Richard and Elizabeth Garrison had their hands full with three little boys under the age of 5, but they liked to think that someday, when the boys were a little older, they might try to have a girl.

Richard and Elizabeth Garrison had their hands full with three little boys under the age of 5, but they liked to think that someday, when the boys were a little older, they might try to have a girl.

Someday came a lot sooner than either of them expected. On Oct. 12 they had not one girl, but three — Zoey, Elsy and Cynthiann.

"We were definitely blessed with what we wanted," the proud father said Tuesday, "and more than we wanted, and sooner than we wanted."

The Sams Valley couple learned that Elizabeth was carrying three babies back in June, when she had her first ultrasound exam.

"We spent about a month in shock," said Elizabeth, 26. "No tears, just shock."

The girls, who weigh about 3 pounds now, will have to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit at Rogue Valley Medical Center for about another month. Meanwhile, their parents are trying to grasp what life will be like when the babies join their sons, Lars, 51/2, Hans, 31/2, and Chase, 11/2.

"Nobody's prepared for something like this," joked Richard, 32, a helicopter mechanic at Erickson Air-Crane. "We're trying to figure out how to take care of three babies."

They're doing their best to get ready. They moved into a four-bedroom house on Labor Day weekend, and they've bought a big Yukon SUV to haul their brood. Now they're accumulating two more of all the baby things they gathered when the boys were babies.

"We've got to find two more cribs," Elizabeth said, "and two more infant car seats. We only needed one before."

Family members, friends and members of their church have chipped in with clothes and other necessities. A friend of Elizabeth's mother provided cash to buy a new front-loading washing machine. Several family members have promised to come and help out when the girls come home.

Multiple births have become more common since fertility drugs have come into widespread use, but the Garrison babies are completely "natural." Elizabeth wasn't taking any of the drugs that help women conceive, and often result in twins or triplets.

"This was completely unexpected," she said.

She noted that there's a history of one set of twins in every generation on her side of the family, "but my cousin already has the twins for this generation."

Elizabeth said having to leave the girls in the NICU feels strange, especially since her boys came home right after they were born. The babies are being fed through a tube with Elizabeth's breast milk, which she extracts with a pump. She plans to continue to nurse them when they come home, sometime around Thanksgiving.

"I'm fully expecting a new level of awe when they come home," Richard said.

"Our attitude now is 'Take it as it comes,' " Elizabeth said. "You can't do anything else."

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or e-mail:bkettler@mailtribune.com