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Life with five: the silent roller coaster

The Paino Tribe - image by Aurora Joy PhotographyThe Paino Tribe I remember it like it was yesterday. Staring at that screen, hand on mouth, watching as two intricate little bubbles bounced off one another.

“Twins,” I said to myself. “That’s OK. Only brings us to four kids under the age of four.” As I silently drifted further into thought, imagining life with four children, the sonographer hammered the final nail into my state of bewilderment: “Congratulations – you’re having triplets! Let me just check if there are any more little bubs!”.

I quickly begged, “Please don’t…”

12 months on, I’ve come to realise this was the moment before the roller coaster shot off onto the tracks, and solidly defined the hectic craziness of the coming year.

I’m not sure how many of you have been confronted with the idea of a triplet pregnancy, but as you can imagine it is very daunting, intimidating, overwhelming and inspiring, especially when you are already a parent to a beautiful three-year-old daughter and a gorgeous one-year-old son.

With the pregnancy categorised as high risk from the very early stages, the focus turned on me to take responsibility for what was ahead. I was fortunate enough to have a very understanding manager, enabling me to both support Angelique during the pregnancy plus be there for our other two children. This was especially crucial considering Angelique was bed ridden from very early on. “Morning sickness three-fold,” was how she described it.

There were also many other complications during the pregnancy–gestational diabetes, high resistance in the umbilical cord for our singleton Carter, and basically every other issue that could possibly arise as a result of multiple gestation.

At 30 weeks gestation, Angelique sensed something was wrong with Carter. We went to our weekly scan hoping for the best but unfortunately received the worst. The flow of blood was absent in one of the two veins connected to Carter, ultimately restricting his growth. Angelique was told she would no longer be leaving the hospital and it would be up to us when we were going to meet our miracles. We made a tough choice, deciding we didn’t want to risk any further harm to Carter and so would be delivering.

As it were, our boys were brought into this world that night – Christian at 7:50, Jordan at 7:51, and finally Carter at 7:52 PM.

I guess this is where I assumed sole responsibility for my family – within the hospital and with my other two children outside the hospital. Not going to lie – there was a massive freak-out conversation with my dad, and at one point I asked him to cancel his annual trip. Nevertheless, it was pretty smooth sailing considering the boys were 10 weeks early.

What really took its toll was the visual – that horrid sight of them struggling for every breath. The biggest lesson a parent to a premature baby has to learn is there will always be a couple of steps backwards to every step forward for a while, no matter how well your baby is progressing.

The boys were staggered in their releases from hospital. Christian was released at 38 weeks, Jordan at 40 weeks, and Carter at 41 weeks (due to requiring a blood transfusion because of a lack of iron). At one stage it felt like a social experiment, like we were being tested until we cracked, but in the end the staggered approach really helped us prepare us for life with multiples (plus two).

So, 12 months on and it really hasn’t been easy, but you learn to find your feet, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Angelique and I are very fortunate to have amazing on-call support services. Without these people, we both definitely would have had nervous breakdowns by now!

That’s it for now. Bring on the next 12 months!

Image: Aurora Joy Photography

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