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Teens Who Were NICU Triplets Celebrate B’Nai Mitzvah

Now, reflecting on the challenging birth experience, Wendy has advice for other parents who are experiencing the same struggles: stay positive, and don’t give up hope. 

Kylie Ora Lobell is a writer for the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, The Forward, Tablet Magazine, Aish, and Chabad.org and the author of the first children’s book for the children of Jewish converts, “Jewish Just Like You.”

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Kylie Ora Lobell
Kylie Ora Lobell is a writer for the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, The Forward, Tablet Magazine, Aish, and Chabad.org and the author of the first children’s book for the children of Jewish converts, “Jewish Just Like You.”

When Wendy Tirsch’s water broke at 26 weeks, she was terrified. She was pregnant with triplets – two boys and a girl – and didn’t know if they were going to survive. 

“The neonatologist came into my hospital room and gave us the percentage of the likelihood of everything that could go wrong with 26-week preemies, starting from brain bleeds and working his way down the body,” said Wendy.

The hospital wasn’t expecting Wendy to deliver immediately, so when it was time for her emergency C-section, the doctors, nurses and staff rushed in. There were a total of 21 people in the operating room. 

The triplets, named Jacob, Hannah and Zachary, were born within two minutes of each other. They weighed just over one-and-a-half pounds, and they were whisked away to the NICU before Wendy or her husband, David, could hold them. 

“A few hours after the babies were born, the neonatologist gave us an update,” said Wendy. “He said they were tiny and fragile but miraculously healthy. Within 24 hours, they were taken off ventilators and put on CPAP machines for oxygen.”

There were constant ups and downs. Sometimes, the babies would stop breathing or their bellies would become distended. Their heart valves weren’t closing properly. One baby was aspirating with every swallow.

While every day brought different challenges, after two-and-a-half months in the NICU, Wendy and David were able to bring their triplets home on Thanksgiving Day. 

“By the grace of God, we avoided all major complications and defied all the medical statistics,” said Wendy. “We stayed positive throughout it all, spending all day, every day with the babies. The NICU team was phenomenal and became like family. We talked about them coming to our b’nai mitzvah one day.”

That day came this past March, when Jacob, Hannah and Zachary celebrated their b’nai mitzvah at Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas. The triplets, who are involved in the youth group at the synagogue, read Exodus 38:21-40:38. Each one chanted 12 different verses within their parsha.

“The main nurses were at our b’nai mitzvah and have said that in 35 years working in the NICU, our triplets are the biggest success story they’ve seen.” – Wendy Tirsch

According to Wendy, she and her husband fulfilled their dream of having the NICU staff there, too. “The main nurses were at our b’nai mitzvah and have said that in 35 years working in the NICU, our triplets are the biggest success story they’ve seen,” she said. 

The services were incredibly touching – Wendy and David had a hard time getting through their speeches because of the tears and laughter that came out. 

“Watching [our children] on the bimah was unbelievable,” said Wendy. “We are so proud of the young men and woman they have become. They chanted beautifully and were so well-composed. The service was emotional, and family and friends were crying tears of happiness throughout.”

Now, reflecting on the challenging birth experience, Wendy has advice for other parents who are experiencing the same struggles: stay positive, and don’t give up hope. 

“We had a rule that we were always positive in front of the babies,” she said. “We showered them with love and attention and wanted them to feel our confidence. Get involved in their day-to-day care. Take advantage of the expertise of the NICU staff. Babies in the NICU have different needs than healthy babies. Ask questions, be your baby’s advocate and know that you’re not alone in your journey.”

It was obvious that the Tirsch family was not alone in theirs; they had help from above, too. 

“We absolutely believe God was watching over our family, not just because we are blessed with three healthy, gifted, athletic kids, but also because of the strength we were given throughout the entire process,” said Wendy. “There is no way we would have gotten through this without each other, our amazing medical team and knowing God was by our side, guiding us through the process.”

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