I did an FAQ list on being pregnant with triplets. I am now doing an FAQ list on the first 6 months of raising triplet infants. The girls were born last year in Sep and they all weighed around 2.5kg each and are considered late-term preemies. Fortunately they did not need a stay in NICU and grew out of their prematurity within the first two weeks. Their adjusted age is one month behind, so when they are 7 months, they are actually 6 months in age. They have been hitting their milestones according to their adjusted age.
1. What do you do when all of them cry at once?
Since we are second-time parents, we had a lot of practice in figuring out what a cry means. So we don’t panic or feel annoyed, especially when the cries can get quite high-pitched. I have also come to a point where I can identify whose cry belong to whom. We have learnt to be calm about this because our anxieties can easily transfer to them. When they cry, it can mean they are hungry, tired, need their diapers changed, they want to play or have more space to play, or they are irritated by something. Most of the time they are crying about the same thing, but sometimes they can be crying over different things. And we usually solve each cries one by one. If we are feeding and the other two are crazy hungry and won’t stop wailing for milk, we give them a pacifier as a temporary measure. It usually stops the cry.
2. How do you tell them apart?
Everyone sees identical girls but all I see are three different girls. I am not sure why. I have ever mixed them up but less than three times and its usually because I’m groggy. There are also some obvious differences for those who want to try to tell them apart. I tell them that Liora has the roundest head and one hair whorl while the twins have more pointy heads and two hair whorls. Liora is also much more tanned than the twins. And she is also the biggest. Somehow these tips do not help. Even for their dad who till today still have difficulty telling them apart. He has to concentrate a few seconds to figure out who is who.
3. How do you breastfeed triplets?
I breastfed for three months and gave up. I would breastfeed individually because I never got the hang of tandem breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has been difficult for me, even with one baby. I only breastfed Livia for seven months. For a long time I thought it was because I did not persevere but later on, I realise, I am just one of those people for whom breastfeeding was just extremely painful. It was even more painful with the triplets because for some reason I had added side effects like mother’s thumb, back aches, leg aches, migraines and hormonal imbalances. All of these corrected itself once I stopped breastfeeding.
4. Do you allow them to share milk bottles and pacifiers?
When they were wee newborns we did not. But after awhile we were wasting a lot of formula and we could not distinguish whose pacifier’s was whose. A quick Google search confirmed that it was okay for multiples to share belongings so now we share their milk bottles and everything else. If one person does not finish their milk, we pass it on to the next baby, so no formula goes to waste.
5. How do you bring them outside?
We use soft-structured carriers (SSC). When their neck control was less developed, we carried one each on a SSC and one would go in a stroller. Once they developed strong neck control, my husband would carry two in two SSCs, one in the back and one in the front, while I carried one. He would usually put Liora on his back because she is the least likely to fuss and she’s also the heaviest and the back carry is the most comfortable carry for heavier babies, and on his front he would carry the lightest triplet, Lucia. He is very fit and strong so he is able to do this. He has boasted to me about carrying 50kg weights so apparently, 16kg in babies is nothing. I have tried carrying two and it was very difficult for me. I usually carry Lysbeth. Our toddler, Livia, walks/runs. When Livia gets tired, my husband has the unenviable job of also carrying her in his arms which are free, but only for extremely short distances. If she is truly tired, we would immediately return home because there is just no way either of us can carry an additional kid.
So far we have brought them to the beach, mall, swimming, house-visiting and we have even sat through lunch at a restaurant. They are extremely comfortable in the SSC and often nap easily in them. We use Boba 3G and 4G for three years now, and we have no complaints.
6. Do people take photos of all of you when you are outdoors?
If they did, I certainly do not know. But I get approached a lot, pointed at constantly and stared at. I don’t think I will ever get used to having all eyes turned toward me just because I have triplets. We try to go to places where there are no crowds to avoid being at the center of attention.
7. What was your worst moment?
In the second month when my husband returned to work full-time, I woke up from a nap and pain seized me on my front and back. I could not tell whether it was pain at the heart or pain at my upper back, or it was both. I found it difficult to breath, every position I was in was extremely uncomfortable, and I was shaking and shivering from cold sweats. I could barely move to tend to the girls so they were all screaming their head off. I called the ambulance who said they could not take me until my husband was home to take over the girls, so I had to wait 2 hours in pain for my husband to get home. I called the ambulance again and they said they were only bringing me to CGH when I wanted to go to NUH where I gave birth because I firmly believed this was a postnatal problem. So rather than having this back and fro with the ambulance people, I went on my own to the hospital. I never made it to NUH because I was in such severe pain. I went to the nearest private hospital because I knew their triage would be empty. The damnedest thing happened: as my taxi rolled into the hospital, the pain cleared completely. I went ahead and got myself checked anyway and the doctor could not find anything particularly worrying so I went home. This pain occurred two more times in the first four months and I learnt that painkillers alleviated it immediately. I still do not know why it happens but a bit of Googling tells me that it was postpartum C-section stress. I have not experienced it anymore.
8. What is your favourite baby product?
9. Where do the triplets sleep?
We practice co-sleeping so the triplets sleep with us. We all sleep on floor mattress in one room. The triplets share a single bed and my husband, myself and Livia share a Queen bed. We found co-sleeping effective in helping the triplets sleep through the night, which they did starting at 3 months, and also they were less likely to have night wakings. We have not experienced a single night where the triplets had a night waking. So mercifully, sleep has been very comfortable for us.
The triplets used to sleep on their backs but I noticed their heads started flattening so from three months on, they slept on their front. These days they sometimes sleep on their backs and sometimes on their front, turning back and fro during sleep.
10. How do you feed them solids?
I make solids in large batches, freeze them in ice-cube trays, and take out the appropriate number of ice-cubes needed to be thawed in the fridge for the following day. This also make its easy to mix solids of different flavors. I use only one bowl and feed them at the same time with the same spoon.
11. How did Livia react to having three siblings at the same time?
She was not jealous at all. She is extremely happy to have been rewarded with so many play companions. She tried to play with them from day one but its only recently they started playing with her because they can interact, move and hold things now. She’s also a great little helper, and helps me with taking care of them although she is only 2 years old. Even without prompt, she knows what to do when they cry – she gives them a pacifier, sings to them or pat them on their backsides to show she’s there for them. She does feel left out sometimes so whatever they do, she wants to do too. If they have pureed solids for example, I must make some for her so she feels included.
12. How do manage without outside help?
Amazingly when you have three babies and a toddler, the day goes by extremely fast. I always have something to do, and not enough time to do them. The girls’ basic needs come first so everyday its a repetition of feeding, diapering, cleaning, playing and reading. When I get fed up of this routine, we go out and change things up a bit. Chaos only really ensues when someone or all of them is sick, and then anything and everything goes.
My husband is an amazing co-parent. He ran solo when all the girls came home from hospital and I was recovering from the C-section. For an entire month he cared, cooked, cleaned for all five of us. Then I took over and from time to time, I still ask him for advice on how to cope. These days, he works the double shift. He works all the day and then comes home and takes over from me so I can get a break. And even when he is tired he never says no if I suggest that we go out for a breather.
These are all the questions I can remember now, and will add on if I recall more. Here on, the challenge would be coping with the girl’s mobilities. Some days can get pretty helter-skelter.