I am the lucky mother of triplet boys. They are now 15 years old. I didn’t have time to write much when they were little. Now that things have settled down a little, I have time to express my opinions. People often tell me what they think it must be like to have triplets. If you haven’t been there, you have no idea. Some of the things they say are not terribly thoughtful. Some are actually hurtful, intrusive or ignorant.
Remember, we love our children. We do not find them a burden. In many cases we tried really hard to have them. We do NOT want to be asked if they are “fertility babies.” That’s really a rude question. You wouldn’t ask anyone else the same question, now, would you? We will volunteer that information if we want you to know. When my children were small, it was a really sensitive subject. Now I discuss it more freely.
If they are a “mixed set” – boys and girls – it is impossible that they are “identical.” It amazes me how many times I hear this from parents that have mixed gender multiples. It takes two eggs, fertilized by two separate sperm to get the different sex twins or triplets. “Identical” twins or triplets come from the splitting of the same egg or embryo very early in gestation and MUST be of the same gender.
If they are the same gender, we appreciate it if you learn to tell them apart. Different characteristics come out early. I treat my children as individuals, not as “the triplets.” I do occasionally refer to them as “the boys,” though that sometimes includes my husband. So ask about them by name if you can. I love to talk about what they did recently, how they are doing in school, scouts or band or some of the funny things they said.
We don’t want to be pitied. Yes we are busy. Yes we have our hands full. Better full than empty. We’ve heard it before, and we might just get smart with you. It is different than having children close together, no matter what you think. I once had a patient who had 8 children, the last two were twins. She told me not to let anyone tell me it wasn’t different, because IT IS. Since she was as old as MY Mom, I believed her.
Mom’s belly is generally not going to go back to a normal shape for a long time. I tried to get my abdominal muscles to contract for a good six months before they did more than lie there and laugh at me! So please don’t ask a mother with multiples if she is pregnant again when she’s running around in maternity clothing when the babies are two or three months old – or more. It is not uncommon for women with higher order multiples (triplets or more) to end up needing a tummy tuck later because their abdomen never does go back to normal. Or else we tuck all that extra skin into some type of garment somewhere. Don’t ask!
Mostly, enjoy the antics of the children. They grow up so close that they often get into extra mischief. Which I will happily tell you about while they are otherwise safely occupied and supervised.