Today’s Expert Interview is with Paula, who is the proud mom of 24 your old triplets! You may remember our interview with her daughter, Kristen, from back in April. As a fellow mom of triplets I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Paula’s experience of raising multiples, and I think you will too!
L: Can you tell us about the experience of finding out that you were carrying triplets?
P: I was six weeks pregnant and feeling so sick. The doctor said to come in for an ultrasound. While doing the ultrasound he appeared nervous and began to leave the room. I asked why he was leaving and he abruptly said, “You’re pregnant, right?” I answered, “Yes.” He said, “And you’re happy about that?” I again answered, “Yes” and with that he left the room! I was so afraid there was something wrong with my “baby.” The doctor came back with two technicians in lab coats to confirm his suspicions. After going over my belly with the instrument, he showed me one, two and three fetuses and thought there may have been a fourth! With that, I laughed and cried. I had been so afraid there was something wrong with the one baby, that it was a relief to be multiples! My husband and I had planned and paid for a trip to Hawaii and the doctor didn’t want me to chance that, so on the SAME day I had to tell him that our one baby was now three and that trip to Hawaii needed to be cancelled.
L: How many weeks along were you when your kids were born? Did they have a long stay in the hospital?
P: I was thirty-three weeks pregnant when they were born and fortunately they were only in the hospital for ten days.
L: Your kids were the first set of triplets born in the hospital where you had them! Do you ever go back and visit it now?
P: We actually haven’t been back since they were little, but we kept updates throughout their growing years. We are still in touch with their obstetrician’s family.
L: Did you have a multiple moms group to turn to for support when you kids were young? Who did you turn to for advice?
P: There was a Mother of Twins club in our area and I had called them for advice. There was a wonderful woman, Ginny Foley, who has since passed away, who was a tremendous help. She had founded the group I contacted. Ginny had one son and then thirteen months later had twin girls so she knew what I was going through and showed me how to prop bottles.
L: What do you think about all of this blogging stuff? Can you imagine having kept a blog when your kids were little?
P: I think it is wonderful that moms and dads have a place to turn to share ideas, questions, worries, etc. about raising their multiples. I couldn’t have even imagined something like this back when my children were babies, though it sure would have been nice!
L: How did you deal with the situation when your kids reached driving age? Did they each get a car, or did they share?
P: I actually think the driving age is more scary that the baby age!!! All three took drivers’ education and prior to that, I spent time with each of them in parking lots teaching them to drive and then slowly reaching the point where they could go on the road. The three of them shared a car their junior year in high school – scary enough to see all three go in one car together without you driving!!! During their senior year they shared two cars – usually my son would drive one and my daughters would share the other. When they started college, they each had a used car of their own.
L: Do you have any advice for those of us who are wondering how we are going to pay for 2, 3, 4, or more college tuitions at a time?
P: Oh, gosh, I wish I had some magic words of wisdom for that! We used stock money, and the children each received some academic scholarship money. Each child also was required to have a job to supplement spending money. I would get the comments about all their friends were getting parents’ charge cards, but I would counter with, “Their parents aren’t paying for three at once!” We promised each child a four year degree, but anything after that was on them. We have retirement to think about! My two daughters are in graduate school and taking out loans for that.
L: Is there an age that you felt was more difficult than the others?
P: I think puberty age is a difficult age, and when one gets invited somewhere and other doesn’t. Also, as stated above, teaching them to drive was scary. When the children are young, you can help pick their friends, their clothes, etc. and then slowly some of that control has to be given to the children as they get older to help them make what you hope will be wise choices. We are blessed that we have wonderful communication with them, and that is the most important part.
L: Did you place a lot of emphasis on making sure that your children were viewed as individuals, instead of as a unit? How did you ensure that they grew up knowing that they were special, valued individuals?
P: Yes. We always had separate birthday cakes and, after age three, separate parties. You don’t want your kids to constantly compete with each other. My children are all very different from each other, they each have their own individual strengths and weaknesses and it is important to focus on those and foster their strengths. Individual praise for each child is extremely important. Don’t group them as a whole. Also, take lots of individual pictures, as well as group ones, so each child has special ones of just them. Each has his or her own baby book, school scrapbook, etc.
L: Did you ever think about having more children?
P: No, it was never going to be an option, though I did wonder how it would be with just having one to sign up for gymnastics, swimming, etc.!
L: What do you think is the most difficult aspect of being a parent of triplets? And what is your favorite aspect?
P: I think the financial aspect is probably the most difficult, though my obstetrician told me that was the easy part!
I never let having triplets keep me down or confined to the house. I had a triple stroller that I used until the children were four years old. I would get stares and people saying, “You have my sympathy.” Usually I would put them in their place and ask them why I needed sympathy for having three healthy children.
I have to say I have enjoyed each year and cannot believe how fast it has gone. While they were young we never heard, “I’m bored.” There was always someone to play Legos or games with. What my favorite aspect thus far is to see that our children have all graduated college, two have gone on to further their education, and my husband and I are so proud of the young adults they have grown up to be. There IS light at the end of the tunnel!
L: What was it like seeing all three kids go off to college? Did they all start at the same time? Did they go away to school or go locally?
P: There was a song playing on the radio after I moved my son into his college apartment. It was Trace Adkins’ “And Then They Do” which is about your children growing up and moving on. I remember crying and listening to that, and he was the last to be moved into school. What gave me comfort, however, is this is what we expect when our children grow. It would be harder if I was had been taking them to a drug rehab or something like that – this was college and we couldn’t have been prouder.
All three did start at the same time – my daughter Kristen went to school one half hour away and lived there. She became extremely involved in activities on campus and in a sorority.
We were fortunate that inasmuch as they all lived at school, none were too far from home. My son went to college three hours away and I would go visit him and stay over.
My daughter Kendra went to school 45 minutes away and so she was close to home as well. She is now 3 ¼ hours away, which is more difficult, but I will drive to see her on her birthday or just to visit and she will come home when she has a break.
Soon after they were all settled into college, my husband and I took a trip to Hawaii (the one when I was pregnant my doctor said I could not go on!)
L: Looking back, is there anything you wish you had known when your kids were younger, that you know now? Anything you would change?
P: This may be silly but I bought them large tricycles when they were three – I wish I had bought them small tricycles. They graduated from those to a 16” bike and I taught them to ride a two wheeler on a bike that large – in hindsight I wish I had got smaller bikes – but it was cheaper to skip that step!
L: If you could give ONE piece of advice to moms of young multiples, what would it be?
P: This too shall pass. This isn’t your life forever – they’re not babies forever. There are joys and challenges all along the way.
A big thank you to Paula for sharing your experience with us!
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