BY MARY KAY SWEIKAR
The Bergman three — the only identified set of triplets in Bismarck — will graduate this May and go their separate ways — a time of mixed emotions for the entire family.
They are Caleb, Jesiah and Abby — all seniors at Bismarck-Henning High School.
“The main thing we want people to know is that we appreciated all the love and support that our family, friends and community have given us all these years,” Brad, their father, said. “Parents can’t raise a family of four that includes triplets, all by themselves.”
Brad and his wife, Connie, said they will definitely experience the “empty nest syndrome” next year, with no sporting events to attend and no teenagers coming and going from their home.
Their oldest son, Gabe, moved out several years ago and currently works at Genpact. Abby plans to go away to college on a volleyball or basketball scholarship in the fall, but she hasn’t decided where yet. Jesiah will join the Air Force, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, and Caleb is undecided about his future plans.
“Our house always has been a meeting place for all of their friends,” Connie said, “so those kids promised me that they’d still come around and keep me company when our kids are gone.” The Bergmans will continue to support Bismarck sporting events because they know nearly all the players and their families.
Connie does have some plans to fill the void once her offspring leave.
“I’ll probably have to get a second job to help pay for their college,” she said with a laugh. Connie works in Dr. Mike Fuesting’s dental office, where she has been for the past seven years, so she will also continue to give excessive attention to Mia — the family’s English bulldog — and she will probably revisit her scrapbooking hobby.
Brad has worked as a mail carrier for the Danville Post Office for nearly 25 years. He also plays guitar and sings, and he has performed with several local rock and country bands through the years.
How it began
The Bergmans were high school sweethearts. Brad went to Potomac High School and she went to Bismarck. The couple married right after graduation, when they were both 19 years old. Connie said they always wanted four children, but didn’t really plan on having triplets in the mix. Gabe was born seven years after they were married, and five years later the couple rejoiced when they learned that Connie was pregnant again.
The parents admitted they were shocked when, early in the pregnancy, a sonogram revealed three little heads instead of just one.
“I went home and had a beer,” Brad said, “and I think that Connie was dazed for the entire nine months.”
The Bergmans became parents of triplets on June 14, 1995, when two boys and one girl joined their first son, Gabe, who was 5 at the time.
They were forewarned by their doctor that the chance of all three babies surviving was very slim.
“The only way we got through it was with the help of friends, family, our church and also Gabe, who helped out a lot,” Connie said.
The preemie triplets weighed in at birth as follows: Abby, 4 pounds, 13 ounces; Caleb, 4 pounds 8 ounces; and Jesiah, 3 pounds, 13 ounces. Connie said they were good-sized babies for triplets.
“And we could tell them apart right from the beginning by their physical appearance and personalities.”
As infants, Abby was described as a laid-back baby who didn’t like to be bothered; Jesiah was quiet, but curious; and Caleb wanted all the attention, making people laugh and smile.
The family attracted much attention with their triplets dressed in identical outfits, riding in a three-seater stroller that looked like a Cadillac. They also added another bedroom to their house soon after the triplets were born to accommodate three full-size baby cribs.
After an extended maternity leave of three months, Connie said she was happy to return to her job at Dillman Eye Care. She had to take off work in her fourth month of pregnancy and was hospitalized for the last three weeks. The triplets were born healthy at 33 weeks, but Connie said her pregnancy weight was more than 200 pounds and her mobility was very limited.
Connie’s mother, Janis Baker, obligingly quit her job and stepped up to babysit full-time for the active triplets and older brother Gabe, who was in kindergarten at the time.
After the babies reached their first birthday, Connie decided to leave her job of nine years to open a licensed day care service in her home. She ended up running her day care for 10 years after that, because she found that taking care of children was very rewarding to her.
“I guess I must just love kids,” she said with a big smile.
Brad relayed one of many humorous anecdotes than involved the mischievous triplets.
“When Connie and I were home together we made sure to never leave the triplets alone even for a minute, because if one didn’t think of getting into some kind of trouble, another one would.”
One day the inevitable happened. Connie went out the back door and Brad went out the front door just for a brief period, each thinking the other was in the house. Within minutes the 18-month-old babies had opened the refrigerator and pulled out several dozen eggs, which all cracked and splattered on the floor.
“It’s a funny story to relay now,” Brad said, “but not so funny at the time.”
The Bergmans taught their children survival skills early on.
“By age 5 they were already doing their own laundry and some cooking, and completing a list of other chores,” Connie said.
The triplets today
With three brothers to hang around with, Abby was an ordained tomboy, and she joined in on all their sports. In fact, she played baseball until they didn’t allow her on the boys’ team anymore, and then she switched to girls’ softball.
Gabe, the oldest, is considered the “mentor” of the family. He played football, basketball and baseball in high school and the triplets followed in his footsteps. Caleb is currently the quarterback for Bismarck-Henning High School, and Jesiah is the cornerback. They both played baseball, and Abby plays soccer, basketball and softball.
Abby also is on the student council and the school’s yearbook staff, and Caleb is a library helper. Jesiah wants to be a conservation officer someday, and Abby aspires to be an X-ray technician.
Brad also was very active in sports during high school, and he taught his first son, Gabe, how to bat and throw a baseball when Gabe was only 3 years old.
All of the triplets held jobs throughout high school — Jesiah worked at County Market, Caleb umpired little league baseball games and Abby babysat.
The Bergman threesome confessed they will miss each other, as well as their parents when they go their separate ways next fall. However, they all promised to come home for Thanksgiving dinner, as long as Connie has her famous German potato salad on the menu.
Brad and Connie will undoubtedly be happy to have the family all together on the special holiday.
“And we want our children to know that our door will always be open for them,” Brad said.