We all have come across twins or people who gave birth to twins. But how often do we know triplets or quads? I certainly know of no one and it was very scary when I found out I was carrying triplets. Searching the internet for experiences of having triplets in Singapore also yielded paltry search results. I did learn from one or two mothers who posted their experiences of having multiples online, and I thought I should further contribute to this knowledge. Generally there is an upward trend of having multiples in Singapore and I hope whatever I write here can help these families as they search for answers.
When we found out we had triplets and we told our family and friends, they had more or less similar questions. I have compiled them here for anyone else interested to find out more about our initial experiences in being pregnant with triplets. I will probably have another FAQ on managing triplets when I have gained enough experience in the field!
1. Was IVF the reason you conceived triplets?
No. We conceived the triplets naturally. The odds of this happening is 0.1%.
2. Okay, then it must be you took some fertility drugs like Clomid or something like that?
Also no. We have never needed fertility assistance and I would say we were fairly young when we conceived Livia and our triplets. We had Livia when I was 29, and my husband 27, and the triplets we conceived when I was 31 and my husband, 29.
3. Well, then it must be that twins run in your family?
There is no history of twins in either our families as far as we know. Identical twins are always spontaneous but fraternal twins can run on the maternal side. Yeah, so we really don’t know how our spontaneous triplets happened…..
4. You and your husband must be super fertile!
This a very common comment among older folks who probably know little about biology Truthfully, we are about as fertile as the next Singaporean couple. Twinning has more to do with the ovulation process than about the level of fertility. Thus, couples with low fertility also have as much odds of conceiving triplets. It is largely believed that as a woman gets older, usually in their 30s or 40s, weak eggs might cause it to split leading to identical twins, or advancing age might stimulate the ovaries to release more than one egg leading to fraternal twins. Both occurred in my case – we are having identical twins and one fraternal twin. But if you are in your 30s and 40s, it is not guaranteed you will have multiples, twins and triplets remain rare without fertility assistance.
5. Was the pregnancy planned?
The first twin was planned. The second a surprise. The third was a shocker.
6. Triplets! Gosh! How are you going to cope? You are going to need to get help.
We have not discussed what will happen after the triplets are delivered. We have been entirely obsessed about carrying the triplets as long as possible to more than 32 weeks that its difficult to plan about what will happen post-delivery. We have talked a little about maybe hiring some part-time help, especially during the daytime, but the specifics will only be worked out later. For now we are focussing on the pregnancy because its proving to be quite a difficult one. Why is it that nobody asks me more frequently about how we are coping with the pregnancy?
7. How are you coping with the pregnancy?
If you follow this blog, it has been three times worst compared to the first one. We went through the usual stages of shock, then denial, then grief (saying goodbye to our old lives), and now I think we are slowly adapting to our new and future reality. But for the majority part of the first trimester, I was extremely sick from morning sickness, losing a lot of weight and I had problems coping with that and taking care of Livia. I began to feel better on the eve of the start of my second trimester but continue to feel extremely fatigued and needing a lot of sleep. Its quite tiring to carry thrice as many babies. My belly is growing at rapid speed. By 25 weeks, I should be as a big as a woman carrying a singleton at full term.
8. How do you plan to cope with the financial stress?
This is a popular question though I find it nosey. I guess people really sincerely want to know how a family copes with multiple children, especially if they are of the same ages. I believe we might burn off some savings in the first year or so, as we adapt to our triplets. It also depends how long they stay in hospital after birth and whether they require surgeries. We are planning to take out additional insurance to help us cope with potential financial costs if they require extensive hospitalisation or surgeries. Thankfully the Singaporean government extended Medishield to NICU stays for premature babies last year, so that is a huge potential financial burden off our backs. Despite this, we are prepared for possible difficult financial circumstances for a while, and will have to cut back on social activities which isn’t a problem since going out with 3 babies and 1 toddler is near to impossible.
9. Well you probably cannot finish your dissertation now!
I have discussed our circumstances with my thesis advisor and the department and they are supportive. So I plan to continue writing, and hopefully finish by 2016-2017. I am still not sure how to do this and care for 4 kids. Well stay tuned and find out.
10. How do you breastfeed triplets?
If you continue to follow this blog, you might just find out.
11. How will you be delivering the triplets?
50% of twins are delivered vaginally and the other 50% by C-section. For higher order multiples, 90% and above are C-sections. It is in fact safer for triplets, quads and higher-order multiples to be delivered via C-section. So I don’t think I have a choice in this matter and I’ve been doing my own research in C-sections to make myself more prepared for this situation. I had initially given birth to Livia vaginally and the entire delivery process was smooth and without complications so I am not sure what to expect with a C-section.
12. When is due date for the triplets?
Most triplets are born pre-term and parents of triplets should be prepared to care for preemies (premature babies). The average gestation period for triplets is 32 weeks. My goal is to make it to 35 or more weeks.
The original due date is 6 Oct 2014 (also the same due date as Livia). However, since they won’t make it full-term they are likely to be delivered in September. My husband and I are September babies and Livia is an October baby. So it will be fun to have 3 more September babies and celebrate birthdays together.
13. Does this mean we are never going to see you, your husband or Livia, after you have the triplets?
This might be the case for the first year with the triplets. But you are welcome to our home and sign up for diaper duties for a few hours :0)
14. How do you feel about having triplets?
We are extremely happy and feel blessed, despite our initial shock and constant fears. We had always planned for four children, though it was something we were planning to do slowly and see how it goes after 2 kids, or after 3 kids. I guess one can make plans, and then God laughs at you as they say. I think its actually most cost-efficient to have children at the same time then spaced apart (you don’t pay your gynae three times, or for your hospital stay three times more). But really, we are less worried about money and more excited to welcome our triplets and grow our family. There will be challenges everyday, but I think we have more than enough love and hopefully patience to go around.
P.S: Another common question are the triplets’ gender. I should know in a couple of weeks and will update.