Twinfant Tuesday: Triplet Tips & Tricks (that also apply to twins!)

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Sadia asked if I would write a Twinfant Tuesday post about tips and tricks specific to triplets and I drew a blank at first. Now that my triplets are 18 months old those infancy days seem so long ago!

I looked back on my blog and found this post on parenting tips for triplets that I wrote when the babies were about three months old. While I think all of these are still good tips, they aren’t necessarily triplet specific. As I was reading that post I thought of a few more to add to the list that are probably the same as for twins. The last couple may be especially helpful for triplets and higher order multiples.

My #1 tip for all MoMs is the classic Boy Scout motto of “always be prepared!”

A little preparation can go a long way towards making your life feel just a little more under control. When your triplets (or a singleton for that matter) are babies, the first thing everyone tells you is to sleep when they sleep. This is good advice, but sometimes it is worth sacrificing 5-15 minutes of sleep to get things ready for the next awake time!

As the babies get bigger and you start venturing out, plan outings after nap times so you have some time built in to prep for leaving the house. It is INCREDIBLY difficult to get everything ready (pack the diaper bag, have snacks & drinks ready, stroller loaded in the car, etc) with three babies awake and needing mommy. Being prepared can also include prepping bottles for the day the night before (we breastfed so thankfully that wasn’t an issue for us) and prepping nighttime snacks for yourself to get you through the middle of the night feedings! Our favorite night time snacks were energy balls and muffins, both of which you can make in a big batch that will last for days. This is also a great thing to ask others to help you with…

Which leads me to tip #2! Don’t be afraid to ask for and always accept offers of help!

Three babies is A LOT of babies! Parents of singletons are exhausted caring for one newborn and caring for multiples is at least three times harder! Every other MoM will tell you this, but if you are a lifelong overachiever like me you may not believe them and think you can do it on your own. But please, from one overachiever to another, listen to them!

If you are pregant with triplets (or twins) line your help up now! If your mom or sister or cousin or best friend is willing to move into your guestroom for the first couple of months, welcome them with open arms! We scheduled visitors back to back for the first three months and I don’t know how we would have managed without them! We had a few days here and there of it just being us and that was enough! When a coworker offers to start a meal train, say “yes please! that would be amazing!” and when your mother-in-law offers to clean your bathroom for you, get over yourself and just say yes. =)

Tip #3 is especially applicable in the first six months when sleep is hardest to come by.

(Don’t get me wrong, our kiddos were NOT the babies who hit six months and magically started sleeping through the night! Well, one did, but they are 18 months old now and two out of three are STILL terrible sleepers so we still don’t get much sleep! But after the first six months they eat less often, eat faster, and you also get quicker at diaper changes, etc. so you get a little more sleep.)

When you are sleep deprived your brain truly does not function! When our babies were newborns we were lucky to get 45 minutes of sleep after feeding, doing diapers, and pumping before they woke up ready to eat again. During these months we found it incredibly helpful to have a way to track everyone’s feedings, diapers, etc.

We tried two different apps (Total Baby & Baby Connect) and found that we liked Baby Connect the best and we liked that it synced between our phones. We used it religiously at first and then as we got into our groove we didn’t have to rely on it quite as much. But it was super helpful when we went to those first couple months of well checks (which we had to do often for weight checks since they were 6 weeks early) because the doctor would ask us questions about how much they were eating and how many wet diapers they had and we couldn’t answer those questions without pulling up that app! It doesn’t matter what system you use, but tracking the basics is key early on. I know other triplet moms have used whiteboards or even simple notebook paper to jot down feedings, diapers, baths, etc.

Tip #4: Find a baby carrier you love and get comfortable putting it on with a baby in it over and over until you can do it quickly and seamlessly without thought. When all three babies need you and you are flying solo you will be frazzled and won’t be in the right mental space to be futzing with an unfamiliar carrier!

Once your baby is around 4-6 months old have your partner or a friend help you learn to wear a baby on your back. This can be a little tricky at first and takes some getting used to but once you get it, it is a lifesaver! There are a bunch of YouTube videos out there that show you different options for getting a baby in a back carry position. I personally found that I liked one method better (carrier on in front & then spin the carrier around to your back with the baby in it) and now that they are bigger I prefer another (helicoptering them over my shoulder). When you have three babies you don’t have enough arms to carry them all from one place to another so being able to put one or more babies in a carrier makes it possible to get everyone someplace in one trip. This can be from the bedroom to the living room or from the house to the car and into a store. And if you want to have one hand free to carry something other than a baby, look into a twin carrier like the new TwinGo. We just got this carrier in December when our babies were already one, but I so wish I’d had it since they were about 4 or 5 months old! Wearing two separate carriers is bulky and not very comfortable and the TwinGo makes a front & back tandem carry simple! Stay tuned for an upcoming “Wouldn’t want to live without it Wednesday” post about this carrier!

And the last thing I just thought of, so let’s call it tip #5, is to look into getting a Foscam video camera to use as a monitor. Having a video monitor has been super helpful for us and the great thing about the Foscam is that you only have to buy one camera and then you can use an app on your phone, tablet, or computer to see the babies. It can be a little tricky to find the best mounting spot, but once you do then you can pan and zoom the camera from your phone to see all three cribs and see what each little munchkin is up to. This helped us figure out who was crying/stirring, but more importantly we could see if that squirmer/squealer was disrupting anyone else’s sleep. With the Foscam we can see if anyone else is awake before we go in to get the crier because there’s nothing worse than trying to sneak in and grab one baby then to walk in the door and have the other two who might be trying to fall back asleep see you and also start screaming! It also helps me mentally prepare for what I’ll be facing when I walk in their room! When all three are up at once, I need to take a few deep breaths and center myself before I open the door!

That is another good tip actually…when you have three babies crying and all needing mommy at the same time, just pause, take a few deep breaths, and remind yourself that this too shall pass. And before you know it your babies won’t be babies any more and you will have nearly forgotten these moments unless you took lots of pics or blogged about it!

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Triplets?! Angela’s Story of Love and Loss

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Categories Birth Stories, Infertility, Loss, NICU, Theme WeekTags , , , , , , , , 9 Comments

Prematurity Awareness Week 2013: How Do You Do It?

World Prematurity Day November 17In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.

In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.


I’ve told my story so many times, you’d think I’d be able to write it down too. I’ve given talks to women’s groups and loss groups about it, done blog posts about it, etc., but something about this one is different. Maybe it’s because I know the audience reading this will be different… you’ll be in the thick of preemie-hood or the NICU or bed rest and you’ll want comfort and hope…

And I won’t be able to give you those things… Well, not in the way you’d expect at least. You see, my birth story ended with the loss of one of my triplets. I don’t want to scare you – having a preemie doesn’t mean you’ll experience loss too – but I do want to be real with you. One of the most real things I can do or say is this… my hope comes from knowing he made a difference in his 49 days of life. It comes from seeing his surviving brother and sister meet milestones and overcome obstacles. It comes from knowing that my story gets to be told and that it matters. And I hope you’ll feel that hope in what you read today, and not the sadness of loss.

I got married in 2007 and always knew I’d be a mom. We got pregnant right off the pill a year later, but sadly, we miscarried. We. Were. Devastated. I never thought I’d be dealing with miscarriage. Or what came next. Three years of infertility, another miscarriage, 2 rounds of IUI, and finally – finally – we were pregnant.

Angela-2

With triplets.

Angela-5

I was scared all over again. I was placed in the high-risk category. We nervously counted down the weeks and each week were surprised that all was going well. I had a shortened cervix, so I had a cerclage placed. At 22 1/2 weeks, I was placed on home bed rest to slow things down a bit. But that only lasted 2 weeks, and I was off to the hospital for a month of bed rest there. It was an experience that stuck with me so much, I even wrote a book about it.

Now the goal was to keep the babies cooking as long as possible. After 11 days, Baby A’s water broke, but he stuck in there for 19 more days.

From before birth, Carter fought to live. He fought to help his brother and sister live. While I was in the hospital on bed rest, his sac ruptured 19 days before his birth, leaving him unprotected. Because he was able to stay in, his brother and sister were able to continue to grow.

It would be food poisoning that would finally do me in. 2:30 a.m. and I was in full blown contractions. They couldn’t stop them, and I delivered my trio at 27 weeks and 5 days at barely 2lbs5oz each. My mom was in Hawaii. I’ll never forget how crushed she was to not be there. They were immediately taken to the level 3 NICU and I was taken to recovery. I don’t remember much about that first 12 hours. I do remember that at one point, my husband had to tell me some bad news, and I was so drugged up that I just kept encouraging him like it was happening to another baby and not ours.

birth of triplets

At birth, Carter was the weakest. On the first day, the doctors didn’t think Carter would survive. His lungs weren’t working. After a tense few hours, it was evident Carter was a fighter as he survived his first brush with death.

Those first few days they were in the NICU weren’t too hard, probably because we were still in shock and adjusting to the reality of things. It was the day of discharge for me that things got real. We got bad news on all three of them. It was the first time I cried. I wouldn’t cry again for 44 days…

During his first few days of life, he struggled with high glucose, needing high oxygen support, and needing morphine and blood transfusions. Little did we know this was just the beginning. The doctors also discovered that he and his siblings all had E Coli sepsis, which wreaked havoc on their lungs and caused them to have brain bleeds. They were diagnosed with level 3 and 4 brain bleeds and hydrocephalus, a condition which can lead to cerebral palsy or other issues.

At home, I focused on pumping – getting over 70 ounces a day of the liquid gold. It kept me sane, giving me something to do for the babies. I went to the NICU every single day. I think I might have missed one day in total. I had to be there. I had to.

After only a week of life, Carter started to experience edema, and we began to lose the baby we knew and see a more swollen boy. He would live the rest of his life with this challenge, getting up to 6 ½ pounds at one point when he should only have been around 4 pounds at the time of his death. Throughout the weeks, Carter’s journey would be one of constant ups and downs. He would have a good day, only to have a bad day the next. After about two weeks of life, we began to discuss the possibility he might not survive this journey. We kept our faith and refused to give up on our little boy.

Each baby had their ups and downs. Braden had ruptured bowel at 7 days old, Tenley and Braden both had to be transferred to a higher-level hospital and had surgery for their brain bleeds that first night there. She’d have 2 surgeries by the time she left 86 days later, and he’d have 4 surgeries and leave after 111 days.

Even when Braden & Tenley continued to make progress and moved to a different hospital, we did not give up hope that Carter would recover and be well enough to make the move with them. But, the night of their transfer, we were told he only had a 10% chance of making it. We still remained hopeful, and our boy still fought. For the next few weeks, we had many ups and downs, many times we didn’t think he’d make it. At one point, we said our goodbyes and made peace with everything that might happen to him. We knew he’d be going to a better place, and we knew we’d be okay too.

So many emotions coursed through my body during these days. It was unbelievably hard. It tested my faith, my marriage, my friendships, my everything. I was in a whole new world. I could spout off terminology like I was one of the doctors in the NICU. I kept a detailed journal of everything – the updates, the records, the stats – everything. It was another way I stayed sane.

Then, things took a turn for the worse as his kidneys shut down and he was on full support. But, they also took enough of a turn for the better that a small window of opportunity was found to transfer him to the same hospital his siblings were. One last chance. After he was moved, he made great strides. He fought hard, and he won several battles. He was coming out of the woods…

Tenley would eventually get contaminant meningitis at the site of her brain surgery opening, which sent her back to level 3 and almost took her life. It might not have been that bad to deal with, except for the fact that it happened at the same time as we were losing Carter.

At the same time as Tenley was back in level 3, Carter wasn’t keeping his stats up and was weakening. They couldn’t figure out why. They did what they could, but it didn’t look good. He hung in there for awhile, but that Thursday night, his stats dropped very low – dangerously low – and they couldn’t get him stable again. We were called, and we came. They found that fluid had filled his lungs. He had an infection – the deal breaker, we knew. And, it was time to let him go.

It was my husband who finally came to the decision to let him go. And I had to let him make that decision. As cowardly as it may seem, I couldn’t do it. Sure, I said goodbye and I made my peace, but I couldn’t bring myself to say those words to the doctors.

We held him on Friday, the 27th for his last 2 hours of life and for the very first time in his entire life… we watched him slip away, and we comforted him during his last moments as we sent him off into Heaven, knowing we’d see him again one day. He fought right up until the end. He helped save his brother and sister, and we believe he touched many lives with his fight and his story…

It had been 44 days since I cried. I tend to only cry when I’m frustrated or angry. Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed, but rarely when I’m sad. But, I cried. I lost it. Hyperventilated when the doctors took him off the machines. Maybe I was mad at the world in that moment, I don’t know…

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I only cried a few times in the weeks after. Something in me knew I had to keep going for my survivors. I was still in the thick of it and needed to focus on them. I think I made a conscious decision to choose to be okay. I wanted to celebrate the 49 days I had with him, and not mourn what I wouldn’t have in the years to come. This perspective is what gave me hope and allowed me to move on. Granted, I did have emotional affects from the experience and had a bout with post-tramatic stress disorder, especially once both his siblings came home – and he didn’t.

Carter announcement

All this is hard to hear – and write – but it needs to be shared. It’s one of the unfortunate realities of having a preemie. It’s why the research and the support and all the community surrounding it is so important. It’s why my husband and I do a yearly fundraiser and are in the process of forming a non-profit. You can actually participate in this year’s fundraiser currently by going here.

I do want to end on a positive note… today, Braden and Tenley are about to turn two. They’re thriving, overcoming obstacles, hitting milestones, and making us feel blessed in every way. Yes, they’re preemies. But they’re more than that. They’re fighters. Survivors. Miracles. And, they’re my gift.

then now

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In the MOMs Club – Just Barely

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In the MOMs Club - Just Barely

Not to bring anyone down, especially since this is my first post for HDYDI, but I’m barely part of this club. You know, the Moms of Multiples club.

You see, I have triplets. But I don’t. I have twins. But I don’t. I’m neither here nor there. And it’s hard.

Bickford Babies

I have what are called ‘surviving’ or ‘incomplete’ triplets. I carried three babies, and I birthed three babies, but only two of them survived. Today, Braden and Tenley are doing well at 19 months old (16 adjusted), even though they were born at only 27 1/2 weeks old.

You can read more about how we lost baby A, Carter, by going to his special website we created to help raise funds for organizations that work to help parents who have experienced the NICU or loss.

Celebrate Carter Logo

It’s a tough spot to be in. I’m now part of a new club – the club no one wants to be a part of – the loss mom club. But you know what? I’m okay with it. I’m okay with it because it means I get to write and share my story. I get to talk about Carter all the time. He gets to make a difference. I’m okay with it because I’m writing several books to help others relate to loss moms, deal with bed rest, or get through a tragedy like the loss of a child. I’m speaking at conferences. I’m raising funds through Carter’s fundraiser each year. I’m choosing to see the good in the midst of the bad.

So, when you read posts by me, know that there will be times when I’m a triplet mom, times when I’m a twin mom. And times when I don’t know what kind of mom I am.

Braden & Tenley

And that’s okay.

And it’s also okay for you to be uncomfortable. Or to relate. Or to empathize. It’s okay for you to ask questions. Or seek out support.

I look forward to representing the unique position that some moms of multiples find themselves in – celebrating and grieving at the same time.

When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you, and your story will heal someone else. ~Iyanla Vanzant

I hope you’ll join me as I share my take on things – and be sure to let me know in the comments below if there’s anything specific you’d like me to cover!

AngelaAngela 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.

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