Our first big scare

We’re not strangers to a scare or two when it comes to our triplets. Premature babies are seriously fragile things, you so much as sneeze in their direction and you’re asking for trouble. Even when they’re a few months old they’re not quite as physically developed as similarly aged babies.

Even before they were born, at 14 weeks pregnant, we had an almighty scare in the middle of the night. I usually don’t mind my own blood but anyone tries to show me a cut on their thumb and I’ll run for the hills and not look back. So when my wife deposited a pool of bloody water on the bathroom floor, it was – for me and I’m sure for her – a living nightmare. To reinforce the point, early on in our relationship, my wife sliced through her finger while preparing some vegetables. Not all the way because I’m sure she still has all ten fingers, but to this day I don’t know how deep the cut was or how much blood we ate with dinner that night. The moment she screamed out in pain, I dashed towards the kitchen only to stop dead before even reaching the door, unable to go further.

I’m going to be a great father (I have to keep telling myself that) but scraped knees and dislocated shoulders will, as much as possible, be my wife’s department.

The middle-of-the-night blood-on-the-(dance)floor was, on reflection, our first big scare. But last night was our biggest scare since we welcomed our three girls into the world.

And it was entirely my own fault.

We’re insanely lucky in that our three girls don’t have any serious health problems. However, like most premature babies they have some minor issues that do require medication. All three require iron and vitamin supplements, and until yesterday were being treated(!) to 7.5ml of lactulose to help them deal with constipation (more on that another day). Ana also takes medicine to control reflux, as she suffered with silent reflux for so long before anyone noticed, that now, a little everyday reflux causes her pain. In addition, and here’s where it went wrong, she also takes medication to lower her heartbeat. This is to help prevent any further episodes resulting from tachycardia, which she suffered on a handful of occasions while in hospital.

It’s not a lot of medication – in fact, compared to a few weeks ago, it’s certainly not a lot, but it does require a bit of preparation each morning, and again last thing at night. We usually mix each girl’s medication with a little milk, and feed them that through a teat before then letting them loose with their bottle.

Last night, while distracted – but that’s no excuse – Ana’s mix of medication was given to one of her sisters. And worse still, I wasn’t sure which sister.

A call to the hospital confirmed that we needed to take Alicia and Laura in for monitoring. The local hospital has been absolutely brilliant in every single regard since forever, but time spent in their paediatric emergency department last night has dimmed our appreciation just a little. Their treatment rooms come with monitoring equipment for one child, which is perfectly reasonable, but this makes them wholly unsuitable on those rare occasions when they need to deal with more than one child in the same room. They did have access to mobile monitoring systems for just such situations but these were not connected to the screens in the nursing station, and were judged – by the nurses themselves – to be unsuitable.

It was decided almost instantly that the girls would be admitted to the wards for the night, but until a room with two beds became available, we were stuck down in the paediatric emergency department. The mobile monitoring systems were put to good use after all, as we spent three and a bit hours camped outside the nursing station under the powerful neon lights and in full view of anyone who happened to pass by. Needless to say, our girls spent most of those three and a bit hours screaming their heads off.

Overnight on the ward was an experience and not one I’d care to repeat. It took a good hour to calm both girls down to the point where the nurses could connect the monitoring leads. Sleep seemed elusive, Alicia woke every 10-20 minutes screaming blue murder, which in turn awoke Laura. Eventually – after what seemed like a cruel eternity – calm prevailed.

This morning I had to dash off and carefully prepare the morning’s medicine for Ana, who had been watched over by my wife’s father and brother back at home. Her brother then went to take my place at the hospital, and not long after that I received a call to say the doctor had cleared both Alicia and Laura to return home.

I can’t escape the feeling that eventually our luck will run out. But for now, mercifully, no permanent damage had been done. Except perhaps to myself. A silly, stupid mistake rewarded with a horrific night to forget.

Ana has been smiling all morning. Completely oblivious.

Edited by Mrs H. to add: I’ve grown to accept and sometimes even enjoy the attention that being a “triplet circus” can bring. However, what makes people think that while I have a baby hyperventilating in my arms while consoling the other by rocking the pram with my foot, in the emergency room at night, myself on the verge of tears, is the ideal time to make small talk about whether having triplets is tiring, if I have help at home or even if I can tell them apart? The last one might have been an appropriate question considering why we were there to begin with. But still.

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