Tips for life with triplets from being pregnant with triplets, to delivering triplets, to parenting triplet toddlers.
by Jessica Hayes
There they were on the first ultrasound – three strong, healthy heartbeats. Triplets! Today, they’re running around at my feet, fighting over toys, and spilling milk at every meal. Life is an adventure and a blessing and has not followed my expected course.
Sure, I did all the normal things during my pregnancy. I over-planned the nursery, enjoyed the baby showers, and ate plenty of ice cream. But I also had twice as many doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds at every visit, and never expected to go beyond 8 months in the best case scenario. (We made it 7 months.)
The common parenting advice never quite applied to our situation. “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is much more difficult when three babies might not sleep at the same time. The pregnancy, birth, and newborn months were a fun and unique experience!
My Multiples Pregnancy Experience
As soon as I found out that we were expecting triplets, I began reading everything I could find on the topic. Some was helpful, some scary, and much was endearing. Thankfully, I found a great resource to guide me through a healthy multiples pregnancy. In fact, when I began seeing the maternal fetal medicine specialist, he recommended the very same book!
The routine prescribed for me was not easy. I was to eat 4,000 calories each day, rest with my feet up as much as possible, and drop back to what they called “activity rest” (to avoid full bed red) by halfway through the pregnancy. There were many possible complications and plenty of extra doctor’s visits.
The pregnancy itself was both harder and easier than I expected. Generally, I felt great. This is certainly not a promise for other triplet moms – I heard plenty of horror stories from others! But my nausea was minimal, my energy was decent, and while I did gain about 75 pounds (as prescribed by my doctor) I was never put on bed rest.
But let’s not kid ourselves: carrying three babies is hard work. How much can your body actually stretch? (Spoiler alert: a lot.) I was tired and swollen. Sleep was uncomfortable. I will be forever grateful that we lived in a one-story home, because stairs were impossible by twenty weeks.
I often found myself thinking about what I would recommend to other triplet moms during their pregnancy. Considering the pregnancy experience of having triplets, may I offer a few ideas?
- Don’t expect the advice from your friends and family with singleton babies to apply to your multiple pregnancy.
- Take more time than you think you need for physical rest – your body is creating three new people!
- Plan things sooner rather than later, in case you do need bed rest or your babies make their arrival particularly early. These things are much more common in a multiple pregnancy! You can do a baby shower, maternity photos, and all that fun stuff while on bed rest if you need to.
I am glad that I prepared ahead of time for a cesarean delivery and for the babies to need time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). It reduced a lot of anxiety at the time of their birth, and I felt prepared for what was to come.
While I knew it was likely that the babies would be premature, it was still very emotional when the business-as-usual doctor’s visit became a transfer to labor and delivery so we could prepare for birth. They were born at the exact average for triplets and were very healthy. Small, but healthy. My cesarean delivery was uncomplicated, and one by one, three little miracles were held up for us to see. I had been warned that preemies often do not cry when they are born, but these three cried beautifully as they came into the world. What a gift!
They went straight to the NICU, as expected. Thankfully, our NICU encouraged visitation and the nurses helped us get comfortable handling such tiny people. I’m sure first-time moms always feel nervous handling their tiny little ones, but my littlest was only 2.5 pounds! Thank goodness for the nurses to help me learn how to change such tiny diapers.
There’s plenty more to say on the NICU experience, but my take-away was simply gratitude. My babies received wonderful care, I got to rest more than is typical for a brand-new mom, and they came home on a predictable (Babywise approved!) schedule that we could simply continue. By their two-month birthday, all three were home, and the adventure really began.
All the Usual Milestones
Undoubtedly, the newborn stage is always tough. I was very thankful that our triplets came home from the hospital on a schedule: they were used to being fed every three hours, so we just kept that going. We followed the eat-wake-sleep pattern of Babywise, and the schedule was a lifesaver considering there were three newborns to care for!
Those early months are a blur, although I have a thousand photos to remind me of the cuteness, the tiredness, and the incredible experience of first-time motherhood. It was survival mode, but survival is much easier with people on your team. I am so thankful for our friends and extended family, particularly for my own mother helping with the middle-of-the-night feedings!
As any parent of multiple children knows, each child has their own personality.
Two of mine are great sleepers. The third is much less so! One required constant attention to get a full feeding, while the others ate as quickly as they could. Their laughs are different. Their favorite toys are usually the same. Each child is more precious every day.
As the triplets have grown, their differences have become more pronounced. By now, they’re all running around, playing together, and it’s a toss-up if they’ll be sharing or fighting over their favorite toys. They have food preferences and favorite stuffed animals to take to bed with them. They all laugh when one of them does something fun, or silly, or new – and they all get upset if someone is hurt or crying. It is a joy to watch their triplet bond grow.
There are many take-aways from these early months of triplet mom life. New moms should always find a support group and seek advice, wisdom, prayers, and help from those who have gone before. May I offer five lessons learned, for other triplet moms?
- You don’t need three of everything. But you do need three of some things.
- Enjoy the cute outfits on the hangers, but don’t bother with those for everyday life. Pajamas and onesies are very cute, and much easier.
- Find a schedule that works for you and the babies. Stick to it while also holding it loosely.
- Give up now as to keeping germs away. If one chews a toy, they’ll all chew it. If one drops their sippy cup, anyone will happily pick it up for themselves. It’s inevitable.
- Ask for help. Have a list of chores someone could do, and ask friends to do them. Invite people over to monitor playtime while you take a nap. You could do it alone, but it’s more fun to share the experience.
People often see me pushing the stroller and comment that they could never do what I do. The thing is, you never know what you can do until it’s in front of you. They’re your kids. You figure it out.
Is triplet mom life hard? Of course. But parenting is hard! They are our triple treasures, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And from one Babywise mom to another, with three little people in the other room sleeping 12 hours a night – a busy mom can get a lot done with a good night’s sleep!