If you had of asked me five years ago, or even 10 years ago, how many children we wanted, the answer would have been two. Followed by, two healthy kids, boys or girls or both – we were not fussy. Hayden came along 7 1/2 years ago, and was an only child for a while; for a good while; where we were almost at the point of accepting that he was all the good we would create. I think we had all but accepted it, and then, I started feeling less ordinary, and thought…maybe…..
At the time, we lived in Broken Hill, and medical cover is limited – especially of the obstetrics and gynecological type. My blood tests were flown to Sydney for some pregnancy stuff, and so my pregnancy stayed unknown to us for a few more weeks. At 9 weeks and 2 days we found out I was pregnant with triplets. January 9, 2010 was the day (I will always remember it). The sonographer was in more shock than we were. Jason was maniacally laughing. I was all calm and serene, for about five seconds, then realisation hit – and I don’t think I have ever looked back, or been calm and or serene since!
I had an amazing pregnancy; truly, it was just beautiful – in hindsight! I of course, felt like a big fat cow from about 18 weeks onwards. I was measuring 36 weeks at 18 weeks. I am just a bit stubborn and refuse to let things like pregnancy stop me from working (“I am not sick, I am just pregnant”…etc). Well, at 18 weeks, I did have to stop clinical nursing. I remember finishing CPR on a patient (the patient lived by the way), and I had only been at work for an hour; I felt done. Drained. Exhausted. I realised then, that growing three babies was going to be a little bit tough. I did still do everything I could; and going to bed at 7pm became my only way to manage!
The struggle was not the pregnancy, but fitting everything else in with the pregnancy! Running around playing with Hayden became brisk waddling. Going down slides stopped for a while (especially the ones that are completely closed!); and I found myself having to assess the stability of the swings before plonking on them!
Hayden had always wanted to go down and through the Daydream Mines. As we were moving back ‘home’ to Brisbane, I really wanted to make sure he did it. The mines were built by Cornish folk, who, were no taller than 5″ I am 6″2 – so it was cramped for want of a better word. I did it, and there was only one spot where I worried about being squished! Hayden LOVED it. Had his very own miner light, and a million questions for our guide. I was 20 weeks (and a few days..) pregnant here.
We then moved interstate packing up our house that we had just finished renovating. The irony in that is not lost on me. We were commuting from Broken Hill to Adelaide every 2 weeks for check ups and scans on the babies. It was all so busy.
Time flew, it really did. I was still able to play soccer (I am totally crap at it) with Hayden in the back yard until 32 weeks. Then, I felt like every part of me was stretched, and I was so unbelievably tired. Figured it was a warm up run for the newborn stage. Sleep was something that I could never find easily. I was so big that comfort was difficult to find. Every day was a blessing, another 24 hours of baking babies to mark off of the calendar.
This was 32 weeks and a few days. I was exhausted! I was using the time between not sleeping and Hayden waking to make lists of things to organise/buy and reading absolutely everything I could on what to expect (and in 2010 there was not that much information, or Facebook Groups!). I had stockpiled nappies, washed and folded hundreds of jumpsuits – I was ready. As ready as I thought I ever would be.
Fast forward a few weeks – and on July 8, 2010, our trio arrived. Brendan first, followed by Emma (born in caul) and then Caitlyn. We were incredibly lucky, they spent 1 week in a tertiary hospital followed by a week at the hospital closest to us to fatten up. Then it was home alone with three babies and Hayden.
I often get asked about how I managed. Truth is, I used lists and plans for the week. I would have never gotten through without them. I often relied quite heavily on them to know what day it was. I can recall specific moments of twin feeding the girls (because B was such a fussy feeder) and thinking of how overwhelming it all was, and how many minutes sleep approximately I would get between this feed and the next.
Days revolved around the kids – Hayden included. To keep him feeling included he had a chair right next to me when I was feeding that he would sit in and either do a puzzle, read a book to me or just talk. This was pre-talking triplets. Now we almost need a deli style number dispenser to get a conversation in!
Days looked a bit like this –
I filled two notebooks with this type of listing. This is not the newborn stage (it is December!) so it is not showing all the feeds through the night. It is interesting to see this as Emma still is the last to wake. I remember feeding them all one night when they were particularly unsettled – I got about 40 minutes sleep between feeds (after feeding I expressed, and this feed took 1 1/2 hours!!) and woke thinking I was in Groundhog Day!
Sleep deprivation is cruel. I think being a nurse and shift working for many years prepared me for some of it. I say some, because it is almost inhumane how sleep deprivation can make you feel! There is a bright side – I feel as though in the last year I have been able to sleep soundly and remember what a wonderful feeling having sleep can be! Nothing prepares you for a new born though – one or three. They are little creatures that don’t speak your language, don’t communicate effectively anyway, and have no patience!
I have vivid memories of cleaning all the bottles every day – it would either be 4am or 4pm. Often I would not know which one, just that it was 4 because I was cleaning bottles. Then there was the solid food. I cannot believe how projectile sweet potato can be. I mean every nook and cranny. Every inch of skin as opposed to into their mouths. Crazy! Little things like this that come flooding back if I sit and think about it. So hard to imagine now, looking at a 7 1/2 year old and three 4 year olds how little they were, and all the things you do for them when they are babies/toddlers.
I also remember going to the shops some days just so other people could listen to the babies cry – there was nothing wrong with them, they were just too silly to sleep, or were teething. Then the questions. Oh my goodness the questions on a sleep deprived woman! Yes, my hands are full. Yes I have a TV. Yes they are triplets. On repeat. I wonder now, when I am up with sick kids how we managed. Gastro in four young kids. Not fun. Poo and spew everywhere, and images of sitting Emma down after just bathing and changing her to hear an all mighty squelch – to turn and see poo spreading up her onesie – I think I cried as I changed Brendan and hoped he didn’t do the same. Oh the stories I have! I am trying to write them down. Trying to record them for prosperity as the saying goes. Because sometimes, I doubt people will believe some of the stuff my kids have done, and things I have had to do as a mum.
So four kids, and a million stories. Time to start writing and recording as many as I can remember now; before the perils of sleep deprivation and motherhood dampen my memory!