Three times the blessing

by Sonja J. Keith

In her fourth pregnancy, Tanner Cangelosi was expecting a routine obstetrician visit, but instead learned that she and her husband — already parents to three small children — would be welcoming not one but three more little ones to their family.

501 LIFE contributor Tanner Cangelosi was scheduled to be released Tuesday from UAMS in Little Rock after giving birth to triplets on Friday. Tanner, who was on bed rest, was admitted to UAMS about three weeks ago as a precaution. Two of the babies weighed more than 6 pounds and the third was 5 pounds 6 ounces. According to Tanner, everyone is doing “perfect” following the delivery. “The staff was wonderful and our stay was wonderful.” (This story first appeared in the April edition of 501 LIFE.)

Tanner and Cory are parents to 5-year-old Zuzu, 3-year-old Coco and 2-year-old Jacob Owen. This spring, they will be adding one boy and two girls — Judah Trumbo, Jill Holland and Hope Johnston — to their family.

“We’ve been married eight years and will have six children,” Tanner said, adding that she has two brothers, and Cory has three brothers. She said Cory always wanted a big family, and she wanted four children. When she became pregnant, her thought was it would be her fourth and final addition to their family. “God had a different plan.”

A talented artist, Tanner is a regular contributor to 501 LIFE. Cory is the lead pastor of the New Life Church campus in Hot Springs. The couple previously lived in Conway and led the children’s ministry at New Life.

“We’re excited now,” she said. “At first I was overwhelmed thinking about life with this many kids that young.”

Cory was in Conway when Tanner learned she was carrying triplets. When a second heartbeat was detected, her doctor ordered an ultrasound, which revealed three babies. “I almost fell out of the chair,” Tanner said.

In tears, Tanner called her dad who was very encouraging and supportive. While there aren’t many instances of multiples in their family history, Tanner learned that her great-grandmother was a twin. “I didn’t even know it was a chance.”

Tanner said the triplet pregnancy is “all God,” and the couple had not been taking any fertility medicine. “We never would’ve planned this,” she said.

Tanner recently met with her UAMS obstetrician for her 32-week appointment, which is the average delivery time for triplets. Now hopeful that Tanner can make it to 34 weeks, her doctor was initially very concerned about Tanner’s pregnancy because her body type “was not what we need for a triplet mom,” but as it has gone along, it has been a “hard pregnancy, but a great pregnancy.”

In order to get Tanner to 32 weeks or longer, her doctor recommended at Christmas that she take it easy. He didn’t order bed rest but encouraged her to sit instead of stand and lie down when possible. “He wanted me to be very careful.”

Tanner is uncomfortable and has difficulty breathing but is ready to tough it out for two more weeks or however long. “It is hard being in bed. I am so thankful for help.”

Cory is “pulling double duty” while Tanner has had to take it easy. “He’s taking care of all the kids,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of help, but it’s a lot on him.”

The couple has also been able to send their children to Tanner’s parents’ home in Northwest Arkansas every other week.

While it has provided help, it’s also tough on the couple being away from their children. “This is how it has to be right now.”

Cory and Tanner have received support from their new church family as well as new friends made in Hot Springs.

“People have been so generous,” she said. While she misses Conway, she said it has been neat to see how people in Hot Springs have reached out to help her family even though they have not known the couple very long. “That’s been pretty amazing to watch.”

The Cangelosi family still sees support from Conway and recently were showered with gifts.

In preparation of the arrival of their three children, Tanner has been praying a lot and considering what the family’s daily schedule will be like. Tanner said there has been a lot of “learning as we go.” The couple is going to hire a part-time nanny just to have an extra set of hands during the day to help care for the children.

As a friend pointed out to Tanner, the triplets are a repeat of the children she has already had — two girls and one boy.

She still has a lot of the baby clothes and some of the items she will need from those pregnancies. They have enough baby clothes, including gifts of preemie clothes, for the first four to five months after they are born and are stocked with diapers, for now. “People have been so generous.”

Friends have purchased a “quad stroller” for the couple as well as a special dining table that has built-in baby seats, often used at early childhood development centers. Cory and Tanner have also been given mini cribs that easily fit through doors, which will allow for moving children from room to room. “We’ve had so many give us things,” she said. “We’re thankful for everyone who has helped us.”

The couple has also bought a used 15-passenger church van in preparation for the arrival of their children.

In addition to having triplets and caring for three small children, Tanner and Cory are building a home. In planning for their new home, they met with an architect to discuss their ideas but felt the house plans that were drawn up were “too big for what we wanted.”

Cory was scheduled to meet with the architect the day the couple discovered they were having triplets. He had planned to ask the architect to revise the plans to make the house smaller but changed his mind with the news that they would be adding three more to their family. “We decided let’s keep it as it is.” Cory has given a lot of thought to the home, incorporating features that will help things run more smoothly. For example, there will be a washer and dryer on both floors.

Cory is doing a lot of the work himself on the home, which should be completed by early April. Still, the couple may have to bring their new babies home to their rent house and later move, but Tanner is taking it all in stride.

While she was overwhelmed initially at the news that she was having three babies, Tanner is looking forward to having the babies and watching her children grow up and share “the same season of life.” As is typical with multiples, Tanner knows that the babies will probably have to remain in the hospital until her due date April 25. “I’m really excited about the novelty of holding three babies at one time,” she said. “I can’t wait to hold these babies.”

Tanner approaches motherhood with a calm demeanor, citing the “great example” of her mother. “I feel like I cheated because I got to see somebody do it really well.”

The couple is raising their children on Biblical principles. She said the book “Loving the Little Years” has also been helpful with practical, good insight.

Tanner is also inspired by memories of her late grandmother who died about six years ago from Alzheimer’s. She had five boys, who at one time were all under the age of 5. “She was a wonderful mom.” Once a week, Tanner served as her caretaker, and whenever there were children around, her grandmother would comment, “I wish I had five more.”

“She had a mother’s heart,” Tanner said. “I’ve asked God to give me that heart.”