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Triplets tales ...  

Blether article :  Friday, 05 May 2006
 
Hello! I am Maggie Brierton, the new Supertwins Co-ordinator for Scotland. The post is voluntary and somewhat in its infancy, having been empty for sometime, and I am really just finding my feet. I am a Triplet mother and a Clinical Psychologist and I anticipate my experience will be put to good use. As a full time parent of 2-year-olds, David, Rory and Gabby, I am sometimes a wee bit challenged finding the time and energy this role requires! However, I am really passionate about all issues involved with multiple births, especially: parenting, education of health care professionals, antenatal support, post natal depression & breastfeeding and I hope to develop my role to raise the profile of the Supertwin families’ needs within Scotland.
 
Presently my job involves welcoming new members’ to the Supertwins support group (families with triplets or more) and acting as their contact and support here in Scotland. Many of you may know or have heard of Sue Plenty, Supertwins co-ordinator for the South, she keeps me updated and passes on all new members’ details. Also, I am really grateful to the support and encouragement of Helen Peck and hope to develop my role alongside her to meet the needs of Scottish Supertwin families.
 
Blether article (2)
 
Our third Christmas together has been notable (dare I say!) by its normality. Christmas was busy, but enjoyable. We attended 2 nativity plays (nursery & playgroup) so I dressed 2 sheep, 2 angels and 2 kings! The frantic build up to the holiday period this year was so much fun the boys are into super heroes and Batman and Spiderman toys were high on their Santa lists, whilst our wee girl loves animals (mostly furbies and cuddly pigs) put in her orders for various noisy, fluffy creatures. I guess we were all involved in Christmas preparations together for the very first time.
 
Life as five seems to have become more balanced rather than a frantic overstretching of our energy and emotional reservoirs in order to manage the chores involved in caring for the physical needs of three wee ones. I think the change is mostly due to 3 main factors. Firstly David, Rory and Gabby love nursery at our local primary where they have been since last August. Their afternoon sessions have reinforced their sense of independence (from me and each other) and boosted their self-confidence. Secondly the wee ones physical independence, all three are now toilet trained, which they achieved at different stages (ranging from 2-3 1/2 years) and in their own ways. No more daytime nappy changing and buying mega-sized packs of whatever brand is on offer this week nappies and pull-ups thank the lord! The third factor has had the most impact on our improved quality of family life; all three can now play together beautifully, most of the time. The commencement of their imaginative play has developed their social interactions with each other and others, they make up the most brilliant plots and cross-dressing is mandatory! Usually they are puppies, handsome princes and princesses, superheroes or mummies and daddies they race around the house lost in their wonderful imaginary landscape. They have almost stopped trying to murder each other, hallelujah!
 
I find I now have time to review and reflect a little over the past three years. Just being able to do this is a huge novelty; I guess I’ve got a bit of me back too. Our first Christmas was a blur of reindeer baby grows, milky posits, highchairs, nappy changing and physical exhaustion. I remember Gavin and I were physical wrecks; sleep deprived and full of the flu I was a sight covered in leprous cold sores! I am almost transported back there just thinking about it! Now I’m packing up our baby clothes ready to pass on to expectant family and friends. We are selling our car seats (now all in boosters) and buggies. Life is cantering on and I suppose it now feels real rather than a day-to-day blur. At various milestones people kept asking me,
“…Things must be getting easier now?” and I would smile and agree, in a non-committal kind of way because I wasn’t quite sure if things ever would. But I agree wholeheartedly now, I don’t know if easier is the right word more like as I expected family life to be or more “normal” if we could ever be described as normal! Please don’t misunderstand, I would not have had things any differently our triplet babies were wonderful but we have been and continue to be at time pushed to and beyond our limits.
 
To conclude, I am really excited about 2007 and I am to become more involved working with Helen Peck, the TAMBA Coordinator in Scotland and I hope to do what I can to help organise the first ever Scottish TAMBA conference. I would really appreciate hearing from other triplet families for feedback and ideas about what we can do in Scotland to help support your needs. The development of an effective triplet support framework in Scotland is high on my to do list. I am also interested in developing ways forward so triplet families can achieve easy access to the following:
  • Experienced, flexible and respite child-care and support.
  • Information and advice or a centralised store or website for cheaper milk, nappies and new and second hand triplet equipment.
  • Experienced healthcare staff
  • Antenatal classes, post natal depression screening, breastfeeding support systems, bonding and attachment issues, bereavement support and parenting groups.

This list is not exhaustive and I would welcome other parents’ suggestions. My diary is getting a bit more interesting, not only playgroup meetings and dental appointments. I am looking forward to attending and taking part in the new Scottish Advisory committee and perhaps discuss ideas in the above list and ways forward and needs for triplet families in Scotland. I will be joining Helen Peck at the Baby Show in Glasgow in March and very much look forward to meeting other triplet families there. Thank you to Helen for inviting me to write a regular column in Blether and in which I hope to provide a snapshot of the past experiences and daily challenges of a triplet family. However I am aware my experience is in isolation and I really need other triplet families to get in touch and feedback on their experiences and current needs.Thank you for reading I do hope it has at least been a comical insight and at most perhaps a lifeline for families in the throes of triplet life.

Blether (3)
 
Summer holidays are over. My three, David, Rory & Gabby (4) are back at nursery. I remember well the panic I experienced before every holiday (in the early days there seemed to be no facilities or help available for little ones: crèche, home help, outreach, etc). I was very much on my own. I could never look forward to a holiday, 7 weeks alone looming ahead, how were we to fill the days! Panic often followed and I would unjustly rage at my husband and argue that he must take some more holidays and help out. He has always done more than his fair share and gotten home as early as possible each night to help out.
 
Managing our holiday time has evolved over the years. Planning day trips with other friends, having unofficial playgroups and coffee mornings at other mothers’ houses, staying over night with family and friends and the family holiday away. Lots of cheap days out feeding ducks at the park, playgrounds, picnics and soft play visits This year we went to a caravan in Filey and found the portable DVD we borrowed in the car kept their attention with only one picnic stop for our long, 6 hour, drive down to North Yorkshire. Travel sickness tablets were also essential. We were lucky and had sunny weather all week and plenty adventures to keep the children well amused. However, in the past we have experienced less happy holidays. We arrived at the ferry for our holiday on the island of Islay last year in a very smelly car with 3 very travelsick 3 year olds. They all vomited for the last hour of the journey and we had to make the decision to make a dash for the ferry and covered the kids with towels in the back of the car. It was horrible! They cheered up on the ferry and all wanted fish and chips. Poor Gavin’s car has never recovered! It rained for the whole week we were on the island, however we made the most of it by spending long windy days on the beach dressed in rain clothes and welly boots.
 
This month I have been asked to speak at the Tamba study day in Stirling on the 29th of September. I am very proud to be asked bur also very nervous I want to portray an honest view of a triplet families experience without being either too extremely positive or negative. The writing of the talk is a work in progress I keep having to go back and neutralise some anger and remove any too negative experiences. As the conference is aimed at both parents and health care professionals I think it will be important to give a balanced overview and feed back what helped and what might have been better. I hope to be getting in touch with all Supertwin members and asking for help developing a new newsletter for Supertwins families in Scotland. We really need to develop a new booklet of all members telling about their experiences as parents, birth, feeding, help and contact details. This would be a fantastic facility for all new members and parents of triplets or more in Scotland. So if you are a member of Tamba, have triplets or more, but are not a member of Supertwins please contact the main office and join the support group and we can start supporting each other better in Scotland!
Blether (4)
Springtime 2008 and my three will be starting school after the summer! I would like to echo all the singleton mums and say “where did the time go, it seems only yesterday that I was pregnant”, with a wistful look on there face, but I can’t. I, however, have had the hardest time of my life, it has been a wonderful life changing unique experience, but the time has not flown! Memory is selective and protective, thankfully. I had little choice about returning to work and I have been blessed to spend these early days with my children. I only hope they feel similarly when they reflect as adults!
 
Over the last four years I have learnt a lot about limits and being pushed to and passed them: with the children, exhaustion, relationships and self-belief and esteem. Now I am thinking ahead about my own career, shall I go back to full-time work, how do I manage the school run and who will be there for them at the end of the day? I know like every other stage we will get through it and move forward; sleep deprivation, 4 hourly feeds, weaning, teething, first words, walking, toilet training, running, playgroup and nursery! Currently we are in the midst of swimming lessons; it is so difficult to get their confidence up when you can’t take 3 pre-schoolers in on your own to the pool. This rule makes good sense as swimming pools are hazardous environments and accidents could happen so quickly. I was talking to the local swimming pool manager at Perth pool about this and she suggested I might use the crèche for 2 children and take one in at a time. She said that a member of staff could swap the children over after I get them changed. It sounds really good in principle; I’ll let you know how successful it is!
 
If you are a Supertwin member your continued involvement with Scottish Supertwins would be much appreciated as we try to develop the group within Scotland. As you may have experienced having three or more children causes extreme reactions both positive and negative, however we tend to have certain restrictions imposed upon us that can reduce our mobility and increase our isolation. The geographical spread of people throughout Scotland contributes further to our difficulties to meet up face to face with other triplet plus parents. To meet those needs we are trying to develop our group in Scotland and I am hoping to get involved with some useful projects over the next year. Firstly Supertwins UK is in the process of updating our contact booklet. So, as a member of Supertwins, you can contact local members and provide support for each other. Please fill in the form online at www.tamba.org.uk or contact me (briertons@tiscali.co.uk) or contact Tamba Head office for a paper copy. The first Supertwin Scotland Newsletter was emailed and snail mailed out in January, any feedback would be most welcome.
 
Triplet families in Lothian are putting together a much needed parent support group; the first get together was on the evening of the 28th of February at the Norton House Hotel, Edinburgh. I was overwhelmed and so glad to meet others who have an understanding of the triplet plus experience. Thanks so much to all those who attended, eleven parents (with a grand sum of 30 children between us) who travelled from as far as Tayport and Glasgow. Rachel Rounds Chairperson of the Edinburgh Twins Club led the meeting. Initial introductions broke the ice and gradually people were open to discussing the joys and pressures of the challenging experience of bringing up triplets plus. Two Fathers came with their partners and shone a welcome Dads perspective on our chat. The group is in its infancy but will be truly beneficial for those who want to and are able to get involved. We will want to decide ways forward, perhaps form a committee outline the philosophy and purpose of the group. I will keep you posted regarding future meetings. Please get in touch if you want to come along to any future gatherings, you would be most welcome.
 
I am looking forward to summer and meeting members at the big summer event in the 12th of July at Blair Drummond Safari Park to celebrate Tamba's 30th anniversary, amongst a whole load of other exciting things I am told we will be having some very special guests. I am hoping to organise a Supertwins BBQ afterwards so we can have a fun get together with the children. We are also interested in any fundraising ideas for our forthcoming 30th anniversary celebrations so please let me know if you want to get involved.
 
When my three were 2 years old I wrote this wee poem thing, I found it the other day and thought some of you might relate to it!
 
 
Some Days I Wear Odd Socks
 
Cry for Help: look I can’t even get my socks right how the hell am I supposed to look after three small children?
Feeling insignificant: to test if anyone actually notices.
Exhausted and self-defeated: because I am just too tired to look for a matching pair.
Madness: to exacerbate my oddness and test the bounds of sanity!
Angry: I know they are odd, so what?
Defiant: because I can.
 
All the best to you and yours from me and mine,
Maggie Brierton
The Scottish Triplet Challenge, July 2008
On the 27th of July 2008 the first ever Scottish triplet challenge was held at Scone Palace Perth. The families came from Edinburgh, Perth & Clackmannanshire,. The venue was chosen as a central location and a fantastic place for a day out. After the sponsored walk around the grounds, everyone had a huge picnic and played some brilliant spots day games. We hope to make the Challenge an annual summer event.The triplet group is being set up to support and highlight the needs of  families in Scotland with triplets or more. If you would like to know more about the group please contact tess.joyce@lloydstsb.co.uk.  



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