On Facebook the other day a number of people were linking to an article that I found really interesting. It was called: To the Mother With Only One Child. I read it and while I don’t have nine children I can certainly relate to a lot of what she wrote though on a slightly different level.
It’s rare that people say “wow, you have a lot of kids” (though they sometimes do). I usually hear, “are they triplets? I don’t know how I could do triplets! I think it’s hard enough to have one at a time! How do you do it?”
I won’t lie. Having triplets was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t have three arms to hold all of them when they were crying. I didn’t have to ability to feed all of them at once without some type of acrobatics or special bottles. I felt, almost every day, that I couldn’t meet all their needs sufficiently. I prayed that I could make it to nap time, then I prayed they would make it to bedtime. It was hard work.
But the truth is the second hardest thing I’ve ever done is have my first child. Sure, she was “just” one but there were times with the triplets that I thought I actually had it harder with my first. See, Kaitlyn started screaming the day she was born. She screamed and never slept. I stayed up all day and all night with her, sleeping only when she tired herself out and slept on my chest.
At her three day appointment I took her to the pediatrician and begged for help. I felt like something was wrong but they told me she just needed to suck a little more and to give her a pacifier.
That wasn’t it. She kept screaming.
At her two week appointment, I begged again for help. “Something is wrong with her,” I said. “She doesn’t nurse and all she does is scream. We can’t make her happy and she doesn’t sleep.” The doctor assured me she was fine and just needed a few mylicon drops to help settle her stomach.
I tried those. It didn’t work.
I called the lactation consultant for help who advised that I should nurse her and then pump afterwards to get more milk because it always seemed like she was hungry. Mind you I was nursing her for an hour (because she wouldn’t eat consistently) and then taking one hour off before starting all over again so somehow I was supposed to pump in between feedings leaving me no time to do anything else.
By the time she was one month old I was desperate. I brought her to the office screaming and asked the doctor to “fix her”. The doctor tried, the nurse tried, no one could get her to stop screaming. They ask me, “is she always like this?”
I say, “YES! This is what I’ve been telling you for a month. She doesn’t stop screaming.” I knew something was wrong with her but she was my first child and I had no idea what. I was tired and miserable and she was too.
Finally at that visit the doctor diagnosed her with Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD (or just reflux). The doctor prescribed some medication which didn’t work but at least we were on the way to getting better. At six weeks she had a barium swallow to confirm the diagnosis and I sat there and watched the barium go down her esophagus and then right back up. The real problem is that for her it never came out. It just stayed there going up and down causing more pain and more distress.
I was thrilled to have a diagnosis but still my child wasn’t eating or sleeping and she was still screaming.
We were referred to a gastroenterologist where she was prescribed 3 different medications to be taken three times a day but not all together and every morning I woke up counting the hours between medications to make sure we could get in all her doses and still have her to bed at a decent time in the evening. I also had to stop nursing and switch to formula with rice added so that the food would stay in her stomach.
It took four months to get things “normal” and a year for her to outgrow her reflux.
So whenever people tell me that having triplets is so much harder than having a singleton I have to laugh. My singleton was so hard. On top of trying to figure out what was wrong with her I had to figure out how to parent in general. I felt severely inadequate for the task. I wasn’t thinking “wow this is so easy because it’s just one and not triplets!” and I imagine you aren’t either. Knowing someone has it harder makes us grateful for what we have but it doesn’t take away our trials.
I’ve heard it said that God gives you only what you can handle. I don’t agree. God often gives you more than you can handle so that we can learn to trust Him through it.
Being a mom is hard and it doesn’t really matter if you have one or ten nor does it matter if you have one or four at a time. The truth is that someone will always have it harder than you and someone will always have it “easier” than you (from your perspective). As moms we’re here to support each other, to encourage each other and give each other advice when asked. Our children grow and change quickly. Our hard tasks today are easy tasks of tomorrow.
For three years my one child was hard. Then I had two and that was hard. Then I had five and that was even harder. And the Lord saw me through each and every day along with a large number of friends who have their own tough days even though they have less kids than I do!
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9