It’s the third week of our new HDYDI feature, Twinfant Tuesday, and I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what to write about. I’m supposed to give you some insight into how I made it through the first year with multiples…
The truth is, I don’t really know.
My two survivors are 19 1/2 months now (16 1/2 adjusted), and the first year was truly a blur. Between spending the first four months in the NICU and dealing with the loss of one of the triplets, I don’t think I really even recovered until after the first year was over. My first year didn’t even really begin when they were born, but rather, when they came home.
But there were some things that made a huge difference my first year.
I’m not just talking color-coordinating things or having a system for washing bottles, I’m talking making sure you’re on top of all the to-do list items. That was one of the hardest things for my husband and me – making sure we didn’t miss any appointments, therapy sessions, follow-up visits, or other important events. We hung a dry-erase calendar in the kitchen and kept all of the appointments listed – in color code of course – to keep us and anyone looking after the babies in the loop. Yes, we also had important dates synced on our iPhone calendars, but this way, we could see it at a moment’s notice and everyone would know who was doing what.
We also set reminders and alarms on our phones for everything – when medicine was due, when it was time to get them up to feed (in case we fell asleep, which happened often), to remind us to change the laundry, etc. I even set an alarm to remind me to eat. It may seem insane, but these alarms helped keep me on track when I was sleep-deprived and still recovering from mommy-brain.
I don’t think I ever would have made it through all the chaos without help. I was lucky enough to have family close by that pitched in when I needed them. My mom on the weekends, my mother-in-law several days a week, and the occasional babysitter just to help me deal with all the things I was overwhelmed with. It’s not a bad thing to need help. Whether you need someone to help with the babies, the house, or just to give you some much-needed time to yourself, getting a helping hand will make those first few months a little more bearable.
If you don’t have family nearby or can’t afford a sitter (we paid ours less than one we’d pay who would watch our babies if we were gone, because they were helping, not in charge), consider trading help with another mom friend. Giving each other a few hours off will at least provide you with a much needed break. And, if that’s not an option, at least set up a play date so you can have some adult conversation.
Having a Positive Attitude
Lockdown. The six month long side-effect of having preemies. From October 1 – March 31, we never left the house other than for our mandatory doctor’s appointments. It’s hard to keep a positive attitude when you’re forced to be hermits. We weren’t allowed to have visitors other than family (and they had to be up-to-date on their shots and free of illness), we couldn’t have kids over – so no play dates, and we had to make sure the house was sterile and that my husband changed clothes as soon as he came home. I think our hands got raw from all the washing. It also was a major downer that their first birthday fell during this time and we weren’t able to have the type of party we wanted to have.
Surviving it was a challenge, but there were things we were able to do to help. It was okay to go outside, we just couldn’t be around other people. So, I would often load them in their wagon and take a walk around the block. They loved it, I got exercise, and we all got fresh air. Another thing I did to keep sane was talking to at least one friend a day. Most of the time, it was someone who was going through the same thing as I was. If you’re in a situation like lockdown, know that there are a lot of moms out there who are in your shoes and understand. One of these moms in particular helped me understand that I shouldn’t think of it as the jail I saw it as. Instead, I should put a positive spin on it: I should appreciate the time I had to bond with the babies without the added outside distractions. Learn about them. Enjoy them. So that’s what I did, and it was an invaluable way to spend my first year as a mom.
What about you?
Have you tried these ways to get through? If so, did they help, or do you have another suggestion? Sometimes, it’s all about perspective…
Angela is a stay-at-home mom raising surviving triplets. She lost her first-born triplet, Carter, after 49 days, and her survivors, B & T, keep her pretty busy with their ongoing needs as a result of their prematurity. She manages to find time for her business and personal blog. Her goal in blogging is to share with others that it’s possible to survive after loss. She and her husband live in the Houston, TX suburb of Cypress. She also blogs at Thirty-One:10.