August 2002, Eight weeks, 13 weeks, Monozygotic (one), one in 200 million, December 12, March 25, eight days, September 2008, March 2009, June 2010, October 2010, one in 50, one every 11. All of these numbers are a few life-changing days and moments in the life of our family – The Montgomery Six (Eric, Hope, Collin, Londyn, Lakin and Lauren).
August 2002 – Our son, Collin was born, happy and healthy!
Eight weeks – You’re pregnant with twins – no fertility, natural conception
13 weeks – You’re pregnant with triplets – NO WAY – YES WAY
Monozygotic – One Sack – your triplets are identical
One in 200 Million – estimated statistic of identical triplets or higher order multiples.
One in 50 – the number of children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD.)
One every 11 – a child is diagnosed with an autism every 11 minutes. According to many Autism Networks/Research – over 2 million people are diagnosed with some form of autism. Tens of millions more are diagnosed worldwide. ASD is more common than childhood cancer, diabetes and AIDS. Yet there is no cure, various treatments, but each child reacts to each treatment, differently.
One could only imagine the anxiety, the stress, the tears, heartbreak, shattered dreams, the “what if’s”, the “who do we trust”, is this treatment fact, fiction or fraud? All of these emotions swimming through your head, like a bunch of little fish.
It’s constant, it’s draining, it can suck the air right out of you. However, when we look into the beautiful faces of our triple divas, Londyn, Lakin and Lauren, we just shake our head and a smile comes over, even in the midst of tears.
The first two and a half to three years of life with the Triple Divas were exciting for Eric and me. We both received very little rest without the luxury of a nanny, housekeeper, family members to pitch in on a daily basis.. The triplets’ big brother Collin adjusted well from being the only child to being a part of four. The Triple Divas were thriving, eating, moving, grooving, and getting into everything.
Then suddenly Lakin’s world came to a halt. She was living and breathing, but she was not the same. There was no eye contact. She wanted to play by herself instead of with her siblings. Soon, her words started to fade.
We consulted with several medical professionals. Many attributed her regression to her being a triplet and the most laid back of the three. It was not until we consulted with a developmental pediatrician and neurologist that we realized what was happening to Lakin. She was diagnosed with pervasive development disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), one of several disorders on the autism spectrum. Lauren and Londyn were diagnosed with the same disorder, a year later.
The Triple Divas are identical, but their level of ability is not. The various treatments that are available to assist them may work for one, but not the others. Sometimes, they may work for all three. Londyn is the highest functioning. Lauren’s abilities are a mixture of high, moderate, and low. Lakin is moderate to low, because her communication is limited.
Londyn, Lakin and Lauren are now in kindergarten. They attend a program that allows them as much inclusion/mainstream as possible. With additional therapies, such as speech, occupational therapy, an in-home program as well as specific diet and supplements. The Divas are making great strides and working hard every day. But the trenches are deep, really deep and we still have a long row to ploy.
Has it gotten easier, mentally, physically, financially – sometimes. But, we are moving in the right direction, sometimes three steps forward and six steps back, but we are moving. And that is definitely something to be hopeful and excited about, especially when they show their excitement about their progress.
My husband and I have asked the question why, but we also asked the question, why not? We are not above tragedy. We have been here before with either loved ones passing or just life experiences. We know that our daughters and son, Collin are gifts from God. We hold on to our faith, because all of our lives we’ve been taught to do just that. As adults, we have learned what the power of faith and prayer can really do.
With our faith and prayer, we know we will get through, we just do not always know exactly how or even when. We are constantly exhausting our finances. It’s funny, when we found out we would be parents of four, we anticipated that our riches would not come from money, but from love, our family and children. Never did we expect that we would do without lots of things in order to make payments on treatments that could possibly help our girls.
Yet, it is a place that we find ourselves often. Eric works full-time at Oxy Chemical. A gift from God as he was coming up on his last year and half of pharmacy school, while working a full-time job as a pharmacy tech. But, keeping a roof over our head, food in our mouths and making payments on treatment took precedence. When I asked my husband, are you okay with… before I could even complete my sentence, he says most definitely, this is for our family. It’s not about me! He has since then changed his major and will complete school very soon. Can I say AMEN…I can’t wait!
As for me, I am CEO (Chief Everything Officer) of the Montgomery 6 Enterprises. In spite of the many worn hats, I make time to help those I meet in the autism community. Eric and I vowed that if we could, we would share our story in hopes of preventing a parent from going through what we went through and in some cases still going through.
Our son is such a resilient, lovable, intelligent, charming young man with God-given talents. Yes, I’m his mother, but it’s true. He amazes us quite often as he tends to roll with the many punches autism throws our way. Is it discouraging to know that so much of our time is given to or limited because of autism? Most definitely! Being the big brother of three younger sisters is hard enough. Throw in autism, well that’s enough to make your head spin completely around. In spite of this, we encourage him to speak his heart, mind and soul respectfully. We work hard to make sure his life remains “normal” if there is such a word, these days. He’s involved in extracurricular activities and is given as much one on one time as possible. Most importantly, we instill in him and our daughters that we are the Montgomery 6. We are family. We will remain strong together and look out for each other no matter what.
My friends often ask “How do you do it?” On a rough day, I will respond “Oh am I really doing it?” In the midst of all the chaos, I know in my soul, it is because of God’s Grace! Lord knows that however Eric and I are making it, we are doing so because of him and those that he have placed in our lives – a son with a big heart, who steps in when he is needed, extraordinary parents (my Mom is blessing us from heaven), family, friends, sister friends (you know who you are) and several others who have shared their stories of battling PDD-NOS, or some form of autism.
Eric and I are reminded to listen to our souls, stand on what we know to be true (His/God’s Grace) and empower ourselves to be even stronger advocates for our children. Our story is one of millions. Every family that is affected by autism has their own personal fight, because there are no two fights that are the same. The fight may be similar, but never the same.
You see, autism isn’t going away. It is forever a part of our life. The divas are living with autism, but so are we. Eric and I were recently asked about the future of our daughters. The future, well… the future is the next day, the next hour, the next minute. Yes, we plan ahead, a year from now, two years, sometimes further. The Truth of the matter is… the divas’ future is closer to us than most. Yet with hope, determination, a never give up attitude, people and organizations like Hope for Three and with God’s Grace, yes, God’s Grace…anything is possible.
Our dreams for each of our children have not gone away. They have been edited, but not erased. We want families on the autism journey to know they are not alone, with hope the impossible becomes possible.
We want our family, friends and community to know that our children are different but not less. We want the world to know that understanding and acceptance, working together and not apart are the ingredients needed to help, unlock the puzzling questions of autism.
Our prayer is that each of our children write their own script and move to the beat of their own drum with faith that one day, you will not hear or read the words of my husband and me, but those of our triple divas who will speak and write in their own words and on the behalf of others like them.
Hope and Eric Montgomery
Proud Parents of Prince Collin and Triple Divas Londyn, Lakin and Lauren