Monday, October 27, 2014

Counting bottles, diapers and hugs.

Some days I am confident in my motherhood. I am certain of my decisions and confident in the parenting choices I have made and am making. And then, you know, I actually get out of bed.

I tried to read parenting books when we were pregnant with the triplets. But when I was in labor at 19 weeks, I packed them all away. I was frankly not certain we were going to have the privilege of parenting.

After the triplets were born, I pulled a couple out again. Let me assure you that there is a lot of pain in reading that your baby should be doing x, y and z by 8 months and you are hyper-aware that your children are not. I packed them away again.

The reality of expecting triplets and raising triplets is that very few people, books, friends have any idea how to help you. As a young mom that is both terrifying and completely liberating. No one could tell me if I was doing something horribly wrong. But no one was confirming I was doing anything right, either.

Benjamin (blue), Mason (yellow) and Claire (pretty in pink) in the NICU at about 4 weeks old.

January 18, 1999 -- "I can tell you that I have three and I honestly love them all equally but it is also different for each one. I love Benjamin tenderly -- he is my precious love and I adore him.  I love Mason more actively -- he likes to be cuddled, tickled and I relish his laughter. Claire, I love sassily (ha) -- she makes me appreciate "womanhood,"  and delights me with her antics. I worked hard to put this into words, though re-reading it I know it doesn't do my feelings justice. But I hope you kinda get the point. Children are different....even those born at the same time. And you will love them all unconditionally, and without ceasing, but you will love them all differently!"

Baby Cate at one day old.

Perhaps the biggest lesson in not having a guide book for triplets, is that even though I was flying by the seat of my pants, I recognized that the most important thing was loving them to pieces.

Multi-tasking Mama -- feeding Mason and loving on Claire.

I am the first to admit that I had no knowledge base. Oh man did I do some silly things: Benjamin and Claire were both home from the NICU and Wade was keeping them at home while I was with Mason in the hospital during the days. I was rocking Mason and we both fell sound asleep. When I woke up, the nurse told me she had to go get the doctor because she had come by while I was sleeping. Oh how I panicked. I was completely certain that she would never discharge this beautiful baby boy to a Mama who could not stay awake.

Um, hello? Oh course, I was sleeping I had TWO newborns at home needing me round the clock and one in the hospital. Dear doctor recognized a good nap when she saw one and didn't interrupt. Sigh.

We had encouraged the mothers to wait and come after all three were home from the hospital (They had been there at/right after birth and had "met" them.). It never occurred to us that having two newborns home might have required a little help. Wade and I had no idea. We simply knew that one day we would have THREE at home and that seemed a lot more work. The mothers waited until then to come help. Ignorance sometimes is bliss.

Some things I didn't know the doctors and nurses told me before we left the hospital: count the wet and dirty diapers. You need to know these teeny tiny babies' bodies are functioning correctly. I kept little color coded charts hanging on the end of each baby bed (blue for Benjamin, Red for Mason, Yellow for Claire....complete with sweet ribbons to tie them on the ends of each bed.). And we counted everything in the early days: ounces of milk, wet diapers, dirty diapers, hours awake, you name it.

What I didn't know I just figured out. I learned to make the entire next day's allotment of bottles up the night before. The babies went to bed and I set out mixing 24 bottles (gradually decreasing the number as the feedings decreased but always mixing a few extra just in case) and filled the refrigerator. No time to mix bottles when all three were up and awake and ready to be fed! (Right Mason? Waiting for food has never been something he enjoys!)

When we added rice cereal I was a mess. How do I do that? And then baby food? Are you kidding me? The pediatrician suggested I use three spoons so that they didn't pass germs. I laughed out loud. Like that was the way we would pass germs? We spent all day every day completely on top of each other. If one had it, we all four had it.

At their one year well-babies visit, the pediatrician asked me if I had introduced solid foods. Solid foods? What kind of joke was this? I had a system. I had a routine. What in the world was she doing messing up our schedule NOW?

I went home and made grilled cheese sandwiches. Mason ate two whole sandwiches BY. HIM. SELF. I had been starving that boy near to death, apparently.

I could go on. The list of things I didn't know would fill my blog. We would be counting for days. Oh but my dear ones, the one thing I did know, the one thing I clung to was how to love them, how to nurture them, how to cherish the days. And I am certain I don't have to tell you that THAT is what really counts.

Loving trumps all things.

Carol - The Blessings Counter


Just a Girl said...

Carol - what a hoot! Me too - the hardest thing about babies is just when you think you have them figured out they grow into a new stage! So glad to find you on FB! We homeschool too. Britta Lafont here :)