Thursday, February 16, 2012

28 Months - My head is spinning

Two quick stories, and then a more in-depth look at what life is like today, with 28-month old triplets.

The kids received a bird clock for Christmas, and when a bird chirps, on the hour, every hour, they'll say that it's, "breakfast time!" "reading time!" "snack time!" "bathtime!" or whatever it is they're busy doing. Yesterday, Ada was playing with a toy when her sister took it from her. She started to cry, and just then a bird chirped. Through her tears, she declared, "Birdie says it's crying time!" It's a day later, and I'm still laughing.

***

About a week ago, the kids were in their bedroom, waking up. All I heard was Emma talking. Then Julia said, "No way!" Ada said, "No way!" and Emma responded, "YES, WAY!" They crack me up daily.

***

Watching the communication between them, and their growing sisterhood, is just amazing. Sure, they'll try to whack one another over the head with a toy, pull a sister's hair, occasionally lean in for a bite, and exhibit all sorts of toddler behavior that is both typical and frustrating. But they are also doing splendidly.

As of today, they no longer receive PT services. Julia and Emma are speaking in full sentences, in both languages, and Ada is regularly putting 3-5 words together. Julia and Emma's vocabulary is growing beyond the point where I can track it or count how many words they know. (It was over 400 words six months ago. Now it's definitely way way over a thousand, if not more. I can't think of anything they don't say!) Ada's language skills have blossomed the last couple of weeks as well. She is probably where her sisters were 6 months ago when they were evaluated. (They are ahead, she's on track.)

I rarely come to a standstill long enough to post here anymore. I feel usurped by our life, and I'm just kind of going with it right now to survive.

We are on triplet time day in and day out, which to me feels like everything is happening three times as fast. I'm constantly playing the part of strategist, negotiator, offense, defense, team medic, janitor, physical therapist, psychologist and any other role you can think of.

It actually feels like I haven't stopped to catch my breath in 3 years.

And it's no wonder, because when I do think about it, I went from stage 4 Endo surgery to 2 back-to-back IVF flare cycles, a high risk pregnancy, HELLP Syndrome, shingles, hematoma, 3 preemies in the NICU, 3 refluxers at home, a year of pumping breast milk, 3 CP diagnoses, speech, PT, OT, to an interstate move, adjusting to being a SAHM, and living in a rental house that's impossible to childproof adequately. (It's anxiety-inducing.) I am in that place that doesn't have a name. The one that is beyond burned out.

I now spend most of my days feeling utterly overwhelmed by toddler tornadoes, cleaning up what they left in their wake (they help, sort of) and trying to stay a step ahead when all I want to do is take a nap. But somehow I keep chugging along. When I take them places by myself, strangers often ask me how I do it, and they are always surprised when I don't pretend to be superhuman. On a particularly challenging day, I answered somewhat embarrassed, "Oh, I've already cried once today." And the mom shot me this look that was part relief and part empathy. Having triplets creates this sort of parenting no man's land that can be quite isolating.

I can't describe to you the level of multitasking it takes to have 3 same-age toddlers. It's like taking the most challenging multitasking jobs you've ever performed, but trying to perform them in an ever-changing office where nothing stays where you put it, with a soundtrack of maddening whining, the worst unpredictability you've ever experienced, serious distractions that can't be ignored or prioritized, and needing to run interference while trying to also cook, teach, and generally keep the show on the road. I have worked in fast paced environments, high stress jobs, and I'm no stranger to multitasking. But this is kicking my butt. Daily.

They are always taken care of, but I forget *my* bag/cell phone/car keys, etc. if it's not strapped to my body while I'm out with them. My brain's capacity is taxed to the max just keeping track of them, their needs, and their stuff and there's nothing left over for anything else. Sometimes I'll have everyone loaded in the car (after dressing and wrestling 3 octopi into winter gear: 6 socks, 6 boots, 3 hats, 6 mittens, 3 coats, 3 books to occupy them with). Then in that moment before I turn the ignition, I'll finally have a second to think and realize that I forgot something for me. Usually, I just say in my mind, "Screw it! We're leaving NOW before everything goes to hell in handbasket." And THAT is how I end up without water or food for me, without my cell phone, or like the last time: without my wallet. It is HARD doing this alone all day, without a support system.

Just having a moment to gather one's thoughts is such an indescribable luxury these days. Day-to-day is easier in many ways than when they were infants (we're finally sleeping!) However, the cumulative effect of being chronically exhausted while having to care for toddlers makes this harder than I ever thought it would be.

There is MUCH to celebrate in our lives, and I'll hopefully have a chance to voice that soon, but I just needed to capture my feelings today and the reality that is right now. I want to be able to look back on this in a few years and laugh.

Even in the midst of this chaos, I never forget how fortunate we are. How inexplicably blessed we are for having three healthy children. That thought alone is what motivates me to be the best mother I can be, even when I feel incapable or inadequate.

7 comments:

Mrs. Gamgee said...

I have always been in awe of parents of multiples. I'm tired most of the time, and I only have one toddler to worry about (at this point).

I'm glad to hear that the girls are doing so well. I love those moments in the morning when I can hear Ginny babbling away in her room in her own odd language.

Dee said...

Thanks for your honesty. Mine are 14 months now and I feel exactly like you. Better prepare myself mentally for the next year+

I kid you not the word i had to enter below was DREAD

Jennifer said...

Hi,
I just wanted to say thank you for posting this. I have twin toddlers 27 months old and I feel overwhelmed most days with them and I feel you captured many of the same thoughts I have. Especially the part about putting on winter gear to go out the door only to realize someone needs to be changed or you've forgotten something! I also realize your situation is much different and I shouldn't complain, but thank you again for this post. :) Many of my friends never fully understand why I just don't get up and go on outings with them to the mall etc as they all only have 1 child.

Mo and Will said...

WOW. wow. wow. wow. you amaze me. and i know you're not "super mom." you're just an incredible woman working hard to be a great mom to three very active toddlers. in my book, you rock.

so glad to hear how the great the girls are doing - i always love reading your updates.

and thanks so much for your encouraging comments recently - they have meant a lot : )

Mo

BB said...

Thanks for putting up this honest post! Of course its twins here, I can relate to what you are saying.

Since you have said the gals sleep now... I just wanted to say this. I have been a part of a Mommy group, and we meet up 1-3 times a month at night after 9 for a coffee, dinner or movie. Its taxing - because it means even less sleep and an exhausted morning. But it is so refreshing in the bigger picture. Try to get out of the house if you can, by yourself... every once in a while!

Gindi said...

Wanted to thank you for sharing your kind words commisurating our 28 month old triplet journey together - it's always so encouraging just to know you're not in it alone. And you're right, it's multitasking like nothing that I've ever experience, I'll be following your journey too......

Anonymous said...

No support system? Not even a sitter? C'mon every mom needs one! As a mom of a 5 1/2 year old special needs son and my speech delayed 3 year old - life feels tough and gnaws at my inner-most sinews when I spend entire days with my "babies". Today someone said to me - It's good not to strive for perfection with your children - there needs to be a balance - of stable, consistent mom with a little bit of inconsistency,frustration blended in - so children can learn the bigger picture. I do hope you get to find a way to find a little more time for yourself. You deserve it! We need to catch up very soon, soon, soon.