɪɴs
And at 35 weeks gestation and via ᴄᴇsᴀʀᴇᴀɴ birth (C-sᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ), sisters Parker, Robin and Sylvie made their grand entrance. Following an 18-day stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Her doctors hoped she would be able to hold out until week 34, still early compared to a full-term pregnancy, but long enough the babies would be less likely to have birth weight issues. At week 35, the Cleveland Clinic Akron General team – which began handling her care during the 21st week of pregnancy decided the time was right for the C-sᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ.
Everything went as well as can be expected with a multiple delivery birth.
Now, Eric and Kevin have settled into a daily routine. Parker, the oldest, reliably eats and sleeps on schedule. Kevin says Robin “is the fiery one” who is either calm or screaming. And Sylvie, the smallest, makes cute squeaky noises when she sleeps. Kevin jokes, “We’re experts at diaper changing now. It is difficult to distinguish 1 of the 3 babies, because they are so similar.
“We’re trying to make sure we can tell them apart by behavior and personality,” states Eric. But, adds Kevin, each has been designated her own special color. Parker is purple, Robin is turquoise and Sylvie is yellow – to easily identify them.
Maureen Farris is thrilled her sᴜʀʀᴏɢᴀᴄʏ has forever brightened the lives of Kevin, Eric and their girls.
“I feel like I helped my best friends have their babiesI love the girls with all of my heart, and I’m just so grateful they have their daddies.”she exudes