What's it like to have three daughters all at once?
Well, a visit goes like this. You approach the hospital wing. The nurses at the desk look through the glass doors, see your baby bracelets and buzz you in. You start walking towards the rows of incubators, and are immediately scolded and told to go back to the sinks and wash up. You look for the taps on the gleaming commercial sinks and then remember that they're activated by foot pedals. You stomp on the thingy and immediately burn your hands. Head back to the incubators. To the right is a white board with all of the unit's babies listed by their last name, including what section they can be found in. You chuckle at 'Taronno A', 'Taronno B' and 'Taronno C'. Turn the corner and see them there, all in a tidy row. See that the kind-hearted nurses made little placards with their names on them, beautifully designed with all kinds of details and drawings. Go see the newborns one by one. Kissing heads and faces, then lower them back in their incubators. Make sure they're all getting the same amount of attention, approximately.
You try to recall who most recently got skin-to-skin, and grab the one who's been without the longest. Unswaddle, and then gingerly remove the impossibly small outfit, making sure not to tangle any cables that are coming off her feet and hands. You put her in a fresh diaper, so small it feels like a napkin ripped into quarters. You quickly squeek a curtain around the area, take off your shirt and plop down in a nursing chair. Take the chosen baby and gently, gently place her on your chest then lay a fresh blanket on the both of you. Treasure the moment for a while, inhaling baby smell, feeling the squirmy, warm lightness on you. Then get bored after a few minutes and start reading about World War II on your Kindle. Come back to the moment, irritated with yourself. Plant a thousand kisses on baby's head, get her dressed and swaddled and return her to the little plastic home.
Repeat, then repeat again.
In other news, we're home! Well, Gill and Oz and I anyway. The three little ladies remain with the good people of the Intermediate Care Unit.
Sadie, born the largest at a whopping 4 lbs 12 ounces, remains a bit bigger than her sisters and is eating the most. However, she did have a bit of trouble finishing her teensy tiny bottle the other day, so they opted for a nasal gavage (a thin tube into the nose and down the esophagus to deliver food directly). However it ended up being installed without seeing any use - she took the hint and gobbled down. Great. She is my robust little nugget.
Martha is probably in the best shape physically (though they're all doing excellently). Out of a peaceful, hungry bunch, she seems to be the most content, the easiest to feed. And, currently, as of right now, the prettiest. (Sorry S & E). Her head isn't quite as misshapen from their previous living quarters. The other two's craniums are ... not perfectly head-shaped yet.
Ellie, being the smallest, probably gets the most attention. But she devours her food as if to make up for it and she, as with the other two, has no real need for a gavage. She's the last to still have an IV, though, for a miniscule amount of saline/glucose. 3ml every hour, last I checked. IVs are terrible looking things on wee babies.
As Gill recovers, I've been doing my level best to give them each proper skin-to-skin, but I'm stretched pretty thin. Not that it's constantly, constantly busy, but I can only be away from Gill so long while she heals.
And she is healing. Though I do admit the last couple days have been trying for both of us. The aftermath of a surgery like this is definitely not pretty... 'Highly vivid', if we're being euphemistic.
But she's regaining mobility fast now and, most importantly, is able to sleep in our soft, treasured bed without needing help getting out. What a difference from a sticky leather couch.
However we're definitely getting a small taste of our future - Gill obviously needs to pump, and pump hard. She needs to trick those mammaries into overdrive, to see if they can handle something that this particular species of animal is literally not equipped for. And so she pumps. Every three hours, as that is the feeding cycle the girls are on back at the hospital.
This of course includes the night, and that means every 2.5 hours I'm interrupted from my slumber and need to shuffle downstairs to thoroughly clean the pumping kit, re-heat the magic bag in the microwave, and acquiesce to whatever other requests are made of me. To constantly obey is the only noble course right now, but I can't claim to be happy about it. Because I am damn tired, physically and psychologically and patience is beginning to wear down. Which is, frankly, disgusting of me - how hard is it for her? To have to RELY on someone else for everything.
So I put my head down and do what is needed complaint-free, but I'm not super proud that my empathy - for my wife, who just carried triplets to term and then delivered them - feels a bit dilute at the moment. Not cool, buddy.
The ultimate problem is this: I keep mistakenly thinking that this life is still, somehow, my own.