Sunday, 20 January 2013

Six months of being a triplet mama

I can't believe we are here already. It feels as if it can't be five minutes since we finally bought them home, they have been out of hospital and under our roof now for four months!
Part of me tries to reject that thought, where has the time gone?! The other part of me can (vaguely) recall them getting bigger, heavier and growing out of more clothes than I have ever owned in my entire life, so figures that it must be true.
(Just a quick note to any multiple mums-to-be; you only need 7 sleepsuits per child, 5 vests and maybe a couple of 'going out' outfits. Honest! not the bags and bags of donated clothes we have covering every surface!! You will though require a boatload of bibs once weaning commences. Lesson learned!)

The triplets are growing so well, perhaps at times faster than I may like, but it is wonderful to watch them progress, they are bigger, healthier, and oh, so very happy. Only now when I look back at the photos of them in incubators does it make my heart feel so sad. They never seemed that poorly back then, but looking at them now, my, my what a HUGE difference.
I like to think that a large part of that is down to me having breastfed them for six months but I can't help but think perhaps it's all down to them. They have been brilliant from day one, taking on the world like it's a piece of cake and all this "breathing" melarky, pah, easy!

 I make a tremendous effort to always have my 'mama' face on around them. I'm always smiling, laughing, singing, tickling and happy to have any repetitive "who can make the most interesting noise" conversations over and over. I am unbelievably patient. Far more patient that either D or I ever thought I could be (my patience just doesn't extend in his direction.)
In truth, 'song time' after their afternoon nap is because mama is just too tired to move anything but her voice and who wouldn't feel more motivated and energetic for the next feed after several rounds of 'she'll be coming round the mountain when she comes'.

It is hard work, but so very worth it. And after months and months of my cheerful exterior I think it really has rubbed off on them. (Zee used to look at me like I was bonkers smiling at him as he screamed into my face, with a 'NO mama, I'm SAD' look on his face. In truth his face was constantly set in the 'default miserable setting' I fretted a heck of a lot that he would never smile, would always cry and was simply the personification of my teen years so I smiled at him...constantly...or stuck my bottom lip out in sympathy while saying to him 'I know, you are juwst so swad')
They are now so very happy. Quick to smile and slow to cry. Sure we have our bad days but as with most things in my life, I travel through them with humour (and hopefully my wits about me), most of the time I can find the funny side in any tantrum.

My household is generally a calm one (or so I am told), I feel like I never stop moving so it doesn't make me feel very calm. I can only assume any calming effect is from instilling such a strong routine into their lives. They always know what's coming so if they get hungry a bit earlier, they don't completely lose it as they know once story or play time ends its lunchtime.
Our routine isn't rigid but we feed, play and nap at roughly the same times every day which helps time pass with more of a purpose. It's not hard to find the energy to play when I know it's just for 45 minutes, then they will have a nap and I can recover.

L-R Gaius, Zarek, Ayla at story time

I have now just stopped breastfeeding (but if someone could tell my body that it would be great).
It had become too difficult to find the time to express milk and spend with the babies, particularly when I'm on my own with them a lot.
Since we've begun weaning anyway, still have a draw full of frozen milk, and as I made it to the much hoped for 6-month mark, I decided enough was enough. Any guilt or concern that stopping was selfish and just for my benefit (because I have been exhausted) vanished when after just four days of actually getting to play with and interact more with my children, Zarek began to smile, laugh and stop looking whipped all the time. He has done a complete transformation and stopped looking so lost, afraid and lonely.
When I read to him he gets so excited, as he does when he can just sit on my knee while we chatter. He shoots me the cutest smiles - all the more precious for how long they took him to achieve. Gaius can finally have cuddles with me after a feed, whereas before I had to put him down so I could express (again) and Ayla enjoys not just being "abandoned" under her play mat for an hour, that I will get on the floor and play with her for a while.
I've stopped feeling like I am on a constant conveyor belt of feed baby a, feed baby b, feed baby c, express milk, feed baby a again etc.
While on that conveyor belt I couldn't help but only look ahead to my next task (thinking hurry up hurry up hurry up) rather than enjoy the one I was currently doing. The sheer volume of work there is to do and the pressure of being their only food source, towards the end became suffocating. The first 4 months were just fine and dandy but as they started to be awake more and more and there appetites became greater and greater, finding ways to amuse them so I could pump enough to keep up with the demand, without sitting in a room full of screaming babies started to become impossible.
I do feel sad that I couldn't breastfeed them as I would a single child, all the way up to a year, but we hardly have a normal situation and as D pointed out, combined it probably works out that in time-frames I probably breastfed one child for two years in the time I've been feeding and pumping for three.

Song time with Gaius on my knee

Don't get me wrong, I'm not supermum. I get tired and ratty like the best of them, our bedtime feeds can sometimes be stressful as I'm feeling too tired to bring my A-game and then of course my little 'darlings' don't want to go to bed.
The tv is on far more than I would like it to be, just to help keep me awake, the downside being that Ayla has become a TV addict. It doesn't matter now if it's on or off, she will all but break her little neck just to watch the box in the corne, which makes me feel like a terrible mama.
I took her to an early appointment the other week and as people arrived in the waiting room they turned on the tv.
Mine was the only baby who immediately tried to lean as much in it's direction as possible so she could watch it. Terrible mama.

But if I've learned one thing about being a mum it's that mama has the word "guilt" in it.
I feel guilty that I spent more time today with one baby than another, or that one child made me smile more, was held more, didn't eat enough, prefers breastmilk, had a trip out, got one on one time, was left to cry so I could use the toilet, had a cuddle with daddy, lived under their play mat, was skipped at story time so I could wolf a sandwich down before I keeled over. guilt Guilt GUILT GUILT!
So I just let it all go. I could not live my life if I let myself feel guilty over every little thing, I most certainly do not have a favourite, so what if some days I hold one more than the others, it all balances out the more days that pass. And they are happy. If I ever needed to know if I was doing it "right" I'd say their happiness speaks volumes.

Gaius, Ayla, Zarek; ready for lunchtime play

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