People ask me all the time, “how do you have triplets? What is it like?” Usually, it’s when they see me in the grocery store with my “basketful of babies” or my “hands full.” I don’t exactly blame them. I would wonder too.
I know we’ve looked like a circus on more than one occasion. So the short answer is, I don’t really know. Every day is an adventure and we all just try our best, kids included.
If you want the long answer, continue reading. I’ve been asked a lot of questions in grocery stores, so I’ll answer some of them below in an effort to show you what this triplet life is really like.
1. Did you know you were having three?
Yes. The guy at Wal-Mart who asked me this looked so disappointed when I said yes. I think he was envisioning some kind of dramatic clown car scenario where babies kept coming out and I had no idea how many there would be — fortunately I think those days might be mostly behind us.
I had a high tech ultrasound at a specialist clinic every other week for almost 6 months, and we counted 3 heartbeats and 30 toes every time. So yes. I knew. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a surprise. Actually some days it’s still a surprise.
2. How did you carry them all?
Early in my pregnancy I fainted once, and after that I had to be very careful to eat every hour.So when I wasn’t telling people yet, I would sneak into the bathroom and eat sleeves of cheese crackers. I had to eat 4500 calories a day. I never did have to go on bedrest, which was a miracle in and of itself, because most triplet moms do need to go on bedrest (and very commonly hospital bedrest).
I wasn’t exactly in mint condition, though. By the time I delivered I was carrying 14 pounds of baby, plus another 10-11 pounds of placentas and amniotic fluid. You can imagine how little I could move. At the end my feet were so permanently swollen I couldn’t wear a single pair of my shoes, not even Birkenstocks or slippers.
3. Were they born in a hospital?
Very much so. I have to admit — I’m not really sure where the question asker was going with this one? Backseat taxi triplet births have to be one of the most rare occurrences known to mankind in 2018 — you’re high-risk if you’re carrying triplets and they keep a very close eye on you.
I had a scheduled C-section at 34 weeks, with about 42 people in the room (I never exaggerate). The boys were whisked to the NICU immediately after they were born, where they stayed just over a week to eat and grow a little more before they could came home.
4. Do you have help?
If you mean live-in help, like some kind of nanny, au pair or otherwise third person over 12 who is with us constantly, then no, we don’t. I should clarify: I stay home with the boys and my husband works full-time.
He is an absolute rockstar when it comes to taking care of them and trying to take on extra chores at home so I can have a break too. During the day, however, I’m mostly on my own. But our family and friends have been incredibly helpful to us, bringing dinners, babysitting, flying across the country to see us, helping carry a baby when we go places.
Kind strangers have also helped by holding open the door to a store, entertaining the boys in the checkout line. We have been absolutely amazed and in awe of everyone who has offered us SO much help.
5. Do you sleep?
When the boys first came home, we fed them every 3 hours, around the clock. The NICU put them on that schedule and it was a huge blessing because it gave us some semblance of routine and allowed us to rule out reasons why they might cry.
It took 1.5 hours to feed them, because each baby took 30 minutes to eat. They would keep falling asleep while we fed them. Sometimes we had to unwrap all their blankets, rub their heads, wiggle them around to get them to stay awake long enough to finish.
As the boys got sturdier and chunkier they started eating faster and dropping nighttime feeds. By about 6 months old, they began sleeping 12 hours a night + reliable, scheduled naps. So we sleep well now, and we actually slept fairly well from the beginning, thanks to the amazing NICU schedule and trading off for all the night feeds.
6. How many diapers do you change a day?
At the beginning, it was 8 diapers per day per baby. So 24 diapers a day.
I think that’s roughly 7300 diapers in one year.
There are days when my husband changes 6-7 diapers before he even leaves for work.
7. How do you get anything done?
Lots of multi-tasking. But also, personally I feel more balanced when I can carve out short periods where I’m only doing ONE THING, and doing that one thing really well — whether that’s folding laundry or answering emails or getting lunch ready.
It’s not practical for most of the day. But for example, when the boys are awake and playing and I’m wrapping things up in the kitchen, I’ll look at the clock and say, I have 15 minutes, and for the next 15 minutes I’m not going to do anything but sit here on the floor and try to teach my kids animal sounds. I don’t do ANYTHING else. I don’t microwave my coffee, check my phone, schedule pediatrician appointments, nothing.
I know that spending that type of quality time (even short bursts!) is obviously great for the boys, but it’s also what I’m going to remember and appreciate when the boys are grown all too soon. Multi-tasking is great and absolutely necessary, but I’ve learned that you can’t multi-task through being present.
8. Is it hard to be outnumbered?
Yes, it’s hard to be outnumbered by toddlers. Like this week, when they were all sick and they all just wanted to sit and snuggle with mom. But I’m only one person, and there’s only so much room in mom’s lap, and nobody’s happy on the edge.
It’s hard to know that I can’t give them my sole attention and snuggle and hold them as much as a mom of a single baby could. I just have to try to fit in one-on-one time whenever I can.
But when I go into the nursery in the morning, I get to walk into a room of three smiling faces and six chubby little arms outstretched to give me a tight hug and say “mama”. In moments like those, it is awesome to be outnumbered by toddlers.
9. Have you ever gone on a family vacation?
We took the boys to the beach this summer with my family and the boys hated it. I have since learned that it’s fairly common for toddlers to hate the beach. We got all the great “first time child at the beach” pictures and it was beautiful, but not to my three toddlers.
It was stressful for them getting sand stuck to their feet which was atrocity #1, and also the ocean was loud and cold, and the sun was hot, and they kept forgetting that sand isn’t really edible.
We left the rest of the group at the beach a little early and the boys passed out in the car on the way back to the house. When we got back, we jumped in the pool with them to rinse off the sand. And suddenly they went absolutely crazy — shrieking, splashing, yelling, laughing.
For 30 straight minutes they were nothing but pure noise and pure joy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so happy in all my life, especially after hating the beach so much. I think I’ll always love that memory.
10. What is one thing you’ve learned since becoming a mom?
Parenthood is such a crazy thing. Whether you have triplets or not, some days are super tough and absolutely exhausting. Tons of crying, everyone is a hot mess, and I’m counting down the minutes to bedtime and a new and happier day.
But then when I finally get everybody to bed, I’ll find myself looking at pictures and videos of my kids on my phone. (I know I’m not the only one who does this).
Since becoming a mother, I’ve realized that love is doing crazy things for other people and not holding it against them. That love means sacrificing, and caring for the needs of someone else on good days and on bad days. That when you give freely of yourself, love grows, and you grow.
If given the choice to plan my entire life, of course I couldn’t have known to plan triplets. I couldn’t have known how much joy they would bring, how much we would grow, and how much more full our lives would become.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that my own plans are really not the best plans. Being a mom to my boys is a privilege and a blessing I can’t describe, even in an essay as long as this one.
To read more about our co-founder Halley, click here.