1 baby or more, mom of triplets says ‘you’ll get through it’
“You will get through it.”
It’s a phrase new mothers often hear (and sometimes don’t quite believe). But if taking care of one newborn is a lot, imagine having two or three — or more.
When Lisa Blahovec of Youngwood found out that she and her husband, Alan, were expecting triplets in 2004, she decided to prepare herself as well as she could to get through what would come after Abby, Ben and Cydney were born. She was already the mother of sons Nic and Zac, but they had come one at a time.
She joined Pittsburgh Mothers of Twins, Triplets & Quads, a support group where mothers of multiples can share concerns and information and find friendship.
Blahovec found the group to be so helpful that, 15 years later, not only is she still a member but she’s also serving her second two-year term as its president. She also had an added resource in a neighbor who was herself the mother of twins.
What did she learn?
The first thing was that no amount of information will prepare you for what happens when the babies arrive.
“I had to redefine ‘normal’ every day,” she says. “Every stage brought different problems, different challenges and different joys.”
Things didn’t necessarily get easier as the triplets got older. Now that they’re teens, they’re “always going in three different directions,” she says.
“There are things you have to decide that don’t come up with singles,” she says. Do you dress them the same? Do you put them in separate classes in school? How do you manage the logistics when they want to do different things?
“It’s interesting to watch three children experience the exact same thing growing up and turn out to be three totally different personalities,” Blahovec says. “They all have their own interests. We worry that we lump them together as one when we call them ‘the triplets,’ instead of seeing them as individuals.”
Raising five kids, Blahovec — who went back to teaching math at Hempfield Area High School when the triplets were 10 months old — obviously has learned a thing or two.
Here are the top three tips she would give not just to new moms of multiples, but to every new mom:
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“It took everybody pitching in,” Blahovec says. Her mother came to help the couple with late-night feedings, so each triplet would be held. Friends from church came during the day to rock them.
2. Trust your instincts.
“People will always offer their opinions, but you need to follow what you feel is right for you,” she says. “There’s no right or wrong way to do things.”
3. Give your child some freedom.
“You have to let them be their individual selves,” she says. “Watching them grow as people is just so amazing.”
For good measure, here are three new baby “don’ts” from the Mom365 blog:
4. Don’t be quiet.
It’s loud in the womb, so you don’t have to tiptoe around your sleeping tot. A baby can learn to sleep through normal household noises, including the television and the vacuum cleaner.
5. Don’t be too rigid.
Instead of starting out with a strict schedule, let baby lead the way in setting his or her own feeding and sleep schedule.
6. Don’t be selfish.
Hand baby off to your partner and other family members and friends. It will be easier for both mom and baby if the little one learns to be comfortable and secure with the voices and touch of others.
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .