One year ago we were an average family. We had three children ages 8, 6, and 2 and we were busy with the average family things like dance lessons, scouts, sports, and homework. I was a busy but happy mom of three kids feeling content with where my life was at the moment. Looking back, things were easy, simple even. One year ago something unexpected happened that changed everything. Things would no longer be simple.
Last February, my husband and I returned from a weekend trip alone. While we were out of town I felt unusually tired and nauseous. You can probably see where this is going but at the time I was clueless. We had taken precautions to prevent pregnancy as we had mutually decided our family was complete. After living in denial for another week, I finally bought a pregnancy test. Fully expecting to get a negative result, I was shocked that it was positive.
The first few months of the pregnancy were rough. I had horrendous morning sickness and having a hard time hiding my growing belly. I felt physically and mentally drained as my husband and I tried to adjust to the thought of having four children. Despite the rough start, by the time we were scheduled for our 20-week ultrasound, we were excited to find out the gender and had finally become comfortable with the idea of a fourth child.
We held hands and waited as the sonographer prepared for the ultrasound. She squirted warm gel on my belly and ran the wand across my stomach.
“Dad, you may want to sit down,” she said.
My husband took a seat and I felt my heart jump. Was something wrong?
“Do multiples run in your family?” she asked.
“Twins?” My husband asked in a panicked voice.
“Well, twins for sure but I may have seen another baby too.”
We exchanged shocked glances as the doctor confirmed that there were in fact three babies. Three! One girl and two boys. Tears streamed down my face as she looked closer at each baby. Never in my life have I been so surprised, worried, happy, and stressed at the same time. We would soon be parents to six children. I was pregnant with triplets.
The following week was like a strange dream. I would go from tears of panic to pure amazement at the miracle of it all. A sleepless week had passed before it started in. I would try to make a to-do list or research triplet pregnancy and would be overwhelmed by panic and worry.
Multiple times my husband and I looked at each other and said “Are we really having triplets?” or “We are going to have six kids! Six!”. I kept thinking I would wake up from this crazy dream and we would go back to being the average family with three kids. I worried constantly. Would I deliver early? Would there be complications? How would we manage three babies? How would we afford six children? There were so many questions that it was easy to get lost in the panic. I made a decision then and there to accept that our life would no longer be average or simple and it was okay. I decided to view these babies as the miracles they are rather than a constant source of worry and disruption.
As the pregnancy continued, day-to-day tasks became nearly impossible. I started to go into labor too early and was put on bedrest for six weeks. I spent two of those in the hospital. I missed out on a fun summer with my kids and the first day of school. It was difficult, but I kept pushing myself forward with the goal of healthy babies in my mind.
At 34 weeks, I went in for a weekly ultrasound and was told that there were some complications with the babies and I would deliver them that day. Just an hour and a half later, 14 weeks after we found out we were having not one but three babies, our triplets arrived.
I had a C-section, a totally new experience for me and as they each was born, I prayed and hoped each was healthy. The babies were whisked past me one by one on their way to the NICU. It was hours before I would get to see them and days before I was allowed to hold them.
When I saw the babies in the NICU for the first time, wires and tubes were attached to their tiny bodies and they looked fragile and helpless. I was overcome with emotions. They were so small, so beautiful, so amazing. I looked into each tiny face and my heart melted. I was in love and I knew I was meant to be their mom even if it wasn’t average or simple. The NICU days were long and difficult but eventually my babies came home one by one.
We started our adventure as a family of eight in mid-October after our last baby was discharged from the hospital. The day we welcomed her home was one of the happiest days in this whole experience. My kids all took turns passing her around with big smiles on their faces and when we laid the triplets on the floor next to each other, my older kids excitedly gathered around them, my heart swelled with pride and awe that they were really all mine. They were all home and we could now move forward as a family.
So what is life like with three kids plus triplets? I won’t sugarcoat it; it is extremely challenging. There are days when everyone cries including me, when I can’t find time for a shower, when getting dinner on the table is impossible, and lack of sleep is the norm. However, there are wonderful days as well. There are days when the babies coo and hold hands; when my big kids entertain them and they belly laugh in unison; when time allows extra snuggles; when you get so many toothless grins that your cheeks hurt from smiling back, and when they look at you with that look, the one that says you are their whole world. Yes, days are long and challenging but weeks, months, and years fly by. The key is to enjoy the great moments because they are so worth the rough ones.
One year after that fateful pregnancy test, we are a not-so-average family with six kids ages 9, 7, and 3 plus 5-month-old triplets. Our life may not be average and it certainly is not simple, but it is full of blessing and joy.