Reminiscing on a year gone by…
People say the first year, or months, or whatever, you forget. I disagree; I remember the details. More than anything, I remember the feelings.
We were possibly the most clueless parents ever. Another baby prior would’ve kept us busier, but I think it would’ve been easier, especially if our children were planned, or we had prior experience with babies. Or a nanny. Or family here. It would have helped if I hadn’t been entering my 2nd year in a PhD program, too…
Learning it all for the first time with 3 was…ahem…difficult. I would never change the fact that my kids were full term and healthy, but we had no time to adjust. UCSD hospital didn’t offer a nursery (other than the NICU), and so the babies were with us from birth, in our room, for us to care for immediately. Just trying to get over the c-section plus ligation – standing up and sitting down – took everything out of me. There was little to no sleeping involved during the 3 days we were there.
I watched You Tube videos: How to change a diaper; How to burp a baby; How to swaddle a baby, ect…Jason and I never did get the swaddling down. Meanwhile, I attempted to pump breast milk every 2 hours.
It was recommended we leave the hospital within 3 days, and sure enough, we did. We had the triplets Friday afternoon and left on Monday. By then, everything felt completely out of control. We were sleep-deprived to the point where driving home was dicey. I could barely walk, and the babies were non-stop, around-the-clock, demanding. Because they weren’t in the NICU, the babies didn’t come home on a schedule, and it took almost 4 months to synch them up. As simple as it sounds, we couldn’t figure out how to implement a rountine because we didn’t know what their cries meant. Neither of us had any baby experience. We always thought, “He/he/she must be hungry,” and so we constantly fed the babies at different times for about…umm…3 months, meaning they were always sleeping at different times.
The extreme worry has subsided now, but the first month or two was a long, ongoing panic attack. The doc diagnosed me with PPD, and prescribed something I never got around to filling. Learning how to pump and breastfeed was something I was committed to, but never accomplished. I tried and tried…and TRIED. For almost 3 weeks, I produced next to nothing. I cried. I was so exhausted. I ended up giving my $275 pump to friend expecting a singleton.
After that it was all about which bottles to use, and the endless parade of formula-testings: this one is for gas, that one for reflux, this one is soy, that one is organic. Can I get them all in one? No? Should we mix them? No. Tap water, distilled water, filtered water, water filters.
Each and every transition was filled with complete uncertainty, thanks to the hordes and hordes of conflicting advice (i.e., “Feed them before a nap”; “No, feed them after they wake up.”; “Put them to bed earlier, sleep begets sleep.”; “No, put them to bed later, and they’ll sleep in longer.”; “Separate them for naps.; “No, let them learn to sleep through each others’ cries.”) WHA?? Where’s the manual!?!
And that was the easy stuff. The guilt of skipping the “important” stuff lead to feelings of absoluteness: “Because I didn’t do this, that, and the other, they’ll be negatively affected for LIFE.” Gulp. I felt bombarded by parenting methods, and got super-sensitive about those who could do/did attachment parenting.
The good stuff…
Our babies were full-term, and have been perfectly healthy since birth. That is a miracle.
Also, we had extremely helpful family members on both sides, and they became very close to us.
Those who flew in from out-of-state made a huge impact on us. They either used every bit of vacation time, or adjusted their schedules so they could take turns handing off the baby baton. In the beginning, we had “shifts” that were 12 hours long. I did the 12-hour overnight shift (partially with Jason, when he got home in the late evenings), and the other person/persons did the 12 hour day shift.
During the first 4 months, the babies’ never slept at the same time. Everyone in the house was beyond tired. We all stopped changing clothes and showering. The family members who came – they hunkered down. No one made it through without a few unexpected emotional difficulties, and we all became closer, for what I hope will be the rest of our and the babies’ lives.
Family also us supported in monetary ways – money for help was sent so I could sleep a few days a week, and were we supplied with nearly a year’s worth of diapers. We were flabbergasted, and felt very, very supported. It meant the world to us. Many sent their love from far away by providing much-needed clothes for the babies, toys, ect…Always asking, “What can I do to help MORE?” At one point, right around their 1st birthday, I could honestly reply, “We don’t need anything.”
Most unexpectedly, family and friends who weren’t as close helped, sending clothes, handmade blankets and bibs, gift certificates, money, and so much more. Friends I barely knew at grad school brought food, supplies, clothes, arms and hearts. The psych department threw me a baby shower, complete with donations from people I had not even met, providing us with stuff we still use to this day. My advisor was very supportive, being one of the primary reasons I didn’t give up on the PhD.
And so, we survived. The babies, our marriage, Jason’s business, and my Phd program remained intact. The kids appear to be thriving, much to my relief. They seem healthy and adjusted…and attached. Jason and I both essentially work full-time, and have help maybe 15 hours a week. Of course, it’s not nearly enough, but we keep going…