Overseeing a brood of four — a 3-year-old boy and 8-week-old triplets — isn't easy, but Sally Laurenti, 31, sure makes it look that way.
"She's amazing. I couldn't do what she does," said her husband, Daniel, 32, marveling about how his wife can hold and feed two babies at a time and handle bath time all on her own.
"I try to give her a break when I can," he said. "Let her get out by herself, even if it's just for a walk to the park. But they know when mom's gone. They double-team me — one after another crying. I get one settled down and the next one starts. My limit's about an hour, maybe an hour and a half. Then I'm calling her. She never complains."
"What's there to complain about?" Sally said, as she cradled Kayla, the littlest one. "I'm so lucky to have three healthy babies."
All was quiet on the Laurenti home front one recent day. It had been exactly two months to the day since the triplets came into the world.
Two of the three, Jack and Kayla, were content being handed off between their mom, dad and grandmother. Both were wide-eyed, taking in the world and watching the whirring overhead fan as their sister Sara, dressed in a red rosebud creeper, slept soundly on the sofa. Big brother William was being good, watching Nickelodeon at the kitchen counter and itching to scarf down that special cookie he had been promised.
The picture of serenity. A 2008 Norman Rockwell moment.
"You should have been here an hour ago," quipped Daniel's mom, Linda Laurenti, alluding to the flurry of chaos that preceded a visit from the press.
Even so, the Laurentis say leap-frogging from a family of three to six has been a fairly smooth transition.
Daniel and Sally, high school sweethearts who have been married 10 years, weren't altogether surprised when they learned of the impending births, conceived without any fertility treatments.
Twins run in both families. They thought about it, even joked about it. Then came the day of the ultrasound when Sally saw three heartbeats for the first time. Daniel, an appraiser, was at home watching William when he got the call from his wife.
"I just sat down," he said. "It didn't really sink in for about six months."
The baby showers rolled around. Loads of diapers and wipes and enough baby clothes to stock the double racks in the closet. Three cribs, three bouncy chairs, the three-seater stroller and binkies galore. The rarely-used family room was turned into a bedroom for William and his old room was painted with pink and blue stripes for the triplets.
On March 5, Jack, Kayla and Sara were born at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg by a scheduled caesarean section. They were healthy and a good size; Jack weighed in at 6 pounds, 3 ounces, Sara was an even 6 pounds and Kayla was 4 pounds, 15 ounces.
"That's unusual," said Sally, admitting she had prepared herself for the worst. "Most multiples end up spending some time in the (neonatal intensive care unit)." These triplets, all fraternal, went home after 48 hours.
There has been some adjusting to work through. Dinnertime can be an event.
"We rarely get to sit down together," said Sally, a stay-at-home mom who used to work as an eyeglass technician. "Sometimes I'm feeding and he's eating. Sometimes he's feeding and I'm eating."
Between the triplets and making special time for William so he doesn't feel left out, Daniel and Sally rarely have time for each another.
"When you do get time," Daniel said, "all you want to do is sleep."
Lots of support
But there's a big bright side. While the triplets have their nuances — Kayla is a ferocious eater; Sara likes to sleep and doesn't like to wait come feeding time; Jack is the calm one — they are a compliant group.
"They're all on the same schedule. They eat at the same time, sleep at the same time, all in the same crib. They like to be with each other. They're used to being smooshed together," Sally said. "They're all good. Not a colicky one in the bunch."
Of course it helps to have help. "We have a big family and they all live close," Sally said. "We have a lot of support."
The Laurentis' modest home is grandmother heaven for Sally's mom, Janet Robertson, who pitches in most nights, and Linda Laurenti, who stops in between working the morning and afternoon shifts at the PLACE day care program at Marlowe Elementary.
"I try to make it a ritual," she said as she cuddled with Jack.
"Everyone that comes over has their favorite one they like to hold," Daniel said.
"I tell them that's not allowed," Sally said a few moments before the front door swung open for more afternoon visitors.
There was Sally's mom, whisking one of the babies out of her daughter's arms, as Sally's aunt, Susan Torrisi, breezed by with her uncle, John Thomas, who had just flown in from New York.
"I can't tell them apart. I'll never get their names right," said Thomas, before turning to Daniel to ask, "How's your golf game?"
"Not as good as it used to be."
Michele Miller can be reached
or (727) 869-6251.