PG NewsPG delivery
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Home Page
PG News: Nation and World, Region and State, Neighborhoods, Business, Sports, Health and Science, Magazine, Forum
Sports: Headlines, Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Collegiate, Scholastic
Lifestyle: Columnists, Food, Homes, Restaurants, Gardening, Travel, SEEN, Consumer, Pets
Arts and Entertainment: Movies, TV, Music, Books, Crossword, Lottery
Photo Journal: Post-Gazette photos
AP Wire: News and sports from the Associated Press
Business: Business: Business and Technology News, Personal Business, Consumer, Interact, Stock Quotes, PG Benchmarks, PG on Wheels
Classifieds: Jobs, Real Estate, Automotive, Celebrations and other Post-Gazette Classifieds
Web Extras: Marketplace, Bridal, Headlines by Email, Postcards
Weather: AccuWeather Forecast, Conditions, National Weather, Almanac
Health & Science: Health, Science and Environment
Search: Search by keyword or date
PG Store: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette merchandise
PG Delivery: Home Delivery, Back Copies, Mail Subscriptions


Headlines by E-mail

Headlines Region & State Neighborhoods Business
Sports Health & Science Magazine Forum

No barriers too overwhelming for triplets' parents

Friday, February 01, 2002

By Byron Spice, Science Editor, Post-Gazette

Many first-time parents are anxious about taking their newborn home from the hospital. And when the new parents are contemplating taking home not one but three newborns, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

West Penn nurse Stacy Dongell helps Rob Oliver hold his daughter Lauren as grandmother Melody Oliver shares his joy. At right is baby Joshua. (Lake Fong/Post-Gazette)

But Rob and Becky Oliver of White Oak, proud parents since Wednesday of Joshua, Lauren and Chloe, are not easily overwhelmed.

A swimming accident eight years ago that paralyzed Rob from the shoulders down couldn't dissuade Becky Clark from marrying him a year later. The accident didn't stop Rob from finishing college or taking on two jobs. Rob's quadriplegia didn't alter his or Becky's determination to start a family and, thanks to in-vitro fertilization, it wasn't an obstacle.

Rob Oliver admits that triplets are a bit more than he and his wife bargained for when they set out on the in-vitro route a year ago. But hours after the delivery by Caesarean section Wednesday at Forbes Regional Hospital, he wasn't much in the mood to worry about it.

"My heart feels like it's twice the size of my body," he said. "This is something we've been working toward for quite a while."

In this age of in-vitro fertilization and other fertility treatments, neither multiple births nor a quadriplegic father are especially unusual, but the combination remains uncommon.

"It's a fascinating situation," said Dr. Leonard Selednik, the obstetrician who performed the C-section.

Selednik said the delivery went smoothly. Both mom and the babies, born seven weeks early, were transferred to the Western Pennsylvania Hospital later on Wednesday, where the infants were placed in the neonatal intensive care unit.

As of yesterday, Chloe was suffering some respiratory distress, a common complication of premature births, said Dr. Alan Lantzy, a West Penn neonatologist. Otherwise, the infants were doing well, he added, and, once they are able to eat normally and maintain their temperature outside of incubators, should be able to go home -- perhaps in a week or two. Each weighs between 4.5 and 5 pounds.

Rob Oliver was injured at age 21 while bodysurfing with friends in North Carolina. A breaking wave sent his head slamming against the bottom, breaking his neck. The injury left his lower body paralyzed, and he has only limited use of his arms.

"I can use the part [of my arms] that would be sun-tanned is the best I can explain it. It's like I have biceps, but no triceps," he said. He has no use of his fingers and uses a powered wheelchair.

After six months in a rehabilitation hospital in his native Philadelphia, he moved to the Pittsburgh area, where Becky had grown up. He finished his bachelor's degree in psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and earned his master's degree at Duquesne University. He now works part time at Children's Hospital in a program to educate medical students about family-centered care, and part time doing computer work at a real estate firm.

"We've always wanted children," he said. A year ago, Becky Oliver quit her job at Wilson Christian Academy in West Mifflin to concentrate on the in-vitro process.

Dr. Anthony Wakim, medical director of assisted reproductive technology at Magee-Womens Hospital, said the in-vitro procedure for a paralyzed man is much the same as for any infertile male. Sperm can be obtained either from the semen or can be extracted directly from the testis or the epididymis, the first part of the duct that carries sperm from the testis.

Rob Oliver recalls being warned that the in-vitro procedure could increase the chance of having more than one baby. By some estimates, 5 percent of in-vitro pregnancies result in triplets.

"You hear those numbers, but you don't really think about them," he said.

It wasn't a shock, then, when Becky's first sonogram showed two fetuses. But when her second sonogram a week later showed three fetuses, Rob said, "I told her, 'You better stop going for sonograms.' "

Family members and members of their church, the Gospel Hall Assembly in White Oak, have promised to help with some of the care once the babies get home. And Rob Oliver receives services through the state's Attendant Care Program, which provides some household help.

He is also working with occupational therapy students at Duquesne to develop adaptive parenting techniques that would let him help Becky with infant care, such as changing diapers.

"I don't want this all to land on her," he said.

bottom navigation bar Terms of Use  Privacy Policy