Did you ever imagine that you would have twins AND triplets?
No. We always knew there would be a chance because several of Stephanie's relatives had multiples—including her grandmother, who had triplets. About a year after the twins were born, we decided to have another baby because these two were so much fun. In the back of our minds we knew it was possible to have another set of twins, but the thought of triplets never even crossed our minds.
How do you and your wife possibly find time to raise this very unique family and maintain your busy professional lives?
We don't. There isn't enough time in the day for any family to get everything done. We always start the day with high expectations of what we will accomplish, but settle for what we get done. I think Steph and I communicate very well and manage to divide up the tasks in an efficient manner. Our saving grace, however, is our nanny Kate. She does so many of the family chores which allows us to actually spend time with the kids during their activities.
What are some things that make you happiest about this situation?
Playmates. Having multiples is great. Especially because they have instant playmates and friends for life. There is such an amazing interaction between siblings that are the same age. They learn together and learn from each other. It is incredible to watch.
And what are your biggest challenges?
Laundry. It never goes away and no matter what, it will never be done. The kids are outgrowing their clothes before they wear them out and keeping up with the clothes that fit versus the clothes that don't is a constant battle.
What has surprised you most about parenting "multiple multiples"?
Nature versus Nurture. From birth, they have experienced the same things: bath time, bedtime, bedtime stories, dinner time, the food we serve, the clothes they wear, the vacations, the campouts and the pets. Everything they have experienced is the same. Yet they all have very distinct personalities as well as likes and dislikes. They have different talents and different struggles. This helps them to grow, develop and learn from each other. It is really amazing to watch them develop as individuals.
What advice would you have for other parents who are either raising multiples or expecting them?
Don't panic! Everything will be just fine. Notice that I didn't say that everything will be perfect. Compromises will be made. Expectations will not always be met. Meet and talk to other parents of multiples. Join the Central Oregon Families with Multiples on Facebook. They are a great source for encouragement. Many times, you can inherit strollers, car seats, cribs, clothes etc. from families that have outgrown them. Mostly, just enjoy the ride. It will be the most amazing, challenging and rewarding experience in your life!
Rick & Beth Melner
Triplets + Two
Triplets! What was it like adding three daughters to a family that already included two young children?
Yeah, crazy. As you can imagine it was quite the shocker! Honestly, I'm not sure how we pulled it off, as our oldest was only three years old, our second son was 17 months and then the three newborns. We had four in diapers at once! I'm sure a bunch of stuff fell through the cracks, but like most parents, you just find a way.
How did you guys first react upon hearing the news?
Shocked would be a good word to use here. This being our third pregnancy, we were a bit casual about the first ultrasound and didn't get it done until about 20 weeks. We decided to go to an old college friend who was an OB/Gyn. As we entered the room we were joking around and I said, "Whatever you do, don't tell me we're having twins." Soon after we shared a laugh, she started the ultrasound and let out an "Oh sh**!" and started laughing. All she could say was "there are a lot of body parts in here" and her light laughter quickly turned more serious as she had never diagnosed triplets before.
What's the most surprising thing you've learned about raising triplets?
One of the most surprising outcomes is that peoples' curiosity has sparked conversations and personal connections with people due to the attention they draw. It has opened our entire family up to more opportunities. Beth has also found that this has nudged her into being a more outgoing and confident person, which she feels has been a great thing, since she used to be more on the reserved side.
What are some of the challenges?
This is the first year since kindergarten that the triplets have been in the same class. That means for the last four years we had five teacher conferences, different teaching styles and homework loads. With five kids, everything is multiplied (every fight, every complaint, every need), but the good news is that every smile and every hug is too.
It's tough keeping triplets separate...so how do you (and others) manage to avoid mixing them up?
Since the triplets are identical (exact same DNA) they were really tough to tell apart when they were babies. They wore their ID bracelets from the hospital for two weeks, then we went to painting one toenail on each baby a different color. After a few months, we got to the point where we could tell them apart. Usually people struggle to tell them apart at first and learn along the way. I know their soccer coach appreciated that they had different color cleats.
What do your other children think of all this?
Being typical older brothers, I think they get a little jealous of all the attention the girls get and don't like the extra competition for Mom and Dad's attention. But they like having a built-in set of friends to play with. While having five kids within three years of each other definitely has its challenges, a true benefit is that the small age gap does make it easier for them to relate and hang with each other. We'll see what happens when they are all driving and fighting over who gets the car!
Josh & Mary Nicolet
Twins + One
Do you remember your initial reaction upon hearing that twins were on the way?
Mary: We were completely shocked at the 20-week ultrasound. We went in to find out if we were having a boy or a girl and found out we were having a boy AND a girl. Josh: The ultrasound tech asked if we knew there were two. She said she could tell by the look on our faces that we did not know there were twins. Mary: Thankfully we arranged childcare for our older daughter.
What are some things you've learned about raising them that you didn't know before they arrived? Josh: We're capable of a lot more than we thought we were. And you can't be afraid to ask for help guilt-free. Breastfeeding support groups are invaluable.
Mary: I don't think you realize how different kids' personalities can be until you have two going through the same phases. They have different sleeping rhythms and eating patterns on top of just general personality traits.
What have you come to truly love about having twins?
Josh: My favorite thing is their extremely close relationship. There is a level of trust and support that we didn't see at this age with our first kid.
Mary: They really understand sharing. They are two so they might not be very good at it, but they do seem
to understand the concept better than singletons the same age.
And what are some of the challenges?
Mary: Logistics of everything.
Josh: Starting with having to get a minivan to fit all the car seats
Mary: Making sure restaurants have two high chairs. Having two lap infants when traveling. Finding someone to watch two babies. I always feel like I have 50 browser windows open in my head.
Josh: We thought that our second child would be easier and require less help through the night. With twins, it was all hands on deck.
Mary: I chose to breastfeed our twins. So that required an extra set of hands in the beginning, and lots of support from the breastfeeding circle.
Josh: Also, following a set routine with two different personalities makes for interesting mornings, naps, nights and activities.
Mary: As they get older it's hard to find activities they can both enjoy that don't break the bank.
Any advice for future parents of multiples?
Josh: Use the support groups, and don't be afraid to ask for help.
Mary: It's ok to feel however you feel. If you love having twins, more power to you. If you are struggling, you are not alone. The struggle doesn't mean you're ungrateful or that you love them any less.