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.
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.
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.
TRIPLETS. 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??