Survival Tools

It’s been almost two weeks since all of our babies have been home and we are constantly asked, “How do you do it?” or are told, “I hope you have A LOT of help!!!” In the first few days of having just one or two babies home, I felt disheartened when numerous people seemed to think it impossible to care for all four without a 24/7 entourage. I often thought to myself, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle with Him at your side. That means we CAN do it!” Of course, we welcome the help from friends and family, but ultimately we need to be at least capable of going it alone. There will be numerous times when one of us is home alone with all four. In fact, I am proud to say that both of us already spent a day alone while the other went to work. While it’s been a short time with all four at home, we’ve learned that we don’t have time to contemplate everything we just start doing and making sense of what needs to be done. After all, it is sink or swim isn’t it? There may be times there are sharks in the water so we’ll just have to swim faster.

The first week of all babies home, we were both off work and spent the entire week just figuring things out. It’s all a case of trial and error to figure out what is most efficient for our family. In our week’s time we came to really appreciate particular items we use regularly and will continue to rely upon for quite some time. We call these things our “survival tools”. Here are some of our favorite tools, in no particular order:

One of the first things we figured out when having multiples is you MUST figure out a way to tandem feed. This is because the babies are on a three hour feeding schedule and each one can take up to 30 minutes to eat. If you do the math, that means feeding babies individually with one person, it would take about 16 hours to feed everyone. That is just too long and we would NEVER sleep! We experimented quite a bit on this one. We tried sitting with Boppy pillows on the floor, but the babies were just too small. Also, as preemies they eat side laying to prevent choking on milk. We then started sitting on the floor with regular pillows, but our backs were screaming after a day of that.  Plus the babies would sink into the stuffing. We finally figured out a way to tandem feed sans back trouble. We sit on the couch or in a chair with a memory foam pillow covered with burp cloths. We then lay two babies on the pillow back to back and hold one bottle in each hand. With both of us in the night, it takes as little as 30 minutes to feed and change everyone! That means more sleep for mom and dad!

We found that “The Big One” contoured memory foam pillow from Kohl’s works quite well for feeding.

We may have figured out a stellar way to tandem feed, but let’s face it there isn’t much time for solid sleeping at night. We get back to bed pretty well, but we only get to sleep in 1-2 hour increments about three times per night. That means we need to learn to live on less sleep and more coffee!
I gave George a Keurig for his 30th birthday, but it is our new BFF! Every parent of multiples absolutely must have one. It’s so nice and easy to make a quick cup of coffee or tea with this bad boy and we don’t waste a whole pot of coffee. Also, it’s simple to use even for the most sleep deprived of people.

A friend loaned us this Fisher Price Rock ‘n’ Play. At first I scoffed at it. I hate that it is baby pink and a total eye sore in my living room. But…it is a blessing for parents of colicky babies, or babies with reflux. It snuggles them up and lets them sleep at a slight incline. You can also rock it with your foot to lull them to sleep. Harper has spent several nights sleeping in this thing and it bought us a few hours of precious sleep. We love it so much we sent my father in law on an excursion to pick a khaki one up from Babies R Us!

This is a Mama Roo swing, which is actually the best hand me down we’ve ever received. Amen to Britney for sharing it! This is a high-tech swing with multiple swing and sound settings. The best by far is “car”. It mimics the motion and white noise of riding in a car and lulls even the fussiest of babies to sleep. The babies have literally spent enough time in this contraption to have traveled from Dallas to Austin many times over. We love this one so much we have considered buying a second one. With multiples, they tend to prefer the same contraptions and don’t always want to wait their turn.

In order to get everyone’s bottles ready for a feed, we simply pop them into these Avent bottle warmers for 4 minutes. We started with just one and quickly added another so we can have two heating at once.

When the babies were in the NICU, their physical and occupational therapists introduced us to the Wubbanub. They are Soothie pacifiers attached to a small plush animal. They are cute and all, but the point is to help babies keep the pacifier in their mouth, which keeps them calm (and quiet). For us, it also helps us identify each baby’s pacifier since they each have a different animal. The only problem is making sure our Yorkie, Lily, doesn’t turn them into doggie toys.

I don’t know it it’s just our babies, or all babies, but we have a serious case of boogers. It is nearly impossible to extract a boogie without the help of Little Remedies saline. The babies and I are so happy it exists!

After being in the NICU so long with monitors keeping track of the babies, it was a bit hard to let them sleep in their own beds. We found these Angel Care monitors, which are intended to help prevent SIDS. They don’t check heart rate or anything, but alarm if a baby is not moving (e.g. no breathing is detected) for 20 seconds. At first, we got many false alarms because our settings were off. The first night was brutal because when I heard an alarm I bolted faster than Superman!  Now that we have them correctly set, they give us the gift of restful sleep. Since we don’t have many opportunities to sleep, restful sleep is a precious commodity.

A friend gave us these fantastic Aden and Anais muslin swaddling blankets. We started using pre made swaddlers, but Rylin and Harper already figured out how to bust out of those. These particular blankets are my favorite for several reasons. They are lightweight so I don’t feel as if the babies are over heated and are larger than typical receiving blankets so I can wrap them up really well. And of course, swaddling helps soothe fussy babies and helps them sleep better.

Sometimes we use multiple survival tools at once- Wubbanub, swaddler, Rock ‘n’ Play or Mama Roo. 🙂 We pull out all the stops when someone is particularly unhappy.

One thing we quickly figured out is to make all the feeds for a 24 hour period. That is 32 bottles per day! However, each baby takes a different amount at each feed and Sydney uses a different bottle. One way to keep them all straight is with these nifty little name tags I ordered from Mabel’s labels. Not only do they help us keep track of each baby’s feed (particularly at 3 am), but when helpers come it is easy for them to identify which bottle goes to each baby. We also love that these labels are dishwasher and microwave safe.

Yeah, I know this is just a good old crock pot. However, it is our new favorite cooking appliance. We are total foodies and miss the days of cooking meals from scratch, but there just isn’t time. We do still enjoy home ade meals so I have taken to crock pot cooking. Up ot this point our crock pot was exclusively for queso and pot roast. I’m still a novice, but thanks to Pinterest, I am finding simple tasty recipes to try. Ideally, recipes have about five ingredients or less and require very little effort yet turn out great. If you have a favorite crock pot recipe, feel free to share! Tonight I’m making chicken spaghetti.

And the best of all, is George’s own invention, the Diaper Chute! He created a way for us to send dirty diapers from the girls’ nursery closet directly to the garage. We love it because it contains several days worth of diapers (that is at least 32 per day) without having to be emptied. AND our house does not stink of poo. Surprisingly the garage isn’t really stinky either because of the charcoal liner.

In addition to our tools, we have been working on establishing routines like bathing boys and girls on alternating days and rotating the babies through various contraptions during the day.  The combination of survival tools and routines allow us to accomplish more and of course sleep as much as possible.  All and all, we are actually surviving infant quadruplets and having a blast doing it.  With each day that passes, we are thankful for our four healthy babies.  Even on the most tiring days, we must never forget the difficult road we traveled to get here or take our babies’ health for granted.  Each day is precious.

hugs!

Amber

19 thoughts on “Survival Tools

  1. Wow! You two are amazing!! Ive had total faith in you guys being able to do this. I dont think they would of all headed home so fast and so close to each other if you could do it!! But I still want to help!! 😉 lol.
    Enjoy the weekend!
    – oh yea, i passed along thier first “beauty” shots to all your fans at BB! 🙂 too cute

    Like

  2. Wow, sounds like you two are surviving quite well. I’de say you definitely have things under control. I’m loving this blog and your updates. You’re so extremely organized. I think you should be featured on some sort of literature as an example for mother of quads! Seriously. Let me know when I can come over & play. I’de love to meet them. Don’t forget, we’re just down the street and I don’t mind running to the grocery store or anything you need. Love, your neighbors, Cindy & Rene’

    Like

  3. You go, girl! You are doing phenomenal and using your noggin for some great survival tools! I love some of those ideas, especially the paci holder! Gotta look into that one!

    Like

  4. Writing up the Blog, including photos, must take an enormous amount of time but will be forever treasured by your babies down the line. In the meantime, we enjoy every word and every photo and
    when we get a blog from you, I call Joe -“news from Amber and George” and he comes running. Just think, most of us just have photos of our “babies” but you have their whole history. What a blessing for them for the future.

    Like

  5. Ok, I am laughing SO HARD over the poop chute. My husband only dreamed of creating some similar type of diaper handling contraption, but alas our garage is a separate structure from our house. I am so impressed that George not only had the idea but executed it! That is awesome!

    And the Aden + Anais blankets are still my favorite thing ever…they are the absolute best for swaddling and once our babies were old enough to have blankets and things in their cribs we let them have those and they bundle them all up and snuggle them, it’s so cute.

    Sounds like you guys are pros already! Great job! 🙂

    Like

  6. Great job you guys are doing, what a team! Such a pleasure to read your blog. Pretty creative…The Can Do Team!!
    Yeah, keep video records of everything…book deal, Oprah…you never know!
    All the Best.
    Wanna see All Six of you…Take care.
    ps. Neha kept us updated, but now I am following your blog!

    Like

  7. I LOVE THIS POST!!! You guys are doing amazing girl!!! I’m beyond impressed. We have many similar setups and, of course, a very similar schedule. But now we are doing feeds at 5 hour stretches at night, so I’m happy to report your time will come! I think the poop chute is awesome, way to go George! I like those bottle labels, good idea. We just wrote initials on the bottle collars with permanent marker. And we’ve been using our Keurig like crazy too, except neither of us really drink coffee. We go with tea or coke…but our parents rely on that coffee maker when they’re helping us with night feeds so I make sure to keep it stocked! I’ve been drinking iced coffee though, almost daily, so I’m pretty sure I’ve started a new addiction. Okay, I’m gonna have to copy your idea and do a post similar to this for our family and friends who are all wondering how in the heck things are going. Can’t wait to meet you in the near future and have play dates with our growing miracle babies! Keep up the good work you guys!!

    Like

    • Forgive me if I already replied to this….totally possible! I am so glad you loved the post! I knew lots of people were wondering how the heck we have been surviving so I figured it would be fun to show them. Honestly, it isn’t half as hard as I expected or as people probably think it is. It’s mostly a matter of figuring out what works and just doing.
      Last night, they went FIVE hours!!!!! Cross fingers and toes that can happen again. The labels are cool for bottles and lots of other stuff as they start going places. They have labels for clothing that is machine washable and we used them in the NICU. We aren’t huge coffee drinkers either, but I drink a cup every morning now. I now understand what people say when they say they NEED coffee! I skipped it one morning and was dragging all day. You are very lucky to have nighttime help. We are going it alone and it can be brutal. However, it is getting better as they go longer stretches.
      Oh, got your box of adorable newborn clothes! LOVE them!

      Like

    • LOL! We have decided it doesn’t matter if you have one or four newborns, they shake things up and disrupt sleep so all new parents are exhausted. We just don’t get to take turns with night feeds 😉

      Like

  8. Have you had any problems with the “poop chute”? My wife is expecting and I drew up some plans for installing a similar setup. I wanted to ask if you had any safety concerns or issues with any cold drafts or fumes from the garage traveling into the nursery?
    Thanks,

    Like

    • No problems at all. When we do projects in the garage with paint or anything, we seal the bottom of the chute to keep fumes out. We also keep it latched so it only opens one direction, keeping potential critters out. It hasn’t effected room temp either. We love it! Best wishes, and congratulations!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s