Saturday, 2 August 2014

Trio turn two!

Here we are on the cusp of infant hood. They don't toddle as much as they run, jump and leap. Language skills and independence grow day by day. 

I never understand when people say 'it's gone so fast, they grow so quick'.

I can completely believe it has been two years, I remember some of the good, some of the bad and some of the Inbetweens. I could not remember every second of every day, nor would I want to! But I've lived it and that is wonderful enough. 

What I still can't believe is that I was given the gift of carrying, birthing and raising these three nearly two year olds. It has been an absolute pleasure and privilege to be such a key part of their lives. 

So here we go. Two-dom in t-minus 2 days and counting. Presents are wrapped, cakes are ready to be baked, balloons ready to inflate and the next few days to be anticipated. It's going to be one of those truly wonderful times I'll always remember!

Little babies born at 29 weeks, you have become beautiful, caring, funny and intelligent children. I loved you before you were born, I love you beyond words now and I can't wait to witness the next steps of your life. You are amazing human beings! 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Weaning the Quinnster

I can't get over how 'ahead' Quinn is in terms of the trio when it comes to weaning. No wobbly head, no preemie struggle to co-ordinate, no over active gag reflex, no struggle in just holding her own head up. 
In fact she's straight off been trying to feed herself. 
She's either one smart cookie or has figured out I'm busy, and it's either feed yourself or starve.... okay not starve, but be super incredibly patient.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

A hilarious story of triplets, provided you're not their parents

So continuing on from my here a poo, there a poo, everywhere a poo, poo post comes a delightfully smelly story, which I'm sure is very funny - as long as you are not their parents.

I'm sat feeding Quinn on the sofa while the hubster is showing me some videos of our trio when they were just starting to roll and crawl on the tv. We are both cooing over how adorable our kids were and how lovely that we still have this to come with Quinn when crying starts from the playroom...
Having finished feeding Quinn, I pop her down to play and walk through to the kitchen to start making dinner and to see what is happening in the playroom.
The ripe stench of poopy hits my nostrils almost immediately and I scream call for backup.
We walk into the playroom where Ayla is crying on the floor by the rocking horse, Zarek is stood nappyless, his nappy is empty in front of me and Gaius is playing quietly in a corner.
 I look to the left and the whole floor is smeared with poopy, yellow, thick poopy, and at the end of the pile is the rest of the solid poopy it had come from. Undigested sweetcorn is scattered around.

It quickly becomes apparent that Ayla is crying because she has been eating this sweetcorn....yes EATING IT and she does not care for it's poopy flavour.
I start to wipe Zarek's hands clean just in case, and remove the toy vaccum cleaner from his death grip. He also starts crying, at which point I realise the vaccum cleaner I am holding is completely covered in poopy.

Perhaps they were trying to clean up the mess with it, but I'm sure they were just delighting in smearing the poopy all around the room. I extract the vaccum cleaner depositing it upstairs in the shower to be cleaned later.

We clean the kids up, redress them, chastise them. The hubster starts washing the whole floor while I exit the room to avoid getting up close and personal with any more poopy, while surrounded by the sobs of the guilty.


And now I'm supposed to prepare lunch....we were having tuna sweetcorn pasta.....but I think we might now just have toast - YUK!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Citizen Science!

After a group of triplet mums I am friends with, had an on-line session of sharing all our triplet baby bumps and reminiscing about pregnancies and gestation when our children were born, I got very, very interested in whether a mother's age could affect the length of a triplet pregnancy. So with the kind information from a whopping 86 triplet mums, the hubster and I produced these graphs.

What seems to have been gathered is that, for some unknown reason, you are less likely to have an extremely premature birth if you older. It would be interesting to find out whether this is because a) perhaps the older women have had children previously and therefore their bodies have experience carrying children in the past and can carry children for longer. Or b) younger woman give more nutrients to the children quicker so the children grow bigger and faster and are therefore born earlier. On the assumption that the main reason for triplets not being born at full term is because they grow too big.

(of course it could just be down to quality of life or other health factors)

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Here a poo, there a poo, everywhere a poo, poo!

One of my 'darling, butter-wouldn't melt- triplets has learnt the art of taking ones nappy off. The incidents which have emerged, while comical, have been irritating smelly and ridiculously messy. There are no pictures to this particular blog post....I wouldn't be that cruel.

We woke up one morning to Ayla - nappyless (is this a word, I think it's a word). We shrugged it off, her bed was dry - decided we had a wonder child who is already dry through the night and went about our day as normal.

We woke up and everyone had their nappies on, we knew it must be a fluke.

Ayla is nappyless again, I walk into the boys playing catch with her rather full nappy. That night we put Ayla to bed in a backwards sleepsuit so she can't undo the buttons and take her nappy off - ha foiled!

Ayla still has her nappy on in a morning.

Ayla has managed to undo her vest (d'oh!) and taken her nappy off...we put her to bed that night in another vest and duct tape her nappy closed.

The duct-tape didn't work. We scour the internet for ideas and finally put her to bed in a backwards nappy AND a backwards sleepsuit.

This solves the problem, then


I walk in to a nappy-less Ayla, who has had a wee on her bed (yeah, turns out shes no nappy free wonder-kid) her nappy is lying on the floor. I check the nappy and there are no signs of poo so take her down and re-dress her, then go back for the boys. Later that morning when I go to change her bedding I am hit by the same poopy stench in the room, despite it being devoid of children. This is when I discover the poop, the poop pellets that have been THROWN around the room. They are on Gaius' cot bars, in Gaius' cot, and the floor leading up to his cot. Apparently my little monkey thinks she is a real monkey and has started throwing her own poop at her brothers!


Zarek and Ayla have their nappies off, I actually walk into Ayla with her hand in her nappy pulling out some poop! Poop is once again on the floor from where she has been throwing it at Gaius. I wonder if perhaps he has eaten some and that that is perhaps why he is hiding from me in his cot and acting like he has been naughty... I vomit a little.

So far the only hypothetical solution I can find is to duct tape Ayla's hands together but according to the Hubster this could be classed as child-abuse.
Leaving your child's hands free so they can gain access to and then eat their own poop - probably not classed as child abuse....go figure.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Great Pea Project!

With my new found enthusiasm for cost cutting in our money diet, I've decided to take it a step further. I've started to try to grow chilli, herbs and peppers from the seeds of the vegetables I have purchased. So far they have only been in the soil for a matter of days but I'm hopeful I can nurture some extra savings for what is the cost of a bag of soil and the opportunity to reuse some old buckets and plastic containers.

Today I was clearing out the fridge with the dismay that a few leftover ingredients (a handful of sugar snap peas, three baby corn sticks and a sliver of orange pepper) which I had intended to use in a chinese chicken soup tomorrow had truly only become compost bin worthy.
I put them in a pile with my vegetable peelings ready to take out when a thought occurred to me...can you grow peas from leftover peas?
I popped a couple of sugar snap pods and found a few large peas and a few buds. All in much better condition than the dried out pods, so I turned to google for advice.

But google was useless. It kept telling me how to grow peas, but didn't mention anything about what I should plant in order to do this. Can I use the peas as I suspected, or can they only be grown from seeds?
I was going to just bung them in a pot and see what happened but then thought perhaps someone on my facebook feed might know the answer.

After some advice from a friend about potentially needing dried rather than fresh peas, and from my Uncle about where on the internet to search for answers I came across daughterofthesoil who goes into fabulous detail about how YES you do use peas to grow pea plants. and lucky for me, June is a good sowing season. So I'm going to give it a try! I'm drying my peas out, both already shelled and to be shelled right before planting on Wednesday when I get some more compost.

The one I'm holding is the most rubbery and dried out and therefore the most promising

Friday, 6 June 2014

Peach and Chickpea Curry

Today I made the peach and chickpea curry from agirlcalledjack. It's one of the recipes that made me buy the book, I was really dying to see what it would taste like and I was pleasantly surprised.

What started off as some pretty basic ingredients turned into something quite delicious!

Next time though I would use a smaller chilli or just a third of a chilli as the meal was warm and spicy but just under what I can stand as a hot curry (I'm a wuss so not a lot of heat). The kids however were swigging water and dragging at their tongues with their hands (which was, of course, hilarious). I hadn't considered the fact that at just 22 months they eat half their meal with cutlery and the other half with their I'm sure we got a few sore eyes from the chilli too (which again was pretty funny).
I really, really enjoyed the curry. I am not a curry person but the sweet and melting peaches (I know, who knew peaches would work in a curry!) and the gentle heat of the chilli really worked for me, I actually had seconds!
An even bigger plus for me was that for the first time ever my served up version of a dish actually looked like the version in the glossy photos of the book.
The hubster was less impressed, with words such as "where's the meat" passing his lips. But I am determined I will convert him to our money diet ways!

  So that all important recipe!

Peach and Chickpea Curry

  • 250g tinned chickpeas (drained weight)
  • 1 onion (I didn't use this as G-man and I have an onion intolerance)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 chilli
  • splash of oil
  • a shake of ground cumin
  • 400g tin of peaches in juice
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
Drain and wash chickpeas. Pop them in a pan of clean water and boil vigorously for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and chop the onion and garlic and finely chop the chilli.
Put oil in another saucepan and add the onion garlic and chilli then the cumin and cook gently on a low heat. Allow the food to sweat, not brown. 
Take the chickpeas off the heat, drain and rinse them.
Drain the peaches, saving the juice. Chop the peaches into small chunks and add to the onion mix along with the peach juice. 
Pour the chopped tomatoes over the peaches and onion, add the coriander, crumble over the stock cube, mix and cook on a low heat for around 30 minutes. 
If the sauce gets too thick add a cup of water to it ( I didn't have this issue). 
Add the chickpeas back to the curry and allow to warm through before serving.

So if you are thinking of buying the book but not sure if you will like the food, try this dish and if you like it, go out and buy it! So far, I have been really impressed.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Money diet part....3 maybe?

There is nothing more inspiring about cooking than getting your hands on a new cookery book!
I've finally managed to grab 'A Girl Called Jack' in a book sale and I cannot wait to get started. It's written by Jack from and contains 100 delicious budget recipes discovered back when she and her two year old son were poverty stricken and in very real danger of becoming homeless and starving.

She claims she managed to do weekly shops on a £10 budget, because she had to and to be quite frank it's inspiring. The recipes are refreshing and require just a few basic ingredients from a local supermarket value range.

I have often wanted to reduce our food shopping amount (current spend is around £250 a month), in fact I blogged about our money diet to help us get a mortgage last year. And while it worked for a bit; once we had moved, got busy working every hour of the day and looking after the kids, not to mention when we had a new baby - we fell back onto bad habits.
If Quinn is particularly fussy one day, the kids are ill or we are tired, we whack in a ready meal or order take out. We both hate doing this but not enough apparently to correct the behaviour. I can start off with the best of intentions ordering lots of lovely ingredients to make fab homecooked dishes, but half the ingredients end up sat on shelves, in our freezer or the bin!!!
It's wasteful and it annoys both of us. whilst it's true that sometimes it cannot be helped that the bus was late, its teatime and nothing is cooked, or that Quinn fed all afternoon and I didn't get the chance to peel a carrot yet alone rustle up a meal for five we allow it to happen far more than we should.
We are once again making an effort to change, however, *I think perhaps some of the changes in the past have failed long-term simply because we try and change everything all at once rather than changing things one by one and making sure they are sustainable first.

I challenged the hubster to us living off just £30 a week** for food this morning,

Then I realised, this is probably not the wisest way to begin to change (* see above!) - So...babysteps;

We now get our food shopping delivered twice a week (it's actually cheaper?!?) as this stops us buying too much in one go, it allows us to have fresher produce and only commit to six meal plans over three days so it's easier to follow. The downside is I have to spend £25 a week twice minimum to get the shopping delivered for free £50 a week is still £200 a month) - but with nappies costing around £10 on offer for two packs not to mention the wipes, loo roll, bleach, wash powder etc. we require it's not a herculean task to spend that much.

My new "scheme" is to try have 1 day a week which costs pennies to feed us - not pounds, so enter Jack!

Now I did intend to try a different dish each week but I've gotten so excited over the recipes I'm trying FOUR this week. So far I have been pleasantly surprised that by adding the ingredients for four meals, my food shop came to just £33.40. This includes £10 spent on nappies and £4 spent on fresh herb pots to plant in the garden (we've yet to get some in this house) and the staples like enough milk to drown the kids with, bread and any staples I had run out of, so if this is successful it's not a bad £20 spent on food for the five of us. The best part turns out that the few items I've had to buy for a recipe have then been re-used in another recipe I've chosen so hopefully less waste!

Here are the recipes I am trying - I'll blog about each one once I've done them.

Creamy Salmon Pasta with a Chilli Lemon Kick
Courgette Tomato and Brie Gratin
peach and chickpea curry
Soda Bread

(I'm also doing a bacon, fennel and potato bake too but that's not from Jack)

**(not nappies - gee, nappies cost around £10 a week as it is since Quinn is such a terrific pooping machine) don't get me started on re-usables, we tried the idea but with four kids aged 1 or below, we are already up to our eyes in poop without now giving the washing machine extra duties.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Puzzle time!

I have just spent half an hour doing puzzles with my trio.

It is incredibly hard trying to teach three kids how to do four different puzzles without having pieces stolen or them getting too frustrated and upset by the difficulty level. And also hard to not make it confusing, so when I tell Gaius 'yes that's right it does go there', I can turn and see Zarek having heard me talking to Gaius desperately trying to shove his square piece into a round hole.
This means I'm constantly going "yes it goes there, no not there, this way ayla, turn it round zarek, thats not the right piece gaius"

At the start of the activity most of my inner thoughts were going "oh god they are never ever going to get this" "how long should I point out where the pieces go, when should I leave them to figure it out themselves" "how do I teach them to turn the pieces without just turning them for them" and on and on it went.
Then suddenly after much grunting at me to do it for them and my abject refusal and words of "no you do it, show me" THEY GOT IT!

We had to call daddy in to see how clever they were being so he could be proud of them, they were identifying pieces and putting them (more or less) in the right holes.

Not only have I just taught them to place and turn puzzle pieces (HALLELUJAH), but I have apparently also taught them to give themselves a round of applause when they put each piece in correctly, in fact I think that's Gaius and Ayla's favourite part! XD

Saturday, 3 May 2014

How a full term baby changes how you see your premature baby

It's something that I don't think you can ever truly understand until you have had your own full-term baby to compare your premature baby to. In my last pregnancy I gave birth at just 29 weeks to three small but perfectly formed babies. This time at 42 weeks I gave birth to one large and perfectly formed baby.
Quinn is now nine weeks and one day old, I've had her with me almost from the start and there has been very little time since her birth where we have been further than a few feet from each other.

A really heartwrenching moment came to me this morning while I was in the shower.
Quinn is exactly the age that Zarek and Ayla were when they finally came home from the neonatal unit.
All this time I've had with Quinn, all the long nights, early mornings, snuggles, cuddles, chats, gurgles and the hours I've spent just looking at her while she sleeps, all of that, I never had with my triplets. They were in incubators or temperature controlled cots at hospital being looked after by nurses. Nine weeks didn't seem so long then, not with all the hours spent visiting, expressing milk, feeding, changing and holding them when we could. but every night we would go home to our empty house, exhausted. We would eat, watch a film, I would express over and over again and we would feel saddened and incomplete.

Suddenly seeing how long that time has been, in terms of Quinn's life absolutely breaks my heart. How I ever coped being so far apart from my babies for so long is suddenly overwhelming. We spent so long just taking each day as it came that I don't think the length of time ever really hit home. Nine weeks before I could tuck all three babies up in a cot at night, nine weeks before the true bedlam of triplet newborns began, nine weeks of trekking back and forth trying to bond with babies encased in boxes, covered in wires and attached to beeping monitors that would interrupt the most private of moments.

The contrast is shocking.

Where at birth I never even saw my trio, let alone knew they had survived and was therefore quite hysterical, Quinn was immediately shown to me (something I had insisted on before I agreed to surgery) calming my pre-section hysteria. Throughout this pregnancy I had been so afraid of my baby being whisked away as the trio once were, not knowing where to or what was happening while paralysed on a table being stitched up. It was vital for me and the hubster to know that this time we would get to have a "hopefully" normal birth with our baby and ideally get to hold him or her before anything else happened. The staff at our hospital worked hard to give me that birth and for that I am eternally grateful.

But the differences don't stop there;
The hubster and I often say how advanced Quinn seems for her age; cooing, smiling and holding her head up. But that's because last time it took twice as long to receive these special moments from our triplets. What maybe took Quinn eight weeks to achieve out of the womb, took our trio nineteen weeks to achieve. In reality they did it all at the same pace in terms of gestation but we never realised how much slower these things took place last time. Perhaps it was the sheer crazy non-stop time of having three newborn babies to keep alive that distracted us, or maybe as they were our first children we figured it all happened at some point and weren't sat waiting expectantly for milestones to be achieved. All I know is Quinn is constantly surprising us, and that with some of what passes, it leaves a slight sadness behind it.
But then I remember that I have four wonderful healthy children, who, despite a slightly rocky and unusual start are happy, loved and flourishing.

To all the mums of premature babies out there, you are INCREDIBLE. You endure more than any new mother ever should. You have nerves of steel - with all those beeping machines and scary procedures, the courage of ten lions -to walk away each evening and trust strangers to take care of your most precious cargo until you return tomorrow and the patience of a saint -every step forward can feel at times like two steps back, but time passes, your child grows and your patience pays off.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Inedible treats!

We walked into the playroom a few days ago to the horrors of triplet teamwork.
Trouble, troublet and troublina had bashed a hole in the wall above the fireplace. They had broken through the plasterboard to the external brick wall on the extension. And they were sat eating the plaster. Eating. The. Plaster. Like it was crackers or something.
(This is not a reflection of my cooking skills)
The playroom was covered in dust, there were chalky coated handprints on the walls, floor, toys, beanbags. You name it the evidence was everywhere! 
It was clear troublet has at least some idea of what constitutes as food since he was covered in dust, but unlike the other two culprits his mouth was not also coated in chalky residue.
We scooped them out of the playroom with lots of scolding and tears, deposited them in highchairs and gave them cups of water to drink while we cleaned up alll the debris.... And there was so much debris. 
After tea we popped them back into the clean playroom, I went to feed Quinn and D was just getting himself a drink when... Oh yes they were pulling off and eating the plaster Again!
They were scolded once more (this time only trouble and troublina were at it) and sent to sit on the beanbags while we tried to figure out how to patch the hole up temporarily until we could get some supplies for a more permanent solution.
I have no idea why they enjoyed eating plaster so much, I do feed them actual tasty food at least three times a day! I'm starting to suspect our new house might actually be built from gingerbread....

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Heather and Mesothelioma Awareness Week

I was contacted by a woman a few months ago about Mesothelioma and how it has affected her life, it's something I had never even heard about before so I wanted to share it;
I’m reaching out to you in hopes that you will help me with a cause that is very near and dear to my heart. At age 36, I was diagnosed with mesothelioma just 3 ½ months after my first and only child, Lily, was born. I was given just 15 months to live unless I underwent a drastic surgery to remove my left lung. Miraculously, I beat the odds and I’m still here eight years later.Asbestos is not banned in the US, yet it’s the only known cause of mesothelioma. I was exposed to asbestos through my fathers work jacket when I was just a little girl; my diagnosis came about 30 years later. Once diagnosed, most patients die within 2 years. I am one of few survivors who openly share their story and work to spread awareness regarding the dangers of asbestos.In honor of Asbestos Awareness Week (April 1-7), I created a webpage dedicated to raising awareness. Although this week has passed, I would love it if you would be willing to share it on your blog to help educate and protect your readers from this preventable disease!Here’s the link to my awareness page:

Now I was a little tardy is getting in touch with Heather or we would probably have posted this in time for the awareness week and not (ahem) several weeks after, but better late than never.
In the UK Asbestos is banned now and to have it removed from a building requires a professional to come and do any and all work including the disposal of the asbestos once removed. I could not believe that is it still used in the US (D can, but then he is a big ol' know-it-all)! I was often warned as a child about the dangers of asbestos in old outbuildings and told to keep away just in case, but I never realised what serious harm it can do.

So please, please go click on the link, learn about Heather's amazing story and the challenges she has come up against, and use your voice to help build hope and awareness.

(Go and click that link!)

Friday, 25 April 2014

Whose that girl...

There is someone I have been meaning to tell you all about!
Meet Quinn Ellory Rose.

Dressed in blue just to keep you all gender confused
 Born on the 28th of February 2014, a mere 14 days overdue and weighing a whopping 9lb 5oz Quinn joined our (not so little) family. She was fairly reluctant to arrive! I started off with a homebirth, ended up rushed in via ambulance due to some slight difficulties and how very overdue she was only to, many, many, many hours later be rushed in for an emergency c section.
The look on her face when she was born was very indignant, as if wondering what had taken so long!
Giant bow to help assert female gender for future reference
 She is a sweetheart, extremely good tempered both growing and feeding well. Having one baby is definitely different to having newborn triplets! Although having toddling triplets plus a newborn baby is a bit of a juggling act in itself!
The kids love her, giving her kisses and bringing her lots of chokeable toys or unsuitable foods to share, they love to shake her hand and try poke her eyes out, all out of love. And she is very patient with the whole thing too. I won't, however forget the look of disappointment on Ayla's face when she realised for the first time that Quinn wasn't a dolly and no, she couldn't pick her up.
So here we are now with 21 month old Triplets and a 8 week old baby, I might be a little bit more tired than I was, but boy am I happy!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

An open letter to my 20 month old triplets...

To my dear children, I am so sorry.

I know that once upon a time you could do anything you liked, (pretty much because you couldn't figure out how to move yet) and that everything you did accomplish, filled us with smiles and cheers.
I know you felt amazing.
But lately, I realise you've been hearing that "no" word quite a lot. In fact I'm pretty sure you feel like you can't do anything now that doesn't result in the 'no' word.

"No, you can't have everything, no, you can't get thrown in the air right now, no, you can't push your sister over, no, you can't eat that, no, don't touch that, no, we can't go outside, it's bedtime, no, stop trying to climb up that, no, don't snatch."

I bet you're getting as sick of the "no" word as I am.

I realise now that this change must have seemed so sudden to you, to me it seems like we went from laughing and playing one day, to constant adjustment the next. I'm sure you feel like you can't seem to do the right thing to make us smile or cheer again, no matter how hard you try it always seems to result in that pesky 'no' word doesn't it...
Sadly you're too young to understand full explanations, and I'm too busy putting out too many fires to come up with clever ways to teach you to overcome these issues and so we potter on.

I praise you for the silly things that really aren't that special, otherwise I don't think I'd have much left to praise at all. I spend time sitting and showing you how to unstick your carefully wedged toys from containers that are two sizes too small, how to open boxes you bring to me every few seconds because you've closed them...again. And I try to do this with a smile, with patience and without the word no getting involved.
But it's quite an addictive word really, always cropping up in the things we do together, always on the tip of our tongues.

I hate that you have learnt it.

I'm trying to remember that you're one.
Some days it's so easy to forget how little you are as you do so many things that make you seem so big now.

You can't say yes, but you can firmly tell me na,na,na,na,na when I try brush your hair, when a sibling takes a toy from you, or when you have to do anything that you've decided that you don't want to do.
I want you to know it's okay to tell someone 'NO' if they pull your hair, or steal your biscuit, but telling them no just because they stood on your shadow, sat where you didn't want them to or breathed in your general direction....well that get's me and that 'no' word involved again I'm afraid.

I'm trying to remember that you really aren't doing these things to rob us of our sanity. I'm trying to remember how happy you are when you do something deserving of praise, and not how sad you are (or how ridiculous your tantrums can be) when I have to tell you 'no'.
And I'm trying to remember how hard this is for you, when it seems like all the rules must constantly be changing, and how sad it makes you that not everything is and can be yours, and that what you want to do isn't always possible, and that you can't seem to do just the right thing to make this 'no' word go away.
It must be very, very hard to want to do so many exciting things, but to have someone always stopping you...
(but trust me, electrocuting yourself isn't as much fun as you seem to think it is)

Know we are just trying to keep you safe, kind, and fair to others and that we know you will manage to grasp all of these things one day. Know that we don't want you to never have any fun, but there are limits to the fun you can have safely. And most importantly, know we won't always hold you back from your mistakes, mistakes are only worth making when you can actually remember the results, so for now, we are doing the remembering for you...

So, even if our words are firm and our gestures quick, even if our smiles are few and ours frowns are many, know, that we love you all so very, very much, that they haven't even begun to find a word to describe it yet.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Life with six month old triplets - from the Dad's view

I found this hidden away on my laptop today, D must have written it when the kids were six months old, as words of advice to other dads of triplets. Re-reading it today (the kids are now 18months, 15 corrected) made me cry so I just had to share it!


People always say it’s a wild ride having triplets, and that the first year is both the most challenging and rewarding. People don’t often talk about the father though, and maybe there’s a reason, but there are a huge set of experiences for Mum and a wealth of advice and helpful information to help her and only a few for Dad.  I can see that we live in a modern world where the roles have changed for both parents and modern families aren’t as straight forward as the Breadwinner & the Housewife. I must have grown up during the transition period because when I was in school I had a conflicting experience with how a father should be. At school we were told that when we become fathers we can be just as effective as mothers in bringing up a child and maybe that’s true, but you watch Mum and the way she just knows why baby is crying. However Dad has to go down his checklist – just so you know mine is “Wet?, Hungry?, Cold?, Poorly?, Possessed by a Demon?”.
Here are some of my impressions of the last six months. I was really looking forward to becoming a Dad for the first time, and the fact that it was triplets meant I knew from the start that I was going to be needed as more than just a breadwinner and casual support.

The day they were born was certainly unpleasant for Holly, but for me it was an adventure. When she was confirmed as being in labour, with the words I’ll never forget (and believe me none of the events that days will ever be forgotten). The words were coming from a registrar, having been asked to perform a swab, she decided to take a look first “I won’t do the test because you are at least 3 centimetres” – and with that the consultant in the hall got all excited and I was sent home to get a bag of stuff ready for the transfer to a bigger hospital. Holly was being reassured that the hospital she was in COULD handle the birth, but that it would be safer for a transfer. I missed the ride to Sheffield and had to rush 40 miles down the motorway, without the aid of blue lights, which was an even greater challenge since I can’t actually drive (but if we’d owned a car I’d have given it a good try!).
After finding that the fastest train would get me there at 7pm, I managed to get a lift with some friends. It was around midday when Holly left in the ambulance. I arrived 40 minutes before Holly was taken into surgery, just in time.
Of all the silly little details I remember from that day, the biggest one is from the London Olympics. In all the hospital waiting rooms, on all the TV’s, Team GB were busy winning their highest number of gold medals in the 6 hours between starting my trek and seeing our babies for the first time.

In the operating theatre where they were born, I could see that Holly needed me more than ever before. I tried to stay calm and helpful, but at the same time I was just as scared as she was. When I was invited to go into the next room where all three newly born babies were being checked over, I really didn’t react as I expected I would. Don’t misunderstand; it was one of the most awe-inspiring things I have ever seen. I must have just stood in the middle of the room for a few minutes, hand over my mouth, not breathing and just waiting for the sound of a baby’s cry – or, well I don’t know what I expected but all of the warnings and stories we heard I think I was just waiting for the bad news, after all they were eleven weeks early.
Instead of that there was silence, except for the quiet cough of each baby taking their first breath – this happened for each one, one after the other.

The next couple of days were spent in Sheffield, I was by Holly’s side the whole time, except when I went to go meet our babies in NICU. She got really upset that she couldn’t (initially) go see them for herself so I brought back pictures and told her about how they were doing.
It wasn’t too long before they were transferred back to Scunthorpe neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), which was far closer to our home.

They spent another 9 weeks up in NICU at Scunthorpe and aside from being small and needing time to grow, they passed each test and put on weight. I still can’t believe how lucky we are in having three strong babies.
The time spent in NICU was a great learning experience for a set of new parents and I have to say that, aside from the worry from the obvious reasons for them being there, treat this as an opportunity to really learn about how to do things and also in the case of triplets, as a chance to get to know and bond with your new babies without needing to be super-busy with the day-to-day routine of it all. I have some advice for other new fathers as well, and this is priceless; ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS. Mum will feel like she has to know everything, and will feel silly if she doesn’t so your role as Dad is to play the stupid person and ask all the questions – whether you’re sure that your partner has the answer or not. Believe me there were times when I could tell Holly hadn’t a clue how to do something but didn’t want to say anything. I knew that these were my times to step up and ask the “stupid question” and the nursing staff are always happy to answer. I was surprised as well as to how happy the nurses were to work with us. It took us a while to realise it and we went along with a lot of what they were doing before that time, but we started to think about when they all came home with us and the nurses were glad to help. One of our biggest issues was that our babies were being fed every 3 hours by 3 different nurses at the same time. This is all well and good as to establish a routine before we get them home would make it a lot easier for us, but there isn’t three of us and so when we did get them home, we could see that at least one baby was always going to have to wait to be fed. We stepped in and talked to the nurse in charge about our view, and she agreed with us that only 1, maybe 2 nurses would feed the babies at a feed time, that way their feeding would be staggered over an hour or so. It worked much better for us and we can tell now that the waiting has done them good.

We got Gaius home a couple of weeks earlier than the others because he was bigger and stronger than them. He was dubbed the practice baby and we tested out all of our kit with him, taking him around in the pushchair and tried out all the cot’s and baskets with him. When we got the other two home the fun really began! I had drafted in as many of my family as could possibly free up some time so that we had help available in the early times. There were lots of volunteers and we appreciated the hour of sleep they gave us, or the extra hands during feeding times. The whole thing even brought us closer with my sister, who I hadn’t spoken to in a meaningful way for a few years, she was most helpful spending an entire week with us as much as she could and by the end of that week, you could certainly tell just by looking at her what affect the constant rush had on her, imagine how we felt!

After a month or so things were easier. The main reason for this was that we had settled into what it was like and we’d got used to having very little sleep. I had to go back to work on a part time basis and it was hard keeping focussed on work, especially with all the interest from the people at work. It was even harder not to give in to the temptation to go slowly coming home from work in order to get a break! Holly was always saying that my being at work was a break but it didn’t feel like it, I’m sure it’s the same for any father, you get home from work and you’re tired and your head is still going at work pace. It’s hard to get into a good system when things are like that and I frequently wanted to have as much time to myself as Holly wanted for herself so there was always a fuss when there was 20 minutes between feeds over who it was who could go do something else (even posting a letter felt like a day out). As hard as it was, I tried to understand that breastfeeding and being stuck inside all the time was much harder than just not sleeping and going to work without a break. I constantly made little snacks for her because it was easier than making a big meal – and finding the time to eat it! Holly will remember the most amazing lasagne cooked by her brother; we heated it and were all ready to eat by 8pm, but then things got in the way and that amazing lasagne turned into a cold mess by 1am when we finally got the chance to eat it. There was another time when I thought I could cook a pizza and then get on and help with the feeding so that it would be ready just after they had gone to sleep. I still find bits of crisped and burnt cheese in the oven.

I supported holly to come up with a routine that would fit the babies needs and our own, electing to do the night feeds so that she could sleep (her rest is more important since she was their source of food and warmth and everything else in between). Once the routine settled in, and it happened quickly because the routine that we had worked out was heavily based on what they needed. Some routines you read about are centred on giving the parents a break and an easy life (Gina Ford can suck a melon!) but the one we came up with took into account that the babies seemed to want a double-feed within a 2 hour window in the evening, and they always took a nap at certain times of the day anyway so we just took steps to make sure they did what they wanted to at the same time each day. I believe that the whole reason they sleep through the night so regularly, so early is because Holly was so good in putting this routine down. She insisted on setting aside some time for play – whether it is singing to them or letting them explore new objects like wooden spoons and musical instruments. She is so good with the babies, and her philosophy of playtime has really helped them now as they seem so much more curious than they would be without this (“More curious” – holly hates when I use this kind of grammar, but I’m complementing her so she might not mention it when she proof reads). There are some people who don’t like the idea of strict routine, well I wouldn’t mind knowing how you raise triplets without one but ours is flexible to what they want and need, and they do live varied lives not being treated the same and always getting a different activity to do during play each day.

After 6 months, my overwhelming impression is that time goes by too quickly! I have had so much fun with all three of them, Gaius is so chatty and Ayla loves to watch whats going on – and she will let you know what she thinks about what’s happening. Zarek is quieter  but it’s a pleasure to see him develop. This leads me nicely to my last story, and my last piece of advice for new Dad’s (especially of triplets).

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPACT OF DAD. As I said before, I was doing the night feeds before the triplets started sleeping through regularly, but little Zarek was still waking through the night for a while after the other two, he also cried a lot more than the other two, since they had learned that the next feed was never too far away but Zarek had some trouble seeing this. It was very frustrating that he cried a lot, and the night feed with just Zarek was worse than all three because I just couldn’t comfort him like I could the other two. I don’t mind admitting that I would frequently tend to him with a frown and a less than loving touch (that means I wouldn’t fold his blanket neatly for him to sleep on, or throw a cotton wool ball next to him on the changing mat – I know, what a brute!). It was Holly who suggested that maybe he found me unpredictable and that made him uncomfortable – hence all the crying. On her advice, I made a special effort to be nice to him, I smiled while he cried and made smooth and deliberate movements around him. Just about a fortnight later and he’s now much happier. He smiles as much to me as he does to mum, he will sit quietly on my knee and even Holly has seen the difference, to the point where he comforts for me a little better than for Holly now. I’m proud to think that all he needed was a bit of attention and love from his Dad and now he’s fixed!

Friday, 31 January 2014

In memory of my Grandma

'I am who I am because of you
I'll miss you each and every day
But the memories I have had with you, 
they will always stay'

Thursday, 30 January 2014

When it rains..

 While searching for the medicine box I noticed some things the under the sink cupboard seemed condensationy....then realised they were a puddle...oh crap the pipe was dripping. Mention it to hubby, he touches it with some pilers and OH LOOK the pipe collapsed spraying water EVERYWHERE. He's trying to plug the leak, i'm trying to find the stop cock (yes my rather intelligent husband hadn't turned the water supply off BEFORE fiddling with it) to discover what I thought was the stop cock is the gas shut-off. So I trade with hubby (much spraying of water ensues) until i can get my pregnant behind in the cupboard my thumb pressed firmly against the leak to stop any more carnage. This goes on for about twenty minutes with us switching position before I manage to find the location of the stop-cock in our mortgage info, it was only behind the blooming washing machine!. So hubby and i trade places again - more water spraying EVERYWHERE. He has to dissassemble a cupboard and drag the washer out, turns the cock and .... STILL FLOODING! Finally Goes outside and (genius moment) empties the hosepipe and voila the flood stops. His dad arrives to our phonecalls of "omg what do we do where is the stop cock" and the menfolk discover the entire pipe and taps are corroded. £50 later i have a new kitchen tap and pipe plumbed in by his wonderful dad. They leave and we discover it's still leaking, but from further back. This time easily tightened. But the cupboard, cupboard contents, next cupboard and floor were drenched. There's a heavily pregnant me trying to navigate without slipping, both D and I soaked through and the kids screaming from the drama of it all......
maybe a little funny