Monday, January 16, 2012

8 months, what's working?

Once again I find a blog post that I wrote, and I guess in the mist of the holiday madness, forgot to post! The boys are now 9+ months, and it was interesting for me to read through this (which I wrote when they turned 8 months) because it seems so much has changed just since then.

"I want YOU!"... Carter on the left, Everett on the right.... Finn crawling away...
There you are cutie... Finn
I told myself that for the first year, I'd track what's working (or not) each month. But these are getting harder to write...

Not because we're not actively trying to manage this broad of boys. We are constantly trying things, adapting, changing, brainstorming, always trying to figure out what helps our family system run more smoothly. These "what's working" posts are getting harder to write only because nothing we are doing seems unusual or stands out anymore. Managing day to day with our boys is our normal now.

At first, everything was SO new and different and way out of our comfort zone. Just having triplets plus one seemed soooo out of the realm of "normal". And there were so many things we were consciously doing and seeking out and that others were actively doing for us on a regular basis to help us adjust. The things that were very helpful during that time period really stood out.

But the thing is, having triplets plus one now doesn't seem unusual to us. Now, it's just our family and our life and I can't imagine what it would be like not to have four under three years. And actually, the babies are almost never referred to as "the triplets", although occasionally they're lovingly referred to as "the trips". But day in and day out they are just Carter, Finley, Everett and Colin. Our four boys- who happen to all be super close in age- haha! So it's harder to be aware of things that we are doing, simply because it doesn't seem like we are 'doing' anymore, rather, just living day to day with our family. I'm not even sure if that makes sense......

In any case,  I'll try and go through some of what's been going on around here and how we're trying to manage it all at 8 months in case it's helpful to someone else!

Sleep- The boys go to bed at around 6 p.m. This is something that has really stuck and seems helpful- for the babies who seems tired by then, to us who appreciate having a moment to eat dinner and breath, and for colin who gets some time to play with mom and dad without his ever curious brothers peering at his toys through the baby gate.

We still feed them a bottle around 10 p.m. just before we go to bed. I'm told that we could drop this bottle, that it would take the babies a few nights to adjust (aka probably waking up screaming), but for now, keeping the feeding is working for us, and I just don't have the energy to ween them off it yet.

On a good night, all the babies will sleep through until about 6 a.m. One of the hardest aspects of parenting triplets for me, continues to be that it seems someone is always having trouble sleeping (teething, tummy ache, eczema itching, wet diaper). Even if one baby is up late, or up during the night and therefore would sleep later, someone else has had a great night sleep and is up early, around 5:30.

We are tired. A lot of the time.

They seem to be in between taking two and three naps still. I try and keep in mind that they are 6 weeks adjusted in age. I think they are right on the cusp of switching to two naps. Carter is already more of a two nap guy while Everett tends to take very short naps and so three fits him best still. Finn could go either way depending on the day. A couple months ago it made more sense for us to keep them on the same schedule. But these days, we allow each baby to nap when it makes sense for them, within reason.

They tend to go down for the first nap at the same time but Carter will almost always sleep longer, Everett will almost always be up first and again Finn varies. At this time what feels right to us is to respect those individual differences and work around them.

I took this today... usually this white board is chalk full of the schedule, to dos, to buys etc. This was one of the things we added after the babies were about a month because we wanted a quick and easy way to communicate with each other and those helping us, not just with a notebook but something we'd see right when we set foot in the babies area. 
We keep a white board in the basement which is where we spend a lot of our time during the day and just keep track of who goes down for a nap when, who eats at what time and when each baby wakes up. This way we can hopefully notice patterns and don't have to keep track of everything in our heads! No matter what though, they all go to bed by 6 p.m. and naturally get up at 6 a.m. (if earlier, I try my very best to get them back to sleep or just wait).

We also keep a swing in the hall outside their bedroom. If someone is having trouble sleeping or gets up too early, we'll often stick them in the swing and this seems to really help. Is there one baby that seems to  need this swing more than the others? Yup! But they all take advantage of it as needed. The other morning, it was still dark out and I was half asleep when I went to put whoever was up too early in the swing... only to realize as I laid them down, that someone else was already in there! (placed there by Chris earlier in the night!) Thank God that baby didn't wake up when I laid his brother on top of him momentarily.

Feeding- I'm not breastfeeding at all anymore. I stopped around 6 months but didn't document it I don't think. I'm fine with it.... for the most part. The one thing that really bothers me is that I can't remember the last time I nursed each on of them. Nursing just gradually seemed to decrease until one day I realized I wasn't hardly nursing them anymore. My milk dried up very quickly and then it was over. I wish I could remember the last time.... I'm sentimental like that. I have to keep remembering that I did the best I could. But honestly, it's something I wish had played out differently. I'm not sure how it could have but I wish I could still nurse them.

We prop them to take their bottles by still using the bouncy chairs and a blanket. It's the only time they use the bouncy chairs as they obviously can now sit and/ or crawl around. I recently tried to introduce sippy cups.... they're not so interested yet! For now I'm not pushing it but I look forward to the day they can hold their own cups to drink. They LOVE eating solid foods! I feed them after their first nap and again during "the witching hour", around 4:30 p.m. They are often starting to get tired/ cranky and I'm alone with all of them just waiting for the hour to pass so Chris will get home from work! Food is a nice distraction and Colin will often have a snack during this time too.

Other things that continue to make a difference:
  • Making a conscious choice everyday to focus on the positive and remember what a sacred blessing it is to get to parent each of these boys rather than focusing on how hard it can be. When they're all crying, need me and I'm alone with them, it can definitely feel VERY overwhelming. But I know that every day is an opportunity to have a better attitude, make a needed shift, or just do better.
  • Finding opportunities for one on one time with each of the kids. This continues to be especially important for Colin. The other day Colin and I took the train downtown to meet Chris for lunch. Being able to focus on him without the distraction of things to get done around the house or with the babies was really nice- for all of us.
  • Hot Yoga! Ohhhh, I am LOVING getting back to yoga, slowly but surely. This pregnancy took such a toll on my body and for me it's taken until now to even feel up to exercising. But yoga has been great! I know it is healing my body and I can feel myself getting stronger every time I go. Not to mention it helps clear my mind too!
Lastly I'll just say that the hardest part of "8 months" for me is how mobile they are getting. Make no mistake IT IS FANTASTIC that they are so curious and on the move.... but they are into everything and that can feel hard to manage. Both from a safety perspective and also because they are always trying to get into Colin's stuff. This has been very hard for Colin. We use a huge baby gate to divide the room but they are clever! Sometimes they manage to get around the gate. OR- they will stand at the gate shaking it, staring at his toys and yelling. I don't blame Colin for being overwhelmed by this! I certainly am!

Well- turns out I had more to say about this month than I thought! HA! I hope and pray it's helpful to someone else expecting triplets or multiples. 

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