“8:00pm: Husband arrives home from work and starts the 8:00/8:30/9:00pm feedings. I go to sleep.
12:00am: Husband starts 11:30pm feeding, he goes to bed and I finish the 12:00/12:30am feedings. I also do the 2:30/3:00/3:30am feedings.
5:30am: I go to sleep and husband takes over for 5:30/6:00/6:00am feedings as well as the 8:30am feeding.
9:00am: I finish the 9:00/9:30am feedings and husband goes to work.
The rest of the day on 3 1/2 hours of sleep?? SURVIVAL! Then the dreaded night comes and we do it all over again. How am I functioning?”
That was a blog post I wrote when my triplets (now six) were two months old (born two months early). I look back at that time and wonder how we did it all? People often ask and I never have a good answer because I don’t know and I can’t remember! It’s all a blur. With that being said, I LOVE being a mother to multiples. It’s an experience only a small percentage of parents get to have and stressful as it may be, it is completely unique to you and your family. One thing I did learn early on with my newborn triplets was that although my children were born at the same time, their sleep needs were and still are completely different! I used to get so irritated that I had one short napper and the other two were the opposite. Or that I had one early morning riser where the other two could sleep an extra couple hours.
Or that one child would fall asleep immediately at bedtime and the other two would cry and whine and need much more assistance. I constantly compared their differences and kept wishing them to all be the same so I wouldn’t lose my sanity! During naps and night time I’d sit in the hallway and as soon as a I’d hear a peep, fearful that the peep might wake up another baby, I’d rush in and try to solve whatever problem was occurring. I was in a constant state of anxiousness when the babies slept. The fact of the matter was, however, that they were different babies with different personalities and different sleep needs. Although those needs varied only slightly, it was a continual frustration until I realized I couldn’t force them to be clones of one another. They were hard-wired differently, even in sleep.
When my triplets were five months old (three months adjusted) I attended a Mother’s of Multiples meeting where a sleep consultant came and spoke to us. I was in awe that such a person existed. I couldn’t believe how she spoke with ease and calmness about breaking or establishing sleep habits….things that had caused me an incredible amount of stress were no big deal in her eyes. I wanted to be her! And when I started wearing regular clothes everyday instead of pajamas, that’s just what I did.
I became certified so I could help parents and babies get the sleep they so desperately needed. One point I took from her and have always remembered is this,“You are NOT the victim to your child’s sleep needs or habits.” I love that! Many times I remember feeling that way and have often heard moms share that same sentiment that their baby runs the show now and nothing can be done. If your baby wants to fall asleep on your chest in the rocking chair every night and will not sleep anywhere else, well…the baby wants what the baby wants. Add one or two or three more babies into that then you’re really in a pickle! However, I understand that when sleep deprivation gets bad, parents do just about anything to get some rest so as a mother of multiples, I pass NO judgement when it comes to the habits that have been created and the vicious cycle in which you may find yourself. Hearing those sleep consultant’s words empowered me and helped me realize that I had control and I needed to take control! With her help, I had all three babies sleeping 12 hours straight within the next month. It was glorious! Once that happened, their naps fell into rhythm (even though the one child still only slept 30 minutes and woke up screaming….again, different sleep personalities), they started eating at the same time during the day instead of staggering, and they were able to fall asleep at night unassisted with just a hug and a kiss from us.
Another reason why I love being a mother to multiples because I know as you read this, you are empathizing. You COMPLETELY understand in a way that no one else can. Either that or you’re crying because you are right in the trenches of sleep deprivation and you’re realizing you are NOT alone! When my multiples were less than a year I factored in at least one good cry every week. So no shame….let the tears flow. Sleep deprivation can do a number on your patience, perspective, and emotions. And guess what?? Just because you have multiples doesn’t mean you have to lose sleep for the next six years. If anyone says otherwise, they’re wrong. Establishing healthy sleep habits early on is doable and highly encouraged when you’re dealing with more than one baby. Start now if you haven’t already. It’s never too late. Don’t be overwhelmed by all the advice from family and friends or the sleep books loaded with information on your coffee table. Information and guidance is out there but what is unique about my work as a Certified Infant/Child Sleep Consultant, I can help you implement that information and act as a sounding board for the hundreds of questions you may have regarding your child’s sleep.
Before working with a consultant, we actually hired a night nanny to come and feed the triplets overnight from 10:30pm-6:30am. We could not get in bed fast enough! Eight hours of sleep? Sign us up! It pained my husband to write that check each week especially with 30 diapers and 24 bottles with expensive preemie formula going out the window everyday but again, we were so desperate we didn’t care. After experiencing that and knowing that lack of sleep can drive Moms and Dads to the edge, I never want to feel like I’m taking advantage of parent’s wallets due to their fatigue. As a result of that, my sleep consulting services are less than half of what normal consultants charge. Honestly, I just want you to get some sleep and start enjoying your babies because I don’t think I did enough of that. Working with a sleep consultant takes away a lot of the guess work when it comes to getting your multiples sleeping through the night.
It takes a village right? Having someone to ask questions, get feedback from, and report the night’s happenings relieves a lot of stress as you navigate your way to Dreamland. I was grateful when I met my sleep consultant because I had someone who cared about my triplets sleep drama just as much as I did! If you’ve never liked the idea of ‘sleep training’ your child(ren), no biggie.
Even if you aren’t comfortable with pushing your child to sleep 12 hours without feedings, starting a foundation of a bedtime routine, laying your child down for naps and bedtime drowsy but awake, and giving him/her time to self-soothe out of your arms can work wonders! When you are ready to start working toward that 12 hour goal, you will have already done 50% of the work without even realizing.
Raising multiples is a wild ride and I wish you the best of luck in your Journey.