ST. CHARLES – Three-year-old Tommy Murphy dodged his three 1-year-old brothers as he collected unbreakable ornaments to put on the family Christmas tree.
Identical triplets Jonathan Joseph, Timothy William and James Patrick were born Dec. 19, 2014, to Brandi and James Murphy of St. Charles. At six weeks early, they spent nine days in a neonatal intensive care unit at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield before coming home, their mother said.
For the Murphys, this year will be a Christmas in triplicate – plus one – as it will be the first holiday with all of the kids at home, James Murphy said.
“It’s fun at home with the kids,” said James Murphy, 29. “[The triplets] were in the hospital last year [for Christmas] when they were born. It’s even more fun with [Tommy] understanding Christmas.”
Any family with four small children can be challenged while trying to decorate a Christmas tree, and the Murphys’ dizzying hive of little-boy activity fit the bill for sure this year.
“Sometimes they can get a little crazy,” said Brandi Murphy, 29. “We try to keep it as normal as possible.”
“Possible” is the operative word here.
The boys recently wore identical green Christmas outfits with only their socks designating who was who – green for Jonny, blue for Timmy and red for Jimmy.
The front door has an extra latch to prevent escape, and the kitchen doorway is gated.
But since Tommy has learned how to use the couch to launch himself over the gate, his dad spent a lot of time retrieving him and redirecting him back to the tree while they were decorating it.
After the triplets’ birth, Brandi Murphy left her job as a substitute teacher in St. Charles School District 303.
James Murphy, a Bensenville firefighter/paramedic, started his own business, Mercy Electric and Home Improvement, as a side job.
“I’m always tired,” James Murphy said, taking a moment to sit down before chasing the boys again. “I work 70 hours a week between the two.”
The Murphys were taken by surprise after hearing news of the triplets – an ultrasound revealed them at eight weeks, Brandi Murphy said.
“I saw two blobs and I said, ‘OK, it’s twins,’ ” Brandi Murphy said.
Then they told her it was triplets.
“I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I need to see a doctor who actually knows how to read an ultrasound,’ ” Brandi Murphy said.
A doctor confirmed there were three.
“I just looked at my husband. He didn’t know what to say,” Brandi Murphy said. “I started crying.”
“It was quite a shock,” James Murphy said. Then he asked if she was OK.
“ ‘I’m just overwhelmed,’ ” Brandi Murphy said she told her husband. “Then, a couple of minutes later, I was crying again. … I said, ‘It’s going to be all boys. I know it’s going to be all boys.’ ”
Her husband didn’t believe her – but then weeks later, he did.
“It was even more a surprise when we found out they were identical boys,” James Murphy said. “No girls for her.”
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Brandi Murphy said she structures nap time and meals as a priority and then goes to parks and on walks when the weather allows. She even goes jogging while pushing a quad stroller with all four kids inside.
“I try to play with them as much as possible,” Brandi Murphy said. “They are so cute. If I get down on the floor, all three are climbing on me. ... I had no idea what it was going to be like. They all play together and play off one another. It’s really cute to see.”
When the triplets are down for a nap, Mom makes special time for her oldest, Tommy, doing crafts, cooking and baking together.
Usually the triplets are dressed differently, but for occasions like Christmas, their outfits are often identical, Brandi Murphy said.
This holiday, Brandi Murphy said they will go to Christmas Eve service at St. Peter Catholic Church in Geneva, then go to James Murphy’s family for dinner, then go to Brandi Murphy’s mother’s house for dessert and gifts. Everyone is local, as Brandi Murphy graduated from St. Charles East in 2005 and James Murphy graduated from Geneva High School in 2004.
On Christmas Day, she said the children will open their gifts from Santa, then go to his parents’ house for brunch and then to her mom’s house in the afternoon.
But most of all, the Murphys will enjoy each other, their children and their families.
“I always wanted a big family, growing up,” Brandi Murphy said. “I definitely didn’t know it was going to happen.”