Whether we are out with all four babies or going about or daily lives alone, we are often asked, “How do you do it?” or are told, “You are amazing!” I’ll admit, we love the flattery and ego boost. Yes, we were given an amazing challenge and blessing of raising four same age children, but that doesn’t mean we are amazing. We are usually just doing what needs to be done to the best of our ability everyday. With that in mind, I began wondering what helps us accomplish all of the things that must be done on a daily basis while maintaining some degree of sanity. I chalk it up to these things:
Organization & Planning
George and I are both Type A personalities. Long before the quads, we kept everything well-organized. Our house is by no means spotless, but it is organized for the most part. Everything has a place and we try to keep all things in place (we get out of sorts if things are left out). We have systems for the most efficient means of accomplishing daily tasks from bottle washing to feeding four simultaneously. Some of our systems took a bit of ingenuity (e.g. quad feeding table and diaper chute) and time to figure out the logistics. We’ve also learned to triage our to-do lists. Somethings are non-negotiable such as preparing feeds, but other things like laundry may take a back seat. Sometimes we take short cuts such as cleaning with Clorox wipes and the Swiffer Vac too!
I started creating pages explaining some of our systems in case other parents of multiples want to give them a whirl and so someday we can look back at all that we’ve been doing to stay afloat. Yesterday I found a purple funnel in our kitchen cabinet and told George, “Hey, I didn’t know we had a funnel. I could have used it a few days ago.” He said, “Oh yeah, we bought that when the babies came home.” Neither of us have a clue what that funnel is for! I guess it was for some system we had a while back.
Here are a few resources:
Making Formula by the Batch- https://fourtoadore.wordpress.com/resources/making-formula-by-the-batch/
Feeding and Developmental Charts- https://fourtoadore.wordpress.com/resources/charts/
Must Haves for Babies (Multiples Edition)- https://fourtoadore.wordpress.com/resources/must-haves-for-babies-multiples-edition/
We could not survive with round the clock feeds every three hours and stealing sleep in 1-2 hour increments for long. We soon learned how to sleep train the babies. I read two books about how to this, Babywise and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins. We adopted concepts from both books, talked to other parents, and melded it into something that worked for our quads. Having babies that nap relatively well AND sleep all night is the secret to accomplishing anything besides direct baby care. They generally take three 1-2 hour naps. At this point, the babies take their final bottle at about 7:45/8:00 pm and sleep 10-11 hours. Very rarely do we hear a peep out of them in the night. The only downside is that after they go to sleep for the night, we get a bit overzealous and try to tackle WAY too many projects. I often notice it’s midnight and I’m yet to go to bed myself. That’s when the Keurig is a handy tool. I now understand what people mean when they say, “I NEED my coffee!”
HoM MoMs and DoMs
Wonder what that means? It’s some cute little acronyms for High Order Multiples (HoM) Moms of Multiples (MoMs) and Dads of Multiples (DoMs). Connecting with others raising high order multiples (triplets or more) absolutely keeps us sane. We are both part of online forums for moms/ dads of quads or more. These other parents help normalize raising quads, encourage us to try new things, give us great tips, and give us good laughs too. It’s not uncommon for me to shoot a text or email to another MoM about a frustrating day or to ask about a feed or nap. Because of these people, we often forget that it’s atypical to do things such as make the entire can of formula in a day. And…sometimes we are able to buy secondhand gear for multiples such as our Runabout from them!
Whenever people discover we have quadruplets, they often snidely say, “I hope you have A LOT of help.” I smuggly reply, “Not as much as you think.” That is mostly true. We do not have an entourage, a nanny, or an army of volunteers, but we do not do this completely alone either. Three to four days of the week I am on my own. George and I are always home together on Sundays, but I go to work two days a week too. Those two days per week are when the reinforcements come. It takes two babysitters each day while I work to manage the fort. One day per week, my father in law and aunt in law come to the rescue while the other day my mom and her sidekick, Terri (or sometimes Billie) keep tabs on the babies. Recently, my friend, Jen started coming every other Tuesday evening to help me while I’m here. It’s usually the time when we are managing a spoon feed, baths, dinner, and other pesky chores. In addition to our regular baby wranglers, we sometimes find friends or relatives who babysit so we can go on dates! Those times are few and far between, but greatly appreciated. I am constantly baffled when these people leave our home and thank us for letting them come. Thank us??? I always reply, “NO THANK YOU!!!!”
George and I are a team in this journey. Neither of us could manage it without the constant support from the other. We each have our specialty baby care tasks. For example, I tackle baths while he makes all of the feeds. We both work in tandem do the other stuff. George never complains about changing the millionth diaper or managing tiny clothes, and he doesn’t grumble when I leave him alone to run errands. Sometimes to keep it interesting, we “race” each other to complete baby cares. For example, one time we each took a nursery and raced to see who could change their babies first. I won that one, but he wasn’t far behind. George works full-time and I work part-time so we aren’t together 100% of the time, but we love the days best when we are home together.
Before we knew we were expecting quads, I often made comments such as, “I think we would be fine with twins, but anything more is SCARY!” It never occurred to me that we may have high order multiples. Despite that sentiment, I was oddly calm the day we saw all four heartbeats on our first ultrasound. I somehow knew He was taking care of us and had bigger plans than we ever imagined. Throughout the entire pregnancy and probably far beyond, everyone around us seemed to do all the worrying for us. For the most part I never worried and never considered that all four babies being anything other than healthy. I adopted this quote during the struggle with infertility, “Worrying does not empty today of it’s troubles….it empties tomorrow of it’s strength” – Mary Engelbreit. Remembering that served me well then and continues to. Many others around us continually worry about the financial burden four babies bring. However, He always sees that our provisions are provided. Thanks to the generosity of those around us and even some strangers, we have bought very few diapers, wipes, or cans of formula to date. We’ve probably spent the same amount parents of a singleton or twins may, but not what we anticipated for having quads (thankfully!). With each passing day, we give thanks to God for the gift of our precious babies and know we’re never alone.
So there you have it. If you wonder how we’re still standing, these are the reasons why.