Impending chaos x3

Imagine placing three wild cats in a bathtub, trying to shampoo them, then organising them on the bed to dry and dress them while they fight to wriggle off in any direction whilst laughing at you. This is where we are now.

“Sufficient to the day is one baby. Don’t ever pray for twins, twins amount to a permanent riot, and there aint no real difference between triplets and an insurrection” – Mark Twain

The triplets have become more demanding and active over the last month. Their development has come on leaps and bounds as they mimic little things we do and fight to become more mobile than they actually are. The triplet situation has stepped up a notch in every department, including teething. They are still happy and contented, still sleeping through 12 hours (thankfully), yet there awake time is already bordering on a small riot. One my wife will be having to police single-handedly while im at work during the week.

Blakely
Blakely – still the most chilled

Ava and Lacey seem to be head to head in development. Ava is especially switched on when it comes to mimicking and co-ordination, also boisterous and excitable. She is now pulling herself up to her knees after realising standing with help is possible, she’s on the move. Lacey is intelligent in figuring things out, like how to get toys off her sisters by dangling other things in front of them to distract them. She inquisitive and bright, a little smarty pants already.

Blakely is still a little behind the others but only by weeks. She will play happily with one object or toy without getting bored with it. She may the smallest but has no problem in getting something back from her sisters if need be, she has a feisty streak. She was known as the firecracker for the first few months of her life due to her ability to go from zero decibel to a thousand in a heartbeat. She has since chilled and remains happy to just sit and observe the world, usually from Mum or Dad’s lap.

It’s fascinating to see their personalities grow and change. Before they were born people use to tell me three babies was going to be a nightmare, now they say “wait til they start moving, your screwed”!. So in a way things are going to become more challenging without a doubt. But Stacey and I will take it in our stride and adapt as we’ve had to the last year. With triplets the stages don’t get any easier, it’s our continual adjustment to meet them that makes it workable. Patience is everything, a sense of humour crucial.

Every day is one to absorb and learn from, and the one thing that’s for certain, we have some seriously good entertainment to get us through.

family
What a difference a year makes

 

Happy first birthdays babies !

So, its been a couple of weeks since I last posted. And during that time we have been reflecting on the biggest year of our lives. Honestly, it has been the toughest ride of my life. And it seems now as we reach this day, much of the stress that I didn’t even realise was still affecting me from the first six months and the pregnancy has dissolved.

I’ve been left feeling back on track, stronger emotionally and physically. My wife and I have had some much-needed honest conversations about the darker corners we both curled into at times, for my wife the pregnancy was horrendous, for me the first six months took their toll. Yet here we are, more connected than ever with a doubled family unit who are all content and healthy. We managed to balance each other up through the harder periods we both encountered.

We finally got round to having a professional photo shoot for the girls which was fun, but fun doesn’t last too long in the heat with tired triplets who missed a nap to perform for the camera. The cake smash was hilarious, our well-behaved little chickens sat lovely in front of their cakes and just poked their fingers in and nibbled with smiles, except for Ava, her cake was green which im convinced she saw as a large pile of broccoli and quickly got upset when she realised she had to touch it. I can confirm no cakes were harmed that day. It was probably the most civilised cake-smash in the history of cake-smashing.

triplets-cake.png
This shot perfectly captured their very different personalities

Today we are having a get together for family, and this coming weekend is their birthday party which will be a chance to meet up with friends, God parents and all who have been involved on this journey.

There is a feeling of achievement today, that we have made it through the storm, and grown through it as a couple and a family. There is a grace at the centre that I know carried us at times. I feel relief that I never need experience the emotional battering of the last eighteen months again, yet I am grateful every day for the family we have, and I wouldn’t change a single thing to be where we are now. I know we are only beginning as a family, and there will be many more challenges ahead of us, but we are both conscious of what can be achieved, and experience of dealing with something as immense as we’ve been blessed with has given us a confidence to walk forward in light, hope and faith.

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An amazing big sister with her biggest fans

Ava Blakely and Lacey have not only changed our lives but also affected others, simply by being. They each brought a light into this world that has glowed in the lives of others, the effect they have on those around us is incredible. They brought a purpose to us that would set us up for life and opened doors for us in doing so. They truly are remarkable little ladies, Frankie included.

One of the first conscious thoughts that crossed my mind when we discovered three heart beats, was that God wouldn’t have gifted us three babies if he didn’t think we had what it took to take care of them – thankfully my intuition was right.

triplets bellys
Ava Blakely & Lacey

Thank-you to all of you that have followed this blog of my journey over the last nine months. I truly appreciate your taking the time to read follow and share it with us. I know it has been of use, if just as a perspective for others. So please feel free to pass it on so others who may be interested may make use of it or just enjoy following.

There is also a book in progress which im hoping to be published by early next year (if it’s meant to be). Not the easiest undertaking between work and family but I feel it’s an important one, that will give a much-needed Fathers perspective of an extraordinary situation to any parent.

I look forward to the future and sharing it with you.

Si.

A very special Father’s day

For the last four years Frankie has spoilt me for Father’s Day. After losing her biological Dad it has become a day that is very special to her. She gets exited that we have a day to celebrate our relationship, and for me it means the same.

I’m still in awe of how well she has adjusted to making way for three little sisters, who although stealing most of our attention loves them as we all do. They literally light up as soon as Frankie walks in the room.

My relationship with Frankie has taken work. And the effort and attention has paid off for both of us.

This time last year my wife was on bed rest from carrying the triplets. We were almost at the elected arrival date. Our last Father’s Day was spent in the paddling pool, talking about how different life was about to get.

Any concerns I had about how Frankie may feel about the arrival of the babies left the first day she met them. She really is a fantastic sister and help to Mum and me. We are incredibly proud of her.

This Father’s Day was a special one, my first as a Father of four. I was treated out for lunch and the triplets were on their usual best behaviour. It was a lovely afternoon out with family.

There’s really is no telling the difference a year can make. I no longer spend time wondering where we may be in the future or second guessing what life may bring. Staying present and awake to what’s in front of me is the only place in time I need to be. To be present for my family is the greatest gift I’ve ever discovered. And nothing brings more of an honour than to be called Dad.

2018 International Fathers mental health day

I have been kindly asked to contribute to international Fathers mental health day this Monday 18th June. The hope is to raise some awareness of the emotional gravity experienced by expectant Dad’s facing their biggest job.

Unfortunately there is still a huge lack of support and needed services for fathers throughout the pregnancy, and going into fatherhood.

If you follow my blog you will be aware I’m a first time biological father to spontaneous triplet girls. You’ll also know I have overcome my own serious mental health conflicts before I discovered I was to be a father. Had I been in a less stable mental condition I don’t believe for a minute I would have been able to cope with the huge emotional changes and I experienced to get to this point.

The day I found out I was to be a Father of multiples, I also discovered I was completely alone to deal with my situation. After the scan took place, on asking a midwife if there was any sort of help, or somewhere I could find advice I was met with a simple apology. No such help or service exists for men.

My wife was in a state of shock and panic, overwhelmed with the news of the triplets. I was left without any landing equipment, heading into the biggest, most difficult event of my life without a clue as to what was coming. The entire focus of the pregnancy was understandably directed on the wellbeing of my wife and the triplets. Any questions that came my way were questions directed at how my wife was coping. I had no choice but to push on the best I could in the hope my intuition in dealing with my wife and family was right to trust.

The stress of the pregnancy was a test of our marriage, it was down to me to keep stability in the home even though I had my own constantly rising fears and concerns.

I met with my GP within the first month of the pregnancy. I was experiencing fear around old mental health concerns and felt it wise to discuss my concerns with a neutral party rather than burden my wife or friends. Even with a long past of diagnosis, I was given a form to send off and explained the waiting list would be at least 6 months to speak with someone by which time the babies would have arrived. It would be over a year before a meeting with a professional councillor took place.

My saving grace was that as a recovered alcoholic, In order to stay well and mentally stable I practice a daily meditation exercise that allows me to build resilience to stress. It was a way for me to remain conscious and aware of my rising fears without becoming overwhelmed. The situation at home was difficult as my wife suffered mentally and physically with the pregnancy. I had to stay out of anger and fear for the sake of the unborn babies and my family.

Thankfully the triplets arrived safe and well. And with the safe arrival of the babies my wife’s depression and fears left. I, on the other hand was beginning to get hit with mental exhaustion from the pressure of the previous months. Life was only to become more challenging when the babies came home. Again there was no support for myself other than the social media multiple Dad groups that became a God send to me.

There is a massive failing in relationships and marriages within the first year of multiples. Without a way to remain conscious of rising negative emotions, men feel evermore pushed to the sidelines feeling ignored and left out. Depression becomes a common symptom of the suppressed resentment energy that men are unable to shake. Yet they are left to struggle unless offered a real solution. When self pity starts creeping in with added tiredness all hell can break loose in a home.

I feel I’m one of the lucky ones who survived the first year. I suffered at times in silence, my wife didn’t need the extra burden of worrying about me. She was discovering her own place. As difficult as it was at times I did my upmost to put her needs first.

It was during the first week in the NICU that a nurse came in and sat next to me while I was alone with the triplets, she asked me how I was doing, I immediately began telling her about my wife and she stopped me, she said again “no, how are YOU doing with all of this”?. I poured my heart out for a good hour. She understood my situation. It was the first and last time I have ever been asked solely as Dad how I was by someone professional dealing with us as a family. I think that’s pretty sad considering what we as Fathers go through.

A Fathers role is equally as important, and needs to be treated that way, it’s why I began this blog, to share with others who may be lost in the fear of a a high risk pregnancy. I have discovered a solution to depression and a way to deal with the stresses of home life. Many haven’t.

We no longer live in a time where women deal with the babies and men stay out the way. I was fully involved from day one and continue to be as much as possible.

Maternity services need to start recognising the absolute importance of our roles and offer support to those who most need it. Many Fathers begin their journey into parenthood already suffering with un resolved mental conflicts which is why a fathers mental health needs to be taken seriously.

I am currently writing a book hoping to be published next year, sharing my experience and highlighting the emotional journey as a new Father to high order multiples I embarked on, and how finding my role early kept me involved no matter how disconnected I felt under the pressure of adjusting to a new life. It is possible to maintain stability in the home, and in oneself.

https://tripletdad.blog/2018/02/28/my-mental-wellbeing-my-babies/

Chilled parents – content babies

My wife and I made a conscious effort to work together to bring the triplets into a calm environment. Or as calm as it can be in the eye of the tornado that is adjusting to life with three dependant new life’s counting on us, plus our eldest daughter to consider.

Throughout the pregnancy I was more than aware that my wife was dealing with a mass of conflict and depression, as well as massive physical and hormonal changes so it was down to me to hold the house together.

Stress throughout a pregnancy can create a range of serious complications to an unborn child, as well as Mum. So Dad has much to remain conscious of during a highly stressful few months. My wife later told me the one thing she didn’t ever worry about was me.

Believe me I went through my own emotional upheavals but I didn’t burden her with it. She needed strength from me. I needed her as calm as possible for her own health and that of our unborn triplets. There would be plenty of time to talk when the time was right.

My intuition around the importance of my patience with her paid off ten fold. The triplets arrived healthy and my wife’s depression and fear left the day she held them. She was free to step into her role as Mum and give her complete attention to the babies. My job once again to support her. And so the triplets came into a loving environment free from the electric force of stress.

Everything we do as far as parenting is discussed and agreed on by both of us. The level of teamwork needed can’t be weighed down by feuds and arguments, our life has become raising the girls with love, nothing is more important than the relationship my wife and I work to maintain.

Our home is one of laughter, lots of it, if landing triplets doesn’t give you a sense of humour nothing will.

The girls are coming up a year and are content and developing well without any issues or concerns. The reason we believe is that they are not exposed to daily stress and negative emotions from us as parents. We have had to grow and change in ourselves. The rewards of our efforts now reflecting in the spirits of the triplets who continue to light up our lives.

Sober – five years recovered

I would never share a personal part of my life unless it may benefit another. I believe it’s relevance may resonate with some. If it does there is hope.

Five years ago tomorrow I came off my last drunk. My journey into sobriety began seven years prior to that in New Zealand from leaving my then home in Australia after failing a marriage and a good life. My decline into chronic alcoholism slowly twisted my mind into darkness. I became violent and unpredictable in blackouts which frightened me.

Contemplating ending my life, full of anger and frustration at my failings the thought of making it all stop had become appealing once again. I had to stop drinking but didn’t know how. I began seeking a spiritual solution as it seemed to be the only hope left.

My fear of sobriety was overwhelming, my inability to stop was destroying me. That year a failed stay in a drying out clinic just reaffirmed what I already knew by that point. I was beyond human aid. I was in the grip of a compulsion that I had no mental control over. I hated myself for what I felt as a weakness in me. When I started I couldn’t stop and I couldn’t leave it alone.

The fear I experienced around sobriety was that my mental health would quickly decline without the crutch of alcohol. Sobriety brought mental tension, anxiety anger and conflict that I would always eventually turn back to alcohol for relief of. It had been the solution to my mental suffering for years. I have spent years in the mental health system and couldn’t face going through that wringer again.

The next seven years was littered with failed attempts at sobriety, in and out of AA meetings looking for a spiritual solution that seemed to have been lost within a now largely made up fellowship of amateur therapist and people with other problems. I was back in the mental health system, detoxes, a year on a remote island in the hope that in solitude I would find peace, nights in police cells, psychiatric evaluations and homelessness.

Medications brought a little temporary relief but the pain always got to much to sit with and I would return to the bottle. Its what I did. I couldn’t get off the roundabout. My great hope was that I would one day get a handle on my drinking, that I would drink like normal people. That thought became an obsession it itself.

My life revolved around obsessive thinking and compulsive drinking. Earning enough to drink while struggling to find balance with work and hold a job down in order to earn the money for alcohol and keeping it in my system for some sort of perceived sanity.

The last 18 months I convinced myself I had discovered that balance. But my mind was slowly sinking back into darkness and thoughts of suicide. I worked and drank, that became my existence. I had a couple of friends but couldn’t be honest about the suffering that was eating at me. The memories of my past and my conscious were getting harder to blot out.

Five years ago tomorrow after coming around in the morning I started drinking. I sat in my flat and poured a rum and coke. I sat and stared at it, I hated what I had become in my head. There was no peace, no relief anymore, I realised in that moment that where I was would be where it all ended. I was never going to get free from alcohol on my own will power. I had run out of fight, justification and excuses. I couldn’t live another day in my head. I was beaten daily by reminders of the hurt I had caused others through my self centred existence. I had tried everything to be a decent human being but the fear and anger that my ego fed on didn’t allow me any consistency in myself.

It was a rock bottom like I had never experienced, the pain overwhelmed me. I prayed in tears for help, for strength I couldn’t muster. My own darkness had brought me a desperate need for light. An experienced followed that left me shaken and uneasy. After a time got up from my knees and poured the drink away. I have never felt the need to drink again, the obsession had left me, I had been freed in that moment.

I began looking within a twelve step fellowship for a recovered alcoholic who would be able to show me how to remain recovered and to live by the spiritual principles it’s original members discovered and put into print back in the late 1930’s. It wasn’t an easy search. But I eventually found a man who had some answers, who had recovered himself. My life has never been the same since. Two months after getting sober I met Stacey. She has never known me drunk.

Tomorrow I will wake up with the triplets and begin another day with my family in the life I didn’t believe was possible or that I would ever reach.

Frankie always gets me a cake with a candle to celebrate with me that I don’t drink anymore. It’s a strange thing to celebrate really but it’s what she likes to do.

I don’t look back at my sobriety with a sense of achievement, I’m not one to pat myself on the back. A supernatural power of love did what I could not and removed the anger that fuelled my alcoholism. My only job has been to grow in the spirit of love that replaced it. All credit goes to God’s grace, without which I wouldn’t be here now. Recovered from alcoholism and living a life beyond anything I could have imagined.

If you believe that you may be experiencing the two symptoms that make up alcoholism, an obsession to drink coupled with a craving beyond your control whenever you take a drink – don’t hesitate drop me a message, I can offer you a solution. Or at least point you in the right direction of help.

Triplets first (little) holiday

We finally managed to get the time in for a long weekend break with the triplets to north Devon. Only a couple of hours drive, but far enough away from home in another part of England to feel a distance from everyday life.

It’s taken serious planning and organising to be able to take them away. Firstly arranging a villa that was big enough to accommodate us and all the gear we need for a few nights away. My wife has done an amazing job in this department.

It’s been especially nice for Frankie as her cousins and Stacey’s sisters also came, so she has had other activities and fun to have that is free from helping us out with the babies.

As expected we had to keep them to their routine as much as possible, they have become creatures of habit and too much of change in routine can mean a night of grouchy babies and a tired Mum and Dad.

All in all they settled lovely and slept their usual 12 hours on the first night. They have been swimming which is something they really enjoy. And for us it’s been fairly relaxing, as it can be anyway. The babies demand constant care but for us it’s a normal part of our lives. It’s been good to relax and catch up with family in the evenings and spend quality time away from home.

If only a short break it’s a good trial run in a sense; to see how the babies adjust to being away and what we can get away with in dealing with their routines. It’s good to know we can go away in the future for longer and still all enjoy that time. The triplets are content and settled enough to make this possible.

we have a couple of days left and will be making the most of the sunshine, making memories with our not so little family.

Play time

There are two times in the day of my working week that make it all worth while. Play time with the triplets, before and after work.

It’s the time I get to interact with them and see for myself their development as they play together. It doesn’t matter how tired I am or what else is going on in the stream of life. It’s my time for bonding and having fun with my little chickens.

Each morning I’m usually awake before them, it gives me a chance to meditate and get ready for the day. Then when they wake up I walk into three beaming smiles and lots of babbling. It’s the most uplifting experience. Parents will understand.

We play in the morning before my wife takes over, then in the evening I come home to more baby madness, Lacey is now saying Ma-ma. She has also said Da-da a couple of times. It’s heartwarming.

To be in this environment must look bizarre from the outside. But there is nothing but love in this house. It’s not hard to be here, as difficult as it felt in the beginning there is a rhythm to the way it runs. It takes working together as a family. We all have roles.

Looking back at the pregnancy I’m glad I put the time and effort into bonding with the triplets before they arrived. It was important for me to do that for many reasons. You can read about it here

https://tripletdad.blog/2017/09/15/11-the-bond/

This journey is just amazing in every sense. And these moments I get alone with my daughters are ones I cherish the most.

Emotional consistency – a commitment as a Father

Being over emotional is not a virtuous trait. Whether it’s sobbing at anything on the tv with a Coldplay song in the background; coaxing you to send money or get your vote, or believing any old argument thats purposely delivered with passion so to sway your opinion regardless of truth or facts is just nuts.

Leaving yourself wide open to be influenced or offended by anything or anyone that causes something internal to move you to react with either excitement or fear isn’t good. You’ve given up your natural ability to discern true from false. You’ll become owned by the events and people around you and probably have no idea it’s happening.

Staying awake in the stream of life is how we navigate our way safely and keep ourselves in a neutral place of protection. Free to make our own decisions, not influenced by others. It’s even possible to remain outside the sheep pen with your brains in tact.

We are not supposed to live manipulated by the world or anyone in it, pulled around by negative forces. The right thing to do should be a natural motivator coming from a place of consciousness, rather than being driven by bitter emotional forces stirred by the injustice we see around us.

People who suffer, be it from anger problems or anxiety disorders are under the lash of the emotional force of resentment. Management seems like the only option but it doesn’t remove the underlying problem. These men and women are pulled by external conditions that are controlling them, it’s never the other way around – it never will be.

I lived a lot of my life driven by extreme emotional responses. Fear and excitement made my life decisions for me while I got dragged along constantly resenting the bad choices I always made. Self was always the motivator, and when self is at the centre even when the motives seem good, my decisions in life never ended well.

It became clear to me that if I was to succeed in life, my emotional attachments to everything that aggravated, exited or angered me had to be severed. I had to become neutral. Meditation allowed me that opportunity to become an observer to rising emotional energy, so I could make clear decisions based on intuition rather than emotion.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

Nothing has created more temptation for emotional responses than becoming a Father, firstly during a high risk pregnancy then adjusting to life with triplets. I knew I had to be consistent with my wife and daughter and also aware of the constant internal barrage of fear and excitement in myself. My patience was tested as was my faith, it always will be. Emotional balance and maintaining it has become my priority.

As I look ahead I’m more aware than ever my need to be solid. Partly because I’m raising four daughters who will one day be overrun with their own hormones and erratic emotional responses (toddlers and teenagers). How I respond as a Father is everything to my relationships with them. My patience and ability to stay awake to the temptation to get pulled into emotional negativity is all I need to be concerned about.

So I have made a commitment to staying neutral. Because there I can be of use. I don’t want to end up the man who falls apart at every hurdle, continually upset from the days events.

Grounded is where my family need me. Consistent in myself, present for their needs and unaffected by the negativity in the world or those in it.

Mum’s been blessed

This is my Mum the morning of our wedding in Dubai. It was touch and go whether she would make it out as she had been getting gradually worse in health. Her sister – my Auntie liz who we lost before the triplets were born flew out with her to celebrate our day. A month after the wedding Mum was taken into hospital where she stayed without a diagnosis. Three months later she was finally diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that had spread to her brain. My wife and I sat with her while she was given that news, it was devastating. She was moved that day to a different hospital on a specialist unit to begin treatment.

She fought. She sat in tears and told me she wasn’t done. There was more she wanted to do. It was a heartbreaking time for all of us. The odds were not looking good.

By some miracle she began responding to the treatment and little by little improved. There was light beginning to shine through. My Mum’s a tough cookie. She has been through the wringer of life and has never been knocked down by it. I respect her strength.

Today she has been completely discharged by the doctor after making a full recovery. And although sadly we lost her sister who never made it to meet the triplets. Mum is here and going strong as Nanny to our girls. It’s a wonderful day for Nanny Sarah and wonderful that the triplets, and we have her in our lives.