A couple of new parents said they could feel the small town with them as they welcomed their triplets into their now sixth- and seventh-generation Pullman family.
Katie and Fred Wexler had a one-of-a-kind birth story after their triplets came earlier than they expected. The couple had intended to give birth at a hospital in Spokane, but when Katie’s water broke early all their plans went out the window. After they drove to their hometown hospital, specialists at Pullman Regional Hospital were able to safely deliver the children.
“I knew in my heart they were going to be OK,” Katie said. “I knew I didn’t have any control when things were happening, and God was really in control of the moment. I really believe he was working through doctors and everyone on that day.”
Katie said she had always joked she never wanted twins, or triplets for that matter. But after giving birth to three babies, she said she and her husband wouldn’t want it any other way. And, delivering in their hometown put icing on the cake.
Katie and Fred were devastated when specialists told them they wouldn’t be able to deliver their triplets in Pullman. The two had been born in Pullman, as were five generations on Katie’s side and six generations on Fred’s side.
Pullman Regional Hospital is a critical access hospital without a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Complex pregnancies, especially multiples, are usually directed to larger, more specialized hospitals in Spokane.
The couple’s doctor told them to expect giving birth around 36 weeks, but their triplets had other plans. Fred said at 29 weeks exactly their babies made an early entrance into the world.
All the best origin stories begin in the wee hours of the day. Around midnight while the two were in bed, Katie had felt her water break. The couple rushed to their car, without packing an overnight bag, and began to drive to Spokane.
They didn’t even make it out of town before deciding against the long drive. Katie said they didn’t want to risk the chance of giving birth on the side of the road, and their doctor in Spokane heavily advised against leaving Pullman. The couple gave Pullman Regional Hospital a call, and the staff was ready for them at the door.
Three pediatricians and a staff of over 20 people rushed Katie to the operating room. Around 4 a.m. Jan. 16, Katie gave birth to Allie Ann Wexler, Fred Hugh V (the fifth) Wexler and Caleb Travis Wexler. Allie was 2 pounds, 6 ounces and 14.3 inches; Fred was 3 pounds, 10 ounces and 16.3 inches; and Caleb was 2 pounds, 6 ounces and 15.2 inches. Since they were born, Katie said, all three babies have doubled in size.
“Especially knowing what we know now, what should have been the scariest time in our life was actually somehow calm and controlled,” Katie said. “Everything happened so fast we didn’t really have time to process everything until after they were born. We’re just so happy they’re healthy and here.”
Hospital staff members made do with what they had, as the facility didn’t have the right equipment to monitor three babies. Fred said nurses held large ventilation masks over the babies' faces for upwards of eight hours before they were all flown to a hospital in Spokane.
“We were just so amazed with the care Pullman Regional Hospital did,” Fred said. “Pullman did an awesome job for the tools they had, you know, not having incubators, ventilators or proper CPAPs. Everyone just really came together and they did the best they could.”
Katie said although not everything went as planned, it turned out to be a blessing. She added they felt so loved and known by the community, it was almost like the small town was with them through every step of the way.
Katie happily reported she has recovered since giving birth, and her babies are flourishing at a NICU in Spokane. The couple isn’t in any rush to take them home; the triplets need to be able to breathe on their own before leaving the hospital.
“The nurses and everyone has kinda become family to us,” Katie said. “We’re going to be sad when they leave but also we’re so excited to bring them home.”