Triple the Blessings, Triple the Love
It’s amazing how people come into our lives in the most unexpected ways, bringing light and inspiration with them. I met Nia Hooper-Mason on the beautiful island of Anguilla. Along with our husbands, we had chosen this paradise of a destination as our honey-moon spot. Although both couples were basking in the warmth and excitement of new marriage, we found the time to make a connection and even went on a double dinner date to a local restaurant.
Too soon, reality sent us all back to our new, but regular lives. But Nia and I remained connected through social media. In June, we will both celebrate our 5th wedding anniversaries. I don’t think it’s coincidence that within a similar time period, we both experienced challenging pregnancies, premature births and emotional NICU journeys. We followed each other’s lives through these times and became a source of hope and inspiration for each other. I believe that God puts people in our path for a reason. I’m grateful that I met Nia along the way, and I’m able to inspire others with her amazing motherhood story.
Nia, a former corporate professional in the fashion industry, is the Founder and Chief Image Strategist of The Image Playbook. She is a Certified Image Consultant and Member of the Costume Designer Guild. She is a beacon of laughter, life, light and love to her family and friends and of course an Amazing Mom to her beloved triplets.
On her family:
I was born and named Nia Rashida Michaela Hooper. I was raised and still live in one of the coolest cities in the world, Brooklyn, New York! My first name, Nia, means purpose. I am a child of GOD, business woman/solopreneur, wife, Mother of triplets, Manager of the business of our lives, daughter, relative, friend, part-time employee and quite certain there are a few other roles that escape me at this moment. My gift is my propensity to educate others with love. While I stand 58 inches in physical stature, my heart stands exponentially taller and immensely wider! I know that part of my purpose is to be a LOVE Leader and Educator. Educating and leading with love, empowers me to be an example of the love I want to see and experience in the world.
From an early age, I knew that I had loads of love to share. I desired a large family and a house full of laughter. This was one of the most joyous sounds and feelings to me. I didn’t want to perpetuate my parents’ lineage of having only one child. Ultimately, becoming a mother was quite a journey. But alas, just fifteen days before turning 39, I birthed three amazing people! In the age of insta-everything we became an insta-family!
My love life partner, Ricardo Armando Mason was born in Panama, and came to Brooklyn with his family when he was 2 years old. We met here nine years ago and in each other, we found not only our soul mates, but our soul hearts. While he stands 65 inches in physical stature, his heart also stands exponentially taller and wider! It’s only fitting that we were blessed and chosen to nurture our relationship, unite in LOVE, and parent “CAN B” (our triplets, Cole, Amaya and Noah).
In most instances our guiding principle as a family is LOVE. With that, our parenting style is a formula of communication + common sense + being present + creative and strategic thinking + an infinite amount of love and laughter + while we’re at it, a whole heap of patience! Additionally, you know the age-old adage “it takes a village to raise a child”… well, honey, I birthed the village! So, we needed to recruit a whole township! We are blessed in that our children have three living grandparents, a host of great Aunts and cousins, a set of God Grandparents, twelve Godparents, friends and a GOD sent care provider! Honestly, neither of us (my husband and I) would be as sane as we are without them!!!
On her best mommy moments:
As I mentioned, it was a journey to arrive at being a mother of triplets. We required reproductive intervention. After two rounds of IUI (intrauterine insemination) we conceived a singleton and miscarried. After taking time to heal, we tried again and conceived triplets. The medical team was in disbelief about the result, as only 1% of couples using this method of fertility treatment conceive triplets.
We had only a split second to revel in the magnitude of a triplet conception, before we were told about the high risks for the babies and myself, carrying multiples at my age. It was even strongly recommended that we elect to have a fetal reduction. What's that you ask?! Oh, it's a procedure in which a specialized doctor terminates one of the fetuses. I was in utter disbelief as to how people enlist the assistance of a Fertility Specialist to conceive, and then after conception be told by this very same doctor to electively terminate what is presumably a healthy baby.
Long story short, my faith in GOD and my LOVE for our unborn children catapulted me into another stratosphere. I asked the doctor, how does one choose which baby to terminate? We were told that it was our choice. My initial best moment as a mom prior to CAN B’s birth was when I calmly yet firmly said, this is where GOD supersedes science. HE gave us these three babies and HE will determine if and when anything changes. During our first sonogram, we were told one baby was doing great, another baby was doing okay and the other baby was borderline and may not make it. The very next week, all three babies were equal in size and progress.
My other pre-birth, best moment as a mom was on March 26, 2014 when our Maternal Fetal Medicine OB/GYN presented us with having to make the decision to either deliver that day at 28 weeks 4 days with a strong chance that all three babies survive and would require intervention OR continue with the pregnancy to 35 weeks with a strong chance that baby B wouldn’t survive and babies A and C would be stronger. I stood firm in my belief that GOD gave us these three babies; HE brought us this far and wasn’t leaving us now! It’s safe to say you know what we decided, as CAN B are here! Only by GOD’s grace are they growing nicely and thriving!
My best post-birth moment as a mom is the opportunity to witness the amazing beings our children are daily. CAN B have a strong bond. They are compassionate, intelligent and kind. I trust GOD to continue to cover, keep and protect them. I am full knowing that they chose me to lead and educate them in LOVE and that is a triple part of my purpose!
On the challenges of motherhood:
As you can imagine, I had and continue to have, my triplet share of challenges! One of the greatest difficulties, is ensuring our children’s emotional and physical needs are met equitably, while making certain mine and my husband’s needs are fulfilled as well. There are times when I wish GOD would grant me a few extra hours each day. HE blessed us with our very own trinity of offspring, and it feels as if I don’t have enough time to get it all done in 24 hours. Seeing that I don’t anticipate receiving any extra hours per day anytime soon, I do the best I can in the time I have. While I’m clear that GOD doesn’t give any of us more than we can handle, I was in my feelings about this! I asked, how is GOD going to give us all of these babies at the same time, and not give us more time to manage it all? It took me half of forever to accept and adapt to our “new normal.”
When “CAN B” were in the NICU, I would get upset that I wasn’t able to spend as much time with each of our children as other Mothers did with their children. To put it in to perspective, if a Mother spent three hours with her child in the NICU, those hours for me with triplets automatically divided into 60 minutes per child. Keep in mind I still needed to pump (every three hours), wash/dry all of the pump equipment, label, log and store the breast milk. So that cut into the amount of time spent with them. Not to mention at some point, I needed to take care of myself...eat, hydrate, use the bathroom, wash my hands, etc., repeat.
Shortly before our children arrived, my husband and I were displaced from our home and went to live with friends, far away from the hospital. Our distance, combined with their 11.5 weeks of prematurity, low birth weight and estimated 3 month NICU stay, made us eligible to reside at the Ronald McDonald House on the Upper East Side...another set of challenges. It was only par for the course that each of them would eventually get discharged on different days.
When Cole was discharged on June 9th, 2014, I was forced to figure out how I was going to care for him, pump to provide breast milk for Noah and Amaya (still in the NICU), visit them and care for myself, all in this illustrious 24 hour day. I had to make the decision to transition Cole to formula exclusively and pump for Noah and Amaya. My husband delivered my breast milk to the NICU and visited with them before he went to work. When he returned from work, he cared for Cole while I went to visit Noah and Amaya. Despite landing on that strategy, I beat myself up mentally for not being quicker on the draw and devising a plan that would ensure I was able to still provide breast milk for all our children.
We women, along with society, place these unrealistic expectations on ourselves. While I AM SUPER and I AM a WOMAN, I AM no superhero and chose not to sign up for that. Last time I checked, superheroes are primarily animated, fictitious characters, who don’t have careers, grocery shopping duty, play dates, things to do lists that run longer than a marathon, etc. I say let’s take our power back and NOT fall susceptible to society’s spoken and unspoken expectations. The harsh reality of life is that challenges will come along. It’s how we respond to them that matters and affects us most. We should be gentle and loving to ourselves as we work through challenges, only to find a stronger more powerful person waiting on the other side.
On advice for new moms:
Here are a few sayings that resonate with me in terms of advice for new moms: “anything that is not nurtured is neglected,” “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and as the FAA instructs us on every flight “put your oxygen mask on first”. In my opinion, the common thread in these adages is, love yourself first! As much as this sounds counter-intuitive and completely in opposition to what society and our fore-mothers would have us believe, it is necessary not only for our well-being, but more so for our better-being (yes, I made that word up).
If we do not allow ourselves time to reenergize, refuel, and restore, eventually we will become depleted. Ladies, we must take time to check-in with our internal fuel tanks and ensure that we’re not running on empty. Ultimately your partner/spouse, children, family and friends are the beneficiaries of this MORE amazing person, YOU!!!
Mothers have a habit of ensuring everyone else’s needs are fulfilled, while ours take a backseat or simply aren’t realized. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we make the choice to do what we do. I’m certain there are some who have mastered putting themselves first. I’m equally certain there are others who wouldn’t even dream of such a thing! Let’s hit a harmonious high note on which we’re nurturing and loving ourselves first, to ensure that we’re pouring from a cup that’s full.
I’ll admit, I need to follow my own advice more. I’m still a work in progress in this department. But, three years in, I do a much better job of choosing me first. I do not check in on my children every night after bedtime, my husband does, yay him!!! I trust that all is well and we’ll pick up where we left off in the morning! What I do instead, is focus on me and doing the things I enjoy to “recharge my batteries” and “keep my sanity”.
YOU hold the power to design the Mother/offspring relationship of your dreams; do it like no other and do not allow anyone else to sway YOU from your dream!
Continue to be inspired by Nia! Follow her on:
Instagram: @thrivingwithtriplets or @theimageplaybook
Website: www.theimageplaybook.com - COMING SOON
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© Nicola Rios Nogales and ispeakmom.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola Rios Nogales and ispeakmom.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.