When I first discovered I was expecting, I was excited to join the ranks of motherhood as a fledgling member. Soon, however, I learned that I was not having a sweet bundle of joy; I was having three. As blessed as we are to have become a family of five so quickly, I found that having triplets made me seem almost un-relatable to other moms.
Here are some things you should know about raising triplets:
1. I often wonder what life with one child is like. Not because I wish I had one child. I am obsessed with all three of my kids. But you know that yummy moment when a newborn finishes eating and curls up asleep in your arms? For me, that moment always meant that it was time to put that baby in a crib and attend to the next child. I used to daydream about what it would be like to hold my child whenever I felt like it for as long as I wanted. I still imagine how it would feel to go to the store with a child and not have people stare, comment, or whisper about my family. I envy your normalcy.
2. Everyone finds my situation fascinating””except for me. Having a family that differs from the norm invites a lot of curiosity and probing lines of questioningoften inappropriate in nature. When people see triplets, they think it gives them a license to discuss a family’s very private business of conception. Some try to be covert by asking questions like, ”Do twins run in your family?” or ”Was it a surprise?” Others go for the jugular and ask, ”Are they natural?” or ”Did you do The Fertility?” While I am not particularly private about our family’s journey with infertility and our subsequent IVF miracles, fielding these questions from people I don’t have any connection to feels so invasive. In addition to the barrage of questions from strangers cornering me in the supermarket, I also get loud comments, whispers, and stares from passers-by. Once, I ordered a latte at Starbucks when I had my babies with me and the older lady at the register yelled back to the other baristas, ”She must not be breastfeeding, she ordered caffeine!” Geez. Thanks lady. And, of course, there are the cars in the neighborhood slowing to a creep as I push my triple stroller along the sidewalk. There is the rubbernecking and whispers while I stand in line at Target. The loud comments as my children play at the park. I am not a meek person by nature, but I’m also not fond of being the center of attention. These repeated events have made me crawl into my shell and avert eye contact every time I go out. I’m not trying to be rude, I’ve just been conditioned to act this way.
3. Our normal is different from your normal. Not better. Not worse. Just different. Having three infants is logistically cumbersome. Daily, we have to solve problems that others never needed to consider. What car seats are slim enough to fit three across? Can a triple stroller fit in the back of the car or through a doorway or on an elevator? How do you give bottles to all three when they are hungry at the same time? How will we evacuate the house if there’s a fire? Will the doctor allow us to bring three children at the same time? What is the parent-child ratio in this mommy-and-me class? Does this restaurant have three high chairs? These issues are exactly the ones that can make our family seem so un-relatable. Ultimately, we all begin problem-solving the moment we arrive home with a newborn; we just have some different problems to solve.
4. I will never minimize your struggle. Often, you will say things to me like, ”I guess I shouldn’t complain when I only have one baby.” Please complain. Vent. Make me feel human. Being responsible for the wellbeing of a little life is stressful and none of us really know what we’re doing. We’re on the same team. We’re moms. Our struggles won’t be identical, but they will be real.
5. In some ways, I have it easier than you do. Having three babies at once isn’t necessarily easy, but there are some ways in which it is easier than one. For instance, when I put my kids in bed, they go right to sleep without any coaxing. In fact, they never expect individualized attention for anything. That makes my job easier in lots of ways. As they’re getting older, they are starting to play together. A lot. This provides me with a little bit of freedom to get some other things done. I can’t imagine having to be a child’s sole entertainment all day; that must be absolutely exhausting.
6. I am NOT a Supermom. I hate that term. If you had three babies at once, you know what you would do? You would raise them. Just like I’m doing. Honestly, you would probably do it better.
7. I need you. Having multiples can be lonely and isolating. People sometimes assume that I am too busy or too overwhelmed to do anything else. Or they just want the simplicity of going out one-on-one with a friend and her child instead of taking on the challenges that come with my whole crew. I can’t blame them for feeling this way, but please know that I can’t do this in a vacuum. I need someone to bounce ideas off and to share stories with. When I get swept up in the chaos, I want to be able to use you as an anchor. And I hope you use me, too.
— By Krysta Manning