Returning to work after triplets | A Dad’s Story by Roy Donegan
I shared 14 weeks of my wife’s maternity leave which, when added to my two weeks of paternity leave, gave me 16 weeks off work. It was magical and an absolute necessity.
Looking after new-born triplets (@london_triplets) was in our view a full time job for two people, with feeding every 3 hours and each feed taking 1.5 hours, there was little space for much else by the time we had changed 20 nappies a day and grabbed a few hours’ sleep here and there. It was amazing to spend those first months doing everything together, despite the sleep deprivation.
With a return to work looming, I was nervous and worried that Laura would feel lonely and isolated and that she wouldn’t get any time for herself. I was also aware of the huge workload and how intimidating it can be with triplets doing the simplest of things, such as leaving the house to take a trip to the doctor – you feel that everyone is looking at you and you’re worried that something might go wrong and you won’t be able to handle it.
I also felt guilty that Laura was ‘giving up’ her old life, whilst I wouldn’t be. I would have a commute which would give me some time to myself and I would get to mix with more adult company.
To get ourselves ready, in the months before I returned to work we set targets for Laura, with her spending increasing periods of time alone with Max, Scarlett and Troy, both in and outside our flat. We agreed that everything Laura did, I would do too, so that I could relate to and appreciate how things might be for Laura when I returned to work.
We wanted to make sure that we were able to cope being alone with Max, Scarlett and Troy and that, whilst we have friends and family around, help should become something we are grateful for rather than being dependent on.
By the time I returned to work, Laura was comfortable being the only adult at home and even taking Max, Scarlett and Troy to baby groups by herself. We have also learnt to ask for help and have always found people willing to hold a door, help you in from the car, carry a bag, etc.
I also spoke to my employer about working flexibly and agreed that I would work 2 days a week from home, which saves on the commuting time twice a week meaning I can help out with breakfast and dinner on those days. I don’t like to complain, as I feel so fortunate to have three healthy babies, but we still both struggle a lot of the time.
Sometimes you feel like you have no time for yourself, which sounds so selfish. We often plan to get a job done at the weekend during nap time, like put a picture on the wall, and find that naptime is a complete disaster and the job doesn’t get done till the following weekend. We have recently moved house to get more room and getting things organised is taking forever…
Nights can also often be difficult. I can’t remember the last time that either of us had more than 5 hours straight. We both get up for night feeds, but Laura gets up to do more of the comforting on the nights where I am commuting to London the next day which I feel guilty about, but I try to make up for it at the weekends.
Ultimately, we just do what we can. We work as a team and the most valuable piece of advice I can give is to try to stay calm and take a deep breath rather than snapping at each other. We also spend a little time each day reflecting on how grateful we are to be on this amazing journey.