A Full House
Donna and Kenny Parks already had a pair of kids. Then they got three of a kind ...

Patti Sells | News-Telegram Feature Editor

The gang's all here: Donna and Kenny Parks didn't know what to do when they found out they would have triplets Rylee, Madalyn and Camryn to go along with their other two children, Kendall and Cason. Today, Donna says she wouldn't trade her life for the world, and Kenny can't imagine life without them all.

Staff Photo By Angela Pitts

May 9, 2005 -- Motherhood took on a whole knew meaning for Donna Parks after the news of her third pregnancy when a sonogram revealed she might possibly be carrying twins. But another sonogram the following week revealed the Parks were not looking at double trouble after all. Their troubles had tripled.

"It was just unbelievable," said Donna, recalling the day when she heard the news. "Dr. Tris was sooo excited because it would be the first set of triplets he had ever delivered."

But, according to Donna, it would be awhile before excitement came to the Parks household.

Donna and Kenny Parks had been married for eight years, and already had a 6-year-old daughter, Kendall, and a 2-year-old son, Cason, when Donna began yearning for another child.

"I wasn't surprised," Kenny said. "She has always loved babies. But I was comfortable thinking everything's perfect with one of each already."

"My husband really didn't want to have any more, and I had to talk him into having just one more baby," said Donna, who admitted she was quite devastated by the news of twins. "I felt so bad. I was real upset and thinking, 'How am I going to handle two?'"

Kenny said after that first sonogram, he was thinking, "Don't panic, we're not sure yet."

But when Donna came home distraught after the second sonogram, his thoughts turned to concern for his wife.

"She was crying, and I thought 'Oh no! It's something tragic like she's lost one or they're joined at the head or something,'" recalled Kenny.

Through her tears, Donna told Kenny the news. They weren't having twins-- they were having triplets.

"I literally almost fell off the arm of the couch," said Kenny. "I didn't know how to react. It was just total shock."

Once again, his thoughts turned to concern -- this time not just for his wife, but about everything.

"I was concerned about her health. I was thinking, 'What are we going to do? How am I going to provide?' I mean, we're talking everything times three," he said.

"But he was really good," said Donna, who claimed her husband had somewhat accepted the possibility of twins and consoled her through that bit of news. "When it turned out there were three babies, and the shock wore off, we were really OK, because it was just so different -- rare."

Donna, who has been a registered nurse for 17 years, didn't experience any of the anticipated difficulties that go along with a multiple birth pregnancy, such as pre-term labor, medications to control contractions, and probable weeks of bed rest.

Discomfort, on the other hand, was a different story.

"I just felt so heavy, like I was going to fall through the floor," laughed Donna. "At six weeks my clothes were already not fitting. I couldn't sleep. I just could not get comfortable. The whole pregnancy was quite different than my others."

Surprisingly, Donna was able to carry the babies to almost 37 weeks gestation, and on March 9, 2001, she gave birth to three fraternal girls: Rylee Brooke, 4 pounds 15 ounces, Madalyn Marie, 4 pounds 71Ú2 ounces, and Camryn Leigh, 4 pounds 151Ú2 ounces.

"I knew they were always going to be referred to as the triplets, so I didn't really want their names to be alike," said Donna. "I wanted them to have their own individuality, so I just picked names that I liked."

Their names are not the only things that set them apart.

"They all have very different personality types," Donna said.

"They are all so unique and different," Kenny said.

According to Donna, Rylee is the shy one that gets her feelings hurt easily. She's also the tattletale.

"If someone's doing something they shouldn't be doing, she's going to let you know," Donna said, laughing.

Madalyn, the smallest of the three, is their leader.

"It's Madelyn's way or you're in trouble," said Donna. "She'll beat you up over it."

And, according to Donna, she is painfully truthful, as well.

"She's very honest about things," explained Donna. "If she notices something about you, she's going to let you know. She embarrasses me all the time. It's gotten to where if I see something that is potential, we detour."

Camryn, the last one born, is very mischievous, according to her mother.

"She's very loud and always into everything," Donna said.

Since bringing the girls home from the hospital four years ago, life has never been the same, according to Donna.

"It's a lot of fun, it's a lot of work, and it's a lot of everybody working together," Donna explained. "It's truly a team effort."

According to both Kenny and Donna, Kendall, now 10, has been their "saving grace."

"If it hadn't been for her, I don't know what we would have done," said Kenny, who is out of town much of the time due to his work.

According to Donna, Kenny was able to be home for the babies' births, but had to leave immediately after that for three weeks. She said when she brought the babies home, it was Kendall who got up with her in the night to help her feed and change the little ones.

"She would sleep with me, and when she heard the babies or me get up she would get up, too," said Donna. "She wanted to do it. They were like baby dolls to her. She was, and still is, our biggest helper."

And Cason is quite the big brother, according to Dad. Donna said family members were concerned he would get lost in all the fuss, but because of that concern he probably gets more special care than any of the others.

As for attention, the whole family gets plenty of that when they manage to get out and about.

"People are always looking at us," said Donna. "People are just interested in multiples. I know I am, especially now. I mean, you don't see triplets every day."

Going out to the movies or to dinner is a rare occasion, and not just because of all the attention and hectic schedules, but due to expense, as well.

"Wednesday night is about it for us -- it's 50 cent sloppy Joe night at Bodacious BarBQ," Kenny said with a laugh.

The word the Parks use to best describe their home life is "busy." From the time they get up until time the time they lay their heads down to sleep, it is non-stop said Donna, who works full-time at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital.

From picking up toys and cleaning house, to helping with homework and preparing for the next day, Kenny said Donna is constantly doing for the kids, while he does most of the cooking.

"She spends every minute thinking about what she needs to be doing for them," he said. "The energy she has -- you just can't imagine. I don't know how she does what she does."

"I've learned that it doesn't get any easier," said Donna. "Every milestone is just a different test. I thought when they get out of that baby stage it would be better, or when they get out of diapers, or when they can feed themselves. People are always saying, 'Wait until they get in school, wait until they're driving.' I'm like, 'Wait a minute -- I just want to make it through the day!'"

According to Donna, days are long and demanding, her house is never clean and she'll never be caught up on laundry. But she wouldn't trade her life for the world.

"I've pretty much learned to just take it one day at a time. I don't worry about tomorrow," said Donna. "I don't think about it. I just do it. When you're put in a situation like this, you just handle what comes along. That's what moms do. I feel pretty special."

As for Kenny, he said he can't imagine life without them now -- and that especially goes for his wife.

"I would be lost without her," said Kenny. "She's the most amazing mom. She's beautiful, warm, caring -- she's the love of my life, and she's my hero."

"She's the best mom in the world," said Kendall, on behalf of all her siblings. "We love her more than anything."

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