We are definitely settling into routines here in the Niemeyer household! I find it so amusing when people see our life and say things like, "Oh, I could never handle that!" Which always leads me to think a few things:
First of all, yes you could
. If you found yourself with 4 babies and a toddler, you would do what you needed to do to feed them, care for them, and live. I am certain of it-- it's just what we do as humans!
Second, I would have said the same thing
to a mom of multiples! I firmly believe Andy and I are proof in the saying, "God doesn't give us what we can handle, He helps us handle what we are given." Trust me: God is at work all over the place in our attitude and skills, because on our own, we wouldn't be able to do this at all! So please don't think we are more "with it" than we are--- we just get to see & experience God's phenomenal grace and gifts significantly on a daily basis! (especially His gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness & self-control-- of which I plead for several times a day)!
Third, never underestimate the power of community
. The old saying "it takes a village to raise a child" is so true. We have had family, friends, acquaintances and strangers in our community reach out and help in some mighty ways, whether that is to make meals, help build a garage, care for babies, wash bottles, clean our house, or just offer some words of encouragement! It all has helped us so amazingly, and reminds us how kind people are. I also have the pleasure of chatting all the time with other quad moms around the states- a few even had their babies within days of ours! We trade strategies, pictures, interventions, and yes, even epic fails all the time. I love having the community of other moms of multiples! It makes what we do seem so very normal, which to us, it is
And lastly, let me say it loud and clear: IT'S ALL ABOUT ROUTINE, BABY. We have systems.
For everyone out there who may or may not have quadruplets, this is how our household does some key things right now (with babies at 3 1/2 months old).
When I read the book Babywise
when Jenna was a baby, I distinctly remember throwing it across the room as I tried to keep her awake after a feed. I think I also muttered something about it being a stupid book of course written by a man. Fast forward several years and four babies later, and I picked up the book and read it with a new vigor & understanding. After reading it, let me assure you yes, it is written by a man, but also his wife, too, and they have triplets. And my quad moms swear by it, so I knew I needed to give it some serious attention! The book is huge on getting your baby on a schedule that is fairly rigid and centers around "eat, wake, sleep" patterns. It also recommends feeding schedules and tips to get your child(ren) sleeping a full night very early on.
And so I have adopted this schedule fully! It says that until babies can sleep 9-10 hours at night, you still want them on the 3 hour schedule during the day, but then you do a last night feed and stretch out their nights until they can sleep all night.
So this is our schedule: Feeds are at 7am, 10 am, 1 pm, 4pm, 7pm & last feed is at 10 pm. And guess what? A hard week of training babies and sticking to the tips from other moms & the book and OUR BABIES SLEEP ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!!! And they do great. One or 2 babies still might fuss at night, but they can go all night without a feed just fine and sometimes even need waking up at 7am! Go Tyler, Tanner, Lauren & Hannah!
Feeding the crew:
|My quad-feed set-up (and yes, I am in the corner at their feet so they don't fall!)|
The babies still eat best propped up a bit & sidelying, so that is what I do right now. I prop the bottles up at correct angles with burp cloths and receiving blankets, and arrange the babies in a sort-of L shape on the sofa & footstool. Those yellow & green stuffed animals are Bottle Buddies and hold the bottle and helps prop up the bottles. I then latch on each child starting with the noisiest ones. Once all 4 are sucking, I am always checking that they are swallowing, not drooling or choking, and that all looks stable. I sit in the center much like a conductor of an orchaestra & constantly sing to them, touch them & look into their eyes. Being the OT that I am, I also am concerned about their hands starting to come to midline to hold the bottles so I try to prop up shoulders and arms when I can for a better body position. When one baby needs a burp, I burp that one, and then set up their bottle again. Simple, right? Some days are better than others, but most of the time I find they eat faster this way than 2/2. While I still would love to feed a baby one at a time (a rare opportunity!), some days I am the only person home so this set-up is a must!
Since I started writing this post, our babies have graduated up from the 4 oz Dr. Brown bottles to the 8oz bottles (ok... so they're still consuming 4 ounces, but mommy wanted to get use to those bigger bottles and increases will happen!). However, the system is still the same. Our babies now consume 24-28 bottles a day (6-7 feedings). That's a whole lotta bottle washing and making. This is what works for us:
|The dirty bin. All used bottles go in here (rinsed out, taken apart) until ready to be washed.|
|One of the best bottle washers in town- my mom!|
|Once everything is washed, I assemble nipples/tops & valve/vents, and place bottles on a baking pan|
|Next I turn around & take my tray to the other counter where I assemble the formula. We go through about a canister and a half per day. I fill all the bottles to the right mL amounts per child (currently 120mL for all but Tyler, who is 110 mL). I also add prune juice to some bottles to counter constipation, of which Hannah struggles with the worst!|
|My favorite tip: the dry erase marker! I mark dots for Tyler and H for Hannah's super duper prune juice surprise. I also add multivitamins to the third row in so I don't have to remember this step during the feedings, and add more in to the night feed if they want it (and they do!).|
|Another favorite tip, this idea from a fellow quad mom: I put the bottles in a crock pot, which is always kept on low in the corner of my kitchen. I add water periodically so the water can heat the milk fully. I put the bottles in when I wake the babies, change them, and volia! Perfectly heated bottles. Even if they sit in there 1/2 hour, they do not get too hot. Love it!|
|The rest of the bottles go in the refrigerator. I use my waitressing skills from years past to place the tray in the fridge by simply sliding the baking pan on the top shelf. So far no spillage!|
And there you have it. Easy, right? I know you could do this, too. ;-)
Babies Play & Sleep
Our quadlings may be 3 1/2 months old, but their gestational is only 3 weeks and they still need lots and lots of sleep during the day. Usually after a feed they zonk right out, although according to Babywise we are suppose to keep them awake for at least 15 minutes-- we try!
However, lately each baby has had longer stretches of alert time, to which I eagerly put them on the floor for some play time! It is SO neat having each one make eye contact with you and start interacting and engaging with toys. As of right now, I would say Tanner seems to be the most alert and will bat at toys and really engage with them. The other 3 have their alert moments too, and play also, but are also just so sleepy! In a few months I will be wishing all they do is sleep, right?!?
Every day between feeds, I alternate giving them tummy time, floor time, bouncer time, cuddle time or general play time. I give them these times and then put them down for a nap, but if a baby is especially alert, I will continue the alert/play time with that one or two. As they tolerate longer stretches of alert time and as the schedule transitions from feeds every 3 hours to 4, their nap schedules will emerge a little more clearly. Right now 90% of their day (when not eating) is nap time!!!
|Play time! |
|Nap time! Until recently I could put the boys down in a crib like this to sleep, but now they have pretty bad reflux and so the boys sleep in their rock n play sleepers (which keeps them reclined in an upright position).|
|"Extended Tummy Time". Hey, tummy time is important, even if they get sleepy!|
Lots of it. Loads and loads every day. God Bless our moms and other helpers who make it a goal to get "caught up"-- HA! Funny thing right now: Jenna, who is almost 4 1/2, has started (on her own!) taking the dry clothes out of the dryer, folding them, and carrying the basket upstairs. Amazingly, she folds clothes very well! And so I have started paying her (a quarter) every time she does this. She loves to help, and she honestly is a big help! (I know, I know. She is
I make my own laundry detergent and so I save a whole heck of a lot of money: find the recipe at http://www.jillsavage.org/?page_id=896
under "best laundry detergent ever." It amounts to around 6 months of laundry (or for me, maybe 3 months!)
for under $3, and works great! For added toughness, I also will add a bit of Oxy Clean or spot clean really yucky stuff, but otherwise it works great and can also be used on cloth diapers, which I plan to use in the future (wish me luck!).
This is it! Beyond having four babies at once, I feel everything is the same as before. We still are who we were, we have the same friends and interests, Jenna is still a normal 4 year old. Andy and I are so blessed with a solid, really good marriage and people in our life that hold us accountable to keeping our marriage healthy. We are so blessed with great family and friends who amaze us with their love and generosity. We have a strong faith and an excellent church. We have five healthy, beautiful children. I have no idea what we did to deserve such blessings, and we try to thank God daily for his overabundant blessings. Maybe life is a
lot more hectic than ever before, but we wouldn't change a thing.
And there you have it. That is how we do things these days!