“I’m most tired of the question ‘How are you coping?’” – Anastasia and Oleksandr Merkulova live in the city of Partizanske (Prymorya) and raise five children who were born on the same day. How is the life of a family in which small “five-year-olds” are growing up?
“Come out, there are five children waiting for you”
– You will have triplets! – said at the first ultrasound of Anastasia and Oleksandr Merkulov, who previously experienced a pregnancy loss. The couple received the news with joy and without much surprise. Twins and triplets were found in almost every generation of Anastasia’s relatives.
True, the doctors warned that one of the babies may have a heart attack.
– We began to lead a church life just at that time and in this situation we decided to fully trust God – whatever will happen, will happen – says Anastasia.
In the 16th week, the doctors saw that there were not three, but four children. According to Anastasia, the doctors offered to “remove” one of the children, since a quadruple pregnancy is a difficult matter, a risk for both the woman and the children. Merkulov was categorically told that they were not planning to kill any of the children.
Since two months of pregnancy, Anastasia has been under observation in hospitals to always be under the supervision of doctors.
– From the medical point of view, the doctors helped a lot, but from the psychological point of view, only one doctor supported me, with whom I was constantly being observed. The rest were scared that children “can be born freaks” and that in general you have to think with your head.
Every time I went to a new hospital, they would point a finger at my temple and say, “What are you thinking, why do you need this?”
If they had known at first that there were five, as the doctor later told me, they would not have let me reach seven months, they would have performed a caesarean section earlier. But every extra day in the mother’s stomach is for the benefit of the children.
The fifth child hid behind his brothers and sister and announced himself only during childbirth. Births that took place under general anesthesia were performed by a reinforced team of doctors. Anastasia was recovering from anesthesia for a long time, the condition was difficult, there was a lot of blood loss, the bleeding did not stop for two days.
– The doctor who operated on me in the perinatal center of Vladivostok – a doctor with a capital letter – brought me out of anesthesia with the words: “Come on, come out, come out, there are five children waiting for you.” I tell her: “How about five? I wore four.” She says, “Don’t you need a fifth?” I answer: “Why not? All mine, we will take them all. what are you All of us, we were waiting for everyone, we love everyone.” On the third day, when I had regained consciousness a little, I was taken to the children in a cart.
The children were first in intensive care, then in the hospital – gaining weight – the youngest was born with a weight of 1 kg 370 g, and was discharged – 1 kg 800 g.
Strollers, cribs and all other necessary spouses began to buy closer to the 30th week – second hand, so that it would be cheaper. Anastasia, lying in the hospital, looked for everything on the Internet, and then gave it to her husband, who went shopping. Four cots, two strollers for twins. So, before discharge, it was necessary to additionally buy only one cot and a stroller.
Friends took a minibus from the maternity hospital (later Merkulov got his own) – the babies were put in five child car seats…
Only the regime helps.
For the first two months, Oleksandr’s grandmother – mother, who lived with Merkulov – helped.
Until 3.5 months, the babies were exclusively breastfed, then they began to introduce complementary feeding.
– Only one child breastfed, so I didn’t torture either the children or myself, I pumped and fed from a bottle. And then, with milk and formula, and now, when children eat complementary foods, we feed them in turn, they already know their turn, they don’t get angry. They were not indignant even then. The loudest ones – Maksym and Matvyi – were fed first, and then the others. Raisa and Saveliy are our youngest, they didn’t eat well, they vomited, we always fed them slowly, half an hour at a time, an hour at a time.
The Merkulovs live strictly according to the regime. Food, walks, sleep – all at a certain time, otherwise you just can’t cope.
Children are also bathed in turn. When they were very small, grandmother and Alexander bathed: one brings – takes away, the other bathes, Anastasia waited in the room with other children. Now – the man takes one child, washes it, brings it to Anastasia, who is sitting with other children, puts on a diaper, pajamas and puts it to bed. So everyone in turn, starting with the loudest.
Children are also dressed for the street in turn, starting with the loudest and most restless.
When the children were two months old, the grandmother left, Oleksandr had not yet taken leave to take care of the children, and Anastasia was alone with them for three whole months.
– I don’t know how I survived, because we live in our own house, we also had to heat the stove. It was winter, I dressed the children, opened the window in the room, and they walked for three hours. Naturally, during this time, the house was exhausted, she closed the windows and ran to flood the stove.
Merkulov’s whole day is mainly devoted to children’s affairs. But there is also time to talk – the evening. And the regime helps in this too.
– In the evening, when we put the children to bed (strictly at nine o’clock), we have two hours, we will calmly prepare food and talk.
Both spouses cook when it is convenient for one, the other at this moment with the children. And sometimes, for example, Oleksandr does repairs, Anastasia cooks, children play nearby, under supervision.
– Babies sleep differently too. Sometimes they sleep well, sometimes not, especially if the teeth are cut and they cry at night. Then, if we sleep for three hours, it’s already good.
In general, it seems to me that if children grow up together, they are not so receptive to the screams of other children. Although, it happens, they all start screaming at the same time, and my husband and I run from cot to cot.
Most often, children get sick at the same time, once even all five of them were in the hospital with their mother.
Little by little, babies begin to master the surrounding space. In this sense, it is easier for the Merkulovs – they live in their own house, so dad fenced off a safe place in the yard where they can walk. But there is not enough space for them, they want to know the world more and more.
– Now you need an eye and an eye for children, and they try to sneak in somewhere, so you can’t relax. It has become easier in the sense that there is no more breastfeeding. And the fact that the children will leave soon is a big plus. I have a spinal hernia, because of which it is difficult to drag older children, especially two, so it will be better when they “get off my hands”. Yes, they will start to run – to run away, but we have nowhere to run, our yard, we make it as safe as possible.
I take care and iron all children’s things
During these eleven months, Anastasia has become easier to relate to everyday life and does not go around with a rag, endlessly wiping and washing something, as before. Got dirty? Nothing, it will wait until the evening, when Anastasia will wash the floor – you try to make it clean, but now you understand that you also need to take care of yourself, you want to spend more time on the children than on cleaning the floor. The only thing that Anastasia continues to do is to iron all the children’s things, starting from the very birth of the babies.
– I want the children to be neat and clean. And especially when there are five children, it is better to pat ten times. Yes, I care. But I’d rather spend half an hour ironing, but be calm.
Anastasia had to come to terms with the fact that children get to know the world around them through their taste buds, or rather, they pull everything they see into their mouths.
– Previously, she was nervous, she rubbed her hands with wet napkins until she was sick, she did not allow anything to lick the inedible. But, having crushed her heart, she began to surrender positions at some moments. Here, for example, they tried my sand at the sea. Including Raya, from whom I did not expect such a thing at all, she is a prudent young lady here.
Children are eleven months old, but each one has its own character from birth.
– Twins Matvii and Hnat are calm, kind and gentle. They like to be hugged, they like to be stroked, kissed. Savely, on the contrary, does not particularly like grace. It is important for him to be played with. But if you kiss, he starts snorting and cursing. Maxim gives emotions at once for all five. Everything is wrong with him all the time, everything is wrong, he is indignant. What colic is, we felt thanks to him – how he shouted! He still shouts if something is not his way, probably all the neighbors can hear. Raisa is an intelligent, problem-free girl. She can play for a long time. She loves dad very much, dad is everything to her.
Anastasia worries that it is not always possible to give everyone as much attention as they demand. They all wanted to take their hands at the same time, even together with dad, you can’t take them all at the same time. Then the parents distract the kids with a joint game, some activities.
– Yes, we are trying our best with my husband. But try not to try – at the same time, do not give attention to all five at once as much as you can give to one, squeezing him and zasyusyukivaya.
Children like to play together. For example, in a chase. Some are running away from their parents as they can – some on still weak legs, some on all fours. They happily ride cars and tricycles.
The situation when everyone is going for a walk, and one child suddenly has a big mess in the diaper and everyone has to stop, change one’s clothes, and wait for the others – is very common.
– Well, you change, others sit, play, wait. It seems to me that children, even if they are small, understand that it is difficult for us. When I’m alone with them, they behave much better than when Dad is around.
They try to take more adults with them – relatives, friends – for Merkulov’s vaccination, so that each child has one or two children.
– Someone is weighing, someone is measuring, someone is already getting vaccinated. Of course, children cry after vaccination, so what, let’s calm them down. Already used to it.
Tired of the question “How are you coping”
Parents’ hobbies are fundamental, as Anastasia says with a laugh. Dad, in order to take a break from the cares of education, works as a carpentry and repairs the house, and mom works in the garden. Anastasia also maintains her blog on Instagram – she talks about life and herself asks for advice from those who have raised triplets.
In August, the family went to the sea for the first time – an hour’s drive from the house to the Sea of Japan. They put the children in the minibus and drove off to let the children run around in the sand. That is, they ran – this is still too loudly said, the babies are eleven months old and they are just learning to walk. They arrived directly on the shore, calmly dropped everyone off, without fear that the children would run away. Everyone liked the sea, except Maxim – he cried and begged back.
If Anastasia was tired of anything during these months, it was endless stupid questions. This summer, she went to a sanatorium with her children and a friend …
– We arrived, washed everything, laid our own carpets so that the children were comfortable. So curious citizens, under any pretext, came to us in the shoes they walk in the street in, curiously looking around. That’s what they wanted to see, I wonder?
When you are asked a hundred times a day: “How are you doing?” – tiring. And they ask idly. So I went to make a sanatorium card, I took three with me, Maxim’s teeth were cutting and he started to get cranky. And the others were also tired, wanted to sleep and started whining. So a man with a child approached with this question.
How can you not cope? Do we have a choice? You just go and do it, with God’s help.
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