'Labor of love': Paducah Bank's Gayle Martin shares her best days with triplet daughters

5/11/2020

Paducah resident Gayle Martin believes in the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” or in her family’s case, triplets.

Martin, a wealth management officer for Paducah Financial Consultants, welcomed fraternal triplet girls on Christmas Eve 22 years ago, as they arrived 6 1/2 weeks early in Louisville. The girls, Kelsey, Kierstyn and Kourtney Stevens, were healthy, but due to their small size, went to Kosair’s hospital for the NICU and stayed about three weeks.

“We were living in Murray, Kentucky, at that time, so I stayed up there with them and got to stay in the Ronald McDonald House and the girls’ dad actually came back to Murray and worked, then would come up on the weekends to see us,” Martin said.

Newborns, obviously, require lots of attention, so three premature babies at once involved almost around the clock feeding. After all, the smallest wasn’t quite four pounds when the family got to go home. It was a time-intensive experience for the first few months, but got easier as they caught up to their normal gestational age.

“It’s very busy for the first probably 18 months to two years because the whole feeding, diaper circle,” she said. “It wears you out, but once you get past that, in my mind it was crazy, but it was crazy fun and we managed it.”

Martin took a couple years off before returning to work as an accountant, and day care, as she pointed out, is not inexpensive. That’s where Martin’s mother, Geraldine Martin of Evansville, Indiana, stepped in to help out. She credits other immediate and extended family for helping too, as she was a single mother for about eight years and family was crucial in that transition.

“I was blessed to have a mother who retired early to be my daycare, but that’s very helpful to have somebody you trust because, of course, kids can get sick and it requires you to be off work,” she said.

“It’s just a challenge, you know, juggling full-time, daytime activities with your job and the stress of that, and then coming home and giving all your love back to them and taking care of the house and getting them taken care of. But it’s a labor of love — absolutely.”

The family later moved to the Paducah area and Martin’s daughters went on to graduate from McCracken County High School in 2016 as co-valedictorians. Kourtney and Kierstyn chose Murray State University for college, while Kelsey went to Transylvania University in Lexington. Kelsey and Kourtney graduate this month, and Kierstyn will graduate in December.

Martin’s favorite part about motherhood has been watching her daughters grow into “wonderful, responsible” adults. It’s rewarding for her to watch them be independent and choose their careers, which include elementary education and nursing for Kourtney and Kierstyn.

Kelsey chose a double major at Transylvania — psychology and exercise science — and plans to attend Washington University to study occupational therapy. She called Mother’s Day a nice time to celebrate and give back to Martin, who she described as incredibly supportive and loving.

“I’d say she’s been just really instrumental in how we’ve all turned out,” Kelsey said. “She was always there for us growing up and we can always depend on her and, I mean, we still depend on her a lot now.”

It goes without saying perhaps, but Martin’s personal Mother’s Day that one Christmas Eve was life-changing and it was a “total transformation” for her.

“With multiples, what you lose is your time to yourself,” she said. “Everything revolved for two years around their schedule, as it should be, but the love that you immediately have when you hold them was just — I had read about it. You had heard about it, but it’s just overwhelming. So, something I can’t put into words, but absolutely the best day of my life.”

By KELLY FARRELL kfarrell@paducahsun.com