By Tess Malijenovsky
“It was fairly early in my wife’s pregnancy,” David Byrne remembers. “And I’ll never forget when the lady who was doing the ultrasound said, ‘Um, everything’s OK … Dad, do you want to have a seat?’ ” David learned he’d be the new father to triplets — George, Olivia and Samuel.
At 28 weeks pregnant, Bethany and David received news no parent wants to hear. While Samuel had always been a bit small, his growth had come to a standstill and he was actually losing nutrition. The longer the pregnancy continued, the greater the risk of losing him. David and his wife had an important decision to make: Risk losing Samuel or deliver the babies 12 weeks early.
On January 28, 2009, George was born at 2 lb., 10 oz. and lived in the NICU for nine weeks. Olivia was born at 2 lbs., 12 oz. and also lived in the NICU for nine weeks. Samuel was born at 1 lb.., 9 oz. and lived in the ICU for 14 months, fighting for his life every day for more than a year.
“It was not your typical fatherhood experience,” says David.
He and his wife took turns traveling to Charleston every night to be with Samuel in NICU. When Samuel came home he was on a trache and a ventilator for another year. “As challenging as the time was and as much travel and worry was involved with a baby in ICU for 14 months followed by 12 months of having a ventilator and trache in the house, we were lucky he continued to grow the entire time,” David says.
What David loves the most about being a father, especially after 12 years as a teacher at Beaufort Academy, is watching his children grow and learn. “It’s truly a miracle to watch them grow, watching them learn. They’re just like little sponges. I’m a high school teacher so teaching addition and subtraction, going over our colors, looking at animals, isn’t something I’m trained to do, but it’s a lot of fun,” he said.
As a dad, David has three small children who make him laugh on a daily basis: “I love to play, and what better playmates than 3 year olds? It’s just a trip. Last night we were saying prayers and my son George was thankful for the windows, the blinds, the door and his underwear. I don’t know in what world he connects the four, but it worked for him and I chuckled.”
David never knew his biological father being that he was adopted, and his father unfortunately passed away a few years ago from lung cancer. His number one goal as a dad is to spend a lot of time with his kids, to be there for them.
“I feel very fortunate as a teacher to have two weeks off at Christmas and a week spring break and my summers off. Teachers don’t become teachers for the salary, but I see the benefits as a dad.” David says. “Trying to be there for my kids now, playing with them, helping them learn and being a positive example for them are the most important things.”
Of course, being the father of triplets has its challenges. “When [the kids] get frustrated with each other we have to remind ourselves that they spend their entire day with each other and they’ve spent their entire lives with each other, so getting time to parent them not in a group but individually is a big challenge with triplets,” says David. “For the most part, they play with each other very well. We can sit back and watch them play.”
One idea David and Bethany came up with was “Date Night,” where one day of the month each parent spends one-on-one time with one of the triplets on a date.
Fatherhood is a life-changing experience, one that David’s embraced full-heartedly with thanks to two other people: “I could not be a good dad or an effective dad without a wife that works as hard as my wife does and without a mother whose been as dedicated as my mom. We’re lucky to have her here,” says David. David may be the proud father of triplets, but sometimes it takes three to raise three.
By Lanier Laney
Beaufort native Randy Hamilton is very proud of his three great kids: Ta’vaughn, 12, Kameron, 11, and Miciah, 5, and they are equally proud of their dad.
Randy said he also loves “my wonderful, hard-working wife Susan Hamilton, we have been married for 11 years and I knew I wanted to marry her from the first time we met.”
Randy is a talented cook and has recently been promoted to Kitchen Manager at Breakwater Restaurant.
Says Breakwater co-owner Donna Lang, “Randy has a great work ethic and he has consequently moved ‘up the ladder,’ so to speak, in the kitchen. He’s now training to be a Sous Chef for us. From day one, he’s been a pleasure to work with.”
I asked Randy what his philosophy is when I comes to raising children. “I try to teach my kids things that will make them succeed in this world,” he said. “Some basic things like respecting others and themselves, to live within their means and to be aware of your actions because of the consequences that will follow. Being a father can be challenging. Sometimes it takes tough love, that they may see as unfair at the time, but it is necessary at times, to make them better people in the future. I grew up part of my life without a father, so the best thing I could possibly give them is to be there for them no matter what. As I reflect on the last 12 years, I am pleased so far on how much impact I have had on their lives in such a positive way. The most important thing that I hope they take with them as they get older is that if you work hard at anything, the sky’s the limit.”