Things Happening in Threes

The informant is my mother, Dayna Rayburn, born in 1960 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She grew up in Tulsa, before going to college at the University of Oklahoma and graduating with a degree in nursing. She has worked at St. Francis Hospital in the newborn nursery for thirty years.

In this piece, my mother talks about things happening in threes, and how this relates to both her job and personal life.

Mom: In nursing… should I say that I’m a nurse?

Me: No, I got that part.

Mom: Okay. In nursing, we always say things happen in threes. If there’s, um, an abnormal diagnosis in a newborn, like if they have hydrocephalus… let’s say there’s one baby born at St. Francis that has hydrocephalus.

Me: Alright.

Mom: Then we usually expect two more to be born with it in a short interim. If a second baby is born with it, then we usually almost always expect one more to be as well. It’s kind of like the third time’s the charm idea.

Me: You have a past with the third time’s the charm proverb.

Mom: I do? Oh yes, I do!

Me: Do you want to talk about that?

Mom: Sure. My mom and dad tried to have a baby two times before me, but my mother lost both the pregnancies. I was their third try, in a way, so I always think about third time’s the charm in relation to me.

Me: You were a lucky baby.

Mom: Thanks, son.

My mom has a strong personal connection to “threes”, and it’s fitting that she has chosen a profession where things coming in threes. Nursing, as we’ve talked about in class, is a profession where there is little control. Nurses cannot prevent a child from being born with a certain disease, and have these beliefs as a way to cope and explain why a child has to go through something like hydrocephalus. It’s a superstition in a way, and one that can’t be prevented, but my mom has always tried to see the silver lining in things, and seeing her birth as a “charm” after two previous attempts is her way up saying good things can come in threes too.