The Birth Story
It’s taken me several days to write this. We keep remarking on how “easy” it would be if we only had one baby! Between me, my mom and Jason, the three of us have never been more sleep-deprived in our lives. We find ourselves taking care of each other; Jason and I insist my mom eats and then sleeps after staying up all night and most of the day; mom and Jason push me to drink water and go back to bed when I get up in the middle of the night to pump and feed; I purposefully leave Jason sleeping in the morning so he gets more than a couple hours a night. Round and round we go.
So, the birth story. We got to the hospital at 7am for the scheduled c-section at 9am. I was incredibly nervous and scared. The first thing they did was put me on the monitors to check the babies’ activity, which I really hate. It set me off – I wondered why, especially when they’re coming out in an hour anyway? These particular nurses didn’t have any experience with me and the babies, so they couldn’t get the babies on line, and that felt like torture to me. I wanted to grab the monitors and do it myself, feeling certain I could do a better job. Instead, they spent hours moving the monitors around my belly, being generally confused by what they were doing. They were at it so long we missed my scheduled c-section. My frustration and nervousness increased at an alarming speed. I asked for anti-anxiety drugs as I was about to lose it, but the doc must have thought I was okay because he said said no. I tried to calm down, but couldn’t stop freaking out.
Minutes later, I had a full-blown anxiety attack. I couldn’t catch my breath, and I started hyperventilating and crying uncontrollably, for no apparent reason. The doc came back and decided to give me something after all, and the tears dried up, but my breathing remained erratic. This whole drama set the c-section back even more, and those nurses never did get the monitoring done. They decided it wasn’t worth it, and not to postpone the c-section any longer. Now, about 20 people waited for me to calm down so we could begin the c-section right away (nearly 3 hours behind schedule). The doc gave me a second dose of the anti-anxiety medicine, and after a bit I was finally able to breath normally. By the time they took me to get the spinal, it was already 11:30. Everyone was super gentle and careful with me, with no one wanting to upset me and delay any longer. They carefully numbed my back and gently put the spinal in, which felt like a small prick in my lower back, nothing more. They then lay me back on the table, spread my arms out like I was about to be crucified (I remember thinking this), and tipped the table way back so the fluid would flow up my midsection. Once numb, they called Jason in, and shortly thereafter, the babies were born around noon. I could feel lots of activity going on inside me, but no pain. Jason never left my side, even as the babies were being pulled out and taken away. He declined to cut the cords, but stayed with me instead, as I was having problems breathing again. These were definitely not my proudest moments. I wished I could have handled it better, and focused more on the babies. They gave me oxygen to help me breath, and Jason talked to me calmly, keeping his eyes locked with mine, and squeezed my hand. I swear he helped me more than any of the rest of it.
One thing I appreciated was that the surgeon used dissolving stitches instead of the usual staples, as I had requested. It took longer, but I’m glad I didn’t have to remove staples. Between the stitches and tubal ligation, it took them an hour to close me up. As a side note, I did hear the surgeon remark on my cervix–how she couldn’t get it to budge–and that made me and Jason smile. Who knows how long I would have gone if not for the scheduled c-section!
The babies went straight to the NICU to be evaluated, and all were perfectly healthy (I’m glad I declined the steroid shot). The nurses and doctors marveled at them, and the surgeon said delivering full term triplets was the highlight of her month. One doc said there must have been a lot of fluid around the babies (there was) because they came out so symmetrical in their appearances. The local San Diego news did a little segment on the birth that you can watch here.
After the c-section, I was wheeled back to our room. I was so out of it I don’t remember feeling anything about having babies. When I was taken down to see them, they were placed in my arms, but I asked that they be taken away so I could go to my room to recover. I think Jason spent time in the NICU with the babies for a while with his sister, watching them weigh the babies and do various other checks. I don’t remember much, but I do remember them bringing Emilia to spend the night with us. As Jason slept, I awoke throughout the night to check if she was breathing, but I was unable to even reach her or see her. I was very drugged up and in a tremendous amount of pain. I had a catheter, foot pump, and IV connected to me. And, of course, I was super nauseous and continued to vomit well into the 2nd day.
Day 2 in the hospital I asked that the catheter be removed, and they stood me up. Standing was the most painful experience of my life. It felt like I ripped out all the stitches both inside and out, and was bleeding everywhere. I felt such intense burning and stinging that it took my breath away. I thought I would pass out from the pain. In fact, the nurse had to tell me to open my eyes so I wouldn’t. I took a few steps to the chair, lost my breath, and carefully sat with the assistance of the staff. For the rest of the day, and those following to this day, getting out of bed is still extremely painful. The doc told me my c-section is more painful because I had 3 full term babies pulled from me, and the tubal ligation also adds to the pain. It felt like my guts were pulled out and put back in before I was sewed up.
I wanted to rest and heal for at least 3 days, but that was impossible. All three babies were up with us in the room by day 2 (SAT). We were expected to care for all their needs. I was hardly able to move in bed, and barely able to hold a baby. I was out of it from the IV pain meds, and still in a tremendous amount of pain. Meanwhile, Jason is trying to do everything for the babies’ care. It got so difficult for him that I had to call my mom who was staying in a nearby hotel to come in and help us in the middle of the night. She stayed and helped most of the night, and it was very stressful. When she left in the morning to get some sleep, Jason was again on his own without sleep, and on the brink of a meltdown. I’ll never forget as he held one of the babies with tears in his eyes, and said to me, “I don’t know how we’re going to do this.”
It was at that exact moment I realized I wasn’t doing enough to help. I wanted more time to recover and heal, but was the only one who thought it was a good idea. Apparently the nurses and docs were expecting me to be working through the pain. Recovery is most helped by movement and care for the babies, something that seemed very unintuitive to me in the state I was in. I realized I was also in some form of denial, and I needed to snap out of it. Jason’s sister came to help for the day, and her being there allowed me to take it easy until that evening. She even fed me ice as I lay in bed, but unfortunately it made me vomit. By the eve of day 2, I took over the majority of the work. My mom came again that night to help, and I sent Jason to sleep.
The three of us had a better handle of it by day 3 (SUN), rotating sleeping so each of us got at least 4 hours of sleep. At least one baby was always awake, always needing attention so there was never a break from them. The ID boys were particularly fussy. Still, I had both Jason and my mom go to sleep that Sunday night so they would both be safe driving home the next day (MON). I slept for about 4 hours in the evening, and then stayed up all Monday night and the next day with the babies until we left the hospital at 6pm on Monday.
The pain from the c-section surprised me. There’s one spot on my left side that makes it intolerable. I’m not sure why this one spot hurts so much (a cut nerve?), but it’s the reason I can’t sit up in bed alone, and the cause of 90% of the pain I’m in currently. Other than that, the pain would be tolerable w/o meds. I’m also experiencing the incredible middle/upper back pain I had around week 20. My feet and ankles swelled up like crazy as well. My ankles are now wider than the largest part of my calves, and they look really scary and painful. My belly goes down everyday, but I definitely see a tummy tuck in my future. Maybe avoided if I had gone the average 32 weeks, but the last month of the pregnancy did some serious work on my belly.
I’m pumping breast milk every 2-3 hours, 24/7, and attempting breast feeding, but I’m not sure how long it will last. Breast feeding doesn’t come naturally to me, but the pumping I don’t mind as much. Still, I’m producing next to nothing. The pressure to breast feed (despite number of babies) is quite intense. Basically this is a very sensitive subject for me, and among other triplet moms in general. It’s very difficult to breast feed 3 newborns, and very frustrating when you want to but can’t. I nearly spit fire at people who go too far by insisting I absolutely must breast feed the triplets. It’s far more difficult than you would think, so I’m happy to take advice from other moms. If breast feeding ends up being something I can do w/o loosing my mind and every minute of the day, I’d do it.
Since we got home, each of us has gradually caught up on sleep. Usually 2 people man the babies at a time, otherwise there’s a lot of crying and frustration going on. Still, I have to get used to manning the babies by myself soon. I sit on the couch with pillows, boppies, and babies. I literally surround myself with babies, often feeding 2 at once, holding 2 at once, or burping one while feeding the other. In general, it’s a ton of work, but Jason and I are enjoying every minute of it. They all look so similar that we had to paint one of the ID boys’ toenails, and keep Emilia in pink. When we were at the doc’s we had to change and feed each one during the appointment, and somehow clothes got mixed up. Jason was thinking Emilia was William for the rest of the day until he changed her… and then, surprise, it’s the girl! We’ve had some good laughs already, and everyday brings neat new experiences with the babies.
Finally, I want to thank you for taking the time to send me and/or Jason messages via email, facebook, or this blog. We read each and every one, and all the encouragement makes us both feel very supported. Please keep writing and offering your help. I do employ your helpful suggestions, and I will take you up on your offer to bring over food and watch the babies! I apologize for not writing you back, but know you are helping me a ton! And if it weren’t for some good advice, I would have gotten staples, been completely freaked out by my swollen ankles and feet, and taking pain meds while pumping, for example.
I didn’t talk much about the babies because I wanted to get out the birth story, information that has been requested by other women expecting triplets. The next post will be more about the babies and their progress. More pics will be added then, too, although we put a few up for this post.