Savvy SouthernMamas Q&A: Triplet-mom Amber McHargue

savannah-triplets.JPGWelcome to a SouthernMamas Q&A with one of our savvy readers about parenting tips, troubles and triumphs. (If you know a SouthernMama you’d like to nominate for a profile, email anne@southernmamas.com. Read past profiles by clicking here. )

Meet Amber McHargue, very proud stay-at-home Mommy to 2-year-old identical TRIPLET boys.

Your family: ABC, Alexander (Lex), Brody and Collin. My wonderful, amazing husband is Dove; he is a Professor of Sequential Art at Savannah College of Art & Design and a freelance comic book artist. (One of his father-of-three comic strips is pictured below!)Our dachshund, Indiana, completes our family! We currently live on the Southside.

Your Website:
I am awful about updating it, but it is: www.totsites.com/tot/tripletboys. I also have a blog that I’m a little better at: http://tripletboys.blogspot.com/.

Triplets?!? What’s your secret for daily survival? I don’t know what the secret is. We don’t have any family here, so the two of us have taken care of them by ourselves since the day they came home from the hospital. We both agree that for us that was the best thing. If we had had help at the beginning, we would have been lost when they left. We both love our little family more than anything in the world. We try not to take a single moment for granted. We try to love every poopy diaper because one day we know we will give anything to get this time back. We are both really laid back and just have fun with them! We are incredibly blessed with very good Boys. We always say that God said He would give us three, but he would make them extra good!

What’s the most challenging part of your typical day? The most rewarding part?
Lately we have had an “issue” with fighting. They are best friends and worst enemies all in one. It’s tough when I am by myself and someone has been hurt by another one or two. You have to decide whether to comfort first or punish first. I really think they are just trying to decide their “pecking order”, it’s frustrating for me to see them treat each other so rough, but they are boys and this too shall pass.

With that said, I am silly I know, but I honestly think every moment is rewarding. Every time I look at them, I am awestruck. I still can’t believe that these three beautiful, healthy, perfect little men were given to me!

As an auntie to triplets, I know multiples tend to attract attention wherever you go. What’s the most common question you’re asked and/or the most common comment you hear?
The absolute most common is “You have your hands full!” We hear that every single time we go out at least once. I really don’t mind the attention as long as it’s positive. I am so amazed at the things people say. We have had many people tell us that they would shoot themselves if they were us, how sorry they feel for us, how horrible it must be and on and on. These boys are the greatest gift in the world. I don’t see how people can see a child as anything but. What really hurts is that they hear people say stuff like this and I do not, for one second, ever want them to think they are anything but a beautiful, wonderful, perfect miracle!

What were the reactions of you and your husband when you learned you were having triplets?
I already knew that we were having more than one baby. I kept telling Dove, but he said I was “just being dramatic“. HA! We had actually just suffered a miscarriage a few months before and I thought we were having another one when I found out there were three. He was out of town and I called him and had him rush back. I called him on his way and told him that “The babies are absolutely perfect and I say babies because there are 3!” He said he would have to call me back. He called back about 2 minutes later and asked if they were sure that there wasn’t just one really fast one or maybe one with 3 heads. He had to call me back again after I informed him that I had a picture of all three of them at once. He was shocked but excited when it finally hit him. I think his ego blew up a little when he realized he had fathered 3 kids at once. MEN!

If you remember much of their first few months of their lives, can you tell us in one sentence what those months were like?
I’m trying, but I’m not good at this! It was wonderful! Busy and exciting, scary and tiring, but perfect in some way.

The boys are now 2. Is it getting easier now?
They really are very good! It’s never really been hard. We have never known what it’s like to just have one baby, so this is totally normal for us. We are always super busy, but I like that. I do better when I have 50 things to do at once. We have always had a really good schedule and that helps a ton. They hate being off of a schedule. They get all out of whack. I was never a super organized person before, but I definitely am now with them. The only time we are ever sleep deprived is during a stomach bug and let me tell you that that is hard. I can usually laugh about it, but I never knew how much the human body could really hold until my little men came along.

Are there any specific resources that have helped you with the challenge of having multiples?
There is a book by Dr. Barbara Luke called ‘When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets or Quads’, it is a must have for those expecting multiples. There is a “Multiple Blessings” class offered at Memorial for $40 for those pregnant with multiples led by Del DeMauro. It was a tremendous help. I would strongly urge anyone pregnant with multiples to take this class. Also the Coastal Parents of Multiples club is a great way to meet other parents of multiples and get advice. They meet the first Tuesday of the month at 7pm at the Hoskins Center at Memorial. There is a website forum called The Triplet Connection that I have used occasionally to get info.

I have to say though that the absolute best resource for me, not for multiples but just being a Mom in general has been another Mom. I met a girl at my OB’s office while I was pregnant and we became friends. She had a son exactly one week after my boys were born. A few weeks after they were born we started walking at the park and hanging out. I can’t tell you how much that support has meant to me. We have become such good friends and I couldn’t imagine doing this without that friendship. It’s so nice to be able to talk and share notes or get advice from someone going through the same things with the same parenting philosophies. It has been my lifeline, every Mom needs a friend like that!

Describe mealtime at your house? Is it assembly-line style?
It used to be, but they started self-feeding around 10 or 11 months. We still did some baby food until a year, but they learned really quickly. They got a lot of practice with Cheerios while they were waiting for their turn. Now we all sit at the table and eat together. Well they all eat together, I don’t know how but my food is always soooo much better than anyone else’s and usually disappears before I’ve taken two bites. It’s a great diet!

Any quick meals, food items etc that have really helped you out when it comes to making sure your kids have good diets?
This is going to sound ridiculous, but they had a pretty severe milk allergy and it was the biggest blessing in disguise. They would get so sick from even a graham cracker with a touch of milk in it. As a result they ate a ton of lightly seasoned fresh veggies, fruits and meat/fish. They will eat fruit and veggies over almost anything and don’t want most of the junky stuff. Luckily they outgrew it a couple of months ago. I had to read every label and it was so hard to tell them they couldn’t have something if I wasn’t sure what was in it. Now they can eat whatever, but still prefer fresh veggies and fruits. They do love cheese now though!

What’s the one book, toy, DVD or TV show etc that is a real saving grace in your house, one that you use when you really need to entertain or distract them?
I guess Baby Einstein for DVD’s, we use to call them baby crack, because they would stop whatever they were doing, it could be the biggest meltdown in the world and they would hear the music and instantly zombify. It still has that effect, but they love other stuff too, Word World, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Little Einstein’s are favorites. As far as toys, their best friend got them the Little Tikes Bounce N Slide for their birthday and that was the greatest gift ever! They LOVE to jump and that keeps them happily occupied for awhile. Plus it is great exercise and they can do it together!

It has to be financially-challenging to have three kids at once to say the least. Any money-saving tips you can share when it comes to raising kids?
A lot of places offer multiples discounts, I’ve found that it never hurts to ask. The thing about multiples is that you have to buy so many things at once. Every time I buy a shirt for $10, it automatically becomes $30. It gets very expensive very quickly when you are talking about cribs, excersaucers, and whatever else. You don’t even want to know about diapers and formula. We had figured out that by the time they were two months old we had changed over 1600 diapers. We should own Pampers at this point! One thing I realized early is that sometimes actually spending more on some things will save you in the long run. I always factor time into what I’m buying also. I don’t have a lot of extra time, so I need to know that what I’m getting will do what it should, like diapers. I would rather spend more than have to worry about leaks and the time it would take me to clean up and do extra laundry. I really shop around and stock up when things are on sale. I also have off and on planned out a menu for the week in advance. That saves a ton on groceries. I make my list, then make my shopping list and I’m done. It also saves time because I don’t have to stress about what to cook and I can balance foods to make sure they are getting a healthy variety in their diet throughout the week.

Describe your most humbling parenting moment:
The most humbling moment was the day I was discharged from the hospital. I was discharged five days after their birth, but they didn’t come home until two weeks later. That was the hardest moment of my life. I was a wreck the entire day. I only went home to get clothes and eat, but walking out of that hospital without my babies was something I wish no mother ever had to do. I can’t even begin to describe the agony that I felt. Luckily they let me room in for another 5 days, but every time I left them, I felt empty. I was in the NICU with them every second that I could be. I try not to take anything for granted. Not a single moment.

Describe your most beautiful parenting moment:
A few days after they were born I got to kangaroo hold all of them on my chest at once. It was the first time since they were born that I got to hold them together. It was the most incredible moment of my life. They laid all three of them on my chest, skin to skin and I started crying. I am so incredibly blessed to have three beautiful, healthy boys. I can be in that moment in an instant. When they are grown up with their own lives, that is how I will still see them. So tiny and fragile, but so strong. That is a moment that is just mine and I can’t even begin to do it justice in words.

Favorite local kid-friendly eatery?
We have a few! They love the buffet at the Lady and Sons. They have never eaten as much in one meal as they do there! We go to the food courts at the malls a lot. Sporty’s at Savannah Mall and Chick Fil A at Oglethorpe Mall are their favorites. We play at the soft play and then eat and then go back and play some more! They also love Clary’s on Habersham for breakfast. They each pick out a toy to play with while they wait for their food and then they get to play after they are done eating.

Favorite local kid-friendly spot/event?
We love The Little Jumping Bean, ; they pretend to call it on the phone all the time! A few favorites are Oatland Island, the Tybee Playground, and Daffin Park.

What resource for children does our area lack, one that you would like to see here?
I would love to see a Children’s Museum and a Gymboree type place!

Who is your pick for the area’s best pediatrician?
Dr. Michael DeMauro at Pediatric Associates of Savannah. He is incredible! He has been such a blessing to us. He and his wife have triplet boys and it is so nice to have someone actually understand what you are going through, offer firsthand advice and realistic suggestions. He is very patient with all of my questions and has never made us feel like he is in a hurry to get us out of the office. He knows how to balance multiple patients at one time and always makes the boys feel comfortable. They actually get excited to go see Dr. D!

What is your pick for the area’s best preschool?
We like the St. Francis Cabrini’s Parents Morning Out Program. Everyone is super friendly and accommodating and the boys love it there!

Most valuable baby gift you received that you couldn’t live without?
It was a boppy-style pillow for multiples. That thing has been through so much and still looks great!

If you had zillions of extra bucks to donate, what charity/cause would you select?:
I would donate to the March of Dimes and the Old Savannah City Mission.

What’s the biggest challenge when it comes to raising multiples?
Fear. I can get caught up in being afraid that they aren’t getting enough attention, that they don’t get to do a lot of things that single children do and on and on. What I have to look at is that they have something that very few others have. They have two extra people besides Mommy and Daddy to comfort them. They never have to go somewhere alone. They have two extra people to play with and hug and talk silly too and snuggle with. They have an incredible, unique bond that will be with them for their entire lives.

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