Page 8 of 8

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

 

 

Babies big day out

As a musician, loading up the car in preparation for a gig can become a small headache for me, unless absolutely everything is left in the car from the previous performance , only because I’m not that organised with it, and it takes concentration to remember everything I need , I usually throw everything in the car in a carefree rock n roll manner then hit the road with the stereo cranking, and then turn round ten minutes later and return to the house, possibly more than once because I have forgotten something, much to Stacey and Frankies amusement.

This is what it’s like going out anywhere in the car with triplets. There’s lots of little things that are needed. We load the car up, leave, then I realise I forgot blankets, or hats. There is quite a bit to consider heading out with three babies. Although now we have it down at boss level, my wife muchly more so.

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Our first outing was to the little town of Westbay where the series Broadchurch was filmed. It’s not too far, everything is easy to get around so it was ideal for a test run, and as we are English obviously the triplets first outing has to be to the sea-side. Frankie was away that day with family so it was just the five of us.

To be honest the anticipation of that first trip out-weighed the actual event. We only take one change bag with us with the essentials. And a few months ago they were so small we could fit them all in the single pram (we have a single and a twin). And because they are breastfed they only poop once or twice a week at most, wet nappies can be changed easily anywhere.

The trip there, was on occasion rather loud, as our little chickens strengthened their lung functioning in the back of the car. They do relax though with bit of reggae and dance hall. Also the car movement is a good relaxant for them.

We also figured it would be easier to hide them in a single pram as to draw less attention. This didn’t work, at all.

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A cunningly disguised stash of babies

As soon as anyone spotted three in the pram, we were stopped and interrogated. Old ladies especially. People can ask the most personal questions , sometimes out of shock, and sometimes because they just have no filter. I’ll never forget the woman who stopped Stacey in the hospital, and on realising there were three babies, commented on what a massive penis I must have. Surely everyone must know the basics of sex education and how babies are made ? Apparently not.

I do like to see the joy they bring to people though. There is a genuine fascination with them, and not to be biased, but they are beautiful.

It was a lovely day out. Also much-needed for all of us after such a stressful time. We stopped for fish and chips and they stopped for milk. The sun was shining and it couldn’t have been more relaxing.

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The one thing I have learned in going anywhere with triplets, is that other than knowing the destination, don’t make any plans or have expectations of what will happen when we get there. Everything has to be played by ear so to speak.

We have since had some lovely stress free trips out with them. And they seem to enjoy it too. At the moment it’s quite easy. So we’ll enjoy while it is.

 

Strengthening from stress

From what I’ve gathered from social media posts, today is World mental health day. So a good opportunity to land my post on the subject, and also offer an alternative solution to anyone who may be suffering.

As a parent, and someone who has been through some quite serious mental health problems, I have a huge responsibility to my family to be consistent. In my behaviours, my actions and my presence. I can not afford to be emotionally battered by the negative effects of stress day in day out, and still maintain an authoritative loving position in my home. My family count on me.

Children especially pick up on stress, It is an unseen force with horrible effects on the mind and the body. I have seen how unsettled my babies Become with any unbalance in our home. Even the health visitor is aware of the problems that stress can cause to unborn babies aswell as Mum’s and Dad’s. It is why It was so important to stay out of anger and arguments with my wife during the pregnancy. It’s one of the reasons she is still able to produce milk for them all. And one of the reasons they survived the pregnancy to arrive healthy.

being a parent is full of stressful moments, they are inescapable which is why these moments must be met with grace.

Not all of the suggestions I’ve read would be all that helpful as a busy parent. For example,

I get home from work tired, as it’s a physical job, I also work alone so need to be switched on throughout the day. As I walk through the door I am handed a baby and told with a loving grin good luck as my wife heads upstairs for a much-needed break. I walk into the front room and the other two are at a healthy volume.

As I sit with all three babies, Ava crying because she has a little bellyache, Lacey is just grumpy and getting louder, and Blakely is fine and not sure why she’s screaming but doesn’t want to feel left out.

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It’s on!

in that moment I feel a little heat rise to my head, Just from the sheer volume and pitch of the noise, and I have also misplaced my earplugs.

closing my eyes and imagining myself on a sandy beach, with cool waves lapping at the white shoreline is just plain silly, completely impractical and lets face it, nonsense as a real solution to rising stress. This is no time for fantasy away from the reality of the moment.

Nor do I have time to start chanting and pinging Tibetan singing bowls. My little chickens simply would not put up with it, besides –

A, they need a cuddle with Daddy, right now

B, I don’t have any Tibetan singing bowls

I need to remain calm for the sake of my little ones. so what do I do?

A few years ago a good friend offered me a way to live in the stream of life and sharpen from stress by way of meditation, rather than becoming continually overwhelmed by it. This is the most important practice I can ever do as a recovered alcoholic, more importantly, as a husband and a father.

It is not your usual self-help, self empowerment exercise. Far from it. But it is a way to become still, pull back from the stream of thought (we all have problems over thinking), and be able to observe our thoughts without being overwhelmed by them. The good and bad.

There are many situations and times throughout the day that the opportunity to react to stressful situations arise. If I am conscious from meditation in the morning, I am able to observe that temptation, rather than struggling, and getting taken over by it. I deal with life very differently now, instead of stress chipping away at me as it used to, I strengthen from those encounters. I react differently.

Its how i dealt with the stress of the pregnancy, it’s how I deal with my home and work life. Its how I overcame ongoing anxiety and depression. Amongst other things.

I pass this on, as it’s complimentary. There is nothing to learn or buy, no teachers or gurus or classes to sign up for. It is non religious. It is however spiritual in nature, and is not a toy. It can be a little uncomfortable the first few days as you begin to awaken, if you decide to commit to it.

If you are suffering from internal conflicts like depression, anxiety, over thinking, obsessive behaviours of all kinds,and these cause ongoing problems in your life this is a simple solution to that.

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

(first thing in the morning, last thing at night)

As I said before this may not be for everyone, but if you are looking for a way to live differently, free from medication, free from the effects of anxiety/depression and stress, for the future sake of your family and your own mental health, you won’t regret it.

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14 weeks today!

The triplets have hit the ripe old age of fourteen weeks today, feels like they’ve been with us a lot longer. It’s a big one for our little ladies. Things are also slowly improving for us grown ups.

Sunday night they were fed and down for 9.30pm. We got them a new light projector which fills the room with moving coloured stars, and also plays Mozart. They love music and the lights they are able to see from their cots. It seems to settle them beautifully. They went straight to sleep and went straight through til 6am.

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Hanging out with Daddy

last night was the same. After a really settled afternoon/evening they went straight down again for 9.30pm. Frankie now helps with the bedtime routine and loves being involved.

Having this couple of hours left free during the evening again, is like a little piece of heaven has returned to our lives. I can’t even begin to explain how good it feels to be able to rest again at the end of a day. To have a little freedom, a little peace and quiet. It’s been a long time.

I’m under no illusion that it can change by the hour. But for now it’s a making the most of soaking in the bath, taking the time to meditate and get back to consciousness again. The mental strain of sleep deprivation is an experience every parent knows. It’s no joke, there were times I felt I was verging on insanity again. If I am to succeed in my role as a father, I need to be awake and present.

There are so many little things I took for granted before the events of this year. Now it’s the little things I look forward to the most. Getting home from work , to my now not so little family, is still number one.

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Lacey with her beautiful smile

 

Back to the grind

When the triplets were born I took two weeks off from work that were spent mostly in the hospital they were born in. The plan was to get back to work and earn asap, Stacey’s Mum would then stay to help get them in a routine. After which I would take a weeks paternity leave when she left.

This weeks leave has been time I’ve looked forward to the most. It’s given me a chance to help out during the day, also strengthen my bond with them all. And a bit of a rest from my work has been much-needed. It’s also been important for us to find some normality as a family. As normal as it’s going to get now anyway.

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Bedtime hugs before they go down

I also got to be here for the health visitor appointment.  It was nice to hear such confidence in the both of us from her, and Stacey to hear the reinforcement of what an amazing job she is doing as a Mum in an extraordinary situation. She was surprised as to how advanced they are in their development already. We now get smiles, and coo’s from them, she also commented on how alert they all are.

Stacey is still managing to provide milk for all three. The health visitor puts a lot of our Babies development and growth, down to the calmness of Stacey and myself. A stress free environment is definitely one we all thrive in as a family. We are not perfect by any means, but we make all the effort we can to keep our home this way.

Their weights at thirteen weeks and three days were……

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Ava 9lb 12oz
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Lacey 9lb 10oz
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Blakely 8lb

It seems Blakely may always be a little smaller than her sisters, but other than size. she is as far advanced in development as her sisters.

So it’s back to work for me tomorrow. And for Stacey it’s her leap into days alone with the babies. Finding her feet and own routines. This is where our new life begins.

Stacey has also started a blog to document and share her experiences.

http://www.tripletmum.blog

Please take a visit and maybe leave a message of encouragement for her. I know full well she’ll make it work, but also understand the daily task of feeding and entertaining three developing babies. This week has been needed for all of us. lets see how it goes from here.

Also I appreciate all of you who take the time to follow our experience. I started this blog in the thick of sleep deprivation and triplet chaos. It has been a wonderful opportunity to stay sane, and also share what we’ve been, and are going through.

No matter how rough things get with a pregnancy, a relationship or starting out with a new family. And as apart as you may feel at times, you really are not alone. Be patient and remarkable things can happen at the other end.

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Cold coffee

There were times during the pregnancy when I would think forward to enjoying an afternoon, watching a couple of films on a Sunday with my family , chilling out with all the jobs done, and putting my feet up for a while. Catching up on some much-needed rest and rejuvenating a little. Just a free couple of hours to sit back and take stock, then march back into the stream of life feeling fresh and ready for anything.

I can report that this is yet to happen. Probably won’t for around twenty years now, by which point we will possibly then be looking after grandchildren. If Frankie starts a family. Although in recent weeks things have improved as far as sleep goes, triplets are game changers.

I think it was heading into the third trimester that I realised there was never going to be that free Sunday afternoon watching films like the old days, relaxing with my feet up. I almost resented it a little bit and needed to be aware of that, a little self-pity can cause big problems when a man starts down that path. There was already enough tension in the house.

Heres a typical day for me when they came home from hospital.

Wake up between 2am & 3am. It’s normally Blakely that wakes up first. I change her and pass her to Stacey to put on the boob. I then put music videos on the phone to keep me awake, while i tickle Stacey’s back which in turn keeps her awake. Then Repeat another two times.

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A feed can take any where between 20 – 30 mins. When one is fed, all are fed as it’s easier to keep feeds together.

I get back to sleep between half 3 & half 4am. Blakely usually then wakes again between 6 & 7am. I change a baby, get ready for work, maybe change another if I have time.

leave for work at 7.30am and work a physical job til 5pm

walk through the door, shower and cook dinner. Change babies before feeds, then help pacify babies until bath time around 10pm. Some nights I was able to get an hours sleep during the early evening. Depending how the triplets were behaving. Not often though.

Bath time and last feeds are usually done by midnight. Babies typically all asleep by 1 – 1.30am.

Get up between 2 & 3am and begin feeds again.

I need to add, this is also with three of us in the house as Stacey’s Mum was living with us. Without that help it would have been a lot harder, on Stacey during the day, and me during the evenings. I take my hat off to parents of multiples who have to do those early days alone.

At nine weeks and three days the triplets all slept through without waking for the 2 – 3am feeds.It was a massive milestone for all of us. That block of sleep was enough to begin to feel normal again.

If you have multiples, and you make a cup of coffee. Don’t ever expect to drink it while it’s hot.

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And if you get five minutes to yourself, enjoy it, if you can stay awake to do so.

 

 

Out of the SCBU & in at the deep end

The triplets came home on a Monday. They were transported one at a time by Stacey’s Mum, only because we only had one car seat at that point, due to delivery problems with the other two. I was back at work earning, so finishing work was exciting, there was also a sense of nervous anticipation.

There wasn’t any amount of mental preparation that would have me ready for the weeks to come. If you’re expecting multiples, expect tiredness, frustration, agitation, sleep deprivation, and lots of visitors with lots advice on the best way to do things. Your house won’t be yours for a good while. It’s just how it was for us. Our situation was anything but normal.

The set up at home for the triplets is a large travel cot in the living room that they all stay in during the day. At night they are positioned around our little bedroom in separate cots. As they were premature babies they did continue to sleep the majority of the time, so it did ease us into it a little bit. For a week or two at least.

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Their shared cot

The number one priority when they came home was getting them settled and continuing a strict routine. Stacey and her Mum did an amazing job settling them into this.

I found many things challenging in those early weeks. I found it difficult being at work with my newborns at home. Even though Stacey’s Mum had moved in to help,  I began to feel edged out.

Some of Stacey’s anxieties resurfaced and she began to resent that I got to go to work during the day, I remember her saying during a heated moment, that my life hadn’t changed at all. I began to resent that she got to go back to sleep after the morning feeds when I left for work, it felt like my tiredness was irrelevant. It was all just stress coming between us again.

We were both exhausted. Stacey from breastfeeding and tiredness,  and me from work and not stopping in the evenings. All the above was fuelled by sleep deprivation and stress. It was back and it was getting to all of us.

looking back, and it’s not that long ago, it’s all a bit blurry to be honest. It was tough going, there were times it felt it would never end. There is a dimension of tiredness you enter that fogs your mind, where you know your suffering mentally but become numb to it. It’s almost nice.

In the end I was just functioning. Some nights after the babies hit full term, we were getting a broken hour and a half sleep, then I’d drive to work with the windows down to stay awake. Do a full day, then home and repeat.

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You realise quickly that you’ll do anything for them. They are one hundred percent reliant on your presence

I never got resentful towards the babies though, I never felt a twinge of anger towards them. Knowing all I was doing was for my family, and that where we were wasn’t permanent, kept me afloat at times.

The grown ups in the house were not doing so great at times, but the babies were thriving still.

That was what was important getting through those first weeks. And we did get through.