Under pressure

I’m finding myself under a lot of pressure to perform as a mum. In Belgium, babies are followed medically quite closely by the state so one gets to go to free consults with paediatricians who basically weight, measure and check your babies’ progress. This means we have our regular paediatrician (Regped), the state paediatrician (Stateped) and the neonatal paediatrician (Neoped) that see my girls regularly. As a consequence, we get enormous amounts of input by professionals which are sometimes at odds with each other.

Two examples:

Food: Stateped raised her eyebrows when told the girls still had 5 meals a day and was adamant we start giving them bread for some strange reason. Regped just nods when I tell her what they eat and the Neoped asked us to keep as we are doing (veg/meat/fish/fruit and milk) as the girls are growing up well.

Charts: Neoped and Regped always measure the girls against their adjusted age chart (while double checking where they are in their actual age charts) but the Stateped thinks it’s stupid and even asked us “why? when you do stop doing the adjusted age thing?” errrr, at the age of two years old (or so we’ve been told by any paediatrician who knows about premature babies).

For now, we’re going with Neoped for everything, really. She seems by far the most interested, reasonable and invested Doctor of all three. But the seeds planted by other doctors often make me doubt if we’re doing what’s right. Food wise, I know we should aim to end up with four meals a day and therefore increase calories during the daytime meals (while ensuring at least 500-700ml of formula a day). Now, the girls rarely finish their 210ml bottle, so how on earth am I meant to ensure they drink 240 or 270ml bottles twice a day? They’re already with thickened milk because of reflux, I can always start adding cereal to the evening bottle (6.30pm) and see if it helps them sleep through the WHOLE night, but I fear it might be overly thick. Anyone with any suggestions welcomed… did cereal in the milk help your babies sleep?

Sometimes I feel I should be pushing them a bit more to eat more… sometimes I think they’ll eat what they want (and can)…

I feel there’s more to be done for sleeping through the night. I just cannot find a solution to the problem. It all used to be in a good direction before the illnesses took over. It all seems to be going backwards. Is it food? Is it naps? Should I put the crazy baby that has decided to wake up every hour SCREAMING MURDER in a separate room? Wouldn’t that make her even crazier? Is she screaming cause she’s hurting? Is she hungry? Is she teething? Is she doing it for attention? Does she have separation anxiety? Three paediatricians following their progress and none of them have a solution to propose.

Sleep deprivation makes me a worse mum. I try so hard to sooth my crying baby calmly. I rock and hug, and shhh and pat. Hours later, after being woken up repeatedly every 10, 15, 20, 5 minutes, I’m finding myself as angry and mentally deranged as I’ve ever been. Screaming to my poor baby to go to sleep (“what do you want????” seems to be a favourite of mine), thinking she’s being selfish, frantically putting her in prams, arms, rockers while she obviously keeps getting more and more freaked out by the crazy woman supposedly taking care of her. Who am I when I’m in that state? I’m so ashamed of how badly I deal with a baby that’s too tired to sleep. Then the morning comes, lights come on, she smiles at me when I hug her tight hoping she’ll never remember the night… I’ll remember, and I swear over and over again that next time I’ll deal with it better. I do sometimes, but I also don’t other times.

When I’m freaking out in the middle of the night I feel like just letting them cry themselves to sleep in their room. I just know that if we decide to do that, we need to do it in a planned manner rather than just leaving them in hysterics in a moment of sleepless induced desperation. But then when push comes to shove and I have all my mental faculties back (or as much as I can have at the moment) I shy away from the cry it out solution. We fear it’s impossible with three babies that, if left alone, will cry until they’re sick. Controlled comforting doesn’t work if we can’t pick them up as they won’t get any comfort from a tap on the belly. Anyone care to share how they did with their triplets?


7 thoughts on “Under pressure

  1. My two cents: don’t be so hard on yourself regarding losing it sometimes. We all do. My wife and I both still ask them what they want in a frustrated tone. Ages 2 and 3 are when you will see a whole other level of whining. Regarding all the doctors you see, yes that is part of the process and a casualty of having babies born premature. They all have different opinions, but the reality is that babies aren’t robots and all do things if and when they are ready. None of ours did anything at the same time. My oldest daughter has remarkable fine motor skills, while my middle daughter is very observant and has a very clear vocabulary. My son is the most “behind” developmentally, but not to where it is a cause for concern. We try hard not to compare the three. Try and manufacture as much me time as you can. Have your husband take over all 3 for an hour (it will get easier to do that around 18 months) and just go sit in the car in silence or something. Don’t forget who you were before the kids arrived. The first year is tough. Just think, some triplet mums have one or more with major issues, so it can always be worse. Ours had bottles until a little after age 2, none of them sleep in their rooms alone yet, and we don’t let them cry it out. Our position is that this doesn’t work for every child – to each their own, though. You will survive, although you will be exhausted 😴

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    1. Thank you. The thought of what could have been is, sadly, comforting. Mr H often tries (and succeeds) to give me a bit of time. I also try to give it back. It’s just so hard sometimes to remain sane.

      It’s also reassuring to see other multiples’ families not doing the cry it out. I only seemed to stumble on stories about that being the only possible solution. I’m not writing it out completely, I just thin you really need to commit to it before doing it or we’ll end up with twice a bad babies that have learned that if you scream loud enough, mum and dad will show up.

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      1. When I pulled the beloved binkie pacifier away from my oldest, who was quite attached to it, I let her cry it out. I had gun range ear muffs on and she had a meltdown for an hour. I distracted her by taking her into a play room and she forgot all about the pacifier and never looked back. And the rainbow shape in her teeth is gone. Preemies need to be nurtured more than term babies. I can’t imagine the loneliness of an isolate for the first few weeks of life. One of mine is extremely sensitive. We think she was the most sensitive to loud noises in the NICU. She also got held the least because she needed breathing help the longest, so to this day she takes advantage of any opportunity to be held by anyone. Hang in there! Save your energy for age 3! Lol

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  2. Regarding the sleeping through the night, that’s a tough one. People with singletons think that adding rice cereal to the bottle is the answer. I personally don’t think there is a right answer – it’s a matter of trying several things and hoping it works with at least one…haha. We had to do a “dream feed” between 11:30pm and midnight with one of ours for a few weeks on and off, especially if they were having a growth spurt. I tried putting heavy whipping cream in their milk bottles once they were on milk. Ours didn’t really start sleeping through the night until around 18 months suffice it to say. We had help during the first 18 months, though. My wife’s parents came over every afternoon from 4pm to midnight to help. Doesn’t sound like you have that luxury, though. What else can you try..maybe lavender oil in the area they sleep or on their necks? Smells nice and is calming. I think sleeping through the night is random because there is so much brain activity happening in these early months. Ours were notorious for waking one another up. Now generally they sleep throughout another’s crying when it happens – we have to deal with night terrors with two of them

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    1. We have help for putting the babies down to sleep. Grandad and uncle show up every night for the bedtime routine. It works. They all fall asleep. Usually the routine from start to snooze takes about an hour. So by 7/7.30 they are all down. We do a dream feed around 11.30 or midnight and then they used to stay down until 6 or so with a couple of wakes that were quickly solved with a dummy push.
      Since they started catching stuff (colds, gastro, roseola..) all went t*ts up and, while two seem to be slowly recovering the good habits, Ana is just going into a completely ridiculous direction. Goes down well initially and then around midnight and after constantly wakes up crying and screaming inconsolably. Eventually goes back down but it’s never a deep sleep nor for long. The during the day she’s a happy baby although as the day goes, as it’s understandable, becomes quite needy and cranky.
      I just hope it’s a phase. I’m here in the office and all I can think about is this and how to get past it and recover sanity for the sake of everyone.

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      1. Yes, illnesses tend to ruin the routine (or established parameters as I like to call them). My mom always tells me to have a routine. She’s a twin herself and is proud of having two in diapers at the same time, but it’s not the same thing. Keeping triplets busy is a challenge. Keeping them all from falling ill when one does is also impossible. Efforts to quarantine fail. My middle daughter Emma would pop her head up in her crib at midnight every night when she was younger. Didn’t matter how tired she was. Now she just gets up and wants to sleep next to someone. These are definitely phases – just know that once you graduate these phases they will be replaced with new, equally challenging phases. You’ve still got teething to survive haha. My kids love evening warm baths 🛀. Sometimes that is the only thing that calms them down. I was thinking by now story time would be a part of their evening routine, but they don’t sit still and have destroyed more books than I care to admit. And ours have this wild storm of excitement and playing that they do before they crash. Just remain flexible and enjoy the ride. My wife’s evening elixir- wine 🍷


      2. lol Alicia has this lovely tradition of screaming like a mad baby before crashing. Lucky for us, not, Ana is like yours overly sensitive to noise so she’ll start a ridiculous loud cry. Laura can be very annoying to put down if she’s feeling a bit off but tends to sleep over all the drama.

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