Kathryn & Lauren Garrison’s Triplet Survival Guide to Lakeview, Chicago

Lake, Lauren, Walker, Kathryn, and Halston Garrison

Lake, Lauren, Walker, Kathryn, and Halston Garrison

by Lela Nargi

“We were prepared for twins—we were agreed we could handle that,” recalls Lauren Garrison of her and her wife, Kathryn’s, experience with IVF two years back. "Under his breath, the doctor muttered that there was a one percent chance an embryo would split and we’d have triplets. We never imagined that was in the cards for us.” But when the couple’s first ultrasound showed three babies alive and well in Lauren’s womb, “We went to lunch and were completely nonverbal for a few hours,” Lauren, who works in sales at Link Capital, laughs.

Daughters Halston and Lake, and son Walker, emerged into the world perfectly formed and healthy at the end of September 2014 and spent a few months in the NICU, where the nurses, whom Garrison calls “angels,” got the triplets on an all-important sleep schedule. “I’d go to the NICU on the way to work,” says Garrison, who’s strategic partnership director at General Growth Properties. “Lauren would stay with them, then I’d go back to the NICU after work, and Lauren and I would go home and have wine.” Wine and sleep-trained babies are only two of many critical survival needs for these busy working moms—read on for more!

How challenging were your early days of parenthood?
Kathryn: We got one of our daughters home from the NICU before Thanksgiving, then a week later we got our other daughter. They’re both so even-tempered we thought, “We got this, no sweat!” A few weeks later, our son came home. He was colicky and had reflux, and we went right from a peaceful homecoming to immediate chaos. With the addition of the third baby, we were outnumbered!

Lauren: The secret is scheduling—and a sense of humor. The babies eat, sleep, and take a bath at the same time. We also have an au pair from South Africa, Vivi, and we couldn’t have found a more perfect person to take care of them.

It must take a while to get all of you out of the house!
Lauren: We prepare a couple of hours in advance, to make sure we have everything. We use a double stroller and a single, instead of a triple, because it’s unlikely that one of us will have all three babies at the same time.

Kathryn: We purposely bought a house in a neighborhood where we could walk to restaurants and stores, which helps us tremendously. It's much easier to stroll through our ‘hood for coffee and groceries than to pack up three babies and get them in the car. And luckily, it’s warm now so it’s fun to be outside.

Since we both work full time, Saturday is the day we plop the babies in the strollers walk around. Fahlstrom's fish market knows us by now—when two mommies with two strollers go places, people tend to remember us. We stop in for wine and oysters and they always make room for us at one of the tables by the bar.

Lauren: We’ve gotten good a being quick. We’ll order cocktails, food, and the check all at the same time so if one of the babies has a meltdown, we can move.

Kathryn: Café Tola is incredible, too. They have fabulous latte's, donuts, and empanadas, and there’s a little area outside the shop to pull up with our babies and our dogs—we also have two dogs, a Maltipoo named Sam and a Maltese named Wrigley.

How are they dealing with having three babies in the house?
Kathryn: They were used to having all our attention so when we brought home the first baby, they were like, What is this? When we brought home the next baby, they were like, Two?? By the time we brought home the next baby, they were thinking of moving out. They were definitely stressed. We had to have a dog whisperer come and retrain them.

Do you ever manage  to leave the whole baby and dog crew at home and have a date?
Kathryn: Yes! When we want to slip away just the two of us, we sometimes go to Big Star in Wicker Park. They have some of the best tacos and margaritas in the city. We find a spot at the bar and hole up for a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon while Vivi watches the babies. We love having a few hours to reconnect after a long work week and mommy duties.  

Lauren: Sometimes it’s easier to stay in, though. And we do a couple of things that are really helpful. We use Instacart for wine delivery, then also, Howard’s Wine Cellar is a block away, so we can pop in there, and there’s another wine store called Craft—they do a great special of six really good wines for wines $60.

We just hosted a dinner party with a private chef, Chef Naveen, and invited 20 friends, who all have kids. Chef Naveen cooks Indian and Thai food, and we found out about him when friends gave us a cooking class at his studio as a wedding present. We had such a great time we invited him to cook at our house. We hired a bartender so nobody had to bother making drinks, we had a cooking class where we all made Thai food, and by the time everyone left, Chef Naveen had cleaned everything up. Which is amazing—it’s no fun waking up to triplets and a dirty kitchen. Our friends all pitched in for the cost, which made it a real treat, and affordable for everyone.

It sounds like you’ve adjusted extremely well to triplet parenthood.
Lauren: The girls are standing and our son is crawling—that’s the next game-changer for us. We’re going to have to baby-proof the whole house!

The Garrison family with chef naveen

The Garrison family with chef naveen

Photographs by Thomas Kubik, TK Photography