Any family who brings home more than one baby from the hospital at the same time is likely to describe how their life has been upended.
So it was in the Montgomery household, where triplets Adam, Christian and Grace joined the family 18 years ago.
But about nine months in, as the routines of feeding, soothing and sleeping (times three) started to stabilize, something happened that truly turned life upside down.
Baby Christian maneuvered his walker over to where a hot iron rested, and pulled it down onto his face. He was severely burned. Some 15 surgeries and skin grafts later, the tragic accident hasn't slowed Christian at all; he has managed every school year and challenge — with his brother and sister beside him.
The Montgomery siblings sat down with tb-two* recently to talk about their lives up until now, and what they'll be like after graduation.
All enrolled in the IB program at Hillsborough High, where most other students wouldn't know they were triplets or even related. (No, they don't dress alike, and they don't travel in threes.) But going through 12 years of school together has cemented a special bond among the three, though if you ask what distinguishes them, not one mentions the accident that happened when they were babies.
There's Christian, the self-described "nerd" with a love for engineering; Adam ("I enjoy sports in every single way"), the most athletic of the three who has found great success in rowing; and Grace, the adventurer who "annoys them at home."
The Montgomerys have appreciated each other being around for homework help, but the benefit was great inside school, too, having "two classmates that I already knew," Grace said.
"I always have someone to hang out with and have my back," Christian said, "but also I struggle to branch out and be my own person." In their early school years, Christian said, the scarring from his accident made it tough to be social. "I was a little picked on in elementary school," he said. "It was always nice having a brother or sister there to back me up."
Each has found his or her own way to branch out.
For three summers, Christian attended the Roger Pepper Burn Survivor Camps, skiing and ice-climbing in Colorado with other survivors. These camps have been eye-opening for Christian, who saw other kids who didn't have the same opportunities he did. "I still have my 10 fingers . . . meeting other kids at other camps, they have one limb, so I feel fortunate," he said. He said he has embraced his burn injury, and "I don't have any regrets." Christian will be attending the Naval Academy.
Grace has been active with the Interact service club at Hillsborough and will be studying abroad next year in Brazil through Rotary Youth Exchange before going to college.
Adam has been rowing for four years, placing statewide and nationally, and will join Christian to study at the Naval Academy.
Even though Christian and Adam will be attending the same school, they know their lives will be more separate. "I'm looking forward to finally going on my own," Christian said. "It's college, there's so many people there, so I won't really hang around with Adam."
Grace will be thousands of miles away in Brazil, and she'll miss her brothers. "It's sad, but I also know I'm proud of them . . . I'm happy that we're going off to do such good things.
"But it's definitely going to be a really weird adjustment."