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Pre natal depression

Although a first timer at dealing with a pregnant wife, I was aware of post natal depression. I’ve known friends in the past who have suffered from it, and was aware of it’s seriousness. It’s not surprising, seeing first hand the emotional and physical toll a pregnancy, and following birth takes on a woman, that she could remain unaffected by the experience.

My wife suffered, not so much after the birth, but throughout the entire pregnancy. Pre natal depression was not something I knew of, or had ever heard about.

As a man living with a woman who was suffering, the strain and tension was very real. I see relationships now that don’t survive it. It’s a sad outcome but one that’s all too prevalent. Especially with multiples.

I didn’t realise the extent of what my wife was dealing with internally. It was easy to put it down to hormones, although I knew she was experiencing real fear around the whole situation. It’s only recently that she has began to open up to me about it.

I now know that she tried her best to push me away, although she loves me, she was so overwhelmed with the possible negative outcomes it was me that got the brunt of it. It was difficult for me as I was also dealing with my own concerns.

What’s a man to do ?

There was definitely ways I could, and did ease the situation. Patience and tolerance became my watch words.

Getting through it for the sake of my family was everything. I’ve dealt with enough of my own internal conflicts to know that nothing she was throwing at me was personal. Anyone who has been pierced by fear and is struggling, constantly overwhelmed by negative thinking is not going to be themselves.

The best thing I could do was not struggle with her. As tempting as it was to react to her anger at times, my only job was to remain solid and conscious of what was happening. She was also dealing with the fear that I wouldn’t be able to cope and leave her with triplets and Frankie. After all I had never done the baby deal before. And we had three on the way.

A demonstration of my confidence would do more than any words of comfort I could give. As cutting as her words were at times, as hard as my pride got dinted I didn’t budge. I saw through it all.

I learned early on not to try and fix her, the best thing I could do was give her space to process what she was dealing with. And to be there when she wanted to talk.

I stayed out of self pity as best I could and carried on, for the sake of everyone under my roof.

It became a real test of our relationship. I hoped and prayed we would survive it. And I believe we have come through it both stronger. I had to hang on to my faith at times, Without which I have no idea how I could have done it.

If she’s struggling, love her without expectation. Be the man who won’t let her down. Take the punches on the chin and don’t waver. Stay out of anger and see that she’s a woman suffering and all she needs is you by her side, even when it doesn’t seem that way.

Be patient and wait for her. And when she finally opens her eyes again she’ll know you were always there. And she’ll love you even more for it.

 

Ask a silly question

Whoever it was that coined the phrase ‘there is no such thing as a silly question’, clearly never ventured out into public with triplets.

Multiples draw attention, it’s like the circus has arrived. Especially when the third one is spotted, many times I’ve been jammed in the isle of the supermarket while out on my own with them, surrounded and blocked from all sides by cooing onlookers wanting to have a look at my brood.

Unfortunately it’s unavoidable. As it seems are the barrage of questions that follow. Mostly unfiltered, partly offensive but I’d like to believe none are presented with any real malice.

I think I have heard them all now, one I have been asked more than once is “Are they real”? , to be honest I’ve often wondered what someone would think my angle was if they weren’t real , I mean a heavily tattooed man with a twin buggy and another Dolly strapped to my chest in a harness. The mind boggles.

Another one encountered regularly, is being looked at with a screwed up face, like they’ve just sucked a lemon , followed by “Rather you than me” with an air of smugness. A response more suited to someone just back from a cheap holiday in magaluf, embarrassingly declaring they picked up an STD.

One that continues to puzzle both Stacey and myself is “Did you know you were having triplets”?
This usually follows a pause from me as I try again to process the question. I usually go to my stock reply of “well we didn’t know…………then we had a scan, and then we did know”.

For the most people are generally shocked and intrigued. I make the time to talk to most people as I don’t like to be rude. On occasion though it’s best just to walk away.

“Are they natural”? Is always one of the first questions from strangers, always prompting me to wonder what an unatural baby would look like. And what a personal question to put to anyone. I may just answer that now with my sperm count result, pop them a cheeky proud wink and ask them what they think,  just for the reaction.

A couple of weeks ago a cashier commented that me standing there with triplets was enough to make her ovaries explode. I was lost for words on that occasion, really lost.

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Blakely was smiling all the way home at some of the silly comments we got

People seem to fear monger aswell, unintentionally I think. There’s nothing like being told in the middle of sleep deprivation by a stranger that “it’s only going to get harder”. Or being constantly reminded how expensive it’s going to get whilst being extremely aware of how expensive it’s going to get.

I do draw the line though at photos, also when complete strangers think it’s okay to try and hold them. It happens occasionally.

If you have multiples you’ll be aware of all of this. It becomes normal. The best thing to do is have fun with it. As frustrating as it can be, for no other reason that it’s how it’s going to be.

 

 

 

Early birds

Today is world prematurity day. I have seen, and read some phenomenal story’s this morning from parents who’s little ones against the odds, pulled through to thrive into healthy bambinos.

I was recently asked to write an article on my experience of the NICU, which has reminded me once again how incredibly lucky we were in that respect. Other than Blakely’s little brain bleed that cleared itself up, we had no other complications. Each of our girls arrived screaming into the world, and developed normally in every respect. You can read about my experience here.

https://tripletdad.blog/category/the-nicu-days/

We were blessed in every sense with our three, mostly that we didn’t have an emergency birth. Although a highly stressful situation we managed to hit our elected date. Non of us were expecting all three babies to make it without some sort of complication.

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Reading the experiences of other men who had walked this path before me was quite emotional. Dealing with multiples it is to be expected, I followed some heartbreaking stories from Dad’s in the NICU, still do, but also the miracles that occur on a regular basis with the early arrivals.

We spent a short time in the NICU, the majority was in the SCBU, waiting til they were all latched and feeding. It was 20 days in total.

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Naturally each experience differs, but the one real blessing of anyone’s experience, is the care and attention given by the nurses and doctors who work in that environment. Not just the care of the babies but also the parents.

We will always be eternally grateful to the nurses who took care of our girls, and of us as they arrived and began their journey. It’s always nice to be reminded of the miracle that took place in our own lives not so long ago.

 

Self soothing ?, or a ticket to insanityville

When our little chickens came home we were hit with the intense reality of having three newborns in the house. It was relatively easy whilst they were in the SCBU, as we were able to come home in the evenings and rest with unbroken sleep.

I was concerned about the tiredness and how it would affect me mentally. Stacey was also a little concerned as to how I would cope. As someone with a long history of mental health problems it has become important that I get sufficient sleep in order to maintain a level of wellness. And now we got triplets. There would be a period of serious adjustment coming my way.

In short it’s been insane, there were times I honestly didn’t think I was going to survive it. Especially in the first weeks. I remember the first night feeling the agitation after being awake most of the night, knowing I had to work in an couple of hours time. It was hard to not be frustrated that I had to stay awake to keep Stacey awake while she breastfed. I struggled mentally with it for a while and had to be really aware of the temptation to resent the situation.

I remember being stretched out on our bedroom floor most nights, rocking Lacey’s crib with one foot while rocking Ava’s crib with my hand, both crying while Blakely was being pacified by Stacey. It was exhausting and not a routine that we could continue and remain sane. I understand now how some parents easily lose the plot.

One night Ava fired up after being fed, she was winded and fine, all three had gotten used to being rocked to sleep, wether it was in our arms or in the cribs. We were too exhausted to get out of bed to see to her. Eventually, after a short time she ran out of steam and slept. It was hard hearing her cry, but even harder to move.

I was told about self soothing, especially when it came to multiples. It was highly suggested by other multiple Dad’s and seemed to be the only realistic solution.

Although it goes against the emotional pull of instantly wanting to pick a baby up the moment it makes s noise, there is also such a thing as making a rod for your own back in doing so. Imagine having three babies that were unable to settle without human contact, then Imagine how long it would be before you were locking yourself in a cupboard rocking back and forth with one ear back and an eye twitching.

We both made the decision early on to try controlled crying. Rather than trying desperately to pacify them all so we could sleep, only for them to wake the minute we stopped rocking the crib or putting one down. Also pacifiers had to go. Especially at night. Yes they work to quiet them, but they also fall out every ten minutes, times that by three and you will begin to crumble, I think put in that position, even someone with the über chilled skills such as the Dalai lama would find himself grumbling an agitated ‘oh for f*#ks sake’ as he dragged his arse out of bed for the tenth time in as many minutes to stick a pacifier back in. I joke but parents crack over less.

It was hard going,  but we have been consistent and it has paid off. Of course they are checked on for wind if they’ve not been down long, and sometimes one or two will just be unsettled with a bellyache or the gripes and they are comforted. And the babies are still content and thriving. Yes they cry, no it doesn’t kill them.

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I mean does this look like the face of a baby emotionally damaged because she’s left to fall asleep by herself?

There are parents who wholeheartedly disagree with me on this, I know men who haven’t had a decent nights sleep in years who’s children are still reliant on their physical presence to get to, and stay asleep, but each to their own. I personally think overriding a potential emotional guilt in favour of sanity for us, and the triplets future development can only be a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

The pain of triplets

It’s never wise, especially with a pregnant partner to mention any aches or pains you may be experiencing. So I’ve decided to blow the lid off that now, just the once, hopefully without angering any of my female followers, but here goes……..

Men suffer physically too.

Bare with me before you unsubscribe. Stacey you can deal with me later.

This is not to complain, or pamper for sympathy, Or take anything away from what my wife has experienced this year. I simply want to highlight some of the risks,  aches and pains that can be acquired from raising three babies at once. Because I had no idea of what was coming.

Other than physical and mental exhaustion, during and since the Pregnancy I have experienced the following, in no particular order here’s my top ten –

1. Ongoing back pain from reaching down into the cots and picking up babies. So far I have visited the chiropractor and am due to return for an x-ray.

2. Permanent pain, not unlike tennis elbow in both elbows from holding babies.

3. A broken little toe obtained during a sleep deprivation stint whilst walking round the bed with a baby in the early hours and cracking it on the corner of the bed.

4. Lots more stubbed toes from the bed, and cots, and equipment in the front room.

5. Already have permanent damage in both ears otherwise it almost would definitely would have made this list.

6. A day in hospital last week with sudden chest pains, possibly muscular, or was suggested perhaps stress related as all tests came back clear.  who knows, but I  did get to spend the entire day in bed asleep as I had to wait six hours between blood tests. God bless you the NHS.

7. Occasional temporary insanity due to sleep deprivation, and zombie like mental reflexes.

8. More stubbed toes.

9. Constant pain in my left shoulder.

10. Pressure headaches.

I can only thank the lord I haven’t been struck down with man-flu this year.

But I will man up and soldier on, because my three little chickens are absolutely worth it all.

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So if your a partially fit fella expecting lots of babies, and think you’re just in for a bit of tiredness, I’d suggest you get your arse down the gym and invest in a good quality back support belt.

 

 

 

And…..chill

There was a time, only a few moons ago that our family was small, and life was as simple as life can be these days. One of the things we loved doing to chill was all get cuddled up on a sofa that didn’t smell like milk and babies and watch a film of Frankie’s choosing. Believe me when I say I’ve been truly baptised into the world of Disney princess movies. Probably just aswell

I’ve seen most of them now, from the mermaid one, to the one with long hair who lives in a tower and falls for a cocky bad boy who eventually comes good. Maybe this is the real Fantasy element in these films because in my experience most bad boys eventually wind up in jail after cultivating an angry self centred lifestyle , leaving the deluded princess in a right mess questioning her life choices. Guess she was lucky.

Anyway point is they were nice relaxing times. Ones for a while, I thought we’d never see again.

Last Saturday another visitor left, so we are now back to just the six of us (still feels weird saying that). And towards the end of last week we started the babies in the routine of going to bed at half seven. As with everything triplets it was unpredictable how this change would be for them.

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However on Saturday night they were straight to sleep, which left Stacey, Frankie and myself with a whole free evening. It was nothing short of heaven. We lit sparklers in the garden for our own little fireworks celebration. Then parked up on the sofa with blankets, munch and drinks and watched a movie (another princess  one).Completely un-interrupted.

Was perfect. It almost Felt for a moment, like the storm was finally moving into the distance. After what we’ve been through this year it was a night taken in gratitude.

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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.  To be in a position to be able to step back as it rises during the day, without struggling , to just let it pass in that moment. To become conscious of it.

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.