The morning began at the blissful time of 8:30. All children slept until then - it was the first snow of the year, so the white quiet may have kept Ozzy asleep for longer than the usual. I jump out of bed, survey the mess of night bottles, throw on my platypus slippers and start carrying the girls down to the main floor crib.
On my way, I barge into Oz’s room. He jumps up out of the last of his sleep. ‘Oh, good morning daddy!’. He walks down the stairs with me. 2 of 3 ladies are crying for food, so Gill and I go into hyper-drive, me changing, she getting her pump gear primed. I have changing diapers down to mere seconds. I’m changing around 20 a day.
After fresh diapers, scoop them all up and plop them down on the floor. Gill invented a method I call ‘Auto-Feed’, where they lay on the ground and we elevate a bottle on a blanket and shove it in their mouth. They’ll often guzzle the whole bottle this way. Not the most intimate way to feed babies, but certainly an occasional convenience. I get all three set-up. Make sure no one’s going to choke to death, then start tidying. Fetch the laundry. Go grab my computer to bring upstairs for the day. Once I’m confident they’re almost all done, go fix Ozzy's breakfast. He wants french toast but the little bugger barely ate it last time I made it, so I fix him Cheery Loops - 75% Cheerios, 25% Froot Loops. Crack a yogurt, and plop him in his high-chair and set him up with a show. He's allowed to watch TV when we're feeding the girls.
After breaky, I set up Marti and Sadie in their baby bjorns, bouncing Sadie with my foot. Ellie I’ve plopped in the crib with a small green blanket and a pink hat. She’s still too small for a bjorn.
And here we are.
So indeed they did all get sick. The worst seems to be over - Martha got it, and then quickly seemed to get over it. Sadie and Ellie are both still snuffly, particularly at night, but nothing like it was 3 or 4 nights ago. An awful thing watching such tiny creatures deal with colds.
It’s been a strange month - the most definitive change I’ve ever experienced. Though even here, where there’s a fairly clear line in the sand (you know, a triplet birth), it's still a transition rather than an immediate, jarring shift. Night doesn’t turn to day with a big bright moment, it happens imperceptibly. First change is coming, then change begins, then change has happened. Pregnancy is gradual of course, and by the end she's so incapacitated that the birth is a relief. This is how the universe prepares you. The birth itself, well yeah, that's a singular moment. But then the girls are in the hospital, being treated by nurses and there's not much to do. And then they start coming home one at a time. So it ends up being a fairly gentle ramping to a new life, which started properly only two weeks ago.
And how has it been?
It’s been hectic and peaceful, eventful and boring. Random and highly proceduralized. They’re physically becoming more identical by the day, yet little differences in proto-personalities are emerging. Sadie is very calm, placid even. Sleeps easier than the other two, and just seems large and content (that’s right, a strapping 5 lbs is considered large in this house). Ellie startles easier, has these big wide eyes, and her awareness seems higher than the other two. Always looking around with those gigantic goggles of hers. Martha is a little bit less content - the loudest, the gruntiest. Assertive. Typical big sister. Moving around the most, lifting her head. At this point we can tell them apart based on personalities more than anything else.
A funny thing. Ellie's umbilical cord came off last week - the cord from my last child. And it should have been some momentous event, but everything is slightly lessened when there’s three. Diminishing returns. When Sadie's came off, we all cheered, and paraded it around. Then Martha's came off - great! And by the third... well, glad, that's all done.
And there is a little bit of an attempt to just 'get through' this particular stage. I mean, I don’t want to push time forward and miss the whole thing, yet I can’t claim to love this tiny infant chapter of the book. They’re just so little and still so far removed from the people they will be. We’re nothing but zookeepers to three little bear cubs. Change, feed, repeat. Nanny-bots would do a better job.
Because it's all so boring, exhausting, easy, impossible. I feel the contradictions, as always. Looking after babies isn’t so hard when it’s the only thing you have to do. And yet to keep focus and do it well, while doing anything else at all is almost impossible. Particularly when your baseline of activity has fallen so much that a single lunch with your new future boss feels like a UN Summit.
There’s moments that stick out. The 2AM feeds. Waking up in utter disbelief that you, again, can’t just keep fucking sleeping for once. Scraping yourself over to the other end of the room, clicking on the soft table light. Grabbing daughter after daughter to change them, feeling their impossible lightness. Pour yourself downstairs to grab the bottles (pre-made by Gill, bless her) from the fridge. Throw them in the crock pot*. Gag at the unholy smell of slow-cooked breast milk residue. Stare groggily at yourself in the living room mirror for 90 full seconds. Grab bottles, march upstairs (you’re gaining strength now). Throw a bottle and a baby to Gill, who is almost ready getting her pump gear a-fixed. Position the feeding wedge (a triangular pillow that has ended up being vital to the operation), grab two babies and corresponding bottles. Adjust, adjust. They latch. Your back settles against the wall. Turn to Gill, she turns to you. Give a weary nod to each other. And feed.
Once they’re done, you nimbly try to get the sleeping babies back into their crib - burp them if you’re feeling brave. Sneak back into bed to the sound of snuffles and grunts. Put on earbuds with a white noise app to block out the wheezing. Read the Kindle. Back to sleep.
That moment of listening to white noise and reading in a cosy bed sticks out particularly for me. So peaceful. For all of two minutes until I fall asleep.
But we’re both now feeling the effects of sleeping in bite-size bits. Never quite hitting REM. Memories are not being made properly. Gill is getting cranky. I’m getting lazy.
And yet, in this haze, I woke up out of the blue and decided that, against all rational thought, NOW is the time to buy a new house. It seems insane, less than a month after having triplets, to try and pull this off, but the fact is, as annoying as it is to change a trillion diapers, all they really do is sleep and eat in fairly regular intervals. And I’m off work. Things are not going to get any easier, sadly.
So, we checked out a house. And I fell in love with it. Slowly, over three more visits, so did Gill. It genuinely does seem perfect.
So that’s that. Waiting for financing to go through today, but barring anything unexpected, this house should be ours by the end of the day.
To celebrate the house passing our home inspection condition a couple days ago I locked myself in the bathroom and shaved my head. To complete the transformation, I guess. Kind of like it, although I do appreciate that this seems an awful lot like something a man in the midst of a nervous breakdown would do.
But that’s not how it feels. I feel like I've proven to myself that I am who I am, regardless of what I do or what is done to me. Every aspect of life has been upturned, and I still feel like me. It's nice.
*This is perhaps our finest 'multiples hack'. Do not buy a bottle warmer. Buy a $12 crock-pot from Superstore and keep it on its lowest setting. It's 15 months later and we still use ours. It has literally never been turned off.