|Trystan and Harrison hanging out. The littlest and the biggest!|
After such a long road to reach that point, we wanted to do things perfectly. Like any new parent, you freak out over everything and wonder if you're doing it all right. So with four premature little babies sitting in a pack-and-play in our living room, my husband and I exchanged more than a few looks wondering how we'd make it work. But we never spent too much time wondering if. With four babies in your charge, there isn't actually time to wonder if. You only have a few seconds in the day to wonder how. And then you just do. Which makes my recipe for surviving quads no if, a little how and a lot of do.
|Harrison, at just over three months, lifting himself up on his arms. Daddy is proud!|
So when we got the last baby home, we checked our pride at the door and called on our moms to help. Okay, we didn't have to actually call...they were both ready and willing! For the first few weeks they alternated coming and staying with us, sometimes up to two weeks at a time. They worked tirelessly alongside us, in the ranks so to speak! We were all up long hours and slept little, the babies ate every three hours around the clock day and night. They took a lot of work to feed and burp when we got home because they were still trying to improve with the bottle. Eventually, though, it seemed like things were taking even longer. As they got up to three ounces per bottle, it felt like an eternity to get all four changed, fed and burped—even with two people.
I felt so captive, so helpless by the whole situation. There was no way I could make it a day on my own caring for four babies, how would I even feed them by myself? It would take hours and then it'd be time to start all over! My free time during the day was becoming less and less, almost no more than 30 minutes in between feeds by the time it was all done. The husband and I are both very independent people and being so reliant on others had been a hard lesson for us to learn. Granted, we were very grateful and extremely blessed to have help! But having people in your home 24/7 and feeling like you can't really do it on your own can be frustrating. We both look forward to the occasional weekend when it is just the two of us taking care of the babies and enjoying some time together in between. However, by the time Sunday rolls around we are exhausted and watching the door for our next arrival of relief.
|Sweet Trystan striking a pose.|
|Harrison getting a bath :)|
There's always two people at our house taking care of babies. Me and the husband or me and the mom or my mom and step-dad or my husband and his mom and so on. It really does take two people to handle the load, or at least for us it does. Fortunately our moms are able to spend a great deal of time with us, but the nights were still incredibly exhausting. So we splurged for a night nanny three nights a week and it's been amazing. I found her on Care.com and we love her! Granted, it's a strain on the ol' budget and thankfully we've received a little help with it, but it's one of those do-or-die situations for us.
But quads are still quads and we were still tired. Then two days ago, I ran out of gas. So on Saturday, my mom and step-dad came to our rescue. I had shed a few tears that day for the first time in a long time, and I knew something had to change. Funnily enough, my husband and I traded places with them and went to the RV resort they're staying at just down the road and my mom and step-dad came to our house and took over quad duty! While they fed and cuddled with their grandkids, we jumped into the hot tub with some beers and talked babies. Total happy hour conversation material, lemme tell ya! But it was so needed. In all the chaos, it hadn't occurred to us that as the babies grow and mature our plans should too. It was a revelation as we sat in the bubbles and worked out a new weekly schedule that would hopefully enable us to do more.
|I woke up to four happy babies thanks to Grandma & Grandpa!|
We also decided that each baby gets 20 minutes to feed then they are done. We had learned this in the NICU before they were discharged so why shouldn't we apply it now? We'd worried so much about how much they did or didn't eat and if they'd burped or not that feeds were taking as much as 45 minutes per baby and was just getting worse. Feedings during the day are done every three hours and we decided to rigidly stick to that schedule to keep us on track. That meant changing diapers and warming bottles 10 minutes before feed time. This helps us get the most out of our "down time" in between. Then my mom suggested we try bottle propping again, which we do in the pack-and-plays with two babies to a person and constant supervision while they eat. It basically gives us an extra hand so that all four babies get fed at once! Lo and behold, feed times have been cut to a third of the original time it took. We now have all four babies changed, fed and burped in 45 minutes or less. Today, we got it done in 30 minutes! The 5pm feed was over at 5:30pm and when my husband arrived at 5:45 he thought we simply hadn't started yet. He was floored when I told him they were finished! And surprisingly enough, they still eat just as much if not more then they did before. I don't know if it's because they are less distracted in their boppies or what, but it's working and I'm loving it. I feel like I have a small piece of my life back!
We also chose to have a set bedtime for the babies at 10pm every night, which means the last feed of the day needs to be at 9pm. Then we let them sleep as long as they will at night in between feeds. This helps set a good trend for the future and helps us get to sleep as well. Our three hour daytime feeding schedule is dictated by the time the babies wake for their first morning feed. Say they get up at 7am, so we are feeding at 10, 1, 4 and 7. Instead of waiting to feed again at 10pm, we do a "cluster feed" and give them bottles again at 9pm before putting them to bed. And if the feeds are at 2, 5 and 8, then we do the 5pm feed and cluster feed at 7 and 9. And sometimes our schedule ends up being 3, 6 and 9pm, which works out perfectly.
|Bottle propping babies!|
So the new plan started yesterday and so far it's been working like a dream. I'll be sure to update on here how it's going and if we've hit success or not. But speaking of dreams, I better get to 'em. Bed is calling my name. More from quadville later this week!