13. Final notes & a few pregnancy ‘man’ tips

Now I’m not here to tell anyone how to cook eggs, and I still get many things wrong. I went into this pregnancy a novice. I found it hard in the beginning to adjust to my pregnant partner. Every couple are different in dealing with a pregnancy and stress. I do believe there are a few things I’ve learned that helped, more than make things worse.

1. Stay out of arguments. Period. Nothing she throws at you is personal. Unless you’re out with your mates all the time thinking you’ve done your bit. In which case, man up.

2. Always put her needs first.

3. Realise from the start that you are going to be wrong, a lot, about almost everything. Even if you know you are right about something, be wrong. Trust me it’s easier. Avoiding any conflict is vital to keeping her calmer. She’s not interested in your explanation of why you are right anyway, she just wants her ice-cream.

4. Never, ever mention any aches and pains you may be experiencing. Especially don’t wander into the delusional fantasy land of thinking that by commenting on how tired you are that you will receive any kind of sympathy or interest, you may receive a projectile of some sort, or at least an expletive laced ear-bending. Your going to be tired, for a long time. Suck it up buttercup. As a father of triplets told me a few months ago, you’ll sleep when your dead.

5. Dont try to fix her, she’s not a wonky shed door. If she needs to cry, let her cry. If she’s laughing hysterically, tread carefully. If she wants your help she’ll ask. Listen when she wants to talk, she doesn’t always want an answer.

6. stay out of anger. Don’t retaliate, no matter how tired you feel, or how stressed she is.

7. Do nice things for her, especially when she’s really pissed off with you. Not to blow too much smoke up my own backside but I got good at painting her toes. Being a welder I have a pretty steady hand.  luckily I stopped worrying about what others may think of me a while ago. My only advice would be to always use a clear undercoat and go for a good quality varnish that sits after one coat. And take your time. You don’t want to be messing about with two coats and it will look messy.

IMG_1029
Looking good , even when she couldn’t reach her toes

 

8. If you are sent to the shop for a specific snack item and they don’t have it. Don’t use your initiative, it won’t be appreciated in this situation. Phone her with options, or drive round until specific snack is located. You may save an evening in separate rooms.

9. love her, by staying out of anger, you may feel it rising daily, just be aware of it. If you begin to resent her, you’ll begin to resent the babies, there will be problems under the surface even before they arrive. Care for her without expectation. Simply because she is suffering like you will never experience just to bring your children/child into this world.  It’s your duty to her and the babies.

10. Buckle up. Develop elephant skin, and show her that you are there for her. No matter what. If you can practice patience daily, she will eventually meet you on the other side.

 

 

I will be adding a link to the meditation I use shortly. If anyone is struggling with agitation, over thinking, depression, fear or stress. I’m sure you will find it helpful as I have.

 

 

 

 

12.The home stretch

IMG_1009

At the twenty-eight week scan, Dr D gave us the all clear as far as the twins growth was concerned. After the scan, he sat back in his chair cracked a smile and declared that the whole pregnancy was remarkable. He was genuinely surprised all three had done so well, he congratulated us on the job we were doing. It was a real relief to hear him so positive. In his words, all we needed now was to avoid an emergency, like Stacey going into labour, and for them all to ‘exit screaming’.

During the last few weeks, the heatwave continued, we finished any last jobs around the house before the arrival, and tried to relax as much as possible.

Stacey was still feeling the anxiety around the upcoming c-section. I didn’t know it but she was also concerned she would not bond with the triplets. That must be horrible for any woman to experience. She really was getting thrown around emotionally. Her Mum moved in with us a couple of weeks before the birth. Just to help out. We both appreciated it, it gave me a break from some of the daily chores.

I was also feeling a few little nagging doubts near the end of the pregnancy, mostly around any dodgy genetic bullets I may be passing on. I have a history of mental health problems and various diagnosis, borderline personality disorder amongst other things. Autism also runs in my family. I was diagnosed with aspergers myself in 2009.

Although i have discovered a solution to my internal conflicts, and am convinced most had no physiological causes, it still cropped up, being in my situation. I had once ended up on the same psychiatric ward my father had also stayed on, I was feeling a nip of concern. My hope was that love, a pinch of divine grace, and a resentment free environment would be protection enough for all of them.

A real spanner hit the works at the thirty week scan. The birth was set to go ahead at the local hospital, it was where Stacey and Frankie were born. At the last minute the paediatricians pulled out, so another hospital stepped up to take us. I didn’t mind the inconvenience of the travelling, as the hospital was bigger, and better equipped to deal with any emergencies that may occur.

It knocked Stacey for six. She was nervous anyway, now she had to cope with the stress of all new specialists , an unfamiliar hospital with unfamiliar faces. It was a real blow to her confidence.

I remained exited for the most. The prospect of triplets and stepping up to fatherhood didn’t phase me one bit. I was as ready as I could be. Whatever the outcome Would be. I felt my purpose in life, it was quite a thing to discover.

I finished work and played my last gig with my band on the Friday, Stacey, Frankie and myself spent the weekend in the garden with the paddling pool, saying goodbye to the little life we had known as just three of us. It was still bizarre.

The babies stayed in until the Fourth of July, it was a Tuesday morning. We had reached thirty-three weeks and three days, medically without fault. It really was a miracle pregnancy.

That whole weekend felt like the calm before a storm.

 

 

 

 

11. The bond

I had often heard of the bond a mother and a baby share, I clearly saw it with Stacey and Frankie. It’s understandable in its strength, after all a mother goes through to bring that life into the world. I know from my own experience that a fathers presence and love, is as much needed to a child.

In recovering from alcoholism I was forced by my own fears and resentments to look at the relationship I had with my dad. Without all the anger and judgment.

I had no connection with him. He was always at arms length, although he was always at home he wasn’t present in my life. And I wanted his attention and approval more than anything. I began to hate him for his impatience with me early on. Nothing I did would earn me his love. I looked up to him. He was the male presence in my life that I should have been guided by. I needed him.

It is why when I met Stacey my relationship with both her and Frankie was equally as important.

It wasn’t long before I saw the positive influence on Frankie of having a loving Dad in her life , just to encourage, and listen to her had a big impact . We watched her confidence grow, it was beautiful to see after what she had been through.

I then had no doubt that patience and consistency from me had to be a foundation for my girls. I would after all, be the man they will judge all other men by. That’s quite a weight of responsibility.

We played them music, from Mozart to Etta James, Elvis to Steve vai. I read them story’s from Frankie’s books , talked to them about what was waiting when they arrived. We had the names and knew who was who. I would kiss Stacey’s belly goodbye in the mornings before I left for work.

Bonding allowed many opportunities. It was a way for me to start that connection. It was a demonstration to Stacey that I would be involved with my children.  It also gave Frankie a chance to make a connection with her new sisters. I think it brought us all together a little more as a family during an incredibly stressful time.

looking back now I’m glad I put that effort in.

IMG_0689

 

 

 

 

10. Names and dates

Triplet pregnancies in the U.K. Don’t go further than thirty four weeks as a rule. Mainly because mum can’t move anymore and the babies are pretty squished, there is also a higher risk of an emergency labour.they need to make an exit for the good of all.

Stacey’s aim was to safely reach thirty two. Our elected day was chosen as the Fourth of July. An easy date to remember, especially for my friends over the pond. Dr D was happy with that date, so it  became the goal.

As for names.

I imagine how hard it must be to find and settle on one name. Three turned out to be a headache. We both had lists and both had favourites, unfortunately they weren’t all agreed on. They had to be just right, names are extremely important after all.

I’m the type of fella that likes to know exactly what’s going on, when something is decided on by both sides, the ‘jobs done’ as it were. Stacey on the other hand would constantly change names once settled on. Just as I would get used to a name, she would then decide she no longer liked it. It did make it easier though eliminating the huge potential boys name lists.

If I had any hair, it would have been at this point in the pregnancy my balding process would have been complete.

Eventually we settled on

Ava  , Blakely & Lacey.

All beautiful names, we both agreed.

IMG_1572

 

9. It’s a (bunch of) girl(s) !

The scans went by each fortnight without any problems. There were no signs of twin to twin transfusion which was the main concern, we were told that we wouldn’t be clear of that risk until around twenty-seven weeks. All three babies were growing as well as they could be. As the weeks went by Stacey gradually began to adjust to the thought of having triplets, or at least that’s what I hoped. She did begin working out the practicalities, and how we would pull it off.

There was a little mutual buzz between us around the sixteen week scan. Other multiple parents We had spoken with on fb sites had found out the sex of their babies around that time.

My personal favoured outcome was a mix. Maybe twin boys and a girl, seemed even, two daughters and two sons. To be honest though I was just praying all three would make it.

Dr D had warmed to us a little. I felt I was being constantly tested by him. I think my involvement with our situation , and keeping our feet on the ground was very important to him. I would always try to impress him with a little more information I had learned about the triplet pregnancy.

He checked for heartbeats first, then checked the usual. At the end we asked if he could tell the sex. Turns out the twins were girls, he apologised before he told me and suggested I take up drinking, probably not the best advice.

Odd bob was a name we had fondly given the singleton. Unfortunately bob was in an awkward position at that scan so it was at the eighteen week that we discovered, bob, following another apology from Dr D, was also a girl. I think most of our friends and relatives were hoping a willy would be spotted that day. But it wasn’t meant to be.

I wasn’t upset or disappointed though.  I think all men would prefer to raise a son if they had the choice. Men understand boys better , women understand girls better . But it seemed the powers that be felt I had much to learn from living with five women under my roof. The messages of condolence came in thick and fast from my male friends.

As a friend suggested, it was either going to sharpen me, or kill me.

They became known as our ‘three little birds’ from that day.

8. Long hot summer

Each scan brought a little relief. We would both feel the apprehension driving to the hospital, yet the babies seem to be doing well. Mama’s oven was doing a great job and the twins were sharing. Our advice from the doc was to keep doing whatever it was we were doing.

living with a pregnant woman is on a different level. I’m quite ashamed of the ignorant attitude I used to hold towards the female species in regards to what they have  go through emotionally and physically to bring a life into the world.

Amongst other symptoms her abdomen stretched to the point her belly went numb. She ended up on bed rest,  unable to walk the stairs without losing all her energy as the growing triplets pushed against her lungs. She had four heartbeats, forty fingers and forty toes. Four lots of female hormones going haywire, do you feel my pain on that one? She would joke that three minutes of passion and I put her in a wheelchair, it became the only way she could get out of the house.

She hid depression, her anger towards me seemed relentless. I recall taking mint ice cream up to her one night and got the tv remote launched at my head because it wasn’t what she wanted. I would come home exhausted from a physical job, cook dinner, walk the dog, tidy up, do shopping and housework, try to spend time with Frankie then get shouted at about not cleaning properly.

It took everything in me at times not walk out. It was a dark time in our house.  It was painful to see the woman I love in so much discomfort and anxiety, sounds dramatic but I was beginning to wonder if my wife would ever come back.

I’m glad I endured though. I’m glad by my not reacting as I used to it cooled her quicker when she was overwhelmed with it all. I’m glad I managed to stay free from the anger I felt rising in me towards her. My pride took a battering and I had to suck it up and ride it out.

The heat wave kept the tension high. The clear scans every fortnight brought the hope.

I owe a real debt to my phone a friend who a few years prior introduced me to a meditation that allowed me to step back and observe my anger and fear before it got me. I’m no saint, and it isn’t always an easy practice. But without being conscious of it within myself this whole turn of events would have been a very different experience. I have over the last few years had the opportunity to show others struggling with anger a way to overcome their conflicts.

Resentment has no place in a family home.

7. Who you gonna call

So you’ve been picked up and firmly planted in the eye of a tornado. reality is kicking in hard. The babies are baking, the wife is stressed with hormones and her own fears and concerns. Who do you turn to?

“Grow a set of balls and man up” isn’t always the most helpful advice for this particular situation, although does hold a certain depth and weight.

As an expectant father there are not many avenues of help and advice. I had bought a book but didn’t really have time to read it, besides it only dealt with one baby. I was beginning to feel alone with the whole situation.

The last thing Stacey needed was to see me that way. I am lucky to have that one friend who is grounded in reality with no time for self-pity or complaining.He is a man who would help keep my feet on the ground Throughout the whole pregnancy .  He and his wife are to be God parents to our girls. I also have a grounded female friend who was happy to help with a woman’s perspective. It was much-needed.

Men are for the most part, left to get on with it as I’ve found, which can be a frightening prospect. I also found a couple of triplet dad sites on Facebook that were invaluable. Though not one in the U.K. I am also very grateful to the dad’s at my work for their experience and advice.

When you have three on the way any tips are good. At the end of the day though you will discover your own way, it’s easy to get overloaded with all the different advice out there. Google will send you mad. As I said before every pregnancy and situation is different.

The only advice I can give is to Just take care of your woman a day at a time, no matter what she throws at you. Listen to what she needs and keep your focus on her and any others you have under your roof. Be the man they need.

6. Hunter-gatherer concerns

 When hit with the reality of a doubling of the family unit within the next seven months, a mans mind can spin somewhat.

For one thing the new family home was too small. I’m very proud of us getting this place , it wasn’t so many years ago I was registered homeless. I had started life from scratch again. We worked hard for it. It wasn’t just the house that was concerning me, but the finances too. Stacey would eventually be unable to work. And on one income things would get tight, quick.

The car was too small, I would need seven seats. How was I supposed to fit all the equipment that goes with three babies in the house? What if lose my job because of the time off work il have to take with all the scans and appointments?

There was plenty to consider, daily opportunities to disappear up my own backside with the stress, and not much time.

It’s easy to get distracted from the present moment when fear has such a strong pull. Worrying was pointless and would only stress us more.

All I needed to do was prioritize and do the little things I could. Looking back the mountain seemed a much higher climb. Fear has a way of creating more problems than really exist. I had to be conscious of this for my own sanity.

The main job and only real concern at that point was in front of me. It was to keep my wife level-headed for her own health and that of the babies  , and Frankie feeling involved, after all, she was developing her own fears about our relationship as now I would have biological children.

EB637FF4-2B26-4BF8-835F-34A5B5EF54BE

No matter how much I was tempted to struggle under the surface. Nothing else was more important than keeping the relationships under my roof afloat and remaining emotionally consistent.

This is a good point to mention with gratitude the endless support we’ve had from my mum and Stacey’s family. We are blessed in that sense. I have met other couples who are not as fortunate.

5. A hard smack in the face

IMG_0784

The view over stokes croft from the ward ,I would visit my Nan here a lot as a child. Was bizarre being back decades later with a wife pregnant with triplets

 

Our first big scan was at st Michael’s in Bristol. It was on a specialist unit that dealt with high risk multiple pregnancies. From what we had read the chance of having mono twins survive was Around 75 percent. There is a big risk of twin to twin transfusion as they share a placenta , basically the stronger one will take the nutrients from the weaker one and kill it off.  We felt prepared for our consultation with the information we had.

Our specialist consultant Dr D was well spoken, up front and had no interest in sugar-coating our situation. He hit us hard with the facts. He also explained that our triplet pregnancy was twice the high risk because of the mono twins. He told us it was rare to see our situation and proceeded to give us every possible ,real outcome. From brain damage which is high in mono twins, there was a high risk one or all of them would be handicapped, that there was a risk of blood infection that could kill them all and permanently damage Stacey. It was hard to hear. I piped up to say that at least at that point all was okay. He shot me straight down with,  “that means nothing”! . The risks seemed endless.

It was his job to give us the truth. He told us the safest possible outcome was to reduce the twins and give the singleton a chance. He gave us the weekend to decide. If we wanted to go ahead with the reduction he would get us into a London hospital the following week to have the procedure done.

We told him we were going to give them all a chance. He left us his personal number. “If I don’t hear from you Monday il see you at the next scan”.

He knocked the wind out of both of us with the truth of our situation. All the waves of fear hit again. I battened down the hatches for a tough weekend.

It seems more often than not the truth is always tough to hear.We would eventually have a mutual respect with him. I liked him for his honesty. We always knew where we stood.

4. Telling Frankie

IMG_0701

Frankies reaction to the pregnancy was that of a little sadness.  It had been only her and mum, then me for as long as she could remember. She had her worries, mainly that I would love them more because in her words “your their actual dad”.

I have given everything to my relationship with Stacey and Frankie. I see Frankie as my own so it was imperative that I remain conscious of her feelings around the pregnancy. I had to be careful how I worded that I was going to be a dad when she was present. She watched me like a hawk during the pregnancy and I made the effort to keep her as involved as I could.

A couple of nights before the dating scan she came down stairs hugging baby (her go to dolly) with tears in her eyes. We went into the kitchen and had a hug and I asked her why the tears. She looked at me and straight out said “you’re not going to have twins are you ” ?

She had overheard our conversations around possible fertility treatment and the higher chance of multiples.

“No honey ” I laughed, of course not, “that would only have been a possibility if we had fertility treatment, and we haven’t”

She had come round to the ideal of having one sibling. The prospect of two didn’t impress her much.

We both felt awful picking her up from school on the day of the dating scan. Needless to say here reaction wasn’t great. As much as I tried to convince her it was exiting and would be amazing, she cried quietly and didn’t really say much for the rest of the weekend.

She did eventually process it herself, more so when mum came round to the idea.

I felt bad Like I’d lied to her earlier in the week, even though we genuinely didn’t know we’d be having more than one. I’m a big believer in being honest with children. Nothing will create teenage angst more than a child growing up to realise their parents are dishonest , who have been punishing them for years if they are dishonest. I’ve already made my bed with santa and the tooth fairy and il deal with that when the time comes.

Frankie took the role of helper to both of us during the pregnancy, what an amazing help she was, and still is.

She was to become a very proud big sister. They are lucky to have her to look up to one day.