Lets Talk Triplets...
The day we found out ….
As I stood there in work shaking having been told an hour earlier we were having triplets, I was in complete shock, Mumma C (my wife) and I had been for the scan and was told it was triplets, we looked at each other and laughed then cried then I had to sit down for a while as the nurses hugged us.
Ironically my Mumma c had been really sick once we had the positive result I mean really sick, as in pull over on the M25 and throw up out the window sick, we kind of thought it may be twins after looking on the net and we even joked there could be more in there……
Once I was back in work after the scan I couldn’t stop shaking and my heart was going 100 mph, the worst thing was I couldn’t tell a soul as it was very early days and also Mumma C and I work at the same place so it would spread round like wildfire.
The hardest bit was not getting carried away I mean ok its triplets but they are the size of a poppy seed or whatever Mumma C app said that week, I knew I had to think on my feet but also didn’t want to jump the gun and start buying 3 of everything and then what if something bad happens what if we lose one or two or all of them.
But if I don’t start buying things what will we do when they arrive, where will they sleep, what will they wear, oh actually where will they sleep we have a 3 bedroom house …. The car what do we do about the car, they cant all fit on the back seat can they?
We already have a son, he is almost 4 and truly he is the best thing that ever happened to me (don’t tell Mumma C that), he is my best bud, always makes me laugh, we play football every night and by my own admission and to my wife's annoyance he cannot do anything wrong in my eyes, bless him.
Anyway once I had got over the initial shock and tried to work out what to do and when the long waiting game happened.
As the weeks ticked by the scans started, every scan we had they told us don’t get carried away its early days, I know I thought but also thought I need to get stuff, shall I buy something anything, even if its just a pack of nappies, no I wont what if I have to look at them if something goes wrong I cant.
As the time ticked by and the poppy seed's turned into sunflower seeds and then peanut's and then grapes the scans came thick and fast we started hitting key milestones, 12 weeks then 20 weeks then it was Christmas and we started thinking blimey maybe this is actually going to happen.
Every time we believed it would happen the doctors to their credit who were amazing kept us grounded and focused on the fact that the risks were so high.
During that time we found out it was 3 girls, 3 girls ….. 3 girls, I have no sisters, no niece's … oh my word what are we going to do I mean boys are cool, boys like football and I like football and boys like mud and I like mud , but what do girls like, dancing I can't dance well apart from when I've had a few beers at a wedding.
2017 was here and this was the year I finally decided that the girls, my girls needed a room and we had got this far and now we were going to be positive and believe they will all be ok and arrive safely, I painted there room pink and put up wallpaper my son Henry helped by flicking paint all over the floor and my head but who cares we had fun and the room got painted!
We went to weekly scans and the doctors always found issues, too much fluid, this one hasn’t grown, too much tension on the umbilical cord I mean what does that even mean!!!
At 24 weeks which was early Feb the girls hit a crucial milestone which meant they could now technically survive if they had to be born, wow the relief the joy we had been waiting months for this moment, the doctor confirmed all was ok and then said 'you now need to get to 28 weeks to have a better chance that they will be born with no mental or physical problems' wow thanks doc another month or wondering if all will be ok and if we should buy the matching headband's from Claire's accessories.
The girls went from strength to strength and we announced that we were having triplets to our friends (our family knew early on), that’s when the questions started and the fear in people's faces, I mean some people were happy and casually said well your screwed, but other's started with the question's 'what car will you get' 'will you move' 'what you going to do for money' 'how will they sleep'.
I don’t know, I don’t know I cried in my head while casually saying it will all be ok to reassure my so called friends and work colleagues, the truth was I don’t know what we will do, we cant move as that cost's money and we have less of that, I changed the car and got the massive ford S max I always dreamed of as a young lad.
I think the hardest part was the questions from people as we had to face this and were looking forward to it but we didn’t really know what we should do we just had to wing it and get on with it but we couldn’t do that until the little babies arrived!
The girls carried on growing from banana's to melons to grapefruits and as we hit the 30's week wise we could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We finally got a date 6th of April and as my wife grew from a slim 30 something women to a triple baby carrier we knew in our hearts that it now really was going to happen.
As we drove to the hospital we both were on top form the day was finally here, my brother was taking Henry to nursery and they along with Henry waved us off, we had the music on the radio and were in good spirits.
That was the first moment we had some special treatment we checked into the hospital and was given our own big room, we were called the triplet parents by the nurses and the doctors and it was all very good fun.
Then the reality started to kick in, now I know I am the man in this and I don’t go through the physical pain which by the way my hat goes off to anyone that has had a baby as you women are stronger than I ever could be but from my perspective I was scared, so so scared, I was scared my wife wouldn’t wake up, I was scared one of the babies wouldn’t survive and even though we had a baby previously (natural birth and conception) I really had no idea what to expect. I put the surgeons gown on and did the usual pose for a photo and walked around the hospital trying to nod at other doctors and patients in hope they would think I was a real doctor.
Then it was time, it was time for my little family to go from 3 to 6 (7 if you include Reggie the beagle and considering I get a father's day card from him he must count).
The room was filled with at least 20 people, 3 doctors, 3 resuscitators, 3 midwifes, the anaesthetist, plus many more, that alone was completely daunting. As I waited outside the room waiting to be called in a million things went through my head but in true British style I bit my lip and knew my wife and girls needed me now so I took a deep breath and was called in.
Mumma C was laying on a bed and when I asked when they were going to perform the cut she said they already had, despite thinking I would want to see the cut and watch the babies leave the belly live I couldn’t handle it so sat where I was told at the head end. I was also told not to film it for live streaming and not to touch anything. Then within a matter of what seemed like seconds they pulled Annabella out lifted her up for us to see and put her straight into a towel and incubator, 1 minute later Florence was out, 1 minute later Lottie all the same drill, within 3 minutes we had 3 children, I held my wife's hand and we cried and cuddled and I have never been so proud of anyone in all my entire life, a true trooper she even beat me to the joke of 'you wait 3 years for a baby and 3 turn up' the whole theatre was in hysterics but that’s her to a tee.
She wasn’t able to see the baby's but I was allowed round to NCIU unit where they were whisked away to meet them, it was amazing seeing them all there , the months of worry and uncertainty and here they were just laying so beautiful.
3 weeks in hospital
When you have triplets they take them at 34 weeks latest so your told to expect 1 – 2 months in hospital so we knew and expected it which did make it easier, we also decided to keep Henry at nursery as he starts school in September and we didn’t want to disrupt his routine.
Mumma C was poorly after the birth I wont go into detail but she had a negative allergic reaction to the drugs, one of those things, she ended up in hospital for 10 days, that was incredibly difficult for me personally, I was caught in the impossible position of who needs me most, I decided it was my wife at first so whilst I wanted to spend every second with the kids we could only spend 2 or 3 hours with them as she was in a wheelchair and had little strength, this tore her apart and that was hard for me to see but lets not dwell on that. The important thing is we got through it as a family, I was up the hospital all day seeing her and the babies who had full time care with a designated midwife and as they were fed by tube (my wife's breastmilk wasn’t able to be used whilst on medication) I knew they were being looked after. I was with my wife helping her get stronger and then home in time to spend some time with Henry out on the bikes, or playing football and just trying to make sure he was ok and happy, I also have a confession I am scared of the dark … I have been since young and until this moment have never stayed on my own in a house, the first night was grim I ended up awake all night and even laying on the sofa and all sorts but again I decided to get over it and subsequently slept 9 more nights in my bed (with a light on and the blind open) but hey I got through it!
The girls got stronger and reached milestones that were important, breathing unaided, taking all the milk, maintaining body temp and weight and oncemumma c was back to full strength she was able to go home.
The hardest bit about that was no more access to the biscuit tin on the ward … no seriously we had to leave our little ones in hospital over night until they could be released. This was something it took a while to come to terms with as at first we said no way, but the reality is that it has to be like that as the parent rooms are for parents of poorly children or some off nights and we understood that.
The girls spent another 2 weeks in the hospital going from strength to strength we went home – family and friends came up to offer support and see the girls and we learnt about the routine …..
As a man and before the triplets when the word routine was mentioned I would switch off and look at Mumma c, Mumma C tells me what to do and when so I don’t have to think and continually tells me information in regards to the routine which I never remember or take in. with Hnery we fed him when he was hungry, he slept when he was tired and we changed him when he needed it!
However one of the doctors basically told me to learn the feeding routine or your basically fucked and boy was he right.
The routine sounds simple and is simple but basically means :
10am feed and change triplet 1
10.30am feed and change triplet 2
11am feed and change triplet 3
Repeat every 4 hours and under no circumstances change this, of course we changed the routine and what happened … well they all cried and we had a huge row and we vowed never to change the routine again, the way it works for us is we do this at 10pm, 2am, 6am, 10pm, 2pm, 6pm … you get the idea, it means that your very structured in your approach to any situation we have to bring the right amount of feeds anywhere we go, we have already broken one steriliser, we also get through 24 nappies a day not including unscheduled poo explosions and outfit changes, we need 12 bottles on a constant cleaning cycle, we get through 3 bottles of gripe water a week, 6 tins of premature milk a week, 3 bottles of Colief, a box of gaviscon etc etc.
It a military operation which goes well most of the time, we decided as a family we was going to get out and amongst it and not let it stope us living our lives (much to mumma c's worry) why do we have to go and feed them in costa coffee she says to me, the answer is simple so we can have a coffee and feel like we are normal, we take them to the seaside, we have been to centre parcs, we go to farms and zoo's and all the other things normal people do, I think subconsciously it maybe because I don’t want Henry to miss out and I love our family time.
We spend time passing baies to eachother to wind and feed and change, put one down pick another one up, cuddle for longer if they need it, let them cry it out a bit, strip them off , all the normal stuff just all at the same time and with 3!
Is it a nightmare? Yes of course it bloody is but as I write this we are 11 weeks in!
Whatever way you look at it having 3 babies doesn’t really work, I mean there are very few buggy's to choose from, you can only really hold and feed one at a time each, women only have two nipples etc. So you have to think on your feet, one cot will do to start with in our room, they spent 7 and half months together they must like each other so that’s what we did, we put a rolled up towel to divide the cot and off you go, they love it of course there are two more cots ready for them in their room but for now that will do and that’s the point when you think of things like, how will we afford it?, how can we go abroad on holiday?, how can we afford their weddings? (they will not have boyfriends of course) … the point is don’t over think it. Take a day at a time, today they were in one cot, today they are in a buggy that’s a mountain buggy basinet which is actually a double lay down and its been a life saver (im clearly into all this stuff as I didn’t have to text mumma c to ask her what the buggy is called). What will they be in next well we have a double maclaren and a single maclaren which we will clip together, will that work … I have no idea but I hope so.
Going back to the wedding my idea is that they all get married together on like a Tuesday in November and we host the after bit in harvester – early bird meal everyone's a winner … not sure they will be too keen although everyone loves salad cart so we will see.
Other triplet family's
Where we live there are two other families that we have met who have had triplets, one lot are 9 and one lot are 20 odd, they have been a great support, offering advice and help along the way, people have been amazing in giving us things bags of clothes, nappies and all sorts. I sit here deeply shocked at the level of community that family and friends and even people we didn’t know have shown us, I speak on Instagram to other triplet families some who are due and some with triplets similar ages and we share our wisdom as the reality is that only people who have had triplets know what its like to have triplets, but even then its different for all, some have better financial situations, some husbands work away, some have large and close family networks, some have other kids as well so whilst you can share you are still very alone in a way.
There are meet up's for triplets but to be honest we don’t attend mainly because we spend a lot of our life's talking about triplets and we feel on weekends we like to go out and be 'normal'
You have tamba and various other fantasic networks and support groups but we haven’t really tapped into them but maybe its something we will do once we need it!
3 am Row's
A funny place to start but something that’s become very true to my heart, sleep deprivation is used as a torture method in some countries, before we had the triplets if my wife called me a prick I would of taken it rather badly but after 11 weeks of very little and very broken sleep it is the least of my worries, we don’t intend to row and in our hearts and throughout the day we whatt's app eachother what a great job one another does and how much we love eachother, but if you continuly don’t get enough or quality sleep then you become unable to get through the night feed without the odd row, now calling someone you love dearly terrible names whilst 3 babies are screaming and Henry (my 3 year old son) is about to piss the bed shouldn’t be acceptable but it does help in a bizarre way!
How does it help you ask? Well the truth is you can laugh about it the next day, we actually say oh my word I cant believe we called eachother that where did it come from??? And we laugh and we also give eachother a break because when you are under a lot of pressure and trying your very best it tests your marriage to the limit, but don’t take yourself's or your row's seriously – move on from them very quickly and literally piss yourself laughing the next day about the terrible things you said and how many times you said you were going to move out and sleep in the car,sofa, garden etc.
Im doing this in no real order so the next hurdle is the general public, when I first took the girls down the lift and home from the hospital I was almost looking at people in hope that they would come over and speak to me and acknowledge the 3 little girls I was carrying, and of course they did, various occasions followed the first trip to the supermarket, the first walk around the block or into town and the people gathered around, the questions always follow and the kind words and advice and its all very well received from me, unless im in a bad mood or a rush, imagine feeling terrible from again a lack of sleep, no man make up on (hair wax, aftershave, decent clobber) and someone comes up to me and says 'got your hands full there mate' my initial reaction is to think of something witty to say or just to reason with the people to say just please don’t speak to me I am having a bad day and how many times do you think I have this conversation a day. But you cant you have to be proud and answer 'the questions' and then hear about someone they work with who has twins and they are now 25.
So what would my advice be, you have two choices either be prepared to embrace and chat and crack the classic 'at least its not 4' or my favourite when im on my own 'my wife left me last week' or even better when asked their names I say 'chardonnay, pocessco and mercedes' and when they laugh I look deadly serious. Or if you cant face it then get your headown, sunglasses on and when you hear the whisper of "look Derek its triplets" do not turn, do not make eye contact and just carry one walking, if you stop you're in the conversation.
Your other children
Henry first and foremost and I am of course very biased is the sweetest and most gorgeous little boy I have ever met, when we had him I must admit I think I had just been persuaded that having children was something I wanted but the truth was I did of course but I hadn’t given it a huge amount of thought in my younger years, but he came along and opened my eyes to being a dad and what it means and how it feels and I have loved every second, now through the pregnancy we explained to Henry what was happening and he obviously thinks everyone has 3 babies. We actually spent the first 2 days after they were born not telling him they were born, we figured keeping him at nursery was the right thing to do – keep his life normal and not affected for as long as possible. This was fine in theory until I picked him up from nursery first night in floods of tears with all the staff hugging me and went back home in a complete daze feeding him a large bar of galaxy for dinner , in truth it was a good move as we managed to get to the weekend and he came up and met them and it all worked out fine, see lying to your kids is not an issue! The hardest juggling act is keeping his life as close to how it was before as possible which of course is impossible, but we used to do so much outside and after work that we decided to maintain this and still do the trips to the seaside, the park, the zoo, the football training and just take the girls which has actually been refreshing although it takes a hell of a lot longer to get out the door.
Henry loves the girls and despite his accidental attempts to drown them in the bath and suffocate them when trying out the WWE moves on them he loves getting hands on and feeding them, so I would say involve your other child as much as possible but also find the much needed time for them as well, going out on your bike and chucking stones in the river is therapeutic for you as well as them.
1. Definition "time spent relaxing on one's own as opposed to working or doing things for others, seen as an opportunity to reduce stress or restore energy"
I would like to say that this exists but in truth it doesn’t anymore, neither does "me items" my tassimo coffee machine that was used on weekends has been put in the cupboard, my xbox lays dusty, any item I own or use is merley seen as in the way of baby items that we must use. The way I get me time is firstly to relate it to something the houshold needs like watering the garden, the girls like flowers so I must water the garden every night, that way I can get outside and breathe and what I am doing is seen as useful to the household but is also on my own although Henry comes and 'helps' by spraying the water in and on everything other than the plants! I also go for a run during my lunch break, turn on the music and think about something other than the kids and it does help! In truth we do try and give eachother a break and have both enjoyed time with our friends seperatly but this will mostly consist of talking about the kids and texting eachother to ask how the kids are! Again to be truthful the things I enjoy doing in life 99% involve the kids but it is nice to have a small piece of time even if its just 20 mins to have some time to yourself and the only way to do that is to support one another!