Advice for Surviving With Newborn Triplets

Last week I mentioned that there is a couple I know nearby who are pregnant with triplets. I wrote some pregnancy tips. I’ve got a moment now to continue with some of my advice for when they are born. Of course, with all advice, some of it won’t work for you, I understand that, so if you are a new triplet Mum/Mum-to-be glean what you can! I’m just going to right as things pop into my head, no particular order, so pardon the haphazardness!

1. Get THREE good quality electric swings!
Honestly, this is the very first piece of advice that popped into my mind when I thought about what advice to give. I swings were almost in constant use for the first three months, and because they were small, they continued to use them up until about six months old.

Welcome to triplet central! They are all asleep in their swings after busy playing and bouncing, and basically using all their toys. This was at the five month mark.

We had 2 second hand swings plus a brand new one from my sisters as a baby shower present. Unfortunately the babies didn’t care that the brand new swing, was cute, compact and aesthetically pleasing. It quickly became ‘the despised swing’. And we ended up hardly using it because they wouldn’t settle in it. It was a small one that swung back and forward instead of side to side. I’ve heard since that many babies won’t settle in the smaller back and forward ones, so my advice would be to get the side to side swings. Ignore the cheaper cost of the small one, it will be a bigger waste of money if you buy a swing that doesn’t get used. Having said that, in the end, someone loaned us a larger Fisher Price back and forward swing, and it had seven variable speeds, so because it rocked quite fast, it was deemed acceptable.

But back to the 2nd hand swings. They all broke. Honestly, we broke three swings. It may have been that they were just in such constant use (except overnight) that they gave up the ghost, but if you have triplet’s with cholic and reflux, believe me you will get your money’s worth. I wish that we had bought three brand new swings. Because they were so little to begin with they used the swings for longer then usual, so we would have had good value. Once when a swing broke, we got absolutely ripped off buying a 2nd hand swing just because we were desperate. It had the most pitiful slow rock and stopped before long. I still kick myself that I didn’t buy a brand new one that was on sale at the time. Plus I’ve since discovered that electric swings have really good resale on Ebay, so you can probably get some of that money back. As for us, we lost all that we spent because we threw it out. (Truly, The Accountant had great delight cutting it up with a hacksaw) When they were first born, we only had two swings, and we were constantly rotating them. At first they would sleep really well in an old hand me down snuggly rocker, but as the reflux got worse and they got older they all preferred the swings. Just do it for your sanity!

This is the triplet’s on their 40 weeks due date. As you can see, Missy is protesting already about being  in the despised swing. Chook is in the rocker they used to love to snuggle in. Chook was in the swing. It looks nice but it was soon broken.

2. Feed them all at once.
When one would wake at night, I would get the others up and feed them also. You want to do anything you can to try and get as much uninterrupted rest as you can. Believe me, those first few months are brutal. If they are on a 3 hour feeding cycle you will be lucky if you get two hours un-interrupted. I tried so hard to get them to four hourly, which they were on when they left the hospital, and it’s what I did with the older boys, but the triplet’s just wouldn’t comply. In the end, I just had to make peace with the fact that the three hours was there to stay. I did this by reassuring myself that they must need the extra feeds since they were so small. When I say feed them all at once, I generally did it one after another. I really disliked feeding two at a time, and so did they, so we were all happier to have individual feeding sessions. Sometimes you just have to go with what works for you.

3. Write down their feeding schedule
For awhile after they first came home, I didn’t use my schedule that I had bought before the babies were born.  But I started getting confused all the time, and it made it so much easier to write down who was fed when. I wish that I got a larger book, I could have continued writing it down for a bit longer. Actually sometimes I still forget who I’ve breastfed and who had a bottle etc.

I bought one from here. I bought six months, but if I was to do it again, I’d probably get 9 or 12 months. I don’t really need it now, but sometimes it would be useful, because sometimes I just can’t remember who got breastfed last! You could make something similar and bind it yourself if you wished.

Accept help that you will find useful when it is offered to you. I was telling an older lady at church that I really had to decide beforehand that I was going to accept help. Too often in life we say that we are OK, when sometimes it would make life easier to just accept the help. She made a very valid point that it’s just pride that makes us decline a person’s genuine offer for help when we need it. Wow. Made me feel less guilty that I would be sinning to not accept help!!!

Useful is a key word. Now isn’t the time to let people ‘help’ you if they aren’t really helpful. Be polite when turning down their offer, I know it can be awkward, but extra stress right now is not good. Sometimes people start to help you, and it’s good at first, but you and the babies just grow out of it. Just let the person know also that you don’t need that particular help at the moment. Sometimes they are able to help in another way.

For example, My mother-in-law did the ultimate sacrifice and would come over and stay overnight and help feed the babies, but after awhile I was just getting so confused overnight because I was getting up sometimes and not others, (because I still had milk that needed to be drunk, and why express when there was a baby to be fed?), I would be waking when she was feeding and not able to get back to sleep anyway. So I just let her know that we were doing OK now with getting up throughout the night, even though it still meant I was sleep deprived

. Instead she started coming out Saturday afternoons, and she still does, which is super helpful. She plays, baths and dresses her grandkids which is creating a lovely bond and the big boys also get a chance to have some Daddy time without the babies.

It’s helpful to get someone to organise volunteers at first and while you are pregnant. My Mum was great at organising the volunteers. It’s just one less thing I needed to worry about by getting her to negotiate with people.

It’s really, really, really helpful to have meals made. We used Meal Baby, which really was great for booking meals in advance, and it let others know what meals others were providing so we didn’t end up with 20 dishes of lasagne. We also had people who made baked goods, which were great snacks, particularly for in school and work lunch boxes. Once the babies were older I’ve appreciated a friend once brought around baby food puree and my Mum now mooshes up vegies regularly from her garden for the babies. As you can imagine, we go through so many vegies and it all takes time, so that’s a great help.

At the start it’s useful just having a 2nd person around during feed times as well. It’s a pretty lovely job, just sitting having a chat and cuddling a baby, (of course there is sometimes a nappy to change, but that isn’t too bad in the early days generally!), but it’s so helpful. It’s such an awful feeling having a baby scream while you are trying to feed another one (or two).

Grandma is always willing to give a cuddle to a fussy baby.

I found it most helpful to get a weekly commitment from people. That way I could rely on them, I knew that I would have help when it was needed and I didn’t have to constantly go seeking help. So I literally scheduled people like the wonderful Crazy Sister to come Wednesday 12:00 to help nurse babies while I fed.

Other help that was appreciated was one lady who would come Monday mornings and clean my house for a few hours. (Blessed my socks off) And I still have our Pastor’s wife who irons for 6 hours on a Wednesday. How is that for sacrificial friendship?

5. Organise In Home Care

If you are in Australia, look into In Home Care. Basically it’s where you get someone into your house to help with the children as an independent contractor, and you will get back CCB and CCR from the government to reduce the cost of their wage. It will cost you money, but nothing like hiring a nanny, and it’s money out of the budget that is absolutely well spent. There are rules and regulations that took me awhile to get used to. If you were following me when I was pregnant, you may remember just how much it stressed me out. (To the point of bringing on contractions.) However it’s finding a balance. Get it organised while you are pregnant, that way they will be able to start when the babies come home. Also, when hiring an In Home Carer, go with you gut instincts. Find someone you can be friends with. I know they are working for you, but they are in your home, and you still need to feel comfortable in your home, and not like it’s being run as a daycare centre, even though the rules are designed for day care centres practically. You need someone who is of course good with children, but also friendly, flexible and willing to go the extra mile. It doesn’t matter if they look good on paper and you can think of all the reasons why they should be good, just go with your gut. After all, this person is going to be super important to your children, so I can’t stress how important it is that you feel comfortable with them in your home. Having said that, you absolutely CANNOT steal Miss Rachael. I’m already miffed that she will be finished her university degree next year. We LOVE her!

6. Cots

Even if you want the babies to sleep together in the early days, I would organise three cots before they come home. You’ll be so busy once they arrive so it would be good to have it under control. Or at least know where you are going to get them from so when you are ready to buy them you don’t have to go searching. We put our three straight into the cots. Basically I figured they had been sleeping in their own cots in the special care nursery, and eventually they would need to sleep on their own again once they started wiggling about, so I thought there was little reason to make them re-learn how to sleep on their own. Having said that, sometimes they just wanted to snuggle together. So there were times I’d put them all in their cot for a snooze.

Well. I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface with triplet advice. Anyone want to add some further thoughts?

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