MINT HILL, NC – In 2004, 30-year-old Lenora Hunt was working and attending school full time when she started feeling nauseated. Hunt wasn’t trying to conceive at the time; nevertheless, it quickly became clear that she was pregnant. “That was my red flag with all my pregnancies!” recalls Hunt, then mom to two-year-old Dylan.
Nauseated daily to the point that she couldn’t eat or function normally, Hunt immediately stopped school and work. “Everything changed,” she said. “I couldn’t do anything! I layed around, and I grew, and I grew, and I grew!”
Hunt grew so much that her friends and family started teasing her about having twins. A sister to twin brothers, Hunt started to think they might be right, but she wasn’t prepared for what she’d hear when she went in for an ultrasound in December.
“The young lady doing the ultrasound said, ‘Oh man. Oh goodness,’ and I thought, ‘What in the world?’” Hunt worried something was wrong with her baby as the technician rushed out of the room and returned with another ultrasound tech who confirmed what the first tech had suspected: “You’re right,” she said. “It’s three.”
“There were no words,” says Hunt. “I couldn’t believe it. It was crazy.” Measuring each of the three babies took so long that Hunt was still in ultrasound when her husband got off work that evening and joined her. “I remember he came around to the end of the bed and said, ‘Is everything OK?’ I said, ‘You know how everyone was joking saying we’re having twins?’ ‘Well, we’re not having twins,’ I said, and I held up three fingers. The look on his face, I’ll never forget it until the day I die!”
With triplets on the way and a history of high risk pregnancy, Hunt’s case was immediately red-flagged. She wound up spending nearly two months in the hospital on bedrest before delivering her triplets via c-section 7 weeks early.
Jada Loghan, Evan Keith and Carmen Marissa Hunt were born on March 15, 2005, at Northeast Medical Center. The trio are full-blooded Native Americans from the Lumbee tribe in Lumberton, just like Hunt and her husband.
When it came time to leave the hospital, Hunt had to borrow her mother-in-law’s Expedition to get all the babies home as the four car seats she now needed wouldn’t fit in her Buick Oldsmobile. Moreover, the Hunts’ three new additions made for cramped living conditions in their small mobile home. “It turned into a matchbox really quick!” recalls Hunt. Luckily, due to a series of fortuitous circumstances, they were soon able to move into her husband’s childhood home.
Having three newborn babies and a toddler at home was, needless to say, challenging. Unable to afford daycare for all four children, Hunt stayed home, caring for the babies nearly around the clock. Although they struggled at times to provide for the needs of such a large family, Hunt could always count on friends, family and her faith in the Lord. “The lady my husband worked for, he would come home and the whole car would be full of diapers and wipes,” says Hunt. “From day one, everything we’ve needed, God has supplied it every week. There have been a lot of things they’ve had to do without, but we’ve never had a need that they weren’t provided.”
As the triplets have grown, Hunt has learned to roll with the punches, confronting each new set of challenges with the same optimism and faith. Always involved in all her kids’ schooling, Hunt treasures the friendships she’s made with other parents from Clear Creek Elementary, Northeast Middle and Independence High Schools. Of course, there are continued challenges, many of them financial. “I never get cut a deal with triplets!” laughs Hunt. “Annual fees, yearbooks, fun run shirts – everything is times three!”
“It’s just nonstop,” says Lenora, whose triplets are now teenagers. “They’re all different. My boy has always been an instigator. One girl is full of drama; she’s loud, she just has to be heard. And the other goes along with anything; she’s the peacemaker. It’s the same now that they’ve become teenagers! They’ve become more mature, of course, but they still do the same things.”
Now, Lenora’s preemies are sophomores at Independence High School. On March 15, they celebrated their sixteenth birthday with a simple family celebration, cooking out and riding four-wheelers. This summer the triplets will start driver’s ed, and in a few short years, they’ll be off to college.
Raising triplets has certainly been challenging, but Hunt considers herself lucky. “I’ve been blessed with these kids,” she says. “They’ve never had any health challenges. If you saw them independently on their own, you’d never think they were 3 lb babies.”
It’s that positive message Hunt hopes everyone can take from her story in these challenging times. “Never lose hope with things,” she says. “When the unknown comes, whatever it may be, don’t be frightened. Things work out. Always keep hope. There are always people that are worse off than you, so count your blessings.”