Having a baby isn’t easy, and having three or triplets is like a nightmare come true in a cutesy baby-ish sort of a way if you know what I mean. When you find out that you are carrying triplets, that’s the moment you know life will never be the same. From that point onwards, you are bound to find yourself going through every pregnancy related book, and triplet-raising bit of advice –every page will be savoured, every advice will be memorized.
When you head to the hospital for your delivery (probably at about 34 weeks), you will feel readier than ever with all that baby knowledge at hand. Confident and strong, you will feel like you’ve just taken over the operating room – until you finally deliver your triplets. Why? Well, because every book and bit of research available out there would not have prepared you for what’s about to come in the weeks to follow. Well, allow me to break it down to you moms-to-be, so you won’t be in for a surprise at crunch time. But before that, remember, no matter how hard things get, your triplets are your precious little angels and that’s something nothing in the world can change.
That’s right ladies! After carrying your triplets in your tummy for so long, after going through all those aches and pains, and after suffering from that misery known as morning sickness for half your pregnancy, you will NOT be allowed to have your babies to yourself for more than a few seconds. This is because they will be moved away to another room known as the NICU.
As any mother would question, there are good reasons why this is done as routine for twins, triplets and multiple births. See the fact of the matter is that triplets are born pre-term (between 32-36 weeks) through c-section. This means that they are not fully developed, and with three babies developing inside of you, they don’t gain as much weight. On average, the weight of a triplet is believed to be about 3 pounds, 12 ounces or 1700 grams to be precise. On the other hand, a single newborn on average weighs about 7 pounds, or 3400 grams on birth. This stark difference between weight and development is what leads triplets to the NICU.
Now if you are wondering as to what the NICU is all about, it is basically the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where intensive medical attention is provided to children. At the NICU, there will be trained health care professionals who will use latest technology to offer specialized care for your precious angels. The different people involved in taking care of babies at an NICU are inclusive of:
The one thing that you can be assured of is that the team working in the NICU is going to put in its best efforts to make sure that your babies are in perfect health. And no, being moved to the NICU in no way means that there’s something wrong with your triplets – it’s just routine care meant to ensure that your angels cope up well outside your tummy!
Now although you haven’t been able to see or hold your babies for long, every single person including your family members and friends would have already spent quite a bit of time with the angels. They will actually rub things in by smiling those proud smiles and telling you who the babies look like. You, on the other hand, will be able to pull yourself through with mere photos that someone just took in the NICU. Why? Because you have just had major surgery and delivered THREE babies, so first, you will be numb from the waist down, and two, you will still have your IV and catheter attached to you. So till the point that your spinal block wears off, there’s no way you are going to be allowed to visit the babies in the NICU on a wheelchair!
See, you need to bear in mind the fact that cesarean sections are major surgeries, and when these are performed to deliver triplets, the recovery needs to be a whole lot more intensive. To begin with, your doctor is NOT going to allow you to move from your bed for a minimum of twelve hours. This is the amount of time that is going to take for the numbness from the spinal block to go away and for you to get a bit of life back waist-down. After the twelve hour mark, you are going to be encouraged to move about a bit, and make your way out of bed so you can be wheeled to the NICU to take a look at your babies.
However, the trip isn’t going to be a walk in the park. This is because the side-effects of the anesthesia and the surgery are going to make you feel like crap. But the good part is that you will receive ample help and support from not just your family and friends, but the nurses and caregivers at the hospital as well. Also, adequate medication will be provided so you will soon find yourself feeling much better – for the moment, just focus on getting a bit of relief for the trip to your triplets!
Just the notion of going home after delivering triplets, a time when you just want to relax by yourself might get heart-wrenching for you. To be honest, this is most unfortunately the part that no one is going to prepare you for. A friend of mine literally sobbed all alone as she waited for her husband to pull up to the pick-up lane to get her. She just didn’t want to go home and literally cried her way all through it.
What’s worst about going home is that there’s a good chance that not all three of your babies might get discharged at the same time. This actually makes the entire ordeal substantially harder both emotionally and physically. What this means is that one or two of your babies (the weaker one/s) will be held back at the NICU for a while, thereby deeming it necessary for you to make daily visits to the hospital. Some of the reasons why one or two of your triplets might get held back at the hospital are inclusive of:
Honestly speaking, the entire ordeal of having to deal with one or two premature babies at home, waking up several times in the night for feeding purposes, and having to heal by yourself after the delivery is rather tiring. With a baby or two at the hospital, things can get all the more problematic. You will NOT enjoy having to travel to the hospital on a daily basis, sitting in a plastic chair for hours or having to pump out milk from your breasts when the only thing you need/want is that of lying down comfortably in your bed. So what should you do? Well, there isn’t much that you can do in such a situation. Just relax and keep your cool – remember, this is soon going to be a thing of the past and you will actually laugh at yourself for being the crazy cranky woman that you feel like right now!
With the birth of your triplets, there are several aspects of your life that are literally going to get blown away. One of the most prominent of these will be your finances. Yes, the financial impact of having triplets is rather substantial. This is because you will not be dealing with a singleton – you will be dealing with three babies at a time. What this means is that instead of buying diapers for one baby, you will be buying diapers for three babies. To be honest, any costs that are associated with having a newborn at hand will get tripled. This will include:
But before all that, just the cost of delivering triplets and acquiring adequate healthcare will be ruthlessly higher. With that, your three little angels are going to spend a bit of time in the NICU, which will obviously add to the entire cost. Upon bringing the babies home, you will also need to spend on expanded living space, and most importantly – part-time help. Moreover, as parents to triplets, there is a good chance that one of you will probably have to give up on work so you can stay home and look after the little ones.
However, things don’t really need to be bad as there are quite a few stores out there that offer discounts for large families that have twins or multiple. Also, as you will be buying everything in bulk, there’s a good chance that you will be able to save up, particularly if you go wholesale or take up couponing. In terms of clothing, instead of wasting money on buying matching clothes for the triplets, get your hands on all the hand-me-down’s possible from your family members and friends. By doing so, you will actually do your wallet a major favor, and the best part is that the money you save by doing so can be better used elsewhere. Remember, there are tons of expenses waiting for you in times to come, so be frugal and don’t fret over getting second-hand clothing for the babies!
If you plan on breastfeeding your triplets, boy oh boy you sure are going to be in for a ride. Imagine three babies crying out for milk at the same time – what would you do? Feed two at a time and leave out the other? But the good part is that breastfeeding will actually be helpful for your premature babies as it will provide them with all the natural immune boosters that they need to strengthen their premature immune system.
Now although nursing triplets has the potential to turn into a major challenge, there are certain ways of going about it that are bound to help you out. To begin with, you need to be willing to take on the challenge. As long as you are focused and determined to make things work for your three precious angels, there’s nothing in the world that can stop you from nursing them. it is basically mothers who take an ‘optional’ sort of an approach to breastfeeding that don’t succeed at it. Also, there’s no need for you to worry about not being able to fulfill your triplets’ feeding needs. This is because breastfeeding meets all the basics of the demand and supply rule perfectly – your body will produce as much milk as your babies need.
Next up is taking on a bit of professional help for lactation purposes. In the first few days after your birth, it is highly recommended for you to take on the services of a professional lactation consultant with experience with handling premature babies. Through the consultant, you will not only acquire a demonstration of how to properly position your baby at the breast and learn about latch-on techniques, you will also learn how to nurse two babies at a time. Honestly, you will do yourself a favor by taking this step as a professional is usually the perfect person to take a bit of help from in situations like this. Oh, and as for your third baby, you are going to have to pump a lot to make sure that the little one is receiving his/her share fairly!
What this implies is that you will have to ask around for a bit of help. Alright, I’ll rephrase that – a lot of help. This particular bit of help can come from anyone – family members, friends, and even neighbors and hired help. However, you will need to plan things out in advance. The moment you learn that you are about to have triplets is when you should start working out about the types and sources of help that you will need once you come back home after delivery.
There are several things around the house that whoever volunteers to help you out can work on. For instance, the volunteer could bathe the babies, bring in food, clean, do the groceries and just babysit while you take a bit of a nap or head out for a bit of fresh air. With three babies at hand, there will actually be a long list of chores and errands that you will need help with, so don’t worry in this regard. Also, if you want to learn about the ways in which other parents are taking on help in terms of raising their triplets, then the best thing for you to do is to look up support groups for multiple babies around you. Not only will you be able to figure out the chores that you need help with, such support groups will provide you with every bit of support and encouragement that you need to keep things going for you, so make sure that you look into it.
As if feeding during the day wasn’t hard enough, you will also find yourself having to nurse the babies during the night so they don’t wake up to play a 3 AM! Now this is the part where your husband/partner is going to have to help a bit. Although some couples preferring rotating nights so that both the mother and the father can get uninterrupted sleep during the night every other day, it is best for the two of you to work together.
The best means of going about nursing during the night is that of maintaining a bit of a 3 hour schedule. Set an alarm for yourself to wake up every 3 hours. Once awake, go to the nursery and change the babies’ diapers WITHOUT opening the light – you just might startle them and wake them up full swing. Oh, and before getting down to changing the diapers, make sure that you have already pumped a bottle of milk for your third baby. Now as you are busy changing the triplets, make sure that your husband/partner remains as silent as possible, and work on setting nursing pillows for you.
Now that you are in position, start nursing the two babies while your husband/partner feeds the third with the bottle. As soon as the nursing is done, make sure that you burp the babies and put them back in their cribs to sleep. The reason why you must not turn on lights or talk to the babies is obvious: with so much going on, they will become wide-awake and will be up for a bit before going back to sleep. Also, if one of the babies wakes up during the night, make sure that you nurse all three babies instead of just one. For one, your babies will have filled up tummies and you will actually do yourself a favor by doing so as the triplets will not wake up at random hours during the night for individual feeds. Oh, and if you find yourself getting frustrated by having to repeat this routine every single night, rest-assured that it will all come to an end soon as your babies establish a sound sleeping routine!