Protecting my kids started long before they were born. Before they were conceived, I took folic acid for almost a year. My thyroid medication was adjusted to support my pregnancy once I conceived, and I took prenatal vitamins. Any medication I had been taking that was contra-indicated in pregnancy, I stopped with guidance from my doctors. I am not a drinker or smoker, so cutting out alcohol and nicotine was not a problem. Luckily, my uterus was free of fibroids, and the scar from my previous cesarean was not too bad. I figured the best way to protect my child was to get my body ready.
For me, pregnancy could only be started with science. In vitro fertilization (IVF) was the best and least invasive option. Even with proven fertility (I have two sons from my first marriage), it took two tries to get pregnant. The positive test was followed by a series of ultrasounds. At the third ultrasound, all three heart beats were visible. That meant we would likely have three babies. Yes! According to the Center for Disease Control, when three embryos are transferred, the chances of having three live births is 8.3 percent. We were so lucky it happened for us.
Protecting my kids has been my first priority for more than a decade. When I got pregnant, I did everything in my power to stay healthy so that the babies would be healthy. Modified bed rest, lots of fluids and a partner who valued our children before they were even born helped. According to the What to Expect When You’re Expecting website (www.whattoexpect.com), most triplets are born around 32 weeks gestation. Twice, I began pre-term labor. The first time was at just over 24 weeks. I was given medications to stop labor and ordered to do some serious bed rest. The second time I was given the same medications they did not work. I was given shots to help mature the babies’ lungs. My contractions were two minutes apart. Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca made their debut at 31 weeks.
A very kind nurse gave me some advice when it was time for me to go home. She told me to have something in my hands because Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca had to stay at the NICU. I was wheeled down to the glass doors in a wheelchair. My incision from the cesarean section was still sore. I had just used the hospital breast pump, so my breasts hurt. I braced for the January cold. I stared straight ahead. My tears burned my eyes and then my cheeks. I was trying not to think about leaving my babies in the NICU. My brain knew that they were safe and well cared for at the hospital, but my heart just wanted them with me at home. After 40 days, we were elated when the kids all came home. The five-minute drive home was nerve wracking! I trusted Harlan’s driving, but no one else’s.
Almost every family wants to protect their children. Ultimately, there seems to be two main types of parenting: hovering and free range. I used to be the prime example of parental hovering when the kids were younger. I must have sounded a little unbalanced because I kept counting to three. I was counting my kids. Now, I would like to think I am less hover and more free range … I’m a free-range hovering mother!
Protecting my kids these days requires lots of time, attention and persistence. There are the car seats, helmets, sunscreen, Epi-pens, inhalers, medications, fire drills, vaccinations, dentists and well-child visits. The list is endless and ever-changing. I do everything I can to make sure that at the end of the day Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca are in one piece and relatively happy.
Taking care of my family is my way of protecting them. As I have said before, I am “that” mom, and my family comes first. My secret to protecting Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca is love. The key ingredient in protecting my family is lots and lots of love.
Jennifer Steuer is an Albany mom whose busy household includes her husband, Harlan, and 9-year-old triplets Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca. Follow her on Instagram: jennifersteuer