Birth/Rebirth: Two Tales of Triplets

Posted by on January 14, 2014 in birth | 25 comments

At a Christmas party last month, I found myself talking to two women who are in choir with my husband. They have a lot in common, both LDS women, in Mesa, Arizona, amazing singers, and they have each given birth to triplets.  When I listened to them describe their experiences with pregnancy, birth, and caring for triplets, I was amazed.  Speechless, even (which rarely happens to me). I asked them to participate in our Birth/Rebirth series and here are their stories.

Lindsay

1383427_10202301823648495_1412467785_n The total birth weight of our triplets was 20 lbs 14 oz. (7.4, 7.3, 6.7) I carried them 37 weeks and 5 days. I told myself and them regularly that there was plenty of room for them. And I let myself stretch. I imagined myself like a taut rubber band with still just a little more room.

The birth was hospital-ish. Not my favorite recollection. I shook from the epidural the entire time. And listened to my heart beat slow to almost not being there as they tried to put it in. It took 3 people to turn me over to get the epidural. 3 doctors and 5 nurses took the babies out. What looked like about 3 gallons of fluid came out of me. I lost a lot of blood. The babies were ready to go home before I was.

They were beautiful to see. A bouquet of babies. I breastfed all three for just under a year. It was one of the most complicated things I have ever done, to figure out a fair and proper feeding schedule for them. It ran my life.

Its a lovely life now 7 yrs later. They play with anyone they can and anyone plays with them (especially their older sister). I know their being born healthy was a direct blessing for me from Heavenly Father. He had promised that “my vine would not cast her fruit before her time in the field” if we paid our tithing. I held him to it.

Rethinking Possible
Sarah

From the moment I saw those three little heartbeats beating away, I wanted them all exactly how they would come. I don’t think I would have stood in line to have triplets, but contrary to what most assume, I was elated to be expecting three babies.

That pregnancy is one of my fondest memories. My husband works from home, so the 4 months I spent on the couch on preventative modified bed rest – “no cooking, no cleaning, no shopping” – were some of our most treasured time together. I never had a single complication during the pregnancy, but my number one priority was keeping them inside as long as possible, so I did as little as possible. My husband was there to help me with anything I needed, and he even got to come to every single doctor visit. We had ultrasounds every time I went for a visit in order to check their heartbeats, so we felt like we really knew them before they were in our arms. I wasn’t really nervous about the actual birth or having three babies to care for. I have always loved babies and children and spent a lot of time with them, and I had an incredible mother who taught me a lot about baby care. My one concern was that I was bringing these babies into the world without my own mother as she had passed away the Christmas before we became pregnant. My mother’s health had been bad most of my childhood, so I grew up around hospitals and surgeries, so I wasn’t really scared to have a caesarian section either. I had always dreamed of natural childbirth, so I was disappointed to have that option taken off of the table. The morning we went in to deliver was surreal. I hadn’t had a single contraction yet, so I just woke up, took a shower, drove the hospital, and had three babies. It was like going to the store. It was so casual. Everything happened in a flurry. One minute, we were crammed like sardines in the operating room, and I was the star of the show, and the next minute, I was alone, the babies whisked away with a myriad of happy attendants. In 3 minutes, we were completely changed.

8524_586159988798_5664805_nTRIPLETS. It took some time to really grasp what that meant for us – going from two best friends sharing our lives together doing whatever we pleased who may never have children of their own to a family with three demanding, needy balls of adorable and two exhausted, needy adults who hardly recognized each other. The divorce rate for couples with multiples is higher than average, and I completely understand why. The first year, I don’t think we ever slept. Our life revolved around those babies and their needs and desires. We rarely had a moment alone, and when we did, I didn’t want to be touched. We had silly arguments that didn’t even make sense because we were too exhausted to think straight. As stressful and terrible as it might sound, I’m kind of sad not to be able to ride the roller coaster again. I have loved every second they have been in my life. They fulfill and stretch me in ways I never would have dreamed. One thing we learned early on is that the world is not equipped to handle three babies. People make all kinds of assumptions about what you can and can’t do. For example, I had intended to nurse my three little babes, and I was very diligent about pumping for them every two hours to build up my milk supply. I delivered at 35 weeks (which is as far as my doctor would allow me to go – I wanted to go another week), so my babies were all good healthy weights for triplets, but were tiny enough that they took them straight to the NICU for observation. My two boys struggled a little, but my girl never needed any intervention. However, she was the smallest, so they were cautious. They never allowed me to put them to the breast until I insisted the day we were to take baby girl home. One of the NICU nurses thought she knew best and switched my baby girl to a fast flow nipple since she was such a good eater. As such, baby girl wouldn’t suckle when placed at the breast. She was impatient and would not tolerate nursing. After 6 weeks of trying to nurse at the breast, I finally threw in the towel and solely pumped – for the entire first year. Many people never believed that would be possible, but I felt like it was the least I could do for my little ones. It took a lot of dedication and lots of sleepless nights as I would never go longer than 5 hours without pumping, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I got to the point where I was pretty confident in my mothering abilities. I even took all three on a 7 hour road trip alone when they were just over a year old. It took planning and preparations (and a roll of toilet paper in the car), but we made it! Those kinds of adventures were always the most empowering. This is my life. It is crazy and hectic and scary, but I can’t just sit at home scared because the world doesn’t know what to do with me. You should see the looks we get when we go out. Most people are extremely kind, but others make terrible loud comments about our parenting choices as if we did this to ourselves. People are always watching. The stares only became worse when I became pregnant with a fourth when the triplets were 18 months old. I remember one instance when I had all of the babies at Target alone. The newest was an infant in a wrap and the three 2 year olds were in a “train cart” as we call them. The baby got hungry, and what was I supposed to do? Go find a discreet place to sit down and nurse while the other three tore around the store causing all kinds of havoc? I situated my wrap, latched the baby, and proceeded with our shopping trip ignoring the eyes burning into my skull. Believe me. It wasn’t ideal for me either. In fact, not much of my life as a mother has been, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. We just found out that another little surprise is headed our way, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Our life is already crazy! What’s one more tossed on the pile??

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25 Comments

  1. Wow! What stories. Send them down in multiples … and let’s build a family! :) I’m glad everyone is happy and healthy. And I’m speechless (too) at the work and the love … and the making-things-possible.

    Thanks for sharing this inspiring story.

  2. Thank you, Lindsay and Sarah for sharing your stories here. What impressed me in each is your clear dedication to your babies and your families. Even nursing one baby can take careful planning, interruption, and sacrifice. I admire that you were both able to feed your children in the way that you wished.

    Lindsay, I loved the words that you told your babies and yourself, about how there was room for them there. I study the philosophy of home and welcoming, and often found myself saying similar words to my one babe as my belly grew and stretched to make room for her. Really beautiful.

    Sarah, thank you for expanding other’s vision of what is and is not possible.

  3. Thank you both for sharing these stories. Lindsay, your profile with triplets is one of the most remarkable things I’ve seen! And breastfeeding triplets. Wow. Sarah, I remember holding a bottle with my chin lots of times, but never while also holding two other babies! Wow. This sounds corny, but you two are superheroes of motherhood. It’s amazing what people are capable of, isn’t it?

    • “Lindsay, your profile with triplets is one of the most remarkable things I’ve seen!” Amen. It is stunning really.

      • :) that one’s a treasure. The dress definitely helps. It was given to me by a single friend in the ward in Manhattan who had helped a mother with triplets as a teen. She would come up and do my laundry every Tuesday and she made me promise never to say “no” to anyone who offered my help. One time she went clothes shopping for me for fun and brought back a bunch of “dress-ups.” This one i couldn’t fathom and really wanted to trash it, but she convinced me to keep it “just in case.” I wore it (alternately when i had to with some xxxl sweat pants) every day for about a month.

    • I certainly don’t feel very super. Just very normal. My normal is just wrapped in a different package. I promise that I just do the best that I can with what I’ve been given just like every one else :) Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement and for taking the time to read our stories.

      • It was a pleasure to read them. Thank you again for sharing.

  4. So enjoyed reading this and the other birthing/adopting stories. My daughter had triplets seven years ago this month; they came early at 28 weeks and weighed 2 pounds each. But I knew in my heart that they were looked after during the 2 months they were in the NICU. I knew my mother and mother-in-law were watching over them daily – we felt their presence time and time again and I know the girls felt them as well. Having babies is such hard work, but having three at once is hard work times three! When I had my babies during the seventies, I had no idea what I was doing; I did the best I could with very limited knowledge – still can’t believe how naive I was in those days. But in spite of my best efforts my children turned very well, with families of their own. And the great thing about being a grandparent is that I can see the mistakes I made and can guide my own children now as they guide their children. Grand-babies are the best. Thanks so much to everyone for sharing your stories – they have made my days.

    • Yeah, the first year with them when we were living away from family in the Bronx, i learned the reality of the presence of angels around us. I felt very clearly the presence of my and my husband’s grandmothers in the room with me, especially when i had to run down the hall and go to the bathroom; i would come back and things would be peaceful and taken care of in such an uncanny way. It seemed like things had even been straightened in the room, and there was a feeling that my children were somehow getting one on one attention.

      • Hi Lindsay, I gave birth to triplets in 2010 when we lived in Brooklyn. I think someone told me about you back when I was pregnant. Anyway, your story is amazing, and this is coming from a fellow mother of HOMs. It’s all the more amazing that you did it and survived it all in NYC.

  5. These are amazing stories. You both are so full of love and dedication to these babies. I love both your photos.

    Sarah, your description of the stress your babies brought into the marriage resonated with me. I never had multiples, but even just one baby at a time was hard on us. Getting interrupted sleep — and not enough of it — for years is so tough on people. And good for you for going to Target and doing what you need to do to keep your kids happy. People really need to relax about breastfeeding in public.

    • Caroline,
      Amen on the sleep issues.

      I’m embarrassed to admit that I need 9 consecutive hours of sleep. On Saturday night I got 10 straight hours and it was the BEST DAY I’ve had in months.

      I don’t think we consider how much sleep affects our mood, or thought patterns, or our interactions with others. There is a great chapter in Nurture Shock about the affect of sleep on children.

      But sleep is something hardly any new mom gets, and especially a mom with triplets.

      I agree with a previous comment, these moms are superheroes!

      • I appreciated the comments on sleep in the post, and in Caroline’s remarks as well. I am feeling the lack right now, and it makes something hard even harder.

      • Ditto on the sleep. Sleep deprivation has certain powers to make norml, nice women into crazy, depressed monster moms.

    • Breastfeeding is near and dear to my heart, if that wasn’t obvious. I have counted myself very blessed to have been able to provide for my babies in that manner as much as I have. I don’t like to think of myself as a “breast is best” champion and try to be considerate of others, but my babies’ needs come first. Sometimes you just have to take care of business ;) To each their own though!

    • Amen and amen on the sleep issue. My wife and I only have three kids total, with no multiple births, and my wife has been the primary caregiver and I still thought I would lose my mind each time for lack of sleep. Y’all are amazing to have done this!

  6. I love your stories, and especially the beautiful pictures that you posted. Thank you for sharing your experiences. You are truly remarkable mamas! My twins just turned 5, and I have always said, since the day they were born, “I can’t imagine triplets or quads!!!”

    Lindsay–for me one of the hardest part of having twins was the adjustment for their older sister. I wonder how your daughter managed?

    Sarah–I agree about the marriage part. There were definitely a couple of times that I wondered if our marriage would survive…

    My mom has an LDS friend who sees/talks/senses spirits of our deceased loved ones. When my twins were about 4 months old, my mom told me that this friend asked my mom, “Is your daughter [me] going through an especially hard time? Your husband [my dad who passed away when I was 19] is very close to her.”

    I often felt I wasn’t allowed to admit/express how hard, depressing, exhausting having twins was for me, b/c having twins is such a blessing and they were healthy and strong–I should just be “grateful.” But hearing this woman say that my deceased dad was watching over me, made me realize how even trials that may not seem like typical burdens are significant and important to our Heavenly Parents. I like to believe that my dad was watching over me during that exhausting time. Just wanted to share….

    • I am so glad you shared, Corrina. It is a boon to remember that our trials are important to our Heavenly Parents, however typical or atypical, and that there are loved ones on the other side accompanying us.

    • I have had some intense experiences with my own mother since having the triplets. She has been very much a part of this whole mothering experience. I do miss not being able to speak to her though. There are so many times I have questions or could really just use a good conversation with my mama. Congratulations on surviving twins (so far!), and thank you for sharing your tender experiences with your own father. It is hard to lose loved ones, and sometimes having your own children can make losing a parent that much more difficult.

    • My daughter is in a heavenly family for her. She really excels with large amounts of added responsibility, and three best friends for siblings are a cup running over for her. I knew she needed a friend at the time, and Heavenly Father has been wise in his bounty with her. They are one tight, well adjusted, and happy posse.

  7. These stories are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing them here! Triplets! I seriously can’t imagine. I really loved how Sarah wrote “going from two best friends to…” It is so powerful to know that your spouse is your best friend, especially when you are both sleep-deprived (not to mention the angst of infertility issues). That– oddly enough, was the most powerful point of this post to me– the babies come and are a part of your family, and you get to do it all– with all of the pain, joy, frustration, happiness and exhaustion– with your best friend.

    Thank you both for your powerful words!

    • True. That’s nice. Thanks.

  8. Sarah, if I had been one of the people staring at you as you nursed and shopped it would have been a stare of envy and admiration. I never did work out how to nurse in a wrap.

  9. These are amazing and uplifting stories. Seriously, both of you moms-o-triplets are unique and powerful women. I’m so glad you took time and energy to write this post. Thank you for sharing. God bless you both in your mothering.

    • You’re welcome. :)
      Thanks!

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