Whenever a friend or an acquaintance or, quite honestly, a stranger learns that my wife and I have twins, one of the first responses is usually something along the lines of, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know how you do it.” My answer usually is, “Well, I don’t have much choice in the matter,” or “Well, since these are my two first kids, this is completely normal to me.” These aren’t conversations that occur every so often. They’re weekly discussions, seems like.
Stella and Noah have been really good babies and toddlers, and much of the time, they make our lives relatively simple and pain-free. At this point, I can’t imagine not having twins. And I can think of other parents who have it much harder than us. These are the people who deserve the sympathetic remarks. These are the people who deserve medals. That’s why I started this occasional series – originally for manofthehouse.com – called “Those who have it harder than me.”
Today, we talk to Damon Hack, who covers golf for Sports Illustrated (you can find him on Twitter here). I’d met Damon a few times covering various sporting events, but I’d heard recently that his wife had given birth to triplets. When I ran into him at Super Bowl Media Day in Indianapolis in February, I talked with him for a few minutes so he could describe to me just what it’s like to raise three babies at the same time. At the end of our talk, I thought to myself, “I don’t know how he does it …”
Previous editions of Those Who Have it Harder than Me:
Josh Katzowitz: For us, having twins probably isn’t twice the work. It’s probably more like 1 ½ times the work. It’s not too bad. But my and wife I have talked about it: what about triplets? We’re like, ‘How do those parents possibly do it?’ because we know how hard raising two at the same time can be. Tell me about your life with triplets.
Damon Hack: My wife’s pregnancy was really good. She went 34 weeks, which was amazing with triplets. The last week, she had bed-rest because she had mild preeclampsia, which is when the blood pressure kind of goes up and own. She gave birth on June 9, 2011, and she had a quick drop in blood pressure right after the deliveries, so they had to give her a couple IVs. I’m sitting there in the room with her, and I’m watching her numbers drop. I’m freaking out, and she’s half-asleep.
When I think about the changes to our lives, I think of the whole thing. I think of the pregnancy, giving her chocolate Ensure, the things I used to give my grandmother for bone density. It’s really important for the dad and husband to be involved. I wanted to be involved, and you want to go through the pregnancy with them. I just wanted to be a part of the process and be a real good support system for her.
Katzowitz: For twins, when they wake up in the morning, you can literally grab them at the same time and walk downstairs with them together in both of your arms. Logistically, how do you do that with three babies?
Hack: We’re lucky, because we have help. As you know, I’m a sports writer and I’m on the road a lot, and my wife has her own business. We actually have had baby nurse help since they were born. It’s been the only way we can function. We’ve had times where it’s just me and my wife, and you get through it. But one baby has to stay down. When we don’t have anybody helping us, you do it in order. You feed one baby, you feed the second baby, you feed the third. But you alternate it. You don’t have the same baby not eat first every night.
Katzowitz: You make it fair.
Hack: Yes. And what we’re discovering now, is that you want to spend time with each child individually. My wife will take one child on a baby date. She’ll take James one day, Rhys one day and Miles one day. I’ll do the same thing. We have two dogs, so our house is a complete circus. When I walk the dogs, I’ll put on the Baby Bjorn and take one of my boys with me. It’s great bonding time and a chance for the boys to see what’s going on outside.
Katzowitz: That is great. That individual time is something we strive to do, but it’s tough. You really have to work to make that happen, because it is important to get that one on one.
Hack: Absolutely. They’re going to be together a lot. They’re in the same room. Meal time is the same for them when we have our full complement of help. But we bathe them one at a time. We try to get them in a routine. That’s the thing. Everybody talks about it. You go to sleep at the same time. Bath time is at the same time. Nap time.
Katzowitz: We were lucky because our kids are easy going, but one of the things we did early on was with sleep. It was one down, both down.
Hack: Exactly, you have to do it.
Katzowitz: You have to have a break at some point.
Hack: It’s just for your sanity’s sake. You know, once a week, my wife and I go out on a date night. We have babysitting help, and you don’t want to completely lose yourself. Sometimes, you can’t help but lose yourself to the kids, and it’s important to do so. But sometimes you want to be an individual too and be romantic with your spouse and remind yourself how you got into this trouble in the first place.
But I’ve been tired for eight months. I’ve carried this fatigue with me for eight months. It’s hard to catch up and get back on top with your sleep. When I’m on the road – this week in the Super Bowl – I’ll get more sleep then I ever do.
Katzowitz: When did you guys find out, and what was your reaction? It took me a long time to wrap my head around the idea of twins.
Hack: We first thought we were having twins. We had one of our ultrasounds, and they saw two. We went back two weeks later, and they saw the third one. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock. In some ways, I’m still in shock when I walk in the room and see three babies in there. We wanted to have a baby for so long, and it really is a blessing. But it’s a shock also. Most people have one baby, so that’s what you’re used to seeing. But now you see commercials for twins and triplets.
But once you’re there, it’s special. We’re “the triplet family” in our neighborhood. My wife’s family is in Queens, we live in the city, and we’ve had aunts come over. It’s a special, special designation to be a parent of multiples. It’s really awesome.
Katzowitz: I’m not trying to pry, but we get a lot of the, ‘Oh, do twins run in your family?’ question. Which is code for, ‘Oh, did you have reproductive help?”
Hack: I get that a lot.
Katzowitz: How do you handle that?
Hack: I’m honest. Maybe it’s because I’m being a journalist, but because we wanted kids for so long, we had to get help. For whatever reason, medically we couldn’t get pregnant, so we had to do in vitro fertilization. And it worked.
Katzowitz: It worked very well, apparently.
Hack: It worked too well, some would say. No, it worked perfectly well, as far as we’re concerned. But people do pry, because it’s a curiosity. Do triplets run in your family? I’ve gotten that question a hundred times.
Katzowitz: Do you feel like it’s code?
Hack: Yeah, I’ve had some people straight-up ask me if we’ve used in vitro.
Katzowitz: Oh, yeah. People have asked me that. To me, it’s rude.
Hack: It’s noisy and it can be rude. People don’t know what we’ve gone through. There are ups and downs. We didn’t get through on the first in vitro fertilization.
Katzowitz: Oh my god, that’s a lot of money.
Hack: It’s a lot of money and stress. But thankfully, all’s well that ends well. I don’t mind telling people, because of those who are struggling and can afford it, at least it’s an option. I share it, because of how happy we are with the end result.