A Triple Play!
By Brenda Caudle
Bixby, Oklahoma, USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 13 No. 1, January-February 1996, pp. 9-11
Our fifth baby was due in November 1993. Our other children were Miranda, seven, Meghan, six, Drew, four, and Ty, two. We were very relaxed about our impending arrival, knowing that I had always carried past the due date, had fairly easy deliveries, went home quickly after delivery, and nursed on demand beginning immediately after birth.
We discovered the family bed with our first baby and each baby had been welcomed into our bed until he or she was interested in moving to a big bed around three or four years of age. I had tandem nursed three pairs of siblings and we had experienced baby-led weaning. We were confident that we knew what to expect and things would go smoothly once again.
In my fifth month of pregnancy we went for an ultrasound to see if I could be carrying twins, since I was measuring thirteen weeks ahead of my due date. We had had large babies before, and I really thought we were just having a large baby again.
During the exam the technician spotted two heads immediately and tears of joy came to my eyes. I had always wanted twins. After a minute or two the technician looked very concerned, so I worried that something was wrong with the babies. She said things looked good, but she needed a minute to check something. After a few moments she said, "I wanted to be sure before I said anything, but there are three babies in three separate sacs." My husband and I were relieved to learn that all three looked great, but we were in shock. We never dreamed we would be having triplets!
After the ultrasound my mind was racing. Would they be okay? Could I carry to term? How in the world could I breastfeed? Breastfeeding was all I knew. I was so afraid I wouldn't get to mother these babies the way we believed to be the best.
As soon as we were home I began calling to get any information I could find about breastfeeding triplets. I was told by several different people that we would need to use schedules, charts and would definitely need to supplement. I finally spoke with an LLL Leader who said she knew someone who had nursed triplets without supplementing. She gave me the number, and I contacted Mona by phone. Mona spoke of using the family bed, nursing on demand, toddler nursing, and a parenting style close to our own. We were relieved to learn that what we hoped for was possible.
The children were born at thirty-five weeks and one day. Brad weighed five pounds, ten ounces, Macy weighed five pounds, twelve ounces, and Noah weighed four pounds, eight ounces. Brad and Macy were able to room in with me and nursed beautifully. Noah was taken to the NICU with respiratory difficulty. I was able to pump some colostrum for Noah, but was so busy nursing Brad and Macy that I was not getting milk pumped for Noah. On the third day after delivery, Brad, Macy, and I were released and moved to a room we rented on the floor above the NICU.
On the fourth day my best friend, Mary, arrived and helped me get busy pumping. We quickly had Noah on breast milk only. He was being tube-fed, and we were told he would have to take everything by breast or bottle for forty-eight hours before he could go home.
I attempted to nurse him several times and went to see him in the NICU every time he awoke, but Noah was so little (four pounds), he could not take in enough milk before tiring out.
On the sixth day we decided to let Noah have breast milk from a premie nipple and bottle. Since he did not have to stimulate a let-down, he seemed to take more from the bottle. We were beginning to get very anxious to get him home. We felt breastfeeding would go more smoothly there.
Tommy or I would go down to Noah every time he awoke, and we would coax and talk him into taking all of his milk. At the end of the sixth day we had a few nurses who were very interested in the effort we were making to get our baby home as soon as possible. One nurse even called me at 2:00 AM to let me know that the doctor had just increased Noah's feeding by 10 ccs and did I want to bring him breast milk instead of adding formula. Yes!
On the morning of the seventh day, Noah began taking all milk by mouth with no tube feedings. We held our breath wondering if he would be able to keep it up for two days.
On the morning of the ninth day, Tommy went down to feed Noah while I nursed Brad and Macy. Tommy came racing back about forty-five minutes later. Noah had taken all of his milk and the pediatrician said we could take him home! What a wonderful feeling it was to leave for home with three tiny, but healthy babies!
Once home we settled the babies into our bed, and I began to nurse Noah immediately. I spoke with the pediatrician, and he agreed with my plan not to use any bottles. He simply asked that we weigh Noah nightly for awhile. Noah only weighed four pounds, four ounces so he couldn't afford to lose weight. It was a blessing to be able to let Brad or Macy stimulate the let-down and then let Noah benefit from the milk. After a few days Noah was able to nurse with no help, and he gained well.
We did only a few things differently than with our other babies. We started using pacifiers around four months when nursing was well established. For me it was easier than listening to them cry in their car seats. We tried juice bottles around six months, but the babies weren't very interested, and any juice they did get upset their stomachs, so we quit. We did start some solids at six-and-a-half months. We did not have to supplement, and the babies didn't consume very many foods until around a year.
There have been some rough times and times that I considered weaning, but the benefits still outweigh the difficulties. My husband has been my greatest supporter, but having other support was critical, too. When times were rough I would talk with Mona (who had nursed her triplets) and Renee, a Leader in the area who has been a tremendous help.
Brad, Macy, and Noah are now twenty months and are happy, healthy, nursing toddlers. Recently I have put a few limits on their nursing, but I hope we will still wait a little while for weaning. I'm so thankful that I have the opportunity to bond with each baby as an individual through the nursing relationship. I'm also thankful that we have been able to breastfeed and didn't have to make other choices just because they all happened to be born on the same day.