I was able to access parental leave, however, as I was pregnant with triplets I had to finish work weeks earlier than expected. The babies were born at 35 weeks and spent 19 days in the NICU. By the time I brought the babies home I had used the majority of the government’s paid parental leave.
Although we were bringing home three babies, and we already had a toddler at home, my partner was not able to access any additional parental leave beyond the two weeks provided by the government.
When you have multiple infants, you need more hands and so this put a lot of stress on our family.
My partner had to go back to work sooner than we would have liked and I was at home alone with three premature babies; breastfeeding and bottle feeding all three at once whilst my toddler ran around the house. It was exhausting and unsustainable.
My singleton toddler attends childcare however my triplets were not able to access childcare for several reasons:
We were not able to find spots for all four of them on the same days at the same childcare
It was going to be extremely expensive and on top of the fees we knew we would be battling sickness between the four of them which would put a lot of pressure on me going back to work
We physically couldn't drop off all four kids as the triplets were not walking and the only entrance to the childcare centre had stairs
It is a daily struggle. I work part time as a lawyer 2.5 days a week and manage childcare arrangements between a nanny, a childcare centre and my parents. It is a constant uphill battle and every day brings with it a new challenge. We feel financially trapped due to the lack of financial support afforded to multiple birth families.
We have spent the money we were saving for a house deposit on all the specialist equipment we needed for triplets: a new van, two different specialised prams imported from overseas, multiple cots and car seats. These costs added up really quickly, not to mention the dramatic loss of income and childcare costs!
The financial shock of having multiples has been incredibly challenging and taxing on my mental health.
Multiple birth families need more financial and hands on support. Overseas in France, Norway and other countries they have additional parental leave for parents of twins and triplets or higher order multiples. In New Zealand they offer in-home assistance if you have triplets. Australia has essentially forgotten that multiple birth families exist and we desperately need more support.
61% of parents of multiples experience mental health challenges after having multiples. You are five times more likely to suffer from postnatal depression if you have had multiples. With the proper level of support, we could change this in Australia.