LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A quick trip to the grocery store for the Hawkins family is never really that quick. Add three more to the mix and navigating the aisles can be a bit more challenging.
"It is rare, the medical term is spontaneous triplets," said Sarah Hawkins, mother of six. "We have an identical set and a little fraternal," Sarah said.
"I call them the pair and the spare," said Brandon, Sarah's husband and father of six.
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So what exactly does it take to get a family of eight to the grocery store?
"It takes about 45 minutes to get everybody wrangled in car seats and in the car," Sarah said.
Sarah and Brandon's oldest daughter Cora, is 11-years-old, Evie Jo is 8-years-old and Truett is three-years-old.
When Sarah turned 40, she received the biggest surprise of her life.
"We had a garage sale and I got rid of all of my baby things," she said.
However, the Hawkins tell us God had a different plan.
"Two months later, we found out we were pregnant," Sarah said.
However, just a month into her pregnancy, Sarah thought she had lost the baby.
"So I continued on with my routine. I was getting up and running on the treadmill and working out. I didn't feel quite right, but I didn't feel pregnant," Sarah said.
Feeling concerned, Brandon took Sarah to the doctor where she learned she had never lost the baby.
In fact, she was four and a half months pregnant with triplets.
"When you are laying on the table and somebody says, 'I think I see three,' I think I had an out of body experience. I was glad I was laying on the table because I think I was on the verge of losing consciousness. It was just one of those moments where I don't know how to describe it," Sarah said.
Sarah, Brandon, and their three children learned they had three months to get ready for three babies.
"When we were at UMC and Dr. Yeomans came in, he was ecstatic. He said, 'Multiple babies at forty!' He was not afraid, he was so impressed for how well Sarah was carrying the three," Brandon said. "His reassurance is really what bolstered us."
"We left and I had two combo burritos from Taco Villa and it made me feel better," Sarah laughed.
"Two weeks after the sonogram, I started showing," Sarah said.
"My friends in choir, choir in church, were kind of looking at me like, 'Are you pregnant? Were you pregnant two weeks ago?' And I said, 'Apparently I've been pregnant all year."
The Hawkins did not have long to find a bigger house that would fit all eight members of their family.
Sarah and Brandon said their church family was incredible, helping them prepare for the triplets by bringing them hundreds of diapers, dozens of meals and praying for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
"Just from the very beginning, it was amazing; it was an amazing story," said Ana Montanez, a neonatalogist at UMC.
Dr. Montanez remembers meeting Sarah when she was about 28 weeks pregnant and taking a tour of the NICU.
"When I was looking at her history and realized she was 40-years-old and had three other children, I just thought, my goodness!" Dr. Montanez said.
Dr. Montanez said she remembers Sarah being incredibly calm while touring the facility where her babies would most likely spend the first few days of their life.
Sarah said initially, she was a little overwhelmed by all of the monitors and equipment in the NICU, but once she learned what it did, it helped calm her nerves.
"Multiples in a pregnancy are just automatically defined as high risk pregnancies, so triplets in a mom that we would consider advanced maternal age is a high risk pregnancy," Dr. Montanez said.
Fortunately, UMC offers high risk care, as well as top of the line equipment.
"That really calmed us to actually see what the equipment was for," Brandon said.
Sarah delivered three boys at 34 weeks.
Everett, the oldest, was born at 4.8 pounds, Rance was born at 4.5 pounds and Nolan was born at 3.10 pounds.
The equipment in the NICU that helped these babies grow was purchased through dollars donated to the Children's Miracle Network.
"It's very difficult to know what a mother goes through when the baby is early and obviously you are distraught and nervous if the baby is going to be okay, but when you go in and see all of the equipment, at first it's overwhelming, but after a couple of days you understand it's there to help your baby," Sarah said.
"We are fortunate to live in a place that provides such great care and has access to these specific donations and all of this first rate equipment," Sarah said.
The triplets are now eight months old.
Brandon and Sarah said they are happy, healthy babies who are starting to develop personalities.
"They all get along really well together. It looks like they are all talking," Brandon said.
"It is fun to walk in the door and the whole family just keeps going and going," Brandon said.
"Brandon has always been a hands-on helper, that is what he does. I don't know what I would do if he was not here with me. He does diapers, and feeds them and is amazing. We kind of helped each other find the groove of how do you feed three babies at one time. He is my rock," Sarah said.