Thursday, March 27, 2008

the triplet reality

Triplets aren't as unusual as they once were because of infertility treatments. Still, whenever we are out and about, it almost always happens that people will ask if my three are triplets.

Or, someone will comment how adorable my twin girls are - before I tell them that they are triplets, and then their jaw drops open and they say something like "Wow! Are they identical?"

I'm such a punk I'll usually say "Yes, and it's a real bear telling them apart!" (This is funnier if you could see that Carolyn is three inches taller than Elizabeth and 10 pounds heavier ... and William is blonde. And a boy.)

When I had Elizabeth alone in Florida, she was a completely different child then she is with her siblings. She was content to play by herself. She would listen and mind me. She did not make a disaster at every turn. More than any of that, she was trusted to use the restroom - alone - and not unravel the entire roll of toilet paper.

Reunited with her siblings, the mob mentality has pulled her back and the lure of the toilet paper roll is impossible to refuse. It is for this reason that I know, having three-year-old triplets is not like having three, three-year-olds.

It is more than that.

It is much, much greater.

I could handle three of the Elizabeths I had in Florida last week. Three children that listened to me, came when they were called, and did not destroy things - just for the sake of doing it. When the triplets are together - as a unit - one of them, if not all three, will test your limits at every turn. Two will play together and the third will be off, getting in to something.

Sure, they have their moments of peace and love. But at this point in their young lives, those moments are overshadowed by moments of fighting, teasing and whining like you ain't never seen before.

More and more, once people hear that I have triplets, they'll ask if I've ever seen "Jon and Kate." Up until recently, I'd always said no - because I never had watched the show before. But I've heard so much hub-bub surrounding this series about the twins and sextuplets, that when there was a "Jon and Kate" marathon on TLC last month, I watched six shows, back to back. From 10 PM until 1 AM, when I could have been sleeping, I watched what my life is like on steroids.

Now when I hear people say, "She is so organized. She is so strict. I don't know how she does it!!" I can respond "Here's a clue. She's organized and she's strict."

I really don't see how you could successfully survive day-to-day with children if you weren't organized and strict. For that matter, I don't see how you could successfully survive day-to-day in life.

Most strangers that I talk to assume that I have - or had - a lot of help. They also assume that a lot was given to us, because triplets are such a rarity. But at least in our case, help and free stuff didn't appear on our doorstep once the stork dropped off our three bundles of joy.

With quadruplets or more, it is common that the families will receive a year or more, supply of free diapers, free formula and cases upon cases of free baby food. Many of these families might also receive a free vehicle - donated by a generous car dealership. I've read or heard stories of people with high order multiples (exceeding triplets) that have fund-raising conducted on their behalf - and they are moved in to a new house.

All of that is received in addition to the scores of people that line up to help. There are volunteers that will come in shifts, round-the-clock to feed, burp and rock the babies. There are people that bring meals and more people that will come to help with errands - or - watch the babies so that the parents can take a break for themselves, or - bring a baby to a doctor appointment without the whole entourage.

It is awesome that these large families are the recipients of such good will.

But it is also mind boggling.

Triplets get a lot of attention, but they definitely don't generate that kind of generosity. When our triplets were infants, we did receive three cases of free diapers, three cases of free baby food and three containers of free formula because I wrote to each of the companies directly and included a copy of the babies birth certificates. We also received a multiples discount on carseats and cribs that we purchased through a local baby store and parishioners from a local church brought meals twice a week for six weeks and cut our lawn.

I'm thinking...

That about covers it.

We weren't looking for hand outs and we weren't looking for support. Although, in hindsight, it would have been nice to have competent people come over and help feed our babies at night so that we could have slept more than 15 minutes at a stretch. I also wouldn't have turned down a year supply of free diapers, because with the money that we would have saved from diapering three little bums, we could have bought our own new house.

There is no question that Jon and Kate have their hands full. But whenever I saw that there are people that help fold and put away laundry every week, I was awestruck. Staying on top of laundry has got to be one of the greatest challenges I face, every day.

So what is the point of this post?

The only thing more difficult than triplets would be quintuplets or septuplets. It is my honest opinion that the challenges with an even number of high order multiples are less severe than those cases where there are an odd number - and not everyone has someone to play with.

I could easily handle four more kids if someone did my laundry every day.

And, I would love it if Charmin would like to sponsor us. Now that the triplets are almost completely out of diapers, our monthly expenditure on toilet paper is going to go through the roof.

At least until the kids learn that each time they use the potty they don't need to use an entire roll of paper.


  1. I will gladly give you Shayna (on one of her bad girl days) and do your laundry in exchange!!! It's only a 2 hour drive... don't tempt me!

  2. Multiple babies are an expensive proposition, this I know. Nappies are not cheap. On the plus side, buying toilet roll is Costco is cheaper than buying nappies, and a Costco supply of toilet rolls will last a couple of months (or at least, it does in our, admittedly all adult, household of five (previously seven).

    That said, you already shop at Costco (I get the feeling that it's easier to access Costco in the USA than it is in the UK) and so mayhap it is not such a cost-effective endeavour for you.

    Good luck, either way!

  3. I can't believe Kate still has someone fold and put away her laundry. She really seems to have so much help, I have to wonder what she does. But I am not a big fan of Kate - she's just plain mean.
    I see what you mean about the even number of kids - even when having guests over, when our kids were little, we would never allow an odd number, because it's too easy for one to be left out.
    Have I told you lately how cute your kids are...?

  4. Next to "you've got your hands full" the comment/question I get most these days is "have you seen Jon and Kate plus 8?" Drives me crazy!!

  5. You reign Queen -- seriously! Kate irks my nerves so I've only seen the show a couple of times. She was freaking out about the way to hang a birthday party decoration-- all I could think was 'good heavens women, chill out! It's a decoration you're kids won't even notice.' She had people painting signs and all sorts of ridiculous stuff. She's WAY over the top.

    ftr, email Charmin -- maybe they'll send you a sympathy case :)

  6. I was standing in that exact spot just 6 hours ago, grabbing that same package of paper.

  7. I thought I'd seen everything until a story on telly about a family who had a 2.5 year old girl, 9 month old quadruplets, and another set of quadruplets on the way!

    The mind boggles.

    Completely empathise with all you wrote... I do think that twins and, in particular, triplets are overlooked when it comes to assistance, especially with day to day living. The financial burden definitely hurts too!

  8. Just found a link to that family's story...

  9. Love this post! I agree that we did not get a lot o hand outs with our triplets but a lot of people assume that we did. I laugh at Jon and Kate plus 8 because they keep it real and don't act for the camera. I have no idea how she does it with twice the number of kids that we have but they seem to be happy and managing. I am sure they must get some money for doing the show and that has to help them out.
    Anyway, thanks for this post!

  10. Oh sweety! That toilet paper roll keeps on rolling....LOL!!! Our triplets just turned 9 & it still seems they use an entire roll every single time. Hehe!

  11. I hate the Jon and Kate comment. I get it all the damn time.

  12. We got a new house and a new car. I only post on the TC to ask for money, votes, baby nurses or donations. I have a new flat stomach too. I also have someone that does my hair and brushes my teeth. My name is Kate.

  13. Just have one thing about the TP - squeeze it before placing it on the roll. Making it flat so that it doesn't roll so easily. It works!

    (Just think when you go back to work you'll be looking for the TP to clean up other's BS ;-))
    Hope your well. Marg

  14. I say ditto to everything you said. I watch Jon and Kate for organization tips and make my hubby watch it so he doesn't think I'm so mean. I also wouldn't mind someone doing my laundry, and having a camera crew to babysit the kids once in a while. Heck, they can throw in a free tummy tuck also. Though I can honestly say, no one would want to watch what goes on in my home every day (as I sit here in PJ's with my hair sticking out).

  15. OK - I read the comments and had to post. I am in agreement that Kate is mean to her husband and a control freak (ala the bday deco example). I am also always saddened when I see the show as she seemingly has NO time to express love to the kids - there is not a lot of warm/fuzzy going on over there - maybe its edited out, who knows? But contrary to the other comments - I always am amazed at how little help she has?? I have no earthly idea how she exists without recurring panic attacks daily about how she is going to manage? I know it gets easier when the kids get older. And as you know - I always had help. But I distinctly remember the feeling when they were such dependent little babies like "OMG - I am so tired - and if I don't get off my but RIGHT NOW while they are sleeping - I won't have the next feeding ready when they wake up and the WHOLE WORLD WILL COME CRASHING DOWN as hungry triplet babies are not . . . . patient! Take that - like you said "on steriods" - and basically double my household . . . .OMG . . . . they would have definitely locked me up or heavily medicated me . . . . .

    Love the post on this topic . . .and am getting the "Jon and Kate" topic ALL THE TIME TOO . . .


  16. I like Jon and Kate for the same reason I like reading this blog- for a smile and to be amazed. Remember, we only see 1/2 hour of their lives at once- and I see a lot of love in that time.

  17. Funny thing is I ran into my first set of triples at the local Costco. They were in a stack stroller (do you know what I mean) and my husband kept missing them while they went in and out of the aisles. But anyway my comment was to them, "I read a blog about triplets daily I know what goes on at your house" LOL You truly are my hero. I am not organized and not strict thank heavens God knows that. One every thirteen years is enough for me:)

  18. Oh my! Jen, I haven't been by in a while (it's been a busy couple months). Your kiddos have grown so much. Henry? Sitting in the shopping cart? With his big siblings? Amazing! In addition to nobaddays, I now have a second blog BTW ( ... because I have all that free time ;-)