Page 12 of 13

Enough love to go round?

One of the questions that was brought up by Stacey during the pregnancy was ‘will we have enough love for them all, and how do we divide it between them all and Frankie’?

Not a possible dilemma that I had considered at all, but one I began to think about myself , as it’s a valid question. Children need attention and nurturing. There was two of us. And four of them. Frankie was probably going to be the most affected.

being careful not to get pulled into another nagging doubt (going through a multiple pregnancy there are many that can overwhelm). It was something that wouldn’t be answered til they arrived. No one can second guess how they are going to emotionally feel about a future situation.

I remember well those first few days in the NICU. It was exactly the same for both of us. It went like this.

I would be handed Ava for some skin to skin time to bond , and whilst holding her. I’d be looking at her thinking ‘ Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever loved anything more’. My heart exploded in those moments with each of them. Still does. It’s like experiencing unconditional love for the first time, x3.

Then Stacey and me would swap and I’d be then holding Lacey and looking at her I’d think exactly the same thing. Then again with little Blakely. It was clear to me right from the start that there was enough to go around. I felt exactly the same with each of them. Thankfully my relationship with Frankie was already established.

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My first cuddles with Lacey 

I have no idea what having one baby is like. I only know that with three there needs to be almost a little independence introduced from day one. They will have to learn that immediately making a noise doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to be immediately picked up. And I don’t need to feel guilt because of that.

They have to learn to be a bit patient when it comes to things like feeds, not that they always are because they’re babies. Obviously when A baby is grumpy and hungry it’s going to get loud. It doesn’t make you a bad parent because you can’t pacify three at once. It just means that they are learning slowly to self soothe. Because they have to. It’s the same at bed time.

Not a bad thing in my opinion, I mean who needs three mollycoddled babies growing up to be still emotionally attached to your ankles when they’re forty years old unable to figure things out for themselves without pulling at your heartstrings for answers.

Not to get too far ahead of myself, but with babies we’re playing the long game from the start. What they begin to learn when they’re little is what they’ll move forward in life with. Independence is a good thing.

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It would also be a nightmare for Stacey during the day if the only way the babies settled was by rocking them to sleep in your arms. We know their cries, what is pain and what is the grumps. That’s how we priorities who gets settled first in the moments they are all fired up.

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It’s going to get loud at times

Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mean to come across as cold hearted, which has been taken that way when I’ve spoken about it before with other parents who ask how we cope. It’s more about being sensible and realistic with an unusual situation.

Beleive me these baby’s get hugs, and love and attention. There are no favourites. And we’ve watched Frankie find a little of her own independence this year.

I don’t worry that we cannot nurture and love them all. I don’t worry that we cannot raise them to be loving individuals. I don’t believe any of them will suffer in the long run because they had to wait a few minutes before being picked up. If anything I hope it will eventually teach them to find their own little solutions to things in the moments Mum and Dad are occupied.

 

A lifetime of milestones

From the sense of relief of those first three poops in the NICU, through to diving out of bed in a panic to see if they’re okay because they’ve all slept through for the first time (that was a big high five moment). Now to the smiles and coo’s, there is always a new first happening at home. Last Friday afternoon they had their first swim and absolutely loved it, big gummy smiles from all three. These moments are so special.

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A Halloween pumpkin

I don’t think I stopped all year to really consider the positive impact they would have on me when they arrived. I knew they were supposed to be, and I knew what my job was to be now, but how it would be was still unknown to me. I am literally never going to be bored (or full of energy) ever again.

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We have a lifetime of milestones ahead of us. Not just the triplets but Frankie too. Also growth as a family. Especially for Stacey and myself. Nothing will prompt a man to get his arse in gear for his family as fast as triplets. The future is opening up for us.

Watching Frankie grow over the last five years has been nothing short of a wonderful experience, partly down to how good she is, we’ve rarely had any problems with her. I once spent the best part of a Saturday with all the cushions from the sofas on the floor, showing, and watching her over-come her fear of ‘going upside down’ to finally, and triumphantly doing her first forward roll. It was a great day. We rarely saw her the right way up for months afterwards. I still remember her face and the sense of achievement. I have many memories like that. They all mean a lot and I hope they stay with me.

It’s a nice feeling to think that we have three new personalities to watch evolve and grow within our family. I used to think babies did nothing more than poop, cry and sleep. I had no idea how soon their little personalities would begin appearing, but I already see little differences in them.

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They’ve had an incredible impact on our lives, and in me as a man looking forward in life. Every day brings something new. Today they are seventeen weeks old and have gone to bed at seven thirty for the first time, and are all asleep!

I feel like screaming hallelujah from my roof but I don’t want to wake them. So Il just thank God we’re all doing okay.

Temper-temper

Nothing is more destructive to a family environment than anger. Wether its a Dad’s inability to deal with his emotions with the stress of daily life , or a mothers impatience, There will be casualties.

Impatience, jealousy, bitterness, anger, annoyance are all forms of resentment. Even fear is just anger around events that are yet to happen. Everyone experiences that deal, getting angry with someone because we already fear they are going to let us down or fail us is just one example. Fear creates tension, the ripples effect everyone in a home. Children are more sensitive to it than anyone.

We live in a society in which anger is seen as a normal healthy emotion, it’s marketed as such, one to be managed. Think about the last time you saw red, or felt that agitation rise into your chest then that heat in your face as it overwhelms you. Heart racing, head boiling, Acting or speaking out in rage, bringing hell on earth. Only to experience the guilt and embarrassment after the event has passed, when you finally return to ‘consciousness’.

Looking at the damage anger brings I’d label it anything but a healthy emotion. The prison system is full of young men labelled with what is termed as borderline personality disorder. Are they sat there because they were unable to manage their anger successfully, or are they sat there because their anger is managing them?

Who really wants to admit that its a problem, and take an honest look at it’s effects on those closest to us. It’s much easier to justify and rationalise it as a just normal behaviour that ‘everyone has in a relationship’.

As recovered alcoholic I’ve been on the front line with men and women who’s family’s are destroyed by the real cause of all obsessive behaviour and internal conflict, unrecognised and suppressed anger. I’ve watched the relationships and marriages fail, the children suffer in the middle of it, the suicides, the chaos and madness. I’ve also lived and survived it.

I have also seen men and women establish a new order of things and begin to bring a spirit of patience to a home.

Alcoholics are an extreme example of where anger can take someone. But even the smallest attitude of intolerance can cause as much damage to a child’s environment.

As a parent now, raising a family I have even more of a responsibility to stay out of anger. No matter what goes on around me. Keeping my own council and remaining consistent and conscious is the only way I can do this deal. I cannot afford to throw my toys out of the pram and not expect it to effect my Family. My actions affect everyone under my roof. I cannot run to justifications and self pity as excuses for an inability to control my temper. Simply put it would eventually end my home life.

‘So what’s the solution’ ?

The solution to meeting stress without becoming overwhelmed by it is incredibly simple.

Not easy, but simple.

The solution to anger is to be able to observe it, nothing more. To be in a position to be able to step back as it rises, without struggling, to just let it pass in that moment.

This only happens when we are awake to see it happening. So each time we are presented with an opportunity to react. In that moment, grace replaces a prideful spirit. Instead of stress digging at us, we sharpen from those moments.

There is no avoiding stress in the stream of life. But we do have an opportunity to strengthen from it. To begin to deal with life with a natural courage that comes from practicing consciousness, rather than reacting badly and running from it. Family life can never be the same because of it.

The ripples of patience slowly replace the damaging ripples of intolerance as a result.

There is a specific type of meditation that brings this state of consciousness. It is a simple exercise that allows you to pull back from thoughts. To bring you back to the present moment, the only place anyone ever needs to be. The only place my family needs me.It’s complimentary, there’s nothing to learn or buy. No gurus to follow.

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

It is a personal experience. One you may or may not be ready for. But believe me it is a game changer.

This is the guided meditation. If stress, anger, overthinking is becoming a real problem and you’ve exhausted other options as a solution, this may be exactly what your searching for.

You’re welcome.

Stacey’s got this

The thought of staying at home alone during the day, with three newborn babies, all solely breastfed, is a thought that can baffle most minds. It takes a certain attitude, a lot of patience. And a deep sense of purpose to pull it off.

I didn’t believe for a minute that becoming parents to triplets would have happened if  we didn’t have what it took to take care of them. I, for my part, am as involved as I can be when I’m not at work.  Stacey has now become a super mum.

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I have a massive respect for my wife, and her very natural ability as a mother. She’s amazed me since the arrival of the triplets. To go from that dark place she was mentally during the pregnancy, to see her with them now is quite a thing.

There was understandably a very real trepidation from herself in regards to how she would cope when I returned to work and her Mum left. She has Frankie’s school runs to do, also the daily household chores. Yet she manages like a boss. Visitors are genuinely in aw of her ability to deal with the job at hand with a real calmness. She knows exactly what she’s doing.

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Don’t misunderstand me. There are days that are tough, add tiredness from both of us and it can become very stressful at times, especially when all three babies are unsettled. But we remain conscious of our situation and work as a team. We have to,

We have embarked on a monumental journey this year, of epic proportions. The changes we have both experienced, personally, and as a couple are becoming a real foundation of strength in our home. In my wife I’ve seen a new confidence and sense of purpose come alive. It’s beautiful to watch.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a girl thing

A couple of weeks ago I picked up my little nephew from school. He’s a great little lad and I always love when he’s round as we make stuff like cars and jails for the bad guys out of lego, and talk Star Wars.

It was the testosterone filled conversation on the way home that led me to thinking about my brood, and how different our conversations will be as they grow into little ladies.

One of the questions from him went as so –

“if you had to choose, would you rather be eaten by a dinosaur? Or head-butted by one”?

As well as being a fantastic question that gave me something to ponder over, it also made me think about my time raising Frankie over the last five years, and being reminded I now have three more girls under my roof.

My eldest daughter is about as girly as they come. She loves princesses, unicorns, anything pink, baking and crafts, and now her Mum’s make up and nail varnish (only to wear playing in the house though). She also now does ballet which she loves.

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Frankie rocking out in one of her many Cinderella dresses

Frankie has also over the years made much effort to do activities with me that as she sais ‘boys might like’.

Its very sweet how she’s conscious of the fact that I’m not a girl, and perhaps like other things besides making princess carriages out of lego, and talking about unicorns and fairys.

When she saw how exited I was when the new Star wars came out a couple of years ago, she wanted to watch the earlier movies with me. When it came time to watch the second movie I could see she was a bit restless, when asked what was up, she apologised to me and explained that she tried really hard to like it but it wasn’t really her thing. Bless her.

I love that she is the way she is. And I also don’t mind joining in playing girly stuff with her. It makes her happy that I get involved with what she’s doing. And now with three more I think it’s just aswell I got good at painting nails during the pregnancy.

I think that wether it’s boys or girls, no matter what they’re interested in, it’s my involvement as a father, and interest and encouragement that’s important. I have met men with only daughters who under the surface resented that they didn’t have a boy. A lot of people asked me if I was upset all the triplets were girls. Not one bit.

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My four beautiful daughters

My girls may all grow to be like their big sister. I hope they do. At least I still have my nephew to talk to about things like fighting dinosaurs.

A celebration of light

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All set for the big day

Last Sunday was the christening service for the triplets. It is traditional in Stacey’s family, and although not religious myself I do have a faith from my experiences as a recovered alcoholic and the way I live my life. I know that only a power of  light overcomes darkness. Only love can drive out anger.

I also know that my girls are full of that light. It was clear from the first day I held them. You only have to look in their eyes to feel it.

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Ava’s smile

I believe every child is born with that spirit. I see it in Frankie’s kindness, and strong sense of right. I also see it in my wife’s love for all of our girls. So living life connected with, and growing in that spirit of love is everything. And turning away from darkness on this journey is the difference between knowing peace and suffering.

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It turned out to be a wonderful stress free day. We were organised and on time. The babies were on their best behaviour and looked beautiful in their gowns. The gown Blakely wore is the one all Stacey’s sisters and Frankie wore for their christening. Lacey wore my cousins, the one my Auntie Liz got for her christening. Ava had a new one.

It was a real celebration of life, with close friends and family. After such a turbulent year of uncertainty, change and eventually the safe arrival of Ava, Lacey and Blakely into our lives.

If there’s anything I’ve had reinforced this year, it’s that faith can overcome fear. That the courage to endure patiently in the face of stress, of the unknown, of whatever the outcomes may be in life only brings strength. And my family are now stronger for it.

So God bless my girls and my family. I get the feeling they are already taken care of.

 

Mamas little helper

Frankie, as I’ve mentioned before has experienced a lot of change in her life, some changes bigger and longer affecting than others. Yet she has coped incredibly well in the face of it all. She is mature in her nature and has a big heart.

The arrival of the triplets is another change she has adjusted to well. It would be hard for any only child, suddenly having three baby sisters rock up one day and take everyone’s waking attention. Yet she loves them, and is proud to be involved with it all.

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Ava and Frankie having a little moment in the SCBU

Sure there are times that she has experienced a bit of jealousy, especially once they came home as three baby’s can be all consuming, more so in that adjustment period of home life. There are times it’s been incredibly stressful here but when I talk to her about it she understands what’s happening.

She loves to help. Also she knows when it’s enough and it’s time for her to exit the madness when all three babies are fired up.

We don’t push her at all to get involved. We ask her if she wants to help with certain jobs like the evening feeds and bath times. Usually she does but if she prefers to chill out elsewhere and and take a break that’s fine. She’s under no obligation with them. Believe me sitting with screaming hungry babies is a test of patience for anyone, let alone a ten year old.

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Pacifying babies like a boss

I’m immensely proud of Frankie, what a wonderful big sister the triplets have. My hope is that she doesn’t grow to resent them for the attention they are taking. At the moment it’s difficult to spread any time elsewhere then the babies, but it’s not permanent and Frankie seems to know this.

The triplets are blessed to have such an example of kindness in their life. As are we.

Dont mention the sleep.

Having never done this baby caper before, I will be the first to admit I went in wet behind the ears as it were. I had, still have much to learn. It’s a real blessing that Stacey had already successfully took care of Frankie as a baby.

Stacey has been a great teacher, and thankfully patient with me, showing me how its done, even though I do still get things wrong on occasion. Thankfully only minor errors, usually down to tiredness. Things like getting them muddled up is a given now.

So all I really had to go on as an expectation of what was to come, was Stacey’s experience with Frankie as baby, and what I’m told of mine.

Frankie was an angel who slept twelve hours, was a wonderful, hassle free baby, and still is in all the ways that are important.

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A perfect child

I, on the other hand, was every parents worst nightmare baby, who didn’t sleep a full night for years, and remained rather lively even after i began sleeping. I had my fingers crossed the triplets would lean more towards Frankie’s habits. I mean everything was crossed, especially having three of them.

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A nightmare child

As premature babies all they did was sleep in the beginning, I thought on many occasion while they were in the SCBU, nice, this should be easier than I thought. Then I was reminded again when they hit their due date where foolish thinking can get me.

The last few nights, they have decided that they still need the midnight top up, Blakely is especially keen to remind us how much she used to enjoy her 3am feed. Which means the at least one or maybe both her sisters may also wake up and need filling up.

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Blakely knows exactly when Daddy and Mummy are going to sleep. A clever little monkey chops

so it’s two steps forward and one step back. I’m guessing this is how it will be as they have growth spurts. Ive adjusted to the tiredness now though. And Stacey and myself have a tight system which we keep to the number.

And so I vow never from this moment, whenever asked how the babies are going, to be as stupid to answer anything so silly as

“Yeah great, they’re going through the night now, no problem”

lesson learned. Don’t tempt fate.

 

 

 

 

 

Farewell Auntie Liz

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Frankie and her cousin mesmerised by Liz , she was amazing with all of us

This coming Sunday is the triplets christening. We were talking about the girls middle names last night and it has reminded us of someone who would have been making the cake for us, making little gift bags for all the kids and filling the day with some serious, infectious laughter.

Auntie Liz was a woman who had as a child had a big effect on me, in fact anyone who met her became instantly aware they were in the presence of a bright light. She was unforgettable.

She dedicated her life to helping children as a social worker in Bristol, then later as a teacher. I remember one time as a kid my father coming back to my Nana’s house, drunk and threatening suicide, Liz was instantly called and was driving over, there was an immediate relief, she had a presence that made you safe.

I didn’t really see her. or my family for years after I left home. I wandered off into the world with my problems. and didn’t care to look back. I would see them occasionally.

A few years ago , not long after getting sober, I married Stacey. Shortly after the wedding my Mum was taken into hospital, she had been ill for a while. Three months later she was finally diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. By the time it was discovered it had already spread to her brain.

My mother has also had a tough ride, aswell as my older brother. If there is ever a reason for me to be a better man under my roof, it’s from experiencing the damage a man overwhelmed with resentment can cause to his family. It took me a long time to see it as I became consumed by it myself. No one is unaffected.

By some miracle my Mum responded to the treatment and is now cancer free. There are some tough cookies in my family. She survived to become a triplet Nana. She is also an amazing lady.

During Mum’s treatment Liz and myself took care of a lot, I couldn’t have managed half of it alone. It also gave me an opportunity to get to know her more. We maintained contact after. She absolutely loved Stacey and Frankie. Even Stacey’s family became family. To her family was everything, I now understand that importance.

There was nothing she loved more than to see someone overcome problems, and start to succeed in life. She always made sure I was looking after my little family and moving forward.

She was exited when we got the house, and over the moon by the news of the triplets, what she called a miracle. We talked regularly right up to the middle of the pregnancy, when she was taken to hospital for tests on her hip.

The cancer had spread To her spine, no one knew. Liz hadn’t seen a doctor in forty years. Four weeks later she passed away. No one believed for a minute she wouldn’t come out of hospital. And we didn’t ever think she wouldn’t meet our triplets. Ava, Blakely and Lacey arrived two months later.

Other than my Mum she became my closest family member. Maybe because it happened in the middle of the Pregnancy, with so much happening, it didn’t quite all sink in. I’ve realised today, now the storm has passed a little how much I’m going to miss her. I’m sad she never got to see the safe arrival of all three girls. Also for them, that they will never have met her.

Two of the triplets middle names are from Mum’s and grandmothers, apart from Blakely. She is Blakely Elizabeth Frankie. Her name will stay with us.

She helped more people, and affected more people than anyone I’ve ever known. I’m thankful that she was here to share in so much of the last few years of my life sober. She would have loved my girls the same way she loved all of us, no one was treated any differently. Everyone was made to feel special.

So thank you Liz, for everything you did for me, for us as a family. I never got to say goodbye. But you will be remembered by all of us. And without any doubt, never forgotten.

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A legend of woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

So who’s who?

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I get asked a lot how I tell them all apart. The simple answer is with great difficulty. It was easier a when they were smaller as I could tell by the weights. Now unless they are all together with their colour coded vests my first words when handed a baby is “which one are you then”

Ava is the singleton, Blakely and Lacey are the identical twins. It was explained to us that there was a small chance all three could be identical. So that’s one egg got fertilised, split early enough for it to split again, and then one of them once more to create the twins. It’s rare though.

we are now convinced all three are identical. Other than Ava wears blue vests, Lacey yellow and Blakely pink. Looks like this could get very confusing.

There is a DNA test available but we don’t think we need it. Turns out one was so perfect God decided we should have two more the same.

I call them the wrong names, have put them in the wrong cots, also dressed them wrong. I don’t feel like a bad parent though. I love them and treat them all exactly the same. I will sit with Lacey for an hour talking to her only for Stacey to come in and point out its Ava. It really is going to be an interesting journey ahead of us.

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Me and Ava, or Lacey ? She’s one of my babies anyway