Dear Hannah and Tom,
Congratulations on the birth of your three beautiful bundles of joy. You don't know me, but I know a bit about what you're going through. We have identical triplet boys who were also naturally conceived. We know the shock of the discovery when you heard there were three heartbeats; we know the hardship of the first few weeks and months as the two of you feed, change and care for the three of them; we know the miracle and joy of giving birth to three healthy babies; and we know, for better and worse, the years of constant commentary that await you.
You will be bombarded with questions. Our triplets just turned 5 and we still get the same questions. "Did you use IVF?" "Can you tell them apart?" "Do they have different personalities?" and always, "How do you do it?"
Right about now, you are probably wondering how you will do it. I know we were -- and on some days, still are. But, though the days may be long and the nights even longer, you'll find the years will fly by. Before you know it, those delicate little girls will be running off to kindergarten, leaving you to wonder, how did that happen so fast? and perhaps even, how did we do it?!
As you've surely already discovered, there is no book on parenting identical triplets. There is no guide. Your pediatrician has likely never seen them before and the same will be true for their teachers. They are a marvel. They are one in hundred million. And since my sweet boys are too, here are a few things I wish someone had told me:
- Ask for help. And accept it when offered. Don't be proud; be grateful. People want to help you. They want to give a baby a bottle, change a diaper, bring you dinner, give you a break. Say yes!
- When people ask those prying questions, have your answers prepared. People mean well, but as those newborns grow into toddlers and pre-k kids, they hear and understand what those curious minds want to know. And frankly, it's none of their business. It's taken me too long to realize this. Don't be afraid to speak up and defend your sweet souls. "Yes, I can tell them apart, they are absolutely unique and if you don't mind, I'd rather not discuss it anymore in front of them." Over and out!
- Be prepared for people to marvel at you. And say some ridiculous things. Things like, "Wow, you have three babies?! But you look so normal!" Again, I think they mean well, but they, like you prior to hearing the news, simply can't fathom what having three babies is like. You are a marvel. And so are they. Remember that.
- Don't beat yourself up if you can't tell them apart. One day you will. Until then, try a different color nail polish on each of their big toes; toenails are preferable to fingernails only because fingernails end up in the mouth. We also consistently dressed each of our boys in a different color, which worked quite well until one thought his name was "Blue." So, approach color-coding your kids with caution!
- Write things down. You may have heard that "mommy brain" can make you a bit forgetful. Multiply that by three and, well, it's not pretty. Keep track of their feedings and diapers. When one has a fever, the others are likely to follow. Write down their medications and doses so you don't mix them up. And don't be hard on yourself if and when you do, because it's bound to happen eventually!
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