This is a question I am frequently asked, but there are two parts to this question; what is the hardest part of having triplets and what is the hardest part about Down syndrome? Triplets and Down syndrome are hard by themselves, not going to sugar coat it. There are times when I feel like I am NEVER going to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the answer is probably not what you are expecting.
Most people expect the answers to be about raising or caring for them. How do you feed three babies at one time? This is pretty easy for most triplet moms… bottle propping. Not the case with my trio though. Coldon has feeding difficulties and we have to hold him and the bottle in a certain manner, so we absolutely could not bottle prop him. Greyson suffered from reflux and colic until he was about four months old, so we couldn’t prop a bottle for him either. This has definitely been hard, especially when they all want to eat at the same time, but this isn’t the hardest part of having triplets for me.
Triplets are almost always going to be premature and prematurity affects a baby’s development; when and how they hit milestones and how they sleep. Coldon has for the most part been a good sleeper. He started sleeping through the night around four-five months old. Greyson and Ella on the other hand didn’t start sleeping through the night until around seven months old. I thought the four month sleep regression was going to kill us. It was merciless… the sleep deprivation from day one was unrelenting and exhausting. However, they sleep through the night now and their sleeping patterns haven’t been the hardest part for me.
The next part of the question, what is the hardest part of Down syndrome, isn’t what you think it is either. Thankfully, Coldon’s greatest struggle with his diagnosis has been feeding difficulties. It is absolutely frustrating at times and we’re under constant stress and worry if he is getting enough nutrition. We also had an ongoing, horrible experience with his G-tube. He has some medical complications, requiring frequent doctors appointments and weekly therapy, however, this isn’t the hardest part about Down syndrome for me.
For me, the hardest part about having triplets and Down syndrome is not being able to spend enough one on one time with Coldon, Ella and Greyson individually. Most people know how demanding one baby or toddler can be, we’ll just multiply that by three, and know a child with “special needs” is going to require more attention.
There are many nights I go to bed and I feel like I hardly got to see Ella or Greyson and I was with them all day. Coldon isn’t any different than them, but he does require more attention. It takes longer to feed him; when he had his G-tube, cleaning and venting air from the tube was a constant. Now we are dressing the healing stoma (this is a two person job). When Coldon is upset, he can’t handle the emotions as well as Ella and Greyson, so it takes longer to calm him down and typically, I have to hold him for a while. Having many doctors’ appointments and therapies means I’m constantly on the go with Coldon and away from Ella and Greyson. Occasionally, I will take one of them with us, or I get someone to go with me so we can take all three, but taking three babies to the hospital or doctors offices can be a nightmare and I don’t like exposing them to things in those places.
I recently watched the movie,“Wonder.” I loved the stories being told from the different characters perspective. However, as I was watching it, I was reminded me of my reality. There are often times when I feel like our world evolves around Coldon and Ella & Greyson are in the background. I started crying during the movie when Auggie’s sister, Via, told others she was an only child. I immediately thought about Ella when she’s 15.
Having to separate my time between the three of them and Coldon requiring more attention is absolutely the hardest aspect of being a triplet mom and having a baby with Down syndrome. However, I am not going to let this become a problem. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure Ella and Greyson are not in the background and make sure they know they are all equally loved!
I am currently taking steps to improve this situation for myself and them, by taking at least one day a week to take each baby, individually, out of the house with me. Even if it’s nasty out and we only get to take a car ride, we’re getting out. I can fulfill my need to spend time with them individually and they know they are loved and treated equally! My grandma used to take my brother, cousin and I out once a month and she called it “grandma & grandkid day.” Well, I’m instituting “Momma & Coldon day,” “Momma & Ella day” and “Momma & Greyson day!”
When I take them somewhere, by themselves, they get so excited and I know without them telling me how happy they are, they love spending this time alone with me. I pray doing things like this will help to fill my wistful need to spend individual time with them and it will no longer be “the hardest part of triplets and Down syndrome.”