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A Glimpse into the Life of Triplets

Special thanks to Corinne Parco for sharing her high school senior project with us! She writes, “I decided to write an article about triplets since I, myself, am a triplet. The article is about the perspective of triplets and triplet mothers.”

Throughout human history the number “three” has been a number of fascination and importance. In the world of art there are only three primary colors that are needed to make most colors; red, yellow, and blue. Three is a number representing time: past, present, and future; birth, life, death; or beginning, middle, end. In fairy tales, characters are usually granted three wishes. So, it is only natural for people to have a fascination with triplets. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a triplet? Or have you ever had the fleeting thought about wanting to have triplets? The triplet life is complicated – three of everything including three mouths to feed, three diapers to change, three cribs, triple the mess and triple the fun!

I am a triplet and I am going to give you a unique look into what life is like for a triplet and also triplet parents. There are many challenges and rewards in both areas, so if becoming a parent of triplets is in your future, I hope that this insight is helpful.

I interviewed five triplet mothers: Stacy, Sue Ann, Julie, Sue, and Jennifer for their unique perspectives to give you an inside look into their lives. From a social aspect, many triplet mothers said they feel like they’re being judged because they have triplets. One of the triplet mothers, Sue Ann, said it was hard going out in public because most people are curious or fascinated. When they see triplets they feel the need to stop her to ask questions. People believe having triplets is a miracle and a burden; a miracle that they were able to give birth to three babies at once, but also a burden to have to take care of three babies at once. Typical comments to triplet mothers from strangers are: “I am glad it is you and not me”, “You have your hands full”. Other frequently asked questions were: “Do you dress them alike?”, “How do you do it?”, “Do they share the same birthday party?”, “Can you tell them apart?”. “Are they identical” (even with girls/boys/sets). People often ask how the moms conceived triplets. (Wow that’s a personal question!) To that Sue Ann replied “That is none of your darn business!” Other questions asked by strangers include: “Were you surprised to have triplets?”, “Do your triplets share?”, “Do you plan on having any more children?” and “Are they natural?”. You can see that when out in public the amount of curiosity is high amongst people. As a triplet parent, you need to be prepared for a lot of questions, and at times you may even feel that your children are bit of a spectacle.

As triplets grow older people tend to make assumptions about their personalities and their appearances, such as they must all be alike. Some people don’t understand the difference between identical and fraternal. For example, when I meet people and tell them I am a fraternal triplet they will say I look identical to one of my sisters. Triplets may look similar because they are siblings, but they can be fraternal. Another inference is that people believe triplets must be all into the same things or activities and they all share the same friends. Julie commented, “People sometimes assume that they have all the same interests and abilities. That they are less unique because they are triplets.”

Speaking from a triplet’s perspective there are times when I don’t want people to know I am a triplet because I’m asked too many questions such as: “Do your sisters look like you, have I seen them before?”, “Do you have the same classes?”, “Do they go to the same school as you?” and “What do they look like?”. When triplets are young, they may have the same hobbies and likes because they spend more time together and it’s easier for the parents to put them in the same classes. But as they grow older, their activities and preferences are going to differ from each other’s. Writing from a triplet’s view point, it’s a bit annoying that some people see triplets as one entity, by that I mean they think we all have the same interests, we must be best friends, and we all look identical. Everyone is their own unique individual! Jennifer stated that people often try to classify triplets into categories. Strangers ask which one is the sporty, active one or which one is the smart one? Some people tend to believe that triplets can read each other’s thoughts. Triplets can’t read each other’s thoughts! We may share a connection or bond because we were born and raised together, but we can’t really read each other’s minds.

When we were younger, my sisters and I were in the same classroom until we reached high school. At first it was fine being in the same class because we already had an automatic partner and didn’t need to ask anyone, but later on when we entered fifth grade that’s when everything started to change. We didn’t want to be in the same group anymore because grades started to matter. I had the better grades and during high school teachers would sometimes compare us. For example: “why don’t you study together?” “Why do you have the better grade in the class?” “Do they (my sisters) study?” I felt good knowing I had the better grades, but I also felt bad because I didn’t know my sisters weren’t doing that well in class. Entering high school has made my sisters and I grow apart because of school work and our extracurricular activities, but when we do get together and talk, it becomes a heart to heart discussion which brings us closer together.

The topic of money came up when interviewing triplet mothers. Parents of triplets have to pay for three of almost everything including three college educations at the same time, so financial planning and saving is essential in a household with triplets. To save money triplet mothers use coupons and search for the best deals in every purchase. Sue Ann mentioned that her children started to notice when their friends went on a nice vacation and they were able to eat out all the time. She also said the only time her family ate out was when her kids were young and everyone agreed to drink water, instead of soda, and order from the kid’s menu. One of the triplet mothers said when she brings her children to the outdoor dollar movies, instead of buying popcorn there, she brings her own home popped popcorn. Another way the triplet mothers save money is by selling and shopping at consignment sales organized by their multiple group. All of the triplet moms belonged to a twin or triplet group when their children were small for emotional support and to connect with other families. Sharing stories and best practices with expectant, or new parents, provides insight into the rare world of raising triplets, as well as how to survive the first few challenging years.

Being a triplet is very special and unique. Mentioning that you are a triplet can be a good ice breaker when meeting someone for the first time. On the other hand, many people tend to want to make a lot of assumptions about you and your siblings. I usually have to answer lots of questions and do quite a bit of explaining. I can now appreciate the challenge facing a triplet mom, with three babies in a stroller, trying to make it through the grocery store while having to deal with all of the questions posed by total strangers at the most inopportune or oddest time! I am blessed to be a triplet and to be a part of this rare bunch that has added perspective to my life.

Like the way the Pythagorean theorem defines the relationship of the three sides and three angles of a triangle, I feel like I am part of an equation that would be incomplete without my two sisters. They have added laughter, joy, frustration, and mostly a love that cannot be replaced by any other two people in this world. Though we are definitely individuals, with our own interests and personalities, we will always share an inexplicable bond, the bond of a triplet.

December 5th, 2017|Articles, School-Age Multiples|

Ob/Gyns Warn Against ‘Vaginal Seeding’ Trend for Newborns

HealthDay news image

Special thanks to our friends at HealthDay for providing this story.

 

The U.S.’s leading group of obstetricians and gynecologists is warning against a new trend where babies born by C-section are “seeded” via cotton swabs with vaginal microbes from the mother.”Vaginal seeding” is growing in popularity because it’s thought that babies born through Cesarean-section miss out on certain “helpful” vaginal microbes that might shield the infant from asthma, allergies and immune disorders.

“Vaginal seeding has become a rising trend for patients,” noted Dr. Jennifer Wu, an ob/gyn at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Patients read about the benefits of a vaginal delivery and hope to replicate these benefits with vaginal seeding.”

As explained by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), it’s thought that contact with healthy vaginal bacteria helps stimulate the infant immune system, prevents the growth of dangerous bacteria and regulates the gut.

That contact doesn’t happen for babies born via C-section, however, so in vaginal seeding, a cotton swab with vaginal fluids from the mother is used to transfer vaginal bacteria to a newborn.

But in a statement issued Oct. 24, ACOG — the nation’s largest ob/gyn organization — said the procedure is not recommended because the known risks outweigh any potential benefits.

“Due to the lack of sufficient data, the very real risks [of vaginal seeding] outweigh the potential benefits,” Dr. Christopher Zahn, ACOG’s vice president of practice activities, said in a college news release.

“By swabbing an infant’s mouth, nose or skin with vaginal fluid after birth, the mother could potentially, and unknowingly, pass on disease-causing bacteria or viruses,” he explained.

Wu agreed. “There are very real risks attached to this practice,” she said. “Certain viruses, such as group B strep and herpes, can cause serious illnesses such as meningitis in newborns.”

And Zahn stressed that there’s a much safer way for a new mom to transfer her helpful bacteria to her newborn: Breast-feeding.

“Breast-feeding for the first six months is the best way to overcome the lack of exposure to maternal vaginal flora at birth,” Zahn said. “The bacteria present in breast milk and on the nipple is sufficient for natural colonization or seeding of the gut. There may be some initial difference in the gut [microbes] of infants based on mode of delivery, but research has shown that difference disappears after about six months,” he added.

If a woman does insist on vaginal seeding, her ob/gyn needs to make sure the patient understands the potential risks, ACOG said.

Dr. Mitchell Kramer is head of obstetrics and gynecology at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y. He agreed that breast-feeding is a good means of transmitting healthy microbes from a mom to her baby, but that “the jury is still out on [vaginal seeding] and further study is necessary before this is recommended as a routine protocol.”

SOURCES: Jennifer Wu, M.D., obstetrician/gynecologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Mitchell Kramer, M.D., chairman, obstetrician/gynecologist, Huntington Hospital, Huntington, N.Y.; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, news release, Oct. 24, 2017.

Fire Safety Exit Strategies: What to do when you have 2 or more Infants

3 girls in firetruckOctober is Fire Safety Month. If you have school age children you may have developed an emergency exit plan with materials from the school. This article focuses on infants and toddlers strategies but has information for all. Resources in English and Spanish are at the end.  Don’t forget to change the batteries in your fire/smoke detectors!

We all know how important it is to have a Fire Safety Plan, including two ways to exit from every room in your home.  But how does that plan change when there are more babies than adults? What if you are alone with 3, 4, 5, or 6 babies?

A good place to start is with prevention and preparation.  Working smoke detectors on every floor of the house and inside and outside each sleeping room are essential. New smoke detectors are available that let you record a mothers voice. They have been shown to be very effective in waking children. Of course fire extinguishers and an escape plan are important too.  Most local fire departments can help you make a family fire escape plan, and may even come out to your home to do a fire safety check.  It is also a good idea to let the firehouse that would respond to your home know how many babies you have.  That way should the worst happen they would  know how many babies need to get out. Depending on where you live, you may also want to contact your EMS or ambulance / rescue squad that an emergency call to your house may involve multiple children. Planning ahead and practicing often can mean the difference between life and death.

Most experts agree that you have less than 3 minutes to exit a burning building, which may not be enough time for many trips.  If at all possible,  carry everyone out in one trip, which we all know is easier said than done.  Here are a few ideas on how to minimize the number of trips, hopefully only one trip!

The Big Grab Method:

For co-bedded infants, who are usually snuggled together anyway, you can probably reach your arms around from either end and grab them all.  They will probably wake up and be upset that they are squished against their siblings, but at least they will be safe.  I know I had no problem picking up three babies with this method and I have pretty short arms.

Laundry Basket Method:

If there is a laundry basket nearby, which there most likely will be, dump out the clothes and fill it with babies.  Drag or push the basket down the hall to stay below any smoke.  If you are on the second floor, back yourself down the stairs sliding the basket of babies down as you go.

Blanket/Beach Towel Method:

Keep a large thick blanket or towel in the sleeping area.  (Fire blankets are available for purchase commercially, but any thick blanket will do.)  The goal would be to provide some insulation from any smoke or fire gases. The blanket would contain some clean breathable air and also act as a filter.  For very small infants you can lay the blanket on the floor, lay all the babies next to, or on top of each other and wrap the blanket up around both sides.  Hold both ends at the top, kind of like how you see “bundles “ hanging from the mouth of a stork.  If there is smoke, drag the entire bundle of babies down the hall to the exit to stay below the smoke.  As soon as you are in fresh air, remove the babies so they can breathe normally.

If you need to go down stairs and they are too heavy to carry (say three or four 6-12 month olds) just drag the bundle down the stairs.  The kids might end up a little bumped and bruised, but they will be alive.

If you just need to get out quick and the air is clear, pick up the whole roll and out you go.  The towel or blanket will keep you from dropping anyone.

Bail Out/Relay Method:

If you are on the first floor, and there is a window, open the window and start passing babies out the window.  Most 0-6 month olds can’t roll or crawl away yet so they will stay where you place them.  If you are alone, think of this as a relay.  First you get the babies all out of the window, then yourself out, then you start moving them away from the house.  Also, as soon as you open the window start screaming for help, hopefully someone will hear you and come running to help shuttle babies away from danger.

Sling Method:

If your nursing sling or carrier is close by, you can put a baby or two in the sling and have your hands free for carrying other babies or directing another child out.  Be careful with this method not to spend too much time getting babies situated in the carrier.  Remember in case of a fire, you only have 3 minutes to escape, so if it takes you 5 minutes to put on and adjust your sling, you will need another method.

Apron Method:

Commercially there are “apron-like” garments designed specifically for evacuating large numbers of babies.  Many hospitals and day care centers have these.  Safe Babies® infant emergency evacuation apron is one product that can carry up to four babies.

Stroller Method:

Of course a stroller can be the quickest mode of transportation, but there are very limited circumstances where this is an option.  How many of us keep a stroller near the bedroom? Also, in the case of a fire, you should never use an elevator, so you could be in for a bumpy ride.  But if you are on the first floor and the stroller is close, don’t over look the obvious.  Throw them in and roll as fast as you can to safety.

You can always combine methods or make up your own.  The most important things is to make sure everyone gets out, and once you are all out, don’t go back in for anything.

Make sure you don’t forget the older children as well.  It is easy to see how a parent would worry first about the children trapped in cribs, or who are unable to walk.  So make sure you teach your older children how to escape on their own.  Children as young as 3 can follow a fire escape plan they have practiced often.  Fire drills are a good way to keep preschool children and toddlers involved.  They also give you a chance to figure out what method will work best for you.  If you are in a two-parent household, run the drill three ways: With Mom Only, With Dad Only, and with Both Parents.  You might be surprised at what method works best in each scenario.

Also be sure to continue to run your practice drills as the children get older.  The bigger they grow the harder they are to carry, so you might need to adjust your plan.  The exit routes in your home will also change with the addition of baby gates, locked doors and toys, toys, everywhere.  Continued practice is key.

If you have doors that must be opened with a key, KEEP A KEY by each door, and REPLACE it when you use it.  Whether it is a child’s room or the front door, you don’t want to have to look for the key.  Hang it on a hook out of the reach of the little ones.  Ideally every door should open without a key, but eventually, babies become toddlers that you may have to lock them in the house to keep them from escaping into traffic without your knowledge.  So, if you have any doors locked, be sure to keep a key by the door or you may have just blocked your best escape route.

If you have babies that require medical equipment, work that into your plan.  I don’t mean that you should try and carry all the babies and all the equipment out in one trip.  Sometimes one baby and a tangle of cords is difficult enough, let alone multiple babies and multiple cords.

If your babies are attached to monitors, oxygen, or feeding tubes, know what you can do without for a few minutes, and how to quickly disconnect to escape and call 911.  When the ambulance arrives, paramedics will be able to monitor/stabilize breathing & heart rates and transport your child to a medical facility equipped with any medical equipment you could have possibly had in your home.  Medical equipment can be replaced, a child can not.

We all hope we will never have to use your escape plan, but it is comforting to know that you have an Exit Strategy should you need it.

 

Resources:

Fire Safety for Kids (interactive games and activities)

Fire Prevention Tips

Fire Safety Coloring Pages

Lista de verificación de la Semana de Prevención de Incendios –

 

Positive Parenting: Building Healthy Relationships With Your Kids

Good information for all ages from our friends at the National Institutes of Health.

Parents have an important job. Raising kids is both rewarding and challenging. You’re likely to get a lot of advice along the way, from doctors, family, friends, and even strangers. But every parent and child is unique. Being sensitive and responsive to your kids can help you build positive, healthy relationships together.

“Being a sensitive parent and responding to your kids cuts across all areas of parenting,” says Arizona State University’s Dr. Keith Crnic, a parent-child relationship expert. “What it means is recognizing what your child needs in the moment and providing that in an effective way.”

This can be especially critical for infants and toddlers, he adds. Strong emotional bonds often develop through sensitive, responsive, and consistent parenting in the first years of life. For instance, holding your baby lovingly and responding to their cries helps build strong bonds.

Read more…

September 28th, 2017|Articles, Parents of Multiples|

Are You Raising an ‘Emotional Eater’?

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From our friends at HealthDay.
Soothing your kids with food may stop the tears in the short-term. But researchers warn it can lead to unhealthy eating patterns long-term.Parents who are “emotional feeders” can encourage “emotional eating” — a habit linked to weight gain and eating disorders, the Norwegian-British study found.

“There is now even stronger evidence that parental feeding styles have a major influence on children’s dietary habits and how children relate to foods and beverages when it comes to addressing their own emotions,” said one expert, Rafael Perez-Escamilla. He’s a professor of epidemiology and public health at Yale University’s School of Public Health.

“Emotional feeding” is “what parents do when they provide foods or beverages to their children to calm them down, such as when a child is having a tantrum,” added Perez-Escamilla, who wasn’t involved with the study.

Relying on junk food, desserts and sugary foods for comfort can lead to overeating, and later problems such as bulimia and binge-eating, said study lead author Silje Steinsbekk and colleagues.

“You don’t feel like having a carrot if you’re sad,” said Steinsbekk, an associate professor of psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

For the new study, the researchers looked at the feeding and eating habits of more than 800 children in Norway, starting at age 4. They checked in on the kids at ages 6, 8 and 10.

About two-thirds of the children at all those ages showed signs of eating to make themselves feel better, judging by questionnaires answered by their parents.

Kids offered food for comfort at ages 4 and 6 displayed more emotional eating at ages 8 and 10, the study found.

Also, the researchers also found signs that kids who felt more easily comforted by food were fed more by parents for that purpose.

“Emotional feeding increases emotional eating and vice versa,” Steinsbekk said.

The researchers spotted another trend: Children who became angry or upset more easily at age 4 were more likely to eat to feel better and to be fed by parents for that purpose.

“This makes total sense as parents get very stressed out when their children are having a fit or crying non-stop,” said Perez-Escamilla.

But there are better ways of dealing with discomfort, said Melissa Cunningham Kay, a research assistant with the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.

“Feeling sad or angry are normal emotions. Rather than using food as a distraction from them, children should be taught to tolerate them and find other ways to cope,” said Kay, who was not part of the study.

“Sometimes that may involve positive discipline and a few tears or even a full-on tantrum,” said Kay. “Parents should not fear this. It is a normal and a necessary part of development.”

Perez-Escamilla said parents should soothe upset kids by understanding and responding to their problems — say, a wet diaper — instead of offering food as a first response, he said.

He praised the new research, noting that the eating habits of kids and their parents are closely intertwined.

“Young children develop their eating habits by observing how their caregivers eat,” he said. “If they see their caregivers drinking soda and eating junk food and desserts when the caregiver is stressed or upset, then that’s what the children will do when they are experiencing similar emotions.”

“Emotional eating should be avoided at all costs,” he added.

Study lead author Steinsbekk added: “There’s no reason to worry if you have a chocolate to feel better now and then. The problem is if this is your typical way of handling negative emotions.”

The same goes for dealing with kids, he said. “Parents are not supposed to be perfect, but good enough. Randomly using food to soothe your child is no big deal as long as you usually rely on other strategies,” he said.

The study authors cautioned that their review relied on questionnaires answered by parents, not direct observation by the scientists. And they noted that it took place in Norway with a population that’s well-educated and not very diverse, so the findings may not apply elsewhere.

The study appears April 25 in the journal Child Development.