Doubly blessed in Eagle County |

Doubly blessed in Eagle County

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
HL multiples 2 KA 05-13-08

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Edwards resident Mary Lamb Lucas knows quite a bit about raising twins. In 1968, Lucas was living in Virginia with her husband and 2-year-old son when she became pregnant. Soon into her labor, she noticed something was off. She gained weight faster than with her first pregnancy and morning sickness plagued her. “I was just distraught,” Lucas, 65, recalls. “I thought I was going to be the fattest mother on record or something was wrong with the baby.”

This was before ultrasound, in an age when so much of pregnancy remained a mystery to doctors. It wasn’t until the C-section that Lucas realized she had been carrying twins. When the nurses held up her daughters ” a blond, green-eyed baby and her fraternal twin with dark hair and black eyes ” Lucas felt a surge of relief. “I think it was relief because I really had worried there was something wrong with this baby. Also: ‘Oh my gosh.’ Just that overwhelming (feeling). And they were beautiful. So what could I say?”

A little more than a year later, Lamb discovered she was pregnant again. This time, she recognized the symptoms. Seven months into her labor, she insisted the doctors give her an X-ray and sure enough, she was pregnant with twins again. This time, she gave birth to identical twin daughters.

At this point, her family included the two newborn girls, two 1-year-old daughters and a 3-year-old son ” with four of those children in diapers.

“I was young and had plenty of energy so it was fun,” Lucas said. That period was a montage of funny moments, like the time her daughter pulled herself up for the first time in the play pen and simply stepped on her twin sister. Those early years were exhausting, too, especially at bed time.

“It was just like herding a bunch of cats,” Lucas recalled. “I remember crawling up the stairs as all the kids are romping up in front of me to do bath time.”

Lucas will be one of the speakers at this weekend’s Colorado Parents of Multiples convention in Vail. Having raised two sets of twins, she knows the challenges her audience faces, including the strain multiple births can place on a marriage.

“It’s hard on the relationship,” she said. “Most people do start to lose their connection with each other.”

After her own marriage dissolved, Lucas sought answers about what went wrong and where the turning points were. She discovered Imago Relationship Therapy, a type of dialogue that helps couples deepen their connection. Today, Lucas has her own counseling practice in Edwards and has nearly finished training to be a certified Imago Relationship Therapist. Her speech at the convention will shed light on the ways couples can use Imago dialogue to strengthen their bond. “You can actually create the relationship of your dreams,” Lucas said.

The convention, which takes place each year at various locations in Colorado, comes to Vail tomorrow for the first time in its 35-year history. “We wanted to bring it up here and show our support for the state as well as reach out to Glenwood and Steamboat and all those places,” Event co-chairwoman Erin Osbourne said.

Osbourne, an Eagle resident with 5-year-old twin daughters, is the president of the Eagle County Mothers of Multiples. The group represents 30 Eagle County families with twins or triplets. One of Eagle County’s mysterious claims to fame is its high rate of multiple births.

Eagle County ranked No. 1 in the state for multiple births per capita in 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the local parents group notes. Of the 901 births in Eagle County, 4.7 percent resulted in multiple births, including 39 sets of twins and three sets of triplets.

Eagle County’s consistently high rate of multiple births has prompted speculation among mothers about the reason for the figures. Perhaps, as Osbourne theorizes, the valley’s high income bracket means more mothers can afford in vitro fertilization, a type of infertility treatment that can result in multiples. Another possibility is that mothers are having children at an older age, another factor that boosts the risk.

“When you look at the list, it’s interesting because we say, ‘Maybe it’s in vitro,’ but for every mom that comes in with in vitro, there’s a mom right behind her with natural conception,” Osbourne said. “So, I don’t know ” the water? There’s something in the water?”

Minturn resident Terry Armistead, 39, loves being part of a big family, and she wanted her son, Xander, to experience the joys of having a sibling.

After two harrowing years trying to get pregnant, Armistead turned to in vitro. The procedure worked ” and then some. During a routine ultrasound, Armistead discovered not one but three figures on the screen.

“I just looked at it and started laughing and my husband slumped against the wall,” Armistead recalled. “The air went out of him and I was like, ‘Are there three?'”

After 33 weeks of carrying the triplets, Armistead delivered them by C-section at a hospital in Denver. The girls were premature, weighing just 4 pounds, 2 ounces; 4 pounds, 1 ounce; and 3 pounds, 13 ounces.

The first time Armistead glimpsed her babies, they were in the intensive care unit, strapped to breathing tubes and monitors. “Seeing them with all the tubes, it was so stressful,” she recalled. A monitor went off each time the triplet with bradycardia experienced heartbeats below a certain rate. “This loud beep would go off and we would just go rigid,” Armistead said.

Today, the babies are healthy 2-month-olds. As they slept in a triple-Decker stroller at John Donovan Park in Vail on a recent afternoon, Armistead said she’s been learning the balancing act that is raising triplets. Armistead is among 16 mothers who received scholarships to attend the convention for free.

“It’s my first convention, so it’ll be great to meet the other moms and build that support network that I have in the valley,” she said.

The convention features speakers, workshops and activities. Marianne Neifert, a motivational speaker known as Dr. Mom will offer advice while workshops will explore topics like first-aid and scrapbooking.

Each year, one of the eight parent clubs that form the Colorado Parents of Multiples offers to host the event. This year, two groups volunteered ” the Eagle County group and the Colorado Springs Parents of Multiples ” prompting the statewide group to put the matter to a vote.

Long known as a moms get-away, the event will take on a family-oriented atmosphere this year with activities for husbands and children.

“Conventions are addicting and once you go to one, you usually end up coming back year after year,” Colorado Parents of Multiples President Beckie Dague said.

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or

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