- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 9, 2005

When most people see triplets they think about the sleepless nights and too many diapers. But the families who gathered in the District this weekend for the Kids in the Capital triplets convention said the unexpected births also bring unexpected joys of parenting and family.

More than 120 sets of identical and fraternal triplets converged on the Loews L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Southwest for the four-day convention that began Thursday.

Four sets of quadruplets also attended the conference, said spokeswoman Janis Brett Elspas.

One of those sets — the 18-year-old McNicholas “quad squad” of Kirtland, Ohio — sat in on a teen-oriented chat session for multiples and their siblings.

Ryan McNicholas and siblings Lindsay, Brynn and Connor were just the fourth set of quadruplets born in Minnesota, Ryan said.

The convention “is nice if only because it gives us a break from having to answer the same questions over and over again,” Ryan said.

The convention was organized by the Triplet Connection, a nonprofit group that is the largest and oldest network of services and support for parents expecting or raising triplets or larger multiples.

The organization was founded 22 years ago by Janet Bleyl of Spring City, Utah, after she gave birth to identical triplet boys.

Mrs. Bleyl, a mother of 10 and grandmother of 16, facilitated a workshop for grandparents yesterday.

The workshop was one of several for parents and older children to discuss a variety of issues, from time management to helping children maintain individual identities.

For the younger participants, a pool party was held following a brief afternoon luncheon.

“The good side about [having triplets] is that they have built-in playmates,” Karen Danchenko of Palm City, Fla., said jokingly while her 6-year-old triplets Ariella, Adrian and Brianna romped with 4-year-old sister Mikaela during the luncheon.

“And you get rid of all the bad stuff at one time — diapers, bottles,” she continued. “But it has its tough side. Trying to potty-train three children at once, it wasn’t easy.”

Still, the triplets have been a positive influence on Mikaela, who reached many childhood benchmarks quickly in an attempt to emulate her older siblings, Mrs. Danchenko said.

“She did everything early — she gave up her bottle, diapers, everything,” Mrs. Danchenko said. “She was potty-trained at 2 years old. She said, ‘They don’t wear diapers, why do I have to?’ But of course, when they started kindergarten, she wondered why she couldn’t go to school. Luckily, she starts kindergarten this fall.”

Other activities this weekend included a parade, museum trips and a family picnic. The convention concludes today with a family breakfast.

Only about 5 percent of live multiple births in the U.S. involve three or more babies, according to National Center for Health Statistics. The center reported 6,898 triplet births and 434 quadruplet births in 2002, the most recent year of available statistics. In comparison, the number of twin births was 125,134 — out of 4 million births overall.

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