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MY THREE SONS TRIPLETS NOT ONLY BROTHERS, THEY'RE GOOD 'FRIENDS,' TOO.

Byline: DENNIS McCARTHY

WEST HILLS - It's a good thing Danielle Drouin wasn't a big fan of the Three Stooges. Otherwise, those male triplets she had in January might be marching off to school one day as Larry, Moe and Curly Joe.

Instead, they'll be enrolling as Joey, Chandler and Ross - the sons of a West Hills mom who loves the TV show ``Friends'' so much she named her triplets after the show's three male characters.

``If she had had only one baby she was going to name him Chandler, but when she had three, I told her, well, honey, you've got all your `Friends' now,'' said Gail Drouin, watching her daughter change the boys' diapers Thursday morning in their cribs.

In case you're wondering, they go through 900 diapers a month. Ouch!

The boys weighed under 2 pounds each when they were born prematurely after 26 weeks on Jan. 25.

They had to fight pretty hard for life, particularly Chandler, says Dr. Sabitha Sehgal, neonatologist director of the infant progress clinic at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

I'll get to that part of the story in a minute, but first let's finish off this ``Friends'' thing because it's been rankling Danielle and her mother a little.

After the boys were strong enough to come home from the hospital in May, they were invited to visit the set of ``Friends'' a few months later when no filming was going on.

``It was empty, none of the cast was there, but we did get to sit on the couch and have some pictures taken,'' Gail said.

Danielle left behind pictures of herself with her Ross, Joey and Chandler for the cast, hoping they'd drop her a line or something.

Nada, zilch, nothing.

It's not like Danielle was asking for child support or help paying the diaper bill.

All she wanted was an autographed picture for the kids' scrapbook, and maybe a note of thanks for being such a devoted fan.

``As you can imagine, the cast gets a lot of fan mail, and I'm not sure what happened,'' said Warner Bros. publicist Phil Gonzales. ``The photos were sent to them, but I didn't get any feedback.''

While he couldn't get feedback from the cast, he did get feedback, though, from one of the show's producers, Kevin Bright.

``We're honored they (the triplets) were named after our characters, and not after Jerry, George and Kramer,'' he said.

That would be the guys from ``Seinfeld'' - yuk, yuk.

OK, let's move on to the real Ross, Joey and Chandler living over in West Hills.

While Danielle and her husband, Terrance Wetzstein, were at the hospital back in January waiting for doctors to decide how long they could safely wait until they had to deliver the boys, Gail was on the Internet at home trying to find as much medical information about triplet births as she could.

``I found that nonfertility (treatment) triplets are not that common, about one in 69,000 births,'' she said. ``People from all over the country, and even from other countries, like France, Canada and Australia, were sending me information about preemie triplets.''

Before long, grandma had a network of people from all over the world wanting daily updates on the ``Friends'' triplets.

``It was amazing how many people got caught up in our drama,'' Gail said. ``It was like a soap opera.''

People hung on every detail of the emergency births at 26 weeks when doctors determined that little Chandler was too medically fragile to wait any longer and had to come out immediately.

Joey and Ross weren't ready, but they'd have to come along for the ride.

``Chandler weighed 1 pound, 5 ounces, and had a collapsed lung,'' Gail said. ``Joey was 1 pound, 7 ounces, and Ross was 1 pound, 11 ounces.''

For awhile, it was touch and go, said Dr. Sehgal. ``Especially Chandler, the littlest guy. We didn't think he'd make it.''

But Chandler did make it because he was a real fighter in that neonatal intensive care unit, says his father, Terrance.

The boys still get daily breathing treatments at home because chronic lung problems are common with premature babies, but other than that, they're gaining weight and doing fine, Danielle says.

``Chandler was the wildest in the hospital, but now he's so mellow,'' she says. ``Ross is a handful, and needs 100 percent attention, while Joey's the happy, easy going, Gerber baby.''

As far as the future, she'd love to see her sons grow up to become a minister, lawyer and neonatologist, Danielle says.

Anything but a sitcom actor.

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Danielle Drouin shows off her triplet sons, from left, Chandler, Joey and Ross, named after the three main male characters in the long-running TV sitcom, ``Friends,'' her favorite show. The three were born prematurely Jan. 25.

Tina Burch/Staff Photographer

(2 -- color) Danielle Drouin would love an autographed photo of Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Ross (David Schwimmer) for her boys.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 17, 2002
Words:835
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