I wondered if my three girls would lose their individual identities. I needn't have worried.

Puppy, Stinky Puppy and Other Puppy used to be white and fluffy plush dogs about the size of guinea pigs. They arrived at the hospital in small gift bags the day after I gave birth to my triplets, a set of girls, two identical, one fraternal. The identical pair, Ainsley and Patten, adopted all three of the stuffed dogs, snuggling in their soft fur and playing with their nubby tails. My fraternal girl, Gwen, opted for a small, pink bunny with a blankie attached.

Over time, Ainsley and Patten loved the dogs’ bright, soft fur into gray, matted messes, the dogs becoming bath-soaked versions of themselves. To anyone else, Puppy, Stinky Puppy and Other Puppy all looked the same, save Stinky Puppy’s one dark paw that Ainsley had sucked to a flat, stinky knob. Yet, to my identical girls, their “mommies,” the puppies were distinct enough to spot from across the room.

I think about my children’s lovies often. They have become symbols of the triplets who love them, leaving me with more questions about identity than answers: Why did my identical girls attach to identical objects while my fraternal triplet chose one so different? What kind of invisible imprints have my children left on their babies? What will I leave on mine?

Continue reading Jody Gerbig's essay at Columbus Monthly.