I find it a tad stressful that my firstborn was hitting all her developmental milestones incredibly early (she still is!); while the triplets are the entire opposite and hitting them incredibly late. Research indicates that this is due to several factors and the main contributing factors include being born premature (in our case, late-term preemies) and the fact that they do not receive as much stimulation from parents as compared to singletons. An Israeli research team who studied twins and triplets concluded that particularly in the first 6 months, parents of multiples are often inundated with just the physical needs of feeding, diapering and cleaning that they are too tired to play, read or hold their triplet babies and this makes a vast difference in how quick they develop. And obviously it is tough for a single parent to bring all three babies out, so they spend a lot more time at home than singleton and twin babies, thereby sacrificing further stimulation they could receive from being outdoors. For all these reasons, triplets tend to be lighter and shorter than their singleton and twin peers, and therefore reach their milestones later.
This research strongly resonates with me. My triplets are not lighter, and in fact, they are pretty heavy, but they are indeed much shorter than their sister was at their age. I do continue to feel overwhelmed, though not as much as previously, and as much as we try to give the triplets individual attention, there isn’t a lot of time in the day to give them the kind of attention they individually deserve. Somedays I feel like they are doing really well, and somedays I feel like they are not doing as well. I usually try to let it be, since the variations of reaching milestones is hugely diverse in the first 2 years. On an optimistic note, they do tend to catch up physically and cognitively by age 2, but might still lag behind in terms of language development.
I used to be the parent who felt proud her kid was always the first in her milestones, and how she was bigger and heavier than everyone else! Now I am the opposite, I am the parent who says well as long as they eventually reach the milestone, it doesn’t matter when. I think I have too much expectations for history to repeat itself and I am not feeling comfortable that things are turning out so much different in the second pregnancy, and the second attempt at raising babies. My friends who had their first child around the same time as I did, also had their second child about the same time I had the triplets, and their experiences are so vastly different from mine for obvious reasons. I envy them a little because they can focus so much more on their children, while I am just a scatter-brain.
I try not to dwell on negative aspects of parenting triplets too much, as glaring as the problems are. The research I indicated earlier also noted that once the triplets can interact with each other, they benefit tremendously from this, and they are indeed very lucky to have companions from birth and probably for the rest of their life. In fact it might be more important than always trying to be first and the best in everything. I take things as they come, and slowly, and try to absorb its difficulties and do the best that I can as their parent, and naturally I always feel I can do so much better but also I often do not meet my own expectations. When it gets too much, I leave them to my husband and take a break from it all to reset.