Sunday, February 01, 2009

Heaven on Earth

Someone sent the following to me in an email. I really appreciate what this woman has to say about having triplets. I like the comment about feeling alone and weird at times. People really say the weirdest things to us. One time a woman told me as she stared at my triplet stroller "That is just disgusting"! WOW! The other day we were leaving the gym and an older man was walking out with us. He asked me if the girls were twins. I told him they were two of three that I have Triplets. He said, "boy I thought I had it bad with twins" I then told him that we really feel blessed to have three healthy children. He then summed it up like this "the first 9 months we were scratching our heads and asking God "Why Us", from 9 months on it was pure heaven on earth"! This is absolutely true. We would not do it any other way. I am posting what is below to raise some awareness of being respectful of Higher order multiple families and their privacy. My kids are now at an age where they can understand what people are asking and saying about us. They are very proud to be triplets and I always bring them into the conversation with inquiring public now because I want them to continue to be proud of being a triplet. I think also makes the "public" more aware of what they are saying and how they are acting about the Higher Order Multiple factor.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the attention we receive while out with the boys. I've understood for quite some time that there is this intense fascination with higher order multiples. I'm not sure if some of the new television shows, like "John and Kate plus 8" have fueled the interest. Perhaps the rarity of it all is what attracts people to us.

I've been wrestling with how to respond to the many people who approach us. One of my newest concerns is what my boys will learn from me when I do respond.

There are so many things that the general public just doesn't understand about having multiples. We get asked the same things all the time. Here is my best attempt at debunking some of the most common myths about our multiples. Enjoy.

1. Families with multiples receive help. I'm referring to two types of help: financial and help in the way of childcare. We've had many people ask what kind of assistance we get from the government. None. In our state/county, only families that live beneath the poverty level can receive aid in the way of health care, groceries and formula. We happen to live in the county with the second highest median income in the country. The median income in our county is 98K. To be considered living in poverty, a family of 5 cannot earn more than 18K. The financial burden of having triplets (or more) is heavy. Many families with multiples take on this burden alone.

I will say that there are some great companies that sent us free samples and coupons. It was very helpful. Unlike what you sometimes see on television, we did not receive a lifetime supply of diapers or any other item. We were also incredibly fortunate to be showered with beautiful gifts from our families, friends and coworkers.

I also get asked all the time what kind of childcare help we have. Lots of people also ask if either of our parents have moved in with us. While I do know families who have done one or both of these, we have have neither. We sacrificed my salary so that I could stay at home with the boys. While this is a very demanding job, help in the way of a nanny would be incredibly expensive. As for an au pair, we just don't have the room in our home. We have no family living close by. There is also a pride issue involved here. What kind of mother would I be if I could not care for my own children? While logically I can accept that I do need occasional help, I have a very hard time letting go.

2. The biology of it all: If I remember correctly I learned all about the conception of a human in ninth grade biology. Either people don't remember this or they get confused when more than one baby is born at a time.

Identical multiples have the same DNA. One egg. One sperm. The embryo splits. Depending on when the embryo splits, the babies may or may not have their own amniotic sacs. Identical twinning is completely random.

Fraternal identical do not have identical DNA. Each baby was conceived with it's own egg and sperm. (That doesn't sound right, but you get the point.) Fraternal babies have their own amniotic sac.

They can all be identical. They can all be fraternal. You can have a mixture of both identical and fraternal.

I have also been asked on more than one occasion: "Are they all the same?" I don't always understand what this means. Each of my boys is his own unique individual. They have different personalities, likes and dislikes.

3. All multiples were conceived by means of fertility treatments. First of all, this is not true. Spontaneous multiples do happen. Secondly, it's not appropriate to ask. Most importantly, it makes no difference at all.

4. We were "trying" to have triplets. While we often joke about having sex three times in one night, no one can "try" to have triplets. Even those of us who have undergone some sort of fertility treatment NEVER intended to conceive multiples. There is no way any fertility clinic would try to help a couple conceive triplets or more. It's dangerous. It's risky. It's bad for their statistics.

5. It's okay to point, stare, gawk and comment at families who are out with their multiples. I would never dream of pointing at a person in a wheelchair and saying, "Look boys, that lady can't walk!" I would never say out loud in public, "Wow. That man is bald. He must have cancer. Poor thing." Surely if I went around town running my mouth like this, I would get attacked. Maybe shot. For some reason, the basic rules of common courtesy are thrown out the window when we take the boys out.

6. What really happens in a multiple pregnancy: Few realize the toll a triplet pregnancy takes on a woman's body (and mental health). Yes our bellies get much bigger. Our pregnancies are often void of joy. Very early on, many of us were asked to reduce or terminate our pregnancies.

Our pregnancies are huge emotional roller coasters. We worry daily if our babies will be born too prematurely. We worry about cord entanglement, twin to twin transfusion, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes, pre eclampsia, pre term labor, extreme prematurity, premature rupture of membranes, birth defects. . .the list could go on forever.

Most of us suffer the pain and heartache of having three babies in the NICU. We spend weeks, and sometimes months, on bed rest. We travel back and forth between our homes and the hospital trying to be a mommy to three babies living in two different places. We try to protect our preemies from RSV and other dangerous germs.

Our bodies struggle to function again. Our skin stretches beyond your imagination. We have stretch marks in places that we never knew possible. We have aches and pains that last for months (sometimes longer).

We cry because no one understands. We grieve over the pregnancy we didn't have. We have days filled with guilt because we feel like there just isn't enough Mommy to go around.

With time, love, and support we begin to heal. We learn to rejoice for the miracles we've been given.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a grandmother of triplets I can assure you that we all worried about the health of the babies and the mother. As soon as those three wonderful little people were born we thanked God that all was fine for everyone. We thank God every day for having blessed us with three happy and healthy grandchildren.

People that don't experience this are not aware of the joy that comes from having three wonderful children the same age and for that I am sorry for them.

As the grandmother, I feel blessed.

Grandma Mary