Pregnant with Triplets
The Pregnancy Itself
There are probably some pregnancies that go according to plan. Mine did not. My first two were miscarriages. My third, I found out I was pregnant with triplets.
I thought I would have an active pregnancy, but eating and sleeping became all-consuming. Although I went snow skiing at 8 weeks pregnant, I had no idea there were 3 babies at that point.
When I was 16 weeks pregnant, I went on a 7 mile walk. However, that night, I ate two dinners! For 17 weeks, I seemed to vomit constantly, but I worked as a physical therapist until the end of my second trimester.
After my swollen feet outgrew my normal climbing shoes and then a second larger pair, I finally had to give up the horizontal routes at our local climbing gym around 27 weeks. After that, walking our two dogs was the extent of my physical activity, and I finally had to hire that out at 31 weeks. At that point, I used to have to lay down and rest after taking a shower and before I could put my clothes back on again. I was exhausted.
Meeting Our Girls
Our obstetrician told us to expect 32-34 weeks gestation, but she would let me go longer if everything looked good. With three babies, a set of identical twins, and a maternal age of 37, we had our fair share of risk factors, but we managed to avoid nearly all real issues. At 35 weeks and 3 days, I had a urine test come back positive for protein. My follow-up bloodwork revealed pre-eclampsia.
There was one answer to this problem—deliver the babies. As I wasn’t in labor, my girls were born by c-section the next day. My identical twins were 4 lbs, 11 oz a piece. Their sister was 5 lbs. (That’s 14 lbs, 6 oz of babies!) For triplets, they were big and healthy. We went home together in 5 days.
Postpartum Recovery from Triplets
After my babies were born, I felt like I had swallowed a basketball whole. My belly was large and hard. I couldn’t figure out what was in there that would make it act like that. (In case you’re wondering, it was my ab muscles, but we’ll get to that). It wasn’t my uterus. That had gone back down as it should. I asked about my belly, and I was told it would go away in time. It did not.
While pregnant with triplets, I had gained about 120 lbs. I lost 60 lbs in my first 6 weeks postpartum (I had a LOT of swelling), and I lost about 40 more lbs in the following 5 weeks. Then, it took me about 7 more months to lose the last 20 lbs.
At 6 weeks postpartum, I knew enough to know I had a 4.5 finger diastasis recti (separation of my ab muscles). I did not know enough to know how significant that was. I knew several other physical therapists in the area but none who had the answers to my questions. To be honest, I had plenty of time to think but very little time in which I could accomplish much besides baby care. I tried to do some basic exercises on my own, but either they didn’t feel right or I couldn’t manage to progress with them. I just felt lopsided in a way that didn’t make sense to me.
Year One of Having Triplets
Finally, at 8 months postpartum, I decided I could create some time for myself, and I purchased an online postpartum program. At first, I liked it, but by the end of 3 months, my belly had only minimally improved. I decided to try another program. This one was not intended for postpartum women, and although I liked it better, my belly remained hard and protruding.
I was beyond frustrated. I had literally spent decades of my life analyzing movement patterns and attempting to break the complex into manageable pieces. Before babies, I had competed at US Waterski Nationals for 20 consecutive years, accumulating 30 top three finishes. Since I was a teenager, I had devoted most of my leisure time to either coaching or being coached. Professionally, I had 15 years of studying how to make movements both easier and harder. I had learned the nuances of developing motor control and the effects of changing positions, supports, and gravity. I was a board-certified specialist in orthopedics.
And yet, I could not solve my own problems. I felt completely disconnected from my body and had no idea who to talk to or how common my experience was. I just believed that somewhere, there were answers.
Year Two of Having Triplets
Seventeen months after my babies were born, I randomly stumbled across a postpartum continuing education course. It turned out to be eye-opening. It was a massive amount of information, but I started to see the tip of an iceberg.
Around this same time, we were also recovering from an international move with 3 one-year-olds. I attempted to return to work and started my girls in daycare. Three months in, we decided it wasn’t the right decision for our family, and I quit work and the girls quit daycare.
But I no longer felt like I was drowning in the needs of my sweet little people. Now at nap time and at bedtime, I turned my focus to creating my own postpartum program. I wanted to create what I had yet to find – a way of breaking postpartum recovery into small enough pieces that any mother could problem solve for herself. And she could do it in the privacy of her own home. I knew this information should be more widely known, and I wanted to play a role in its delivery.
Finally Finding Answers
Somewhere in the middle of that, I solved my own mysteries. Questions I had had about my body from as young as 9 and 13 finally started to make sense. My feelings of being lopsided were pretty accurate. When I was four years old, I had had a few weeks of not weight bearing on my left leg due to an ankle sprain. From this, I had created asymmetries in my hips, my feet, and my abs, but I had always been strong enough to compensate. Add in the challenges of a triplet pregnancy, and it was more than I could handle.
I was, indeed, super lopsided. My left side did not remotely match my right. In trying to simplify a process for others, I came to see my own body so much more clearly. Every checklist I made for other mothers, I first used on myself. I had to learn to breathe down instead of up and then to connect with my pelvic floor. For the first time in probably 35 years, I balanced out my hips. I retrained the firing patterns in my abs and overhauled my posture. And after struggling for 26 months, my belly went flat again in 4 months of this renewed effort.
Then I took my program to a trusted group of mothers. They helped me to refine and polish. And they came back with fantastic feedback. From a variety of backgrounds with a variety of experiences, they started seeing results. They started finding their own answers to their own bodies.
Sharing What I’ve Learned
So now, it’s your turn. Your story will not sound like mine because you are not me, and I am not you. You may not have grown triplets. You may not have completely changed your motor control patterns for a less than advantageous alternative when you were 4, but you have your own story, your own challenges, and your own triumphs.
Because we are not the same, what works for one person will not necessarily be what works for the next. This is why I designed the Mama Made Strong program with the intent of meeting you wherever you are. It will guide you through your movement patterns until you find your weaknesses. And just as your story won’t look like mine, your program for success won’t look like mine either. That’s the whole idea behind Mama Made Strong. It’s YOUR program, tailored to YOUR needs. If you want, you can try it out for a month for free.
***Disclaimer*** I would have saved myself a lot of time and effort by finding a good pelvic floor physical therapist. There are a lot of reasons why I didn’t, but none of them are very good.