This is a guest post from Jennifer Fountain of The Fountain Family. She’s sharing with us about what it was like for them to have an “instant family” at Christmas last year — spontaneous triplets!
Christmas with Three New Babies
Christmas, fresh snow, hot cocoa…do these conjure warm, snuggly feelings? (Well, maybe not the last one if you’re on the GAPS diet!) What about traditions, caroling, and stockings? Yep – me, too! Ok, then how about screaming babies, reflux and poopy diapers? I’m gonna take a wild guess that these do not make you dream of a white Christmas. However, for my husband, David, and I this was our Christmas last year. On October 1, 2011, we gave birth to spontaneous, fraternal girl/boy/girl triplets! We brought them home from the hospital one month later on October 31. And then entered the holidays. With three babies. As first-time parents.
I’ll give you a moment to pause and recall what life was like with your firstborn. Are you picturing it? Good! But… if you’re remembering just the sweet snuggles, the giggles and the cooing, let me also remind you of the 3am hunger calls, the agonizing latch issues, the explosive diapers and the bewildering gas-y screams coming for your new little bundle. Remember all that? Ok, now add in two other newborns with their own personalities and differing needs doing all of the above! Looks like mayhem, right? Well, it pretty much was mayhem.
When we talked about having children, like most people, we anticipated we would have them one at a time. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined God would give us three babies at once!
Three babies meant lots of scary stuff. I was immediately considered high-risk and unable to continue with my midwife and dream of a home birth. It meant bed rest and hospital stays and complications…and all this was just to get to their birth day!
Three babies meant lots of expenses. When you have one baby at a time you can often re-use items from sibling to sibling. Not so when you need three car seats, three cribs, a triple stroller, three high chairs, and a van to cart them around in! Oh, and their stay in the NICU would have cost $1.5 million!!!
Three babies meant little sleep. One baby alone can send his new parents into a zombie-like state of existence. For a while, we often got less than four hours of sleep a night – that’s with both of us on duty! Someone was always awake!
Three babies meant lots of pumping. I was planning, preparing and expecting to breastfeed my babies. But one C-section and three babies later (who were too early to know how to suck-swallow-breathe) and I was left pumping around the clock – in the NICU room, a closet, at home, everywhere. It would be 3.5 months before I’d get them all to nurse! (Fourteen months later, all three toddlers are still nursing!)
Three babies meant a lot of diaper changes. (Still does!) On average, we changed 24 diapers a day. If you’ve bought diapers lately, that’s almost a pack a day.
Three babies meant a lot of work. A lot. We spent our first months home washing countless bottles, pumping, changing diapers, giving bottles, coaxing unforgettable burps, bouncing, walking, shhhhh-ing and passing out from exhaustion.
The Strength of the Lord
But all of the above goes by the wayside when you consider who it is all for, right? I mean, this was our new family – our babies! So, while three babies meant an intense amount of work and lack of sleep, they also meant a lot of joy.
They gave us the opportunity to depend not on our own strength but on the strength given by the Holy Spirit. There were many times – many, many wakeful nights – David and I cried out to God for help and wisdom.
They gave us the opportunity to practice patience with one another. Many times arguments ended in tears and hugs – we knew the other was speaking out of pure exhaustion.
They gave us the opportunity to share the Gospel like never before. Everyone stops us. Everyone. They all want to hear our story, tell us how sorry they are for us…and we get to tell them how God has blessed us!
They gave us the opportunity to walk by faith. We had to! We had no clue what we were doing and had few from whom we could draw advice. We had to trust that this newborn stage (and currently the toddler stage!) would not last forever. And that God would guide us.
They gave us the opportunity to trust God and His sovereignty. What does this all mean? Why us? How will we do this? We must trust in His plan, His timing, His provision and His care. Fully. Already we have seen His hand as His plan has unfolded!
They gave us the opportunity to plan new traditions. I loved the idea of creating my new little family’s traditions for Christmas-time…now I get to add in two others! All five of us picked out our first family Christmas tree when the babies were just 8 weeks old and barely 7 lbs. each. A couple weeks ago we picked out our second family Christmas tree.
They gave us the opportunity to learn selflessness. I spent nearly 12 years as a single woman prior to marrying David. We were married all of one year when I got pregnant. Fitting in three babies to our schedule, our dreams, our budget and our lives has required us to reevaluate and (most of the time) gladly toss things aside to welcome them.
They gave us the opportunity to buy cute clothes. And take lots of pictures! Lots of pictures.
Christmas with the Babies
This Christmas season, though, is somewhat different. I sit here writing while my babies are asleep, wondering which one will wake because of their molars – or will all three?! David and I are learning to communicate better during conversations about our budget – they’re not so…panicked. We’ve actually gone out on a few dates. I played with my children today, showing them the pretty Christmas tree in our living room. I’m planning Christmas morning and working on keeping my expectations low.
I anticipate we have some challenging years ahead with our “instant” family. It’s still time-consuming to pack three babies up and get out the door. Potty-training will be interesting. And those terrible 2’s and 3’s … x 3! But I’m confident. Not in myself or my abilities, but that He Who gave us these children will be our strength in those days, as well.
Wow, God has been good to us!
Jennifer is the founder of The Fountain Family blog and contributor to other blogs, as well. Married to David for nearly three years, she is also mommy to three little peas Makenna, Noah and Emma. She spends the majority of her time breastfeeding and loving them and working to take the family back to living more simply.