Arun mum raises newborn triplets during lockdown: ‘I threw myself into being better than the best mummy I could be’
Three, not six, is the magic number in Cheryl Carter’s home.
Because throughout lockdown, she has had to raise newborn triplets while also coping with the other stresses the pandemic has thrown everyone’s way.
William, Violet and Frank Pegrum celebrated their first birthday on October 12 and ‘really enjoyed their day despite it being an intimate affair’ due to the pandemic, Cheryl said.
She added: “After the shock of finding out we were expecting triplets the one thing that got me through the pregnancy was believing I would have lots of help and support from our family and friends once the babies had arrived. None of us envisaged a worldwide pandemic would put a stop to those plans!”
A few weeks before the first lockdown in March, Cheryl and her fiancé Chris decided to take their eldest daughter Betty, three, out of nursery to protect the triplets, as they had been hospitalised with bronchiolitis in December.
They asked family and friends to stop visiting, and with Chris commuting to his IT support job in Chichester to work in the office alone, Cheryl rose to the challenge of caring for the children.
When asked what life in lockdown with baby triplets has been like, she said: “Hard. Exhausting. Routined. Messy. Fun. Isolating. Precious. The days are long but with so much routine go so quick. Relentless. Thankless. Happy. Full on. A learning curve. The house is a mess, but the home is full of fun and smiles and lots of love!”
In April, Cheryl became unwell so Chis took time off to take over baby duties.
She said: “Every day is a bit like Groundhog Day. During lockdown I managed to get the babies into a really tight routine in which I go up and down the stairs at least 35 times a day!
“It is non-stop from the moment I wake up until I get to sit down once the kitchen is cleaned, after the children are in bed.
“With changing nappies, making meals and giving milk feeds, cleaning up, dressing everyone, washing bottles, sterilising bottles, playing and reading, putting babies down for a nap, playing with Betty, bathing and putting them to bed, it leaves just a couple of hours at the end of the evening to get ready for the next day and spend some time with Chris.
“With all the tasks that needed to be done there was not much time for me to play with the trio until I mastered being more efficient with my time, prepping food and activities in advance.
“I have become a master of multitasking over lockdown. I can be holding a baby, whilst simultaneously occupying Betty with an activity at the kitchen table, doing the never-ending pile of washing, washing up and cooking dinner at the same time!
“People often say to me I don’t know how you do it. I do it because I have no choice, I have to and of course I want to - they are my children and as hard as it may be, I absolutely love it and feel very lucky that I have got to spend so much time with them on my own. “Poor Chris has missed out on so much because he has worked long hours throughout and only sees them to put them to bed and on weekends, where a lot of our time is spent catching up on household chores.
“Covid has made life more difficult because of having to do everything on my own but I get through each day thinking how some families have been affected much worse. Having triplets is already quite isolating and with next to no ‘me time’ I decided early on to accept it and embrace it, so I threw myself into being better than the best mummy I could be.
“Focusing everything on looking after the triplets and Betty has helped me to cope with everything going on in the world.
“The babies were only 5 months old (3 months corrected) when lockdown began and have changed so much since then which unfortunately means our families and friends have missed out on all their milestones. They laughed their first laughs, began to roll over and started to crawl, they noticed each other and began interacting with each other properly, their first teeth came through and they learnt to hold their own bottles, they learnt to wave, high five and clap.
“They transitioned to sleeping in their own individual cots and luckily, they mostly sleep through.
“They can now stand - two of them unaided - can cruise around the furniture and are very nearly walking.
“I began weaning the babies onto solid food when they were six and a half months old. Luckily, they have really taken to it well and eat anything and I have found a hobby in enjoying making new dishes for the family, setting up an instagram account www.instagram.com/weaning_triplets !
“At the beginning of lockdown when people were panic buying, I was slightly concerned that we wouldn’t be able to access the shopping we needed for our increasing demands but friends, family and neighbours helped out when we were stuck.
“Having to entertain our three year old with activities has been a challenge but by fitting it in whilst it was baby nap time, she enjoyed our one-on-one time together.
“Lockdown for us didn’t mean furlough and lots of free time to redecorate or make a bar in the garden. More like family Zoom chats on mute due to crying babies and daily exercise was more like quarterly exercise.
“Getting out of the house with four infants was such a challenge on my own that we rarely went out. I would need to time it right between feeds and naps, taking up to an hour to get them ready which in itself was exhausting before I even set out! We are fortunate to have a good sized garden and with the good weather we still managed to have lots of outdoor fun, making the most of paddling pool, garden swing and slide as playgrounds were shut.
“The charity Homestart have been a real support throughout Lockdown, despite not being able to have hands on help from them anymore they have kept in contact, gifted us with a playhouse for the garden and activity packs for the children.
“The second lockdown is more of a challenge as the babies are more demanding now and Betty is at preschool again so I have to fit her school run into our routine. Whatever this lockdown brings I will do my best for my family and know we will all get through it, just like the first time and I will try to make it fun along the way.”