Friday, June 15, 2001
It was exactly five months ago, come Fathers Day, that the triplets, Catherine, Caroline and Douglas Jr., were born to proud parents Douglas and Mary Beth Stevenson. According to assistant town clerk Irene Blake, this was the second set of triplets to be born in Carlisle. Checking the records that reach as far back as the eighteenth century, Blake found only one other set of triplets listed, the Wheelers who were born in 1819. In honor of Fathers Day, the Mosquito took this opportunity to talk to Doug Stevenson about his new role as a father to three five-month-olds.
Stevenson has led an active life in the town of Carlisle, where he has lived his entire life. He has just begun the second year of a second three-year term as selectman. He is a lieutenant in the Carlisle Fire Department and a member of the town celebrations committee. He will now be less involved in the Corinthian Lodge (Masons) in Concord, but he and Mary Beth have continued to attend church services at the Lutheran Church in Bedford, where they take the babies as well. Oh, and let's not forget, Stevenson holds down a full-time job as operations manager for Kistler & Knapp Builders in Acton, a custom residential builder, a five-minute drive from his home.
"I've changed my priorities and how I spend my time," reports Stevenson. "Although I'm giving more time at home, I must give credit to my wife who does the child care, day to day." Stevenson's tenure as selectman usually involves one to three meetings a week, but he admits to scaling back on the optional ones since the triplets were born. "I'm making time for fatherhood," he says.
"It was challenging at the beginning, especially when the babies had to be fed every three hours," recalls Stevenson. Early in May, however, they started sleeping through the night, and the schedule Mary Beth had been working to establish became a reality. The current schedule reads like this:
5:30-6:30 a.m.: 1st feeding, Doug helps
9:30-10:30 a.m.: 2nd feeding
2-3 p.m.: 3rd feeding
5:30-6:30 p.m.: 4th feeding, Doug helps
9:30-10:30 p.m.: last feeding
At each feeding, one baby is bottle-fed while the other two are breast-fed. The bottle-fed baby alternates from feeding to feeding.
It's the routine
Routine, routine, that is the key word for both parents. "We are fortunate to have healthy children who can maintain a healthy schedule," says Stevenson. "Having triplets is no more difficult than what I had imagined. When you have three children, you have to make the schedule work, and Mary Beth's work on this has paid off."
The girls, Catherine and Caroline, are identical twins, whereas Douglas Jr. is fraternal. When they were born, the babies shared one crib. Now each has a crib in the downstairs bedroom. At night each has a cradle in their parents' upstairs bedroom. At the moment the Stevenson's two-bedroom house is adequate for three babies, but for three toddlers, that's another question. "We will need to do something in the next couple of years," admits Stevenson. "We like the neighborhood and would like to stay where we are, if possible. It's a challenge to expand on our present property. We'd like to stay in Carlisle. I've been here all my life, and I'd love to give my children the opportunity to grow up in Carlisle."
Family members help out
Thanks to a network of family members, Doug and Mary Beth have had help with the children. Mary Beth's mother and sisters, who live in Syracuse, New York, have been down to help out. Doug's mother Sonia , who lives in town, has helped out during the day, and the children have been left with both Stevenson grandparents from time to time.
Asked about his plans for Fathers Day, Doug says he'll go to church, visit his father Robert who has just returned from a visit to England, and then just enjoy being around the house watching the kids do what they do best -- smile, respond and try to lift themselves off the ground.
"We are very comfortable living in this town. Mary Beth is finding more time to sew and continues to run her business, Designs of Distinction, on a part-time basis. We are trying to keep our life running at a reasonable pace. When we had children, we planned not to put them in day care. I guess you'd call us a traditional family," says Stevenson.
Stevenson admits to a certain level of notoriety that accompanied the birth of his triplets. He mentions the extreme generosity of people who called and sent cards and expressed a wish to help out in so many ways. On this Fathers Day we'll be thinking of you too, Doug, as you celebrate with Mary Beth, Caroline, Catherine and Douglas Jr.
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