Sunday, July 13, 2008
ten months






I can't believe the babies are 10 months old now. When the babies were born, I tried to imagine life a year down the road, and I couldn't. I couldn't really even imagine life when we brought them home from the hospital. It's amazing that we've made it this far.

Jen asked me if I feel like I've come up for air yet, and I do. I'd say it's really just been in the last month or so that I don't feel like I am just going all day long and that I have a little time to relax (not just at bedtime, but during naptime and playtime even). The babies are at a good stage. Britta is crawling, standing, climbing, and just loves to explore and try everything. And, she's happy with that. We have the house essentially baby-proofed and as long as we keep certain doors closed (bathrooms, laundry room), we can let her explore and just keep an eye on where she's at and what she's doing. Jack is crawling well now, but he's less of an explorer. If he wants something, he will go get it, he'll crawl a little for fun, but he explores less than Britta. He's happy playing with toys and pulling down DVDs. Drake is not yet crawling, but he has discovered that he can get places by rolling. He was the first baby to roll, but he only did it to get off of his tummy. He finally is happy to be on his tummy and he seems happier now that he's a little more mobile.

The babies love to go for walks and they interact with each other and love to play with toys. Every day our living room is a little explosion of toys and DVDs. Right now I don't have a lot of extra work and our sleeping schedule is more flexible without school and the babies just seem to be happy. They need supervision and interaction, but it seems like it's less work. They are sleeping less, but still sleeping well.

It's getting easier to take them out and about. We take them out to eat every weekend. We only go to certain restaurants, but it works. We've been taking them to stores a little more, because it's not that hard and they seem to enjoy getting out.

For church, we still take them just to sacrament (the first hour of church) and then we alternate who takes them home and puts them down for a nap and who stays with the girls. People will often ask me where the babies are and I'll explain that it's naptime and David and I just take turns coming to church. One woman said, "Yeah, otherwise you'd just be walking the halls the whole time." The thing is, with three babies, I don't really know what we'd do. We don't walk our babies and if we tried, it would be a little difficult, being outnumbered and all. If they have a hard time going to sleep, we'll go in and hold them for a while, but in the end it's their job to fall asleep. With our setup now, every other week we both get to fully enjoy church. If we brought the babies to all three hours, we never would. I think just about the time that we'll be able to manage all three babies for all three hours, they'll be ready for nursery.

The first three months or so were so difficult with these guys. I felt like I was doing a million things a day and being pulled in a thousand different directions and the sleep deprivation is just something I hope I never have to experience again. But, at the time, we were just so grateful that the babies were all here and healthy and everyone had made it. Every issue of the Triplet Connection magazine has a page in memory of the babies that don't make it and just thinking about that brings tears to my eyes. This immense wave of relief and gratefulness that we get to take care of these babies helped us to get through that early time (and it still does, but it's not as much on my mind). Then, as the babies slept better, even though the days were exhausting, we were so grateful that we no longer had to sleep in shifts and that we could get more than five hours of sleep at time. That helped us get through the next phase. And, so far, it seems like the older they get the easier it gets. We've managed by hunkering down at home and sticking to the schedule and keeping things as easy as possible. I don't know what the toddler phase will bring, but already I can see their personalities shine through in new ways, and I am excited for it.

The older girls are doing great. Grace just got back from girls' camp and had a fabulous time. Lillie is loving summer. They both have made great progress with swimming because we've actually had the time to go to the pool. Last summer was such an odd summer, with me being on bedrest most of the time.

I use this blog basically as a monthly marker for the triplets, but I haven't quite figured out how to (and how much I want to) write about the older girls. I started this wanting to keep them anonymous and I have never included their photos and talked about them much. (My blog was very different then - it was more about keeping track of both the serious and silly things I thought about.) I find that it's a tougher balance to hit for some reason. I've considered going password protected so I can just include whatever photos I want and talk about whatever I like and not have to keep in mind that this is a public forum and that I'm not sure who reads it. Maybe I should just do that.

When Grace was little she had a small cardbox of toys. Over the years, her toys and Lillie's toys combined have taken over our bonus room (even with going through and giving away things as they outgrow them). They are getting too old for most of what's up there now (Grace is, anyway) and the babies aren't yet old enough for them. And, I realized the other day that we are back to a little basket of baby toys (the one behind Britta in the photos). I like that.
posted by lochan | link
2 comments and fresh takes

Thursday, July 03, 2008
advice for new parents of multiples
I wrote out some advice on triplet advice board, and thought I'd put it here too:

Advice
Read these forums, read triplet blogs, read books on parenting multiples (when you are pregnant this is a good time, you will have A LOT less time when the babies are here), but don't feel you have to follow everyone's advice. Take what works for your family and leave the rest.

Pregnancy
Now is the time to take things very easy, eat a lot, relax and sleep as much as you can. Do not feel guilty about it and don't worry about your weight. Losing it should be easier than you think (for me, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight two weeks post-partum - way faster than I was with my two older girls) and if it's not, deal with that later. Right now you need to give your babies as much time in the womb as possible and as much weight on their bodies as you can. Everything else is secondary. Being pregnant with triplets is painful, boring, stressful, and scary. You only have so much control over what will happen, but take control over the things you can (that's pretty much your activity level and what you eat).

Recovery
Recovery is tough. Take things slowly and ask for help. You'll feel like you have a million things to do, but concentrate on yourself and the babies. Let the other stuff go - because that is plenty!

Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding preemies is very different from breastfeeding full term babies. Preemies don't often get it right away and it may take longer for your milk to come in. When you are in the hospital, put your babies to the breast every three hours and pump every three hours. Pumping hurts so use Lansinoh cream - it made a huge difference for me. When I was in the hospital, I was tired and I was overwhelmed and I was tempted to just scrap it, but I'm glad I didn't.Take advantage of the lactation consultants (they are a huge help in getting the babies to latch on correctly and teaching tandem nursing). I had some nurses who assumed that because I had triplets I was not breastfeeding and some who thought if I was breastfeeding the babies shouldn't get a bottle and it was frustrating. I had one great nurse who was wonderful about bringing the babies to me every three hours and by the time we came home, the two that were coming home with me had it down. My guy in the NICU only got to try once a day, but he did get the hang of it.

The biggest mistake I think I made was not pumping after the first month. I really didn't like doing it, it was inconvenient, and it seemed easier to nurse a baby than to pump. For the first four months, about 1/3 of the babies' diet was breastmilk. I think I could've increased that if I had been pumping. Around four months, all three of my babies started to resist nursing and by seven months they were completely done. I wonder now if I had pumped, if I could have kept them going a little longer. I know I could have at least provided more breastmilk in a bottle if I had. While I would recommend pumping, I think it's more important to give yourself a break and not feel guilty about things that don't work. If breastfeeding isn't something you want to try or you just feel like it's one more thing on your plate, it's okay.

The first weeks home
This is the hardest time and it will pass before you know. But when you are in the middle of sleep deprivation, trying to establish schedules, and taking care of three babies whose needs are all over the map, the best you can do is take it one day at a time. We had live-in help (my mom) for the first 6 weeks and if you can arrange for something like that, do it.

Don't worry about the babies waking each other up. If they are always in the same room, they'll get used to each other and they won't wake each other up. At least not much.

Don't forget to take pictures and video. Our first video of the babies wasn't until they were 6 weeks old. We do have plenty of photos from that time, but were just too busy surviving to even think about taking videos. I wish we had.

Don't forget yourself: take the time to eat and take the time to go to the bathroom. It sounds silly, but you get so busy that you will forget to do these things. I got a UTI when the babies were just 4 or 5 weeks old and it was not fun. You'll be a better parent if you take care of yourself, too.

Schedules: Naps and Night time
The few triplet parents we spoke to (and the advice in the books and the boards) said that getting the babies on the same schedule was the trick. I absolutely agree, but those first four weeks, I just thought HOW? The babies slept at random times and I just didn't see a schedule taking shape even though we would wake the babies at the same time. All I can say is, it will come. Just be patient.

Start as you plan to go (if you don't plan to have three 2-year-olds in your bed, don't bring three newborns in your bed) but you can make exceptions in the first month. Whatever you can do to get a little extra sleep, do. For us, that often meant going to sleep with a baby on our chest. But, that didn't last long (and I definitely wouldn't make a habit out of that sort of thing).

When the babies are still needing to be fed every 3-4 hours, sleep in shifts. My husband slept from 8pm - 3am and I slept from 3 am - 8 am (I got to sleep longer on the weekends, but I had to get up with our older girls). You need to get at least 4-5 hours of sleep a night or you won't be able to think straight and sleep deprivation (even with getting 4+ hours a sleep a night) just makes everything harder.

If you can afford it, hire someone to help at night. We didn't do this, but if you can find someone you are comfortable with I think it would be a wonderful idea. You only need someone to do this a few times a week (even once a week would be great) and only for 3-4 months and it will give you a much needed break. If you can't, consider giving each other a full night sleep from time to time. It's worth a whole night of being on with the babies to get a full night's sleep yourself.

If you can afford it, hire a cleaning service. If you can't, do what needs to be done and try to relax about the rest.

Once they are starting to sleep a little longer at night, put the babies in their own room. It might even be a good idea to start out with the babies in their own room. For us, it worked to have them in our room at first. We moved them into their own room at 8 weeks, but I'd probably do it at 4 or 5 weeks. You won't be waking up at every little noise they make and you'll sleep better.

For scheduling, I recommend Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and Babywise. If you can, read them while you are pregnant because you won't have time to read it when you really need the information. If your babies are already here, the advice in a nutshell, is: put your babies down for nap after they have been awake for 1-2 hours. (For us, they are up one hour before the morning nap and then two hours before the second nap and two hours before the third nap, and one-two hours before bedtime). Babywise is written by the parent of triplets and they have a whole chapter on multiples.

Some books will tell you to stagger schedules so each baby gets one-on-one time. That will just leave you exhausted. It is nice to get a little one-on-one time, but to get a break and actually be able to get things done, the best advice is to get them sleeping at the same time.

Good sleep helps create more good sleep. When your babies have good naps, they'll sleep better at night.

Earlier bedtimes (6:30-7pm) encourages longer sleeping at night. Don't put them to bed late hoping they'll sleep later. It seems like that should work, but it doesn't. Don't wait until they are overtired to put them to sleep. They will cry a little when you first establishing routines, but they will cry so much less in the long run. How much to let your baby cry is a personal choice. I never let my two singletons cry it out, but with triplets, I knew that I needed to help them become self-soothers. I think because we started early, they never cried for very long. With my other two, when they cried I heard a sad baby and a baby who wanted her mom and dad. Now, I hear a baby who is tired and needs to sleep. That said, I do go into my babies and hold them if they are crying hard or their cry sounds different from the normal tired cry.

Babysitters
For the first three months, we would ask a mom who had a daughter who was babysitting age to babysit and that worked wonderfully. After the babies had a set bedtime and were sleeping well (around 3 1/2 months), we started hiring one babysitter to come after the babies had gone to bed.

Older siblings
Babysitters and Bedtimes. It gives you time with the older children and keeps your life from disintegrating into total chaos.

Exercise
Don't worry about this for the first few months - or until you are feeling strong enough. But, once you are feeling up to it, take time to exercise. It will help you feel better and sleep better. If you can, get a gym membership with good daycare, or have someone watch your babies while you go to the gym, or do a DVD while the babies nap, or just take the babies out for walks every day. Start slow and be easy on yourself, but make yourself and your health a priority.

Misc Tips
Create your own blackout curtains (I bought this white blackout fabric at Joann's http://www.joann.com/joann/catalog.jsp?CATID=cat3217&PRODID=prd31268 when it was on sale). We have them in our babies room and in our room. You don't want the sun waking up your babies or you when sleep is hard to come by! I sewed the fabric to the back of our curtains in our bedroom and just made curtains with the actual fabric in our babies' room.

Don't feel the need to buy everything now. You'll want some diapers, onesies, sleepers, burp cloths, and blankets. And, I would recommend three boppies. Those were a life saver for feeding all the babies by yourself. For diapers, I recommend Pampers for the preemie size and Pampers or Luvs for Newborn size. For some reason, Huggies are terrible for preemie and newborn size (we love them for the larger sizes, though).

Take time to enjoy your babies! They really grow so fast and won't be this little or this helpless for long.
posted by lochan | link
3 comments and fresh takes

Name: Laura

I have five kids including triplets. I'm too busy to blog, but I do anyway (uh, sometimes).

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