(Editor's note: In 2009, Mirror reporter Ashley Gurbal met with the Coon family over a five-month period, from halfway through their pregnancy until after the triplets' birth. A three-part series on the couple's infertility struggles and preparation for their babies was published May 17, 18 and 19.)
The last year has passed in a blur of milestones for the Coon family.
Mike and Jess Coon's triplets - Abram, Wyatt and Maxwell - celebrated their first birthday March 20. Over the past year, the Coons have watched their sons grow and start to develop into "little people," Jess said.
Mirror photos by?Gary M.?Baranec
The Coon brothers (from left) Maxwell, Abram and Wyatt play in the living room of their Altoona home March 9.
"It's amazing how quickly their personalities have come out," she said. "There are so many things I'm so excited to do with them - in the fall, go to the pumpkin patch, go get ice cream, go to the movies, to dinner - just everything."
The triplets were conceived through in vitro fertilization at Shady Grove Fertility in Fred-erick, Md., and delivered via Caesarean section at Altoona Regional Health System, Altoona Hospital Campus. They were flown by medical helicopter to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, where they were kept until April 9.
The boys' first months, Jess said, passed in a blur of diaper changings and sleepless nights.
2 months: Smiling
4 months: Laughing
4 to 6 months: Sleeping through the night
5 to 6 months: Sitting up independently
8 months: Crawling
9 months: Waving bye-bye
9 to 12 months: Babies start feeding themselves
12 months: Standing briefly without support
9 to 17 months: Walking. Most babies take a few steps by 13 months
"I never realized how much sleep deprivation could affect your daily function," Jess said with a laugh.
Keeping the babies on a schedule has been key, Jess said. The boys usually sleep from 8 p.m. to 6:15 a.m. these days.
"I've kept them in a routine since the beginning," she said. "Six o'clock is dinner, from 6:30 to 7 they play, and by a quarter til 8, they're ready for bed. It's all about trying to find a balance and giving each one enough attention."
Jess returned to her position as a case manager at Blair Senior Services in Altoona on a part-time basis in July. She works three days a week. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the triplets go to a baby sitter who works out of her home. Mike Coon is off on Thursdays, so the couple sends their sons to the baby sitter an additional day each week to run errands and spend time together.
The Coons said the triplets' first year hasn't presented any financial hardships - they received enough diapers as shower gifts to last the first six months, and they receive $100 a month from Wo-men, Infants and Children for baby formula.
The family receives WIC assistance because Mike was unemployed for about two months after the triplets were born. He now works as a sales representative at Park Audio Video in Duncansville.
Although the triplets were born prematurely, at 32 weeks, they haven't had any issues, other than being a little small for their age, Jess said. The Coons decided not to vaccinate their sons against H1N1 and instead have limited the boys' exposure to public places.
"They are truly miracle babies," Jess said. "They weren't sick. They're just healthy, beautiful, normal babies. They were sent from heaven."
It didn't take long for the boys' personalities to emerge. Already, Jess said, she can tell that Abram is "inquisitive, a thinker"; Max is "very serious and hard to make laugh"; and Wyatt is a "typical baby - very loving, very affectionate."
The biggest challenge, the Coons said, has just been handling three babies - "you're always outnumbered," Jess said with a laugh.
Family members have been a big help - the triplets' grandmothers, Maryann Pellegrine and Sara Coon, both of Altoona, frequently stay over to help care for the boys, as do relatives on both sides of the family.
Even with all the help, Mike said, it's been a challenge. The Coons have agreed to a schedule - if one of the boys wakes up between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m., Mike takes care of him; between 2 and 6 a.m., Jess is on duty.
"It's the hardest thing, but it's the most rewarding thing," Mike said. "When they say and do things, it's priceless. It's worth a million dollars."