I was the first to get a sore throat. Fearing the worst, I quickly got an appointment for a rapid strep test, and of course tested positive. It was a Friday and I feared how the kids would fare over the weekend if they also got it. I envisioned trips to Urgent Care- waiting for hours, babies crying, big kids misbehaving because of boredom. I took my antibiotics, went to bed as soon as all the kids were in bed, and hoped for the best.
No one seemed to have a decreased appetite, fever, or irritability the next day. Or the next day. The triplets had runny noses, but that was it. I thought we were in the clear. It wasn’t until a week later that my 7-year-old started complaining of a sore throat. Sure enough, I took her to the pediatrician and she tested positive for strep. I had brought one of the triplets with me to the doctor as well, and he was tested and came back positive too. Neither of them had ever shown a fever at all. We were coming up on the Thanksgiving holiday, so we went ahead and scheduled the other 3 kids to come in for appointments the next day. Sure enough, they all tested positive for strep. My 5 year old never had a sore throat. Off we went to the pharmacy for 5 doses of amoxicillin.
I honestly dreaded this exact scenario for so long, I was surprised at how non-stressful it actually was. One of the triplet girls had been acting somewhat moody the day before my 7-year-old got sick, but nothing that was alarmingly out of the ordinary. Everyone had runny noses and it was hard to get their noses clear, but this was nothing new- we’ve all had colds before. The triplets were also teething, so some of the moodiness I attributed to teething. Before the diagnosis, we had two sets of visitors staying overnight at the house, and the babies had been relatively pleasant and calm despite the chaos of unknown new beings invading their space.
My greatest fear with 5 sick kids was that everyone would be clamoring for my attention and comfort, and that I couldn’t be in 5 places (or hold 5 kids) at once. That never happened. Sometimes two babies would want me to hold them, but that’s nothing I’m not already used to. I never had 3 babies screaming with no way of consoling them. My 7-year-old slept and rested more than usual, and she was perfectly content when I would sneak away from the triplets for a moment or two to check on her in her room, give her a refill of juice or a snack, give her a long hug, a short chat, and then leave again while she continued resting or playing on her iPad.
We gave everyone antibiotics at the same time at night right before dinner. I’d line up all the bottles, and in birth order, fill the right dosage and call over the appropriate kid. My 7-year-old hated the taste, but was always rewarded with a swig of juice afterwards. My 5-year-old strangely liked the taste of the antibiotics and took them with no fuss. He never felt sick and was pleasant the entire time. The babies also willingly drank from the syringes. Then we would proceed with dinner and baths and bed. It was like adding one little step into the nightly routine- nothing more. If we had to also give them antibiotics in the morning (which, thankfully, we did not), it would have also become just an additional part of our morning routine.
It is moments like this I am so grateful I am so consistent about routines. We don’t have to do our routines at a particular time each morning or night. The routine is merely the sequence of events that are predictable for our kids and signal a shift from one part of the day to the other. Adding something into the routine (like medicine administration) is do-able. Because we are so used to the sequence, we can continue onwards with our next steps afterwards with no problem. The big kids would say “cheers” before they downed the medicine. The babies strangely looked forward to their turn in the medicine administration. It was no fun bracing each kid for the rapid strep test, but it was no different from bracing for a regular vaccine. And we are now strep-free.
This is yet another example of a moment I wish people had reassured me when I was pregnant with the triplets. Yes, they will all get sick at the same time. Yes, it will not be pleasant, but no, it’s not some life-altering stress you can’t handle. Having already been through the newborn stage with crying babies that need you physically most of the time, a sick set of triplets is nothing new. In fact, extra requests for snuggles from babies learning their independence is an unexpected benefit.
I’ll report back on other sicknesses, because it’s winter and of course we are not in the clear. I’m sure vomiting sicknesses are a whole other level of fun. But I am cautiously optimistic. It may not be as bad as I think. So far it hasn’t been.
Photo is of the shelf full of antibiotics in our fridge. We labeled the top and sides of each bottle for each kid so we could easily keep track of each one.