Cook family parents two sons and triplet daughters

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Amber (Ihm) Cook, daughter of Linda and John Ihm, and her husband Matt are celebrating this Mother's Day with their five children. Front from left are Cooper and Collin, on laps are Corrigan, Cecilia, and Calina, with parents Matt and Amber in the back. (Photo submitted)

By Molly Moser

Last Mother’s Day, Amber (Ihm) Cook had two children, boys named Cooper and Collin. One year and a single pregnancy later, Cook will celebrate Mother’s Day in a family of seven. 

With at least five examples of twinning in Cook and her husband’s families (Matt is an identical twin and his father is a fraternal twin; Amber’s grandmother had two sets of twin nieces and nephews, and her grandfather’s brother also had twins), the couple wasn’t surprised when Cook’s rapid growth and intense sickness signaled she may be carrying twins. During an ultrasound at 10 ½ weeks, Cook remembers, “When the ultrasound tech first took a look she said, "Hmm…” My husband, Matt, said, "So… You are thinking there is more than one in there?"” 

The ultrasound tech responded, "Well, I see three for sure, but I want to make sure there aren't any more.” Cook says she and her husband were in “complete and utter disbelief.” Their reactions varied in the days to come. “We were silent, we laughed... All kinds of emotions came flooding in at a rapid rate.” 

Before even leaving the office that day, the emotional rollercoaster was hurdling down its track. “When we were waiting to see the doctor, we started to feel excited – but unfortunately we left the office feeling scared, and again, in shock. The list of risks we were given put a damper on some of our positive feelings, but we also knew it was our reality,” said Cook. “Fortunately, everything went more smoothly than we could have ever imagined.” She describes their situation aptly. “We are blessed beyond measure in so many capacities.”

Today, fraternal triplets Cecilia June, Corrigan Jade, and Calina Jewel are almost five months old. “Matt and I are extremely blessed with family and friends who help us. We always have at least one extra adult essentially living with us during the week.  Because of these generous people, we do get sleep,” Cook told The Press. Her husband's mother and father spend half of each week with the family, and many other family members have been volunteering to help out. Cook's mother, Linda Ihm, of Guttenberg, often lends a helping hand at her daughter’s home in Marion when the going gets tough.

“All three babies experience what we call "The Witching Hour,” which occurs between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. This entails a lot of inconsolable crying – all of them,” says the mother of five. “Of course, that is the time when my older two come home, when I am trying to cook dinner and pay attention to the boys.”

Cooper, age nine, and Collin, almost six, are two more pleasures in their mother’s life. “Cooper and Collin have been amazing,” she says. They are independent boys, and Matt and Amber prepared them for the big brother journey ahead of time. “We keep very open communication in our house and the boys know if they have a concern or feel left out, they can talk to us about it,” Cook explains. “On top of that, they are very helpful.  If we need anything, they are right on it.  When one of the babies starts to cry, Cooper does not need to be called in. He just shows up and takes over to lend a hand. They really don't get enough credit for being who they are.”

The challenges of parenting triplets are multiplied, but so are the rewards. “The smiles, giggles, and snuggles,” Cook lists. “I am blessed to have it all times three!” 

Cook says her relationship with her own mother  strengthened during her first year of college, and that has made their unique situation easier. Ihm spends half of each week living with her daughter and son-in-law to help out. "We each have our roles, and it works. I am constantly thankful and grateful for her involvement. I would never have clean laundry or bathrooms without her!" says Cook.  "The generosity of people in general has been extremely humbling."  

Cook also credits her coworkers for their support during her  journey into motherhood. "People I am close with and people I barely know at work donated their vacation time to me so I could care for the babies. I was gone approximately four months and there was nothing but positive support from management from the time I found out I was expecting triplets until I returned back to work in March," she told The Press. Cook had to give up her full time job as a music therapist at Tanager Place and now works there two days a week. "Giving up my full-time career was extremely difficult for me. I have always worked full-time, if not more. It makes me a better mother. Being a mother is definitely rewarding and defines you on many levels, but for me, what I do for a living is also rewarding and defines me. I do best with balance in my life and I was concerned with the adjustment of being at home more than outside of the home, but for right now life is perfect."

At five months old, Cecilia, Corrigan, and Calina are already forming their individual personalities. “They look and act very differently from each other, that is for sure!” says their mom. They recently began sleeping at the same time, a big relief for parents Amber and Matt. While this mother admits she doesn’t have a lap big enough for her five children, it’s clear that they all have a special place in her heart. 

"At least once a day I say out loud, "Three babies. THREE!"" says Cook, "and multiple times a day I reflect on how in awe I am of those girls, my now family of seven, my extended family, friends, and the amount of support we have."

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