Birthday girls

On the 4th of July the triplets celebrated their second birthday. It’s a massive achievement that they’ve made it this far to be so healthy and content. And it also feels like a miracle we’ve maintained our sanity through it all.

Raising triplets is tough. There’s no other word for it. From the pressures of finances to the strain on a relationship. It’s a never ending cycle of change that demands every ounce of our attention.

We are lucky in the sense that our girls are all healthy, many other parents of multiples are dealing with much more than the obvious stresses are faced with.

So to reach this far is an important milestone for us as a family. We’ve come a long way since the day’s of sleep deprivation and onset madness brought on by the massive adjustment to a doubling of our family unit over night.

Ava Lacey and Blakely are thriving. The most difficult job at the moment is keeping them entertained as their minds are firing up and in constant need of stimulation to meet their ever growing curiosities.

As a stay at home dad now (or at least until my health improves) I am getting to share in some incredible moments with them.

Their speech is improving by the week. They now hold hands when we go for walks and are all consciously aware of each other’s emotions. Especially Lacey with Blakely. They care for each other with little gestures and hugs. They share with each other more than they fight.

Their birthday was a real celebration, I found it to be quite emotional reflecting on what we have been through over the last couple of years, it really hit me when I stopped to take in where we are with all of our daughter’s, Frankie included. And on how much they’ve grown.

I’m a proud dad, one that isn’t perfect, and one who doesn’t always get it right but I intend to keep growing as a father, a husband and a human being for their sake. To learn from my mistakes and be an example to them.

And now it’s time to take a deep breath and jump into the trench for the terrible two’s, where my ability to practice patience will be everything.

Wish us luck!

Two years ago today this happened!

Taken from my book ‘A meditative parent; the making of a triplet dad’. Available on Amazon soon.

4th July 2017…….

It was a big theatre and we had already been told that there would be quite a few people present and not to let that overwhelm us. As we walked down the corridor and into the room we were met with an exited crowd of nurses and technicians. There were three open cots along one side of the room. Each had a baby’s name on a piece of paper attached to it. Each cot had a doctor, a paediatrician and a midwife stood with it. The atmosphere was electric. I was asked to sit on a stool, neatly tucked in besides Stacey’s upper half surrounded with wires and equipment, holding my wife’s shaking hand as the room vibrated with people. The next moment the doors swung open and a surge of more doctors and technicians rolled in. I counted eighteen people in that theatre, not including us. It was an impressive show for our girls.

It was at our request that music was played during the procedure. We had chosen Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ which was played on repeat, a song we had played to the triplets in utero regularly at home. As soon as the music started the whole room began moving to the rhythm, with people dancing and singing along. It was a moving moment that such a show was in place for our girl’s big arrival. I will never forget the theatre that morning, or the atmosphere that was present. Not just for the reason we were there, but for the sense of joy and love that the triplets would enter the world to. It was simply beautiful.

Stacey was positioned, sat on the edge of the bed for the epidural injection. Looking at her in so much fear in a room full of so much excitement is what kept a foot on the ground for me; there was so much that could go wrong in the next few moments but also so much that could go right. Adrenalin continued pumping around my body as the surgeon and technicians prepared for the C-section. A sheet was placed just below Stacy’s chest, so she was unable to see what was happening. One of the technicians asked if we had a camera or phone handy, she was kind enough to offer to take a few photos; to capture the moments the triplets left the cramped confines of the womb and took their first hits of oxygen. I was looking directly into my wife’s eyes, reassuring her, telling her I loved her and how proud I was of her, that she was strong and we would be okay no matter what, I kept repeating myself over and over to try and give her some comfort. She could hardly speak, her voice broken with fear and her hands were shaking as she gripped mine tightly.

She asked me when they would be starting the procedure, a kind smiling technician leaned down and told us that they already had begun and to watch above the partition sheet. In the next moment a baby was lifted into the air, the twisted umbilical cord still attached, her arms stretched out straight to the sides like a bird stretching her wings in freedom for the first glorious time. In that instant my heart stopped – my breathing stopped. Everything stood still. I was looking at Ava for the first time. The tears began running down my face as her cord was cut and she let out a cry as they placed her on the open cot to be cleaned and given oxygen. She was out, alive and breathing, and the relief and joy I felt was overwhelming. Stacey looked at me and smiled for the first time that day at the sound of our daughter working her lungs out while the midwife and team cleaned her up.  Exactly two minutes later Blakely was pulled into the world, visibly smaller than Ava as we knew, but just as vocal as we prayed she would be.

Two were out and breathing well. Another two minutes past and Lacey was finally with us. She too let out a high-pitched cry at the shock of leaving her first home in this world. The room kept buzzing with excitement as Ava was brought over and placed on Stacey’s chest. Lacey and Blakely were then brought over one at a time with their little hats on, wrapped in white towels. Their little faces were beautiful. They passed each of them to me and I held their tiny frames for the first time. Stacey ‘s face was beginning to show signs of relief that the babies were out and okay, and that she seemed to have gotten through it without complication. We later learned she had actually lost litres of blood and was given a transfusion, and that her uterus wouldn’t contract and had to be manually squeezed back into place by hand which caused her a lot of pain when the medication wore off. But there was no panic in the room from anyone, it was all efficiently taken care of without us being aware of any problems.

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One of the memories Stacey has of the C-section was our surgeon bobbing up and down in rhythm to Bob Marley while he smiled down at us and stitched her up. I was called over to the cots and asked if I would like to trim their umbilical cords back as they had been left long during the procedure of their exiting. It was another moment that strengthened my bond with the triplets. My hand has never been steadier. Ava was born at 9.37am weighing 4lb 12oz, Blakely at 9.39am weighing 3lb 4oz and Lacey at 9.41am weighing in at 4lb.7oz. And we were soon to discover – identical.

So that was it over. The triplets had arrived after a pregnancy with no complications to enter the world all screaming. God had graced us with three healthy babies who were already making waves with their arrival. After a short time of holding each one with my wife, they were taken through to another room to be checked over thoroughly by the doctors and moved on to the Neo-natal intensive care unit to be closely monitored. Lacey was off the oxygen almost immediately and holding her own. Ava and little Blakely needed a bit more support to begin with. Stacey was cleaned up and just before we left the surgeon said to her with a smile “you were my third set of triplets”. He and everyone in that theatre had done a phenomenal job in taking care of us and the babies and in keeping the whole situation calm. It was one of the most moving hours of my life, nothing has shifted and lit up my consciousness more. When I held my daughters, I experienced an unconditional love for another human I had never felt before. It was a pure conscious connection – a spiritual bond. As a Father I knew that whatever happened now during my time here on earth I could not fail them. Moving forward and growing towards love as a human being had to become my priority for those who had been entrusted to me, for all those under my roof.

Getting up through the night isn’t my job

I can recall a conversation with an expectant Dad in a bar once who point blank declared that his life was not going to change at all when the baby arrived. That he would still have time to socialise, hit the bars, fit a round of golf in occasionally and retain the life he was accustomed to. In his words ‘I’m the dad’. As if he became immune from parenting from the moment he’d pulled his pants back up.

I now, with clarity – see the delusion in this sort of dissociative thinking. Perhaps it’s different with one baby? Maybe there are men who hang on to the idea of the old tradition of a past generation of men who let the women do all the ‘baby stuff’ while they had their slippers fetched for them after a hard days slog. I also get that it is a case of a personal decision between a couple on how they parent.

If I had suggested to my wife that was how I wanted the dynamic to be under our roof I would probably now be wearing my balls for earrings. In all seriousness our marriage would have failed from a lack of my willingness to step up to the plate.

I knew my life would change with a baby, at the discovery of three there was no question that with the arrival of them there would be little else in my life. And I needed to be prepared for that – and not resent my situation. Yes it’s tough, but imagine how much tougher it is for your partner who’s gone through the pregnancy, given birth and is now dealing with the hormonal battering and tiredness of dealing with a newborn.

I still meet men, new dad’s who are happy to let a mom do everything. From night feeds to nappy changes as though their job is complete. If your a new dad and mum’s dealing with your children, exhausted while you think your day at office was hard work and home time is your relaxation time, grow some onions and start supporting those who should be able to rely on you for support.

An attitude of ‘it’s not really my job’ is not only selfish but stinks of irrational entitlement and will breed festering resentments that will affect everyone under your roof. Becoming a dad comes with more than just a title. It is the ultimate opportunity to become the man your family needs.

So don’t be shy and roll those sleeves up, as you were probably reminded more than once during the pregnancy it’s all your fault (well, at least 50% of the situation is anyway)

Take the pain

My health was always something I took for granted. My one priority in life since meeting my wife and Frankie six years ago was to work hard and raise my family.

And it was an achievable goal. I had no reason to doubt that I couldn’t build a good future for us, to move us into a good neighbourhood and do well in my job and give those who rely on me stability. And I did those things. As well as raising the triplets.

I’m still trying to come to terms with the rapid changes in my health that have occured over the last year, and it’s not easy.

I am still in limbo as to discovering a cause for the intense electrical nerve pain I experience almost permanently around my body and face. The mental strain also takes a toll when the pain increases during flare ups that can last from days to months.

The inevitable has happened and I have now been signed off work indefinitely while awaiting another MRI scan and memory tests, hoping to rule out MS. The weight of that alone is not always easy to manage. I have a good neurologist but as with all things NHS it takes time. So it’s a case of trying my best to practice daily patience.

It’s almost as though I’ve lost who I was. There are days it’s difficult to comprehend my situation, and days I struggle to imagine the ongoing impact on my family. The pressure on my marriage has also been difficult as my wife has had to adapt to the changes herself. As she sais she’s not used to me being so limited. We are joking that I now have to use a walking stick. I can’t say I’m over happy about it but that’s just my pride taking a dent.

But as with all things it’s faith that keeps me afloat in the darker moments. I will adjust and learn to cope with the changes. For now though il make the most of being at home with my wife and daughters. As someone reminded me this week. Love is the most important thing I can bring to my family. Everything else is just a bonus.

It’s still madness, what else would you expect!

It feels like a while since I last posted an update on the trio. They are growing so fast it’s hard to keep up with them, literally.

Since they arrived, routine has been the number one recipe for settled happy babies. We rarely waver from it and it has paid off in dividends. That, and a relatively calm environment has contributed to the fairly chilled out toddlers we are now dealing with.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still tantrums when blakely wants to keep her shoes on to get in the bath, or if Lacey gets upset because I have to fish a dog biscuit out of her mouth but these are just the normal problems a toddler has to deal with.

There is a definite pecking order in place now. As we suspected from day one, Ava rules the roost. She has a big personality that she likes to keep at the forefront of the pack. Lacey tends to follow Ava, and take directions from her when it comes to trying new things.

It’s always a case of ‘Lacey, why don’t we see what happens if we push things out of the letterbox, but you should probably do it first in case it gets us in trouble’. Blakely is more of an observer. She prefers watching acts of irrational silliness unfold from a distance.

Father’s Day was perfect this year, especially that I got the entire day off. Got booked in for a massage and was on orders to relax. I wasn’t going to argue with that so I spent Sunday doing nothing but chilling, with a little help from my three youngest who made damn sure I wasn’t getting up for anything.

It’s also looking like the book will be published and available before the year’s out. It’s been a labour of love to get it finished in the middle of the chaos and with all the unexpected problems that this year’s brought with it. My hope is that I’ve written something of value. You can let me know if you get to read it.

life keeps bringing the pressures as it always does, but at least it’s entertaining when I’m home. I mean who really needs a quiet life!

Better men – Better fathers

I have started a closed fb group for dad’s.

It’s purpose is to be a community of shared experience that deal’s more with the emotional aspects of fatherhood. There are already some fantastic sites already established for multiples. However I want this page to be a little different, with more of a singleness of purpose.

All dad’s are welcome at all stages of fatherhood. No matter how many children you have. Or what pressures you might be under or have overcome. There may be problems with drugs, sex or alcohol that are concerning you. There are recovered men in the group who can help you with those issues.

You may just be finding yourself overwhelmed by your situation. As fathers we all struggle with the job at hand now and again. There will be others in the group who can offer valuable experience.

If you are finding yourself battling with emotions, maybe anger and fear are getting in the way of you becoming the dad you want to be. You will also find solutions within the group. Namely through the non contemplative meditation I share the link to on this blog. There are other dad’s in the group who have found a way to live consciously by using this free exercise.

If you think you could benefit from this group. We’ll see you there. Just search fb for ‘Better men – Better fathers’.

Training triplets

In just over a month the trio will be two. As they grow ever more active and curious they are needing more to entertain and stimulate them.

Their personalities are stronger than ever, especially Ava, she’s smart and a little bit of a monkey to go with it, or ‘strong willed’ as I call it. We have found ourselves at the point of starting to discipline them. Nothing harsh but they need to know what is right and wrong, and with three testing the limits it is imperative to our own sanity we are on the ball in dealing with their outbursts and sometimes naughty behaviours.

Ava and Lacey having a bundle, they all get pretty rough with each other

With the new changes they are going through we are adapting to these changes ourselves. Conversation between Stacey and I is regularly about the best ways to deal with them, teach them, and to keep working together in doing so.

Stacey handles most of the new routines whilst I’m at work. For example she has trained them to come down the stairs on bums in single file, another little thing that gets them working together patiently. It also takes some of the physical strain of carrying them in 3 trips up and down the stairs. Plus they are chuffed to bits they can do another thing by themselves.

Navigating new obstacles

We have also started taking them for regular walks on our housing estate. The sooner they learn about crossing the road safely the better, They really have come into their own over the last few months. They seem to be better with people now which is a good thing. Last week we went for lunch with them after getting them new shoes and they didn’t seem to fazed by the attention they were drawing. A few people who stopped even got a smile from them.

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Enjoying a run around on the green while learning to safely cross the roads

We live in a constantly changing environment. It’s fun, hard work and relentless at times but we continue to do our best to keep them content and thriving. Frankie is as great of a help as ever and we don’t know what we’d do without her. She has had to adapt to the shifting currents of our family life too, with all the challenges we have faced this year. She is an amazing big sister, the girls are blessed to have such a good role model in their lives.

So life roll’s on. And I still pinch myself when I look at the family I am raising. I have so much to be grateful, and so much to work for. Living with chronic pain gets me down at times, it frustrates me as to how limited my life has become over the last year. But above all of my personal problems there is only one thing that is really of importance. That I raise my family in the principles of love, patience and tolerance. Because I believe what they learn now will shape who they become in the future.

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The band

The weekend before the trio arrived I played my last gig with my band.

I had my phone on the floor monitor throughout the gig, with a keen eye on it, just incase of an early emergency at home. Thankfully the babies waited till the due date and the show went as planned.

As a new dad I was not sure if I would be able to carry on with my only pastime. I did a gig when the babies were around three months old, but as a singer it was exhausting. Sleep deprived and with no energy it wasn’t enjoyable. It took me days to recover and I decided It had to come to an end.

The day I was going to call my drummer and give him the sad news my wife intervened.

She told me to wait. Not to quit and that things at home would become easier as the month’s went by. I was still unsure if it would ever be possible to balance a band, with full time work and triplets at home.

I took her advice and didn’t quit, and thing’s did get a little easier as predicted. The band continued after a few month’s break. I have even been able to begin rehearsals for a one off show with some other musicians in August.

It is my only outlet. I don’t drink or have a social life. But I love to play music, and my wife knew this when she met me. She loves that I have a passion, and that she gets a night to herself a couple of nights a month.

We have just began gigging again for the year after a five month break and it is tiring, a small price to pay though for doing something I love so much.

I’m glad my wife talked me out of leaving the band. And that life in early fatherhood did change. It would have been a decision I would have regretted. Because even parents need to keep on doing what they love.

Having children doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

Triplet talk – makes sense to them

On Sunday morning I went in to change the triplets. As I was dressing Ava on the floor who was happily chatting to me, I watched through the bars of the cots to Lacey who was sat on the toy box, and Blakely standing in front of her.

The two were deep into a full blown conversation complete with hand gestures, giggling and the occasional pause for thought. At one point lacey babbled something to Blakely who promptly toddled over to the book shelf, picked out a book, returned and handed it to an ecstatic Lacey.

It’s an amazing thing to watch, unfortunately we have no clue what they are saying. They talk in their own language and it seems They understand each other perfectly.

They are also happy to stand and talk to us, in depth, serious chatting about something that is obviously important to them. We simply return the conversation in the hope they pick up our word’s along the way. Sometimes they get frustrated that we don’t understand their babbling, but that goes both ways at the moment.

We also read to them frequently now, we figure the more they listen the more they’ll take in. Hopefully it’s encouraging them to say more than ‘woof woof’ ‘dadda’ ‘mamma’ ‘uh oh’ and ‘Alexa’. The bedtime routine is a time they enjoy a book the most.

The girls also understand us when we ask them to do thing’s like tidy up toys. Or get their juice bottles. They are just without the ability to talk back.

It’s normal for multiples to be behind on their speaking. Only because they spend so much time focused on each other that they have little reason to talk to us. We’re just there to change nappies, feed and play with them.

I’m told it will probably all change when they begin preschool, when they will be left with no choice but to communicate with other little one’s. I am also told many multiples will also use their own language even into their older years. But for now they are happy and growing ever more connected to each other. And the dog certainly enjoys that someone now makes the time to tell him stories.

Is parental intuition a myth?

It was a given that I would question my every move as a first time dad. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. Although my role during the pregnancy was clear, I was still facing a brand new situation. One that thankfully my wife had experience of even if only with one newborn. I had to be prepared to shut up and learn as a man who had never changed a nappy before.

Once the triplets arrived my wife naturally fell into her new role. No longer plagued by the depression and anxieties that she suffered throughout the pregnancy she was free to focus on the job at hand. She intuitively knew exactly what the triplets needed and when.

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Without fear and stress we are free to intuitively deal with life

Even the nurse’s on the scbu were impressed with her handling of the situation. They were happy to take a step back and follow directions, and allow Stacey to deal with the triplets and their needs.

It was amazing to see how in tune she was, especially emerging emotionally from the struggles she had faced in the previous months. Those maternal instincts came into play from the moment she first held Ava.

It was clear that the only thing in the way of her God-given intuition was fear. Once it subsided everything changed for her. And not even the biggest of stresses we have faced over the last 21 months has distracted her from her purpose.

As for me as a dad, It was vital that I find my own fatherly intuition. And it wasn’t easy. As with my wife I struggled with resentment and fear once the triplets came home.

I began to feel separation from her, and the more I pressured her to meet my expectations of our relationship the worse matters got. I became petty and bitter that my needs were not being listened to. Almost overnight I lost my intuition and it was replaced by self-centred fears. All that was really happening was that I was struggling to adjust. Tiredness was making everything worse. I was battling mentally to cope with work and home life.

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It was only when I became conscious of the selfish way I was acting that I was able to let go of my fears. My wife needed me present, not lost in my own concerns. I learned a hard lesson as a man who was trying my best. I was failing to live up to my own expectations as a new parent and everyone was suffering from the bitterness of my failings. It was a realisation that grounded me back to consciousness.

Without fear I was again free to focus on my role as a new parent. Which was simple, support my wife so she could focus on our daughters. Bring the principles of patience and love to my home each day. Because without the emotional drive of fear and anger there is a natural clarity that exists. And when living by intuition, in the present moment away from the emotional pull of over thinking, the next right thing becomes apparent. And it’s a beautiful way to raise a family.