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10 sets of triplets and their parents gather for lunch in Mineola

Ten sets of triplets ages 3 months to 6 years, all born at NYU Winthrop Hospital, gather for an end-of-the-school-year celebration on Friday.  (Credit: Newsday / Morgan Campbell)

These Long Island parents’ reactions to finding out about their pregnancies were a little different from the norm.

“I was speechless,” said Michelle Katsavos, 38, a stay-at-home mother from Lynbrook. “My husband almost fell over in the office.”

“Double-check,” Polixeni Damodaran, 35, a stay-at-home mother from Floral Park, urged the sonographer. When Damodaran filled in her husband, Saju, 37, an auditor, “his mouth just dropped. He was like, ‘How did this happen?’ ”

“I froze,” said Jamie Schulz, 38, a warranty manager from Kings Park. “I went into my Prius and said, ‘Where am I going to fit three car seats?”

Katsavos, Damodaran and Schulz are all parents of triplets born at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola. Katsavos’ are 6 years old, Damodaran’s are 21 months, and Schulz’s are 2 ½. Their families gathered on Friday for the annual NYU Winthrop Triplets Reunion. Ten sets, ages 3 months to 9 years, attended a lunch at the hospital, where flowers were presented to the parents and bubble toys to the 30 children.

“Triplets are relatively rare, even though you wouldn’t figure that out by being in this room at this moment,” said Dr. Martin Chavez, Winthrop's director of maternal and fetal medicine and fetal surgery. Of the 3.9 million deliveries annually nationwide, 4,000 are triplets; because triplets take extra prenatal care and typically are delivered early by cesarean section, it’s especially gratifying to see the results, Chavez said.

Mariebelle Abelarde, 34, a nurse anesthetist from New Hyde Park, dressed her 9-year-old triplets Liam, Vincent and Nathaniel in matching suits, Liam’s in green, Vincent’s in red and Nathaniel’s in blue. They were the oldest triplets at the event.

What’s it like to be a trio? “Hard,” said Joseph Issa, 6, of Wantagh. He has triplet sisters, Noelle and Lyla, who happen to be identical because they split from the same egg. “The girls annoy me,” Joseph said.

His friend Brianna Katsavos, 6 — their families connected through Winthrop — has a different take on being a triplet with her brothers, Luke and Chase. “It’s fun,” she said. She likes pretending to be a puppy with her brothers or making birds’ nests with them out of sticks and leaves, she said.

“It’s just really chaotic, to say the least,” Michelle Katsavos said of parenting triplets. “They always fight over me. Who’s sitting next to me, who’s holding my hand, who am I reading a bedtime story to first. On the other hand, they have built-in playmates.”

Deer Park's Tom McCausland, 39, who works for Grainger Industrial Supply in Melville, said he had been hoping to have a boy when he found out his wife, Sara, a veterinary technician, was pregnant. "I lucked out," Tom joked of his 11-month-olds Gavin, Timothy and Benjamin. "It's busy, but it's a lot of fun." 

Are these parents going to have more kids? The across-the-board response was “no.”

“We made sure they double-knotted when in there,” Schulz joked. “They’re beautiful, they’re healthy, they’re happy, they’re smart. I really couldn’t ask for anything more.”

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