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An Interview With a Mom of Triplets

Our boundless curiosity about the ability of a human to raise three tiny lifeforms at once led us to sit down with our own commenter, iceberg, who has survived the first few years and emerged unbroken. She’ll be in the comments to answer any other questions you might have!

“HOW DID YOU HAVE THREE BABIES?” I ask with a meaningful glance!

For that, you’ll have to wait for my upcoming feature, “Bake-at-Home Babies.”

We’re very excited! For the record, let’s state I deliberately got clearance to ask that super-rude question for humorous purposes.

Oh, girl, that’s not EVEN close to the rudest. People have straight up asked if we used fertility drugs, etc., to have them, including a new coworker, like, 3 seconds after I met her for the first time.

One day I was walking in the park with them in their wagon, this woman with her about-7-year-old kid walks by and asks if they’re triplets, I say yes, all fine and good, then as she continues to walk next to us, casually says to her kid something like “You can’t do that naturally, you know.” SO rude, not to mention completely inaccurate and bizarre – I’m sure her kid barely even knows where babies usually come from and couldn’t give two shits anyway.

My friend just tells gawkers: “Yes, they are SCIENCE BABIES, deal with it.” I’ve always had a soft spot for: “This is what happens when you have multiple orgasms when you conceive, so, uh sorry for you and your single babies.” Okay, let’s get down to it. Does having three babies put three times as much strain on your marriage, or a billion times as much?

I can’t really compare, since I only know what it’s like having three! Everything in that post about babies and sleep deprivation was 300% true; frankly I was a little surprised that someone with “only” one baby got as close to the way I feel as she did, but no sleep is no sleep, you know? As far as the strain on our marriage, I was unprepared for how much less in control of my emotions I would become through sleep deprivation and stress, and for how vicious our fighting became. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but yeah, it’s an ongoing process and a conscious effort to actually be decent to one another- we are still basically in survival mode.

I guess that you’ve only ever had three babies, so you don’t necessarily even know what a single baby would be like, but did you ever hate people with one baby who complained? No judgment.

No! You experience what you experience. A friend of mine said he felt guilty for complaining about being tired to me, and I was like, someone always has it worse, you know? Like, I am not starving, or a refugee from a warzone, or a child soldier or something. Never give up your right to complain! Haha. It is a bit hard not to be like *laughs bitterly* when someone with no kids at home complains of tiredness, but I try to keep it in perspective.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

It costs all of the money. No, it was rough when they were all on formula, but now they eat real foods; bananas and Cheerios (or as I call them, “Toddler Chow”) are really cheap, and being vegetarian helps in that respect too. We do go through about 4 gallons of milk a week though – thank God no one is allergic to cows milk.

How long did it take you to see individual personalities appearing?

We saw glimmers really soon; they didn’t crystallize into full on personalities, I think, until at least one year old if not later – the Ringleader has always been determined and fearless, the Clown has always been cheeky and quick to laughter, and the Quiet One has always been… well, quiet, and sweet.

How much sleep did you get in the first year?

Nowhere near enough! Sometimes it could be like 2 hours in a night, and even then that might not be consecutive. I was basically a zombie. A friend of mine and his wife just had triplets; it’s been “fun” watching his brain melt the same way.

What helped? Groups for moms of multiples, blogs, child care, being in a country with better health care, your partner, stiff drinks, denial, love?

Before the babies were born, we did a sort of preparedness class at the local hospital – we toured the newborn ICU (NICU), learned some helpful information and met other parents-to-be. I made a really good friend who ended up having twins a few days younger than our kids. We almost never see each other because it’s hard to organize and have time but we keep in touch via Facebook and email.

Our mothers came over one after the other for the first 7 months, stayed with us and looked after the kids and helped with cooking and house work. I literally don’t think I would have survived those first months without them.

I also recently joined a Facebook group for local parents of multiples – everyone is really supportive and nice and we feel less alone in the struggle, I recommend it.

Since the babies got old enough to return affection in really concrete ways (like hugs & kisses) that definitely helps! It kind of ameliorates the flailing, kicking and biting of the tantrum times. They are actually super affectionate, it’s really sweet.

And of course the Hairpin has saved my sanity by having such a mix of escapism and honesty in its writing.

Oh, that’s nice to hear! It was so helpful for me to keep writing and prevent my brain turning to mush that first year, especially. Okay, level with us: do you ever ever want another baby?

Hell no. Once this lot are potty trained and the dog goes, I never plan to deal with anyone else’s poop EVER again. This might sound selfish, but unless you have cloth-diapered triplets I don’t think you can understand how dehumanizing it is to be literally almost wrist-deep in (other people’s!) shit every day. My husband wants more because he is insane, but I told him if we have any more we are using his uterus.

Did they wake each other up constantly?

Not really, once they’re asleep, but if any of them are acting up the others might get annoyed. The Ringleader yelled at her brother “gotosleep!!!” when he was clowning around at naptime the other day. But if one is let cry for too long in the wee hours of the morning they do tend to wake up the rest so Cry It Out isn’t really an option if we want to remain functional – it’s easier to quietly extract one and calm them down than to get all three back down at 3 in the morning.

Do people totally maul you in public?

YES, people are so weird. Random people have literally stopped their cars to take a photo of them in their 3-car wagon when I walk down the street with them. People have questions, people take photos (sometimes without asking), people freely give their opinions on my age and weight… The first time I took just one of them out in public it was completely bizarre because literally no one even gave us a second look; I felt oddly invisible as that NEVER happens when all three are with me.

Now that you have three gorgeous, gorgeous (OMIGOD, I have seen pics on Facebook) toddlers, are you happy it happened this way, or do you still kinda wish you’d had baby-baby-baby spaced out?

Well, like I said before, once we’re done with diapers I am done for life, and they’ll always have their little gang for support, which might not be the case with siblings further apart, and although my pregnancy was probably as extreme as being pregnant 3 times I only had to do it once, so there are pros, but then if you have an older kid they might be able to help with the next one, and feeding one baby has GOT to be easier than feeding 3 at once. And then there’s times like teething and the terrible twos which just make you want to run off to Costa Rica and leave them behind. But then the wily little jerks will do something like trotting around the living room ALL HOLDING HANDS and giggling, or do the Happy Dance when you come home after work, or run at you and throw their arms around your neck for a hug, and it makes your heart feel three times too big for your chest, and you can’t imagine missing out on any of these crazy little nutjobs. Like, if we only had one, who would we not have?

Thanks so much, iceberg! We’re looking forward to “Bake at Home Babies.”

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