Tuesday, August 23, 2011

4 months.... how are we managing?

**Periodically I'll try and post something about what's been working for us along this journey, in case it's helpful to others.

Here are my thoughts at 4 months:
  • I haven't written about this yet, but we FINALLY gave in and hired help. We resisted for a while because of the cost (how could we justify hiring help when I'm not even working??), and because I was worried about how it would be to have someone that I don't really know, in my home, caring for my babies side by side with me. Well, IT'S FABULOUS!!!! I advertised through an online forum and interviewed a few candidates. In the end, Amelie was a perfect fit for our family. My advice to others is to hire as much help as you can afford because it's a good investment (someone gave me this advice while I was pregnant but it took me a few months to really understand it)! Having a helper four days a week 8:30-1:30 has allowed me to feel like a mom again rather than a crazy lady just scrambling to stay afloat. I must add that our families continue to be ridiculously helpful and supportive. My mother-in-law Patty comes every tuesday afternoon until wednesday night. Knowing I can count on her help, has also been such am incredible blessing.
  • Tummy time corner- As an occupational therapist I know how important tummy time is, but with three babies it seems even harder to make it happen as often as it should. Plus, with Colin running around, I've often been afraid that he's going to step on them (on accident of course). So for many reasons, I've not done as much tummy time with them as I should! Recently, I set up an area in the corner of our main room, out of blankets and colorful mats. I like to vary the surface textures too (gotta get a variety of sensory experiences!... sorry, that's the OT in me coming out...). By the way, I've found that a bath mat works great as a play mat for tummy time because it doesn't slide and often has great texture. I also keep three boppy pillows at the ready (to help minimize fatigue when needed), tummy time toys such as mirrors and colorful rattles, and a music box because I find that soothing tunes help my boys hang out on their bellies longer. I also keep a bumbo chair close by because I find that when one of the boys is fussing about having to be on his belly, often a short break in a bumbo chair is all it takes to help them re-group and try again. In fact, they like to watch each other! Of course, I'd prefer to hold them when they need a break, but that's not always possible. 

  • Earlier bed times- Dr. Weissbluth, who wrote this book and this book, spoke at our local hospital to a group of parents with multiples about how to help your kids sleep. So of course, Chris and I went! If I'm being honest, I was familiar, however pretty uninterested in his book the first time around with my son colin. Dr. Sears books- this one and this one- are what resinated most with my own intuition of what was right for my baby. However, this time around, I'm finding that I'm much more open to a variety of strategies to help the boys sleep on a schedule, because I know this will help keep Chris and I sane. I was pleasantly surprised by how reasonable his approach seemed. My biggest take aways from the night? 
    • Look for signs of drowsiness and put the babies down for bed then, rather than waiting until they are overtired and crying, or when they get their second wind and it's even harder to help them sleep.
    • Early bed times! Something with the circadian rhythms... I'm not sure because I was half asleep myself and I don't have time to really read his book! But the thinking is that although logic might cause one to think keeping a baby up late will in turn help them sleep longer, actually the opposite tends to be true. Putting a baby down early can help the baby sleep longer through the night. Hmmmm.... so keeping triplets up until 11:00 p.m. isn't so good??? (Not that we'd been doing that. Okay, we totally were.)
    • The very next night after hearing doctor Weisbluth speak, we watched for signs of drowsiness (okay maybe obsessively), and acted on them, putting our boys to bed just before 6 pm. You should have seen Chris and I running around yelling, "Signs of Drowsiness! Signs of Drowsiness!... Act Now! Act Now! This is it! Get the bottles, get the p.j's! Get the pacifiers! Move 'em out! Move 'em out!" Like we were executing some sort of high stakes military operation. It worked. They got up twice during the night for a bottle, but went right back to sleep and slept until almost 7:30! I must say that having our evening to ourselves to re-group, spend time with Colin, actually eat dinner together, and have time just Chris and I was pretty darn nice. 
    • I'll add that I'm not doing the whole "cry it out" stuff. I completely respect that this approach may work for some, but it doesn't jive well with me. Not at this age at least. I'm also trying to respect that each of the triplets is their own person with their own individual differences. So for example, Everett seems to naturally stay up later.... and if he can't fall asleep, I'll bring him downstairs with me. Plus, it gives us a chance to get some one on one time with him. Then, he almost always sleeps in longer, sometimes until 8:30 a.m. even. This just seems to be how he's wired which is different than say Finn, who is ready and willing to go to bed easily at 6:00, but who is also the first up, smiling and ready for the day before 7:00. Carter can go either way, sometimes he has trouble falling asleep, so he stays up later. Still other nights he's down for the count right with Finn. 
  • Related to sleep- the boys continue to sleep in our bedroom. One is in a crib and two are in pack n' plays. This is not ideal. If we had another room to put them in, we would! I still hear every grunt and groan and find that I'm not getting a good nights rest. I'll hear something and then get all paranoid that something dreadful is going on in their crib and get up to check on them- again and again. They're always fine but I can't seem to help myself.
  • Nursing- I've gotten to such a great place with this. Lately I'm really enjoying nursing my boys and rarely pump (in fact, I can't remember the last time I pumped). They mostly get formula and I use nursing for snacks, comfort and bonding time. Lately I'm nursing a lot at night. Often, one of the boys will end up in bed with me and I welcome that. The way I look at it is that it gives us extra cuddling time, gives the baby an opportunity to nurse, which keeps my supply up and provides additional bonding time. 
  • We threw out the coveted feeding schedule almost two months ago which although scary, made sense and was ultimately liberating. Now our boys eat when they're hungry but not on any externally forced schedule. For the most part, they get hungry at the same times, but not always. Carter does better eating smaller portions more often while Finn and Everett can now go almost 4 hours without eating during the day. 

No comments: