Raising one child can sometimes be challenging, but imagine raising three at once. This is the reality for a mom of triplets Berenice Jacobs from Cape Town, who initially gave birth to quadruplets (four children born at one birth), but sadly lost one of her babies nine days after his birth due to a weak heart.
Jacobs describes raising three babies at once as a difficult task but also as one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.
“I remember finding out I was pregnant with quadruplets, and I was very surprised to hear that I was carrying so many babies. My body was just stretching, and it was very heavy.”
Having multiple babies runs in Jacob’s family, as she highlights that her grandmother had twins and that her mother was also pregnant with twins but had a miscarriage.
“I gave birth in 2021 to three girls and one boy, but the boy passed away in the hospital after living for nine days. Giving birth to them via a C-section didn’t take long; they were born a minute apart. I didn’t know who was who, so I put stickers with their names on each one of them. My babies are now one year and eight months old, and I love seeing them grow up.”
People stop and stare
She says people stare a lot at them and ask her many questions, such as, “How did you carry four babies because you do not even have a big body?” and “What did you use to get so many babies at once?”
Having a big baby shower and people donating clothes for each child helped her prepare for the arrival of her babies, however, there are still financial challenges due to the expensive nature of raising children.
“I don’t get any support from anyone, so it is sometimes very stressful and difficult for me to raise triplets as a single mother. My biggest struggle with them is that I am constantly in need of nappies. I only use the Sassa grant, and it is not enough for them. My life has also changed because they keep me busy, so I can’t really do anything or go anywhere, and my expenses are now a bit higher than before, but I love them and spending time with them very much.”
“When taking them to the hospital, I use their prams, and I have to look for someone to help me. I also have to borrow money to go there and pay the person who is helping me.”
Master of multitasking
Jacobs states that a surprising discovery is that they all do the same things at the same time, so it is not easy to balance their needs and schedules because there is no difference between them. She, however, is able to give each baby her full attention because she takes care of them 24/7.
“My babies are not different, and because of this, I could not breastfeed them for long. If one does something, so does the other, like when they all do not like brushing their hair. When one is crying, the other two also start crying. When one gets hurt, the others also get hurt, which is very surprising to me. Because of them, I have learned all about multitasking.“
Overall, Jacobs feels very blessed to be given the privilege to raise triplets. She says she can never complain because they are a very special blessing given to her.
“Besides the financial difficulties, I am very blessed. Being a mother of triplets is joyful, and I enjoy myself with them. I’ve learned that it is not easy to be a mother, but it is worth it. Triplets are also not very difficult to raise; you just have to learn how. Eventually, it’s almost like raising one child. Also, they will not stay small forever; they will grow and become a greater blessing to me one day.”
Health risks of a multiple pregnancy
Being pregnant may increase the risk of certain health complications. According to the Cleveland Clinic, multiple pregnancies such as twins, triplets, or more can lead to more complications between the mother and babies. However, this does not mean that complications will be encountered by every woman who carries more than one baby during pregnancy.
Furthermore, Cleveland Clinic mentions a few common potential complications that women carrying multiples should be aware of:
- Premature labour or birth: Carrying multiples increases the risk of premature labour, which is defined as giving birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature babies can face various health challenges due to their underdeveloped systems.
- Preeclampsia: High blood pressure complications happen at twice the rate in women carrying multiples compared to women pregnant with only one baby. Preeclampsia is defined as a dangerous pregnancy complication characterised by high blood pressure that can have serious implications for the mother and babies.
- Gestational diabetes: A condition that develops during pregnancy and leads to high blood sugar levels. This happens because of the increased amount of hormones in the placenta.
- Placenta complications: Multiples are at increased risk of placental complications, which include the placenta separating from the uterine wall. This condition can lead to poor growth or other complications for the babies.
- Delivery complications: Multiple pregnancies can increase the risk of delivery complications, such as fetal distress and the need for a C-section. Delivery complications are usually caused by the size and position of the babies.
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