Everybody take a baby.

During my pregnancy, I was under the impression that once my girls were born, they would automatically need NICU time.  I did not expect to have any take home babies and after the devastating still birth of my first daughter, I wasn’t upset that I wouldn’t be taking any babies home with me.  My wish was for them to be born alive and healthy.

The statistics were recited to us:  32 weeks is the average gestation for triplets.  My goal (set by my doctor) was to make it to 34 weeks.  Well, 34 weeks came and went.  After flying by 35 weeks (I make it sound easy, don’t I?) and having a date and time scheduled for my c-section, we began to realize that we may be taking one or two of our little pumpkins home with us. (I should note that Anna was diagnosed with spina bifida in utero and was scheduled to have surgery on her spine immediately following her birth so NICU time for her was automatic.)

My girls were born at 35 weeks and 6 days.  Allie and Emily spent two days in the Special Care Nursery before being released to my room.  They were discharged with me from the hospital two days later.  My husband and I set up a pack-n-play at the end of our bed and planned to both sleep in our bed with each of us taking a baby for feedings.  That did not go over so well.  As preemies, we were told to feed on demand so although Allie was ready for a bottle, Em would not be.  It seemed like Rich and I would sleep for an hour and then start the whole two hour process all over again.  An hour to feed a baby and then another hour to feed the other baby.  We were losing ridiculous amounts of sleep.

My husband returned to work a few days later.  I offered to care for both girls all night while he slept in another bedroom.  My mom (thank goodness!) offered to stay the nights with us as well.  Over the next weeks, I cared for Allie and Em during the night waking my mom if they both needed to be fed at once.  In the mornings, my mom (and usually another family member or friend) would care for Allie and Em while I would sleep for three or four hours.

And then Anna was released from the NICU.

We tried a variety of sleeping arrangements but none seemed to work and everyone was left exhausted.  I was speaking to a friend a mine with one year old twins and she told me that one of the arrangements that had worked out well for her was for each adult to sleep in a separate room with a baby.

So we gave it a shot.  And again, thank goodness that my mom was available, ready and willing to help out.  We would each take a baby and sleep in separate bedrooms.  My girls had some reflux issues and were never really interested in eating so each feeding would take about an hour.  We were given the go ahead to allow them to sleep longer at night and not wake for feedings when they were fairly young so if you were lucky, you may have a three hour stretch of sleep.

We continued like this until the girls were six months old and we moved.  At that point, they began to share a room and I felt like we were dealing with newborns again.  But that’s another post for another day.

What sleeping arrangements did you use with your newborns?  Any tricks or helpful hints?

Sarah is the mother to two and a half year old identical triplet girls – Allie, Anna and Emily – who were born at 35 weeks and 6 days.  She works full time as a Tax Director for Big Financial Institution and enjoys sharpening her photography skills with her daughters’ help.  You can read more about her crazy life raising triplets at The Great Umbrella Heist.

13 thoughts on “Everybody take a baby.

  1. Multiple newborns make us do crazy things, don’t they?

    For the first 8 weeks or so, I don’t think my babies saw the upstairs of our house (or, for that matter, the nursery that was up there). They mostly stayed downstairs and slept either in the bouncy seat, the swing, propped up in a Boppy, or in the Pack & Play we had set up downstairs. My husband (the night owl) and I would take shifts. I’d go to bed around 9:30, he’d be in charge of both babies until about 3 or 4AM, and then we’d tag out. I’d usually come downstairs and doze on the couch between feedings.

    It wasn’t a great situation, and I was very happy once I got them sleeping in their cribs (in bouncy seats, because they needed to be on an incline and the bouncing helped them fall asleep). You will also not be surprised to learn that this was not especially conducive to successful breastfeeding.

    Ah well, everyone sleeps fine now, so we survived! :-)

  2. I breastfed my newborns, so I needed to be there for most, if not all of the feedings. For the first six weeks, Daddy went to bed at 8pm, I did the 10pm feeding by myself and he did the 12am by himself. I pumped in the morning so we would have BM for that feeding.

    Later on, I would do all the feeding and he would do the fetching & soothing. That way, he was only up to grab one, and I didn’t have to totally wake all the way up to feed them.

    My daughter, who was a great sleeper, started sleeping through the night sporatically at 6 weeks. My son, who was not, waited until 6 months when we did CIO. It was an awful couple of months, but soon we were all sleeping again.

    While we both spent about 6 months in an awful state of sleep deprivation, we survived. And, we knew we were in it together. At the end of 6 months, he still had his job, we both had a pretty severe coffee addiction and we finally got to sleep again. The memory is fuzzy, but I still cringe when I hear a newborn wail.

  3. my husband and I worked different shifts even before we were pg, so that’s probably why this worked so well… I work 8-5, DH works 12-2am (self-employed)

    Babies were (and still are) all mine until 12-2am (it varies)…husband has them from 2-6. There is no waking of the spouse unless really, really necessary. This way each parent gets at least 5 hrs of uninterrupted sleep. I swear it saved our sanity..those first few months really weren’t that bad!

  4. We have identical twin girls who spent nearly a month in the NICU before coming home. They were born at 33w2d. When they came home, they each slept in their own crib in their nursery and our room is across the hall from them.

    I nursed, pumped, and supplemented with formula. We would bring a cooler with ice that we would keep pumped breastmilk and formula for overnight feedings. Luckily, our hot water heater works really well, so we would just make bottles, place them in the hot water to warm up before feeding.

    My hubby and I did shifts so we could both get a fair amount of sleep. I took anything before 3am and Hubby took 2am and later.

    They were typically eating every 2 hours, so their feedings normally ended up being 1opm, 2am, 6am, etc. If one woke up to eat, they both ate to keep them on the same schedule.

    The shifts worked out well and we had a rule if it all went to hell and both babies were screaming, then you could wake up the other person to help. Luckily, our girls were pretty fast eaters, so we would feed one at a time and could usually be back to bed in an hour. I did try to pump anytime that they were up, so my sleep was sporadic, but I had no trouble falling back to sleep in these early days.

  5. My twins spent 3 weeks in the NICU but I totally messed up their schedule by breastfeeding on demand all night long. Since I was breastfeeding exclusively, and DH had to be up for work at 4 am, I did all the nights alone. I did have a sister-in-law for 5 weeks help a bit (she also worked) when the girls were 8 weeks. Once I didn’t get both twins down until 2:30 am. THen my 2 year old woke up at 3:00 am (can’t remember why) and he wasn’t sleepy again until 5:30, but since he shared a room with my sister-in-law, who had to be up for work at 6:30 I kept him up till she was up, since she would wake him up anyway getting ready. I got to bed at 7 am that night. When she got home from work and cracked a joke about me sleeping until 1 pm I nearly wacked her in the head. Nearly, but didn’t. Ahhh, those were the days.

  6. Our twin boys are 11 days old so I’m no expert, but already we’ve figured out the shift thing works best. My husband is a night owl, so he’s got the until-3 am shift. I’m breastfeeding so I do have to get up several times but have managed to sleep from 10-12, 1:30-3 and am “on call” for the rest of the night. Sure we’re exhausted but compared to the first night where we simply took turns as we heard cries, the shift thing rocks.
    Once I’m fully recovered from the c-section and get my strength back I think it’ll be better.

  7. Great post. I guess like most parents, we just did whatever we had to to survive those first few months. For us, it was pretty much the same as you. We had no planned out strategy, but soon found out that each of us co-sleeping with a twin in a separate room worked the best for everyone involved. I have since read other instances in which this has worked well for people. I have to admit we never had thought of it as an option, it just came out of the ‘try everything until you find what works best for your family’ scenario.

  8. Well I just went through this, and it’s already a blur! I can’t IMAGINE three!!! I know we tried taking turns at night for a short time (they’re formula fed) but that didn’t last. What we did for the longest was we took turns getting bottles ready for feedings, then we each fed a baby. We managed to keep them eating at the same time by waking the other when one woke to eat. They eased pretty easily into their own room because we had their crib in our room, then we moved it to their room and they were fine. Thankfully they started sleeping through the night just after my husband (a teacher) started back to work.

  9. My twins are eight months old and we’re still trying to figure the sleep thing out! They’re exclusively breastfed so I found that co-sleeping for the first 6 months really helped my sanity. It seemed our girls would only sleep when curled up next to an adult and my husband and I would just switch when one needed to nurse. Now they are both in their own cribs in their own room and we are in the process of sleep training. I do one feeding between 6 pm and 5:30 am and it usually involves my husband getting the baby bringing her into bed with us and when she’s done nursing, I return her to her crib. Sometimes they both wake at the same time, sometimes they don’t. Anyone have any tips on getting them to sleep through the night?!
    .-= Samantha´s last blog ..Done =-.

  10. No twins in my house, so I had it easier than y’all! There’s a special place in heaven for moms of multiples.

    My oldest went in her crib in her own room from the day she came home from the hospital. We got lazier the second time around and went with the whatever works and gets us the most sleep strategy. We split the evening / night up into blocks of 6 hours so whoever’s time it was to sleep got a decent amount of uninterrupted slumber. Whoever was on call with the kid slept downstairs on the couch with the baby in her carrier. She switched to her crib at 3 weeks when she didn’t need to nurse / have a bottle every couple of hours anymore.

  11. We didn’t have any of our girls home for 62 days (two came home at 62 days, the third at 73 and the fourth at 87) but it didn’t make the sleep thing any easier. Fortunately, though, by then they were used to the NICU schedule so they pretty much slept between feedings… but they ate every 3 hours and it took 2 hours to feed all 4 of them. I get exhausted just thinking about it. I don’t have any good advice, but I can say to all you new parents of multiples… eventually they WILL sleep through the night and it will be magical!
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..Homework for Preschoolers =-.

  12. Our infancy haze is in three part: maternity leave, before Iraq, and during Iraq.

    Maternity leave: I wanted to establish breast-feeding, so I nursed for 1.5 hours, every three hours, and slept in 15-30 minute bursts where I could. The cribs were in our bedroom for easy nighttime access. I’d bring one baby into our bed at a time and doze while they nursed.

    Before Iraq: Once I returned to work, my husband and I broke the night into shifts. During his shift, he’d latch them onto my breast without waking me. I know, best husband EVER! We managed on about 4 hours of sleep each per day.

    During Iraq: When my husband deployed, the girls were 5 months old. Jessica immediately went on nursing strike. She was still getting expressed breast milk, but she slept for 3 hours at a time, which was GREAT! Melody continued to nurse, and we ended up cosleeping for part of every night. I managed on three and a half hours of sleep, and often used my lunch break at work to take a nap on our office couch.
    .-= Sadia´s last blog ..Girly girls =-.

  13. Pingback: From the Archives: Prematurity and the NICU - How Do You Do It?

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