So we had a slew of visitors of family, friends and acquaintances visit our triplets the past month and a half. And they all ask the same kind of questions! I thought I might post some of them here, though at some point I should do a second FAQ list for those curious.
A very popular question is how do you tell the triplets apart? In the medical community, the word identical to describe identical twins is known to be extremely misleading. Which is why my OBGYN never uses that word to describe Lucia and Lysbeth. Instead he uses the term monozygotic, which is derived from two words mono and zygote. Mono meaning single and zygote meaning egg. Hence, referring to twins that came from a single egg. The fact is identical twins, despite being called identical and sharing 90% of the same DNA are typically very different. Fraternal twins, which share only 50% of their DNA with their siblings, can sometimes be more similar than identical twins or also very different. And the fact that I spend almost every waking hour looking at these triplets, I was able to distinguish them from day two. On day one it was still a blur, but by day two I could differentiate them. I will admit there were days we mixed them up like one time, I fed Lysbeth twice because I thought she was Lucia. But it only happened like less than three times, and usually in a state of grogginess. I will say that the triplets do look quite similar to each other and you will have to spend a bit of time with them to tell them apart. They also have a cry that is unique to each of them, but I have yet to tell which cry belongs to who.
Another question is what do you do when all of them cry at the same time. I think they expect me to reply: I panic! And I did at the hospital! I had to tell the nurses not to bring all three babies to me at once, and this wasn’t me avoiding the inevitable but I was still recovering from the C-section and had difficulty handling more than one baby. By the time they got home, we never panicked when they cry simultaneously. In our case the pacifier or soothies were extremely useful. If all three demanded milk at the same time, and there was only one of us taking care of them, we would feed two at once and give the third a pacifier. How do we feed two? I place them on each thigh, or I prop them on separate breastfeeding pillows and have one milk bottle in each hand. We call this move the Robocop because its like arming both hands with ammunition. Fortunately for us, they do not always demand milk at the same time though they do ask for it in quick succession. For example, one would wake up and demand to be fed, and the next would wake up about 2-3 mins later, and the next another 2-3 mins later. Most of the time, two would wake up simultaneously and the third one about 2-5 mins later.
And a related question to the one about crying is do you breastfeed all three? I really really tried the first two weeks and I ended up being sick from the lack of sleep and finally I fell into a pumping milk and feeding by bottle pattern. First of all they were premature so they were not strong suckers and latchers. Second being newborns, they sucked extremely slow and this proved difficult when all three demanded milk at the same time. With a single baby you could put him/her at the breast for as long as you like, but if you had three waiting for their turn at the queue, time is of the essence. The longer you prolong their wait, the crazier their cries get. The pacifier could only pacify for a few minutes before they completely reject the pacifier because they are so hungry. I intend to retry breastfeeding when they are two months and see how that goes. My guess is not very well either and maybe even nipple confusion. I also supplement with formula because I managed to only produce sufficient milk to feed one and half baby. I am hoping with time, my milk supply increases but I am not too bothered with using formula. And the awesome thing is with multiples, people place less pressure on you to breastfeed. There are many mothers of multiples who exclusively breastfeed so its very possible, but there are just as many who is doing what I am doing, and there are those who just stop breastfeeding and go with formula. For these mothers, even just one week of providing breastmilk is an achievement, and it totally is badass even if its just for a week now that I know how difficult is is to feed three at the same time.
People also like to ask where do the triplet sleep? They slept together in a cot the first two weeks then they decided they hate it and now they sleep with us on the queen bed. I covered this in an earlier co-sleeping post. And they like to also ask if the triplets wake up if another cries. Yes they do if it coincides with feeding time. If it doesn’t coincide with feeding time, they are able to sleep through the cries and I believe they eventually will get used to sleeping through loud noise.
Other questions include superficial ones like do they all have double eyelids (yes), do they all have dimples (yes), and do you all cook (yes). But we also get a lot of statements that make us look very heroic, like you are amazing that you can take care of all three, and with a toddler! And you guys still clean and cook?! When really we don’t feel heroic. We feel more like we are just barely surviving. Our local newspapers wanted to write about how we are doing all this on our own and I declined an interview because I said its only been one month and we are still learning, and there’s not much of a story to tell. Besides its still easy at this point because the triplets are still newborns and they still sleep an awful lot, giving me lots of downtime like now such that I can write this.
I will say this though. When its just me or my husband alone, it is challenging to take on the triplets and one toddler, and to cook and clean. When its both of us together, its a walk in the park.