While I was pregnant with the quads, nutrition was obviously a major concern during pregnancy and making sure I got enough calories (seriously at one point they had me on a 7,000 calorie diet) and ate the right foods. From my very first appointment at Texas Children's Pavillion for Women, I was in the Multiples Program there which included regular visits with a nutritionist. One resource I was given on my first visit was this book, titled When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads by Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein.
I found the book to be a tremendous resource but I have heard other MoMs state otherwise. (Some of the illustrations in the book can be a little scary.) What was most helpful about the book to me was the meal ideas and recommendations for what to eat at various stages of gestation for proper nutrition and growth/development.
In addition to diet and nutritionist visits, I was put on a prescription prenatal vitamin that contained folic acid and was put on additional folic acid as well. Wanting the very best for my brood, I took them every single day of my pregnancy even on days when the thought of swallowing a pill completely grossed me out.
However, once the babies were born, the shift and my focus suddenly turned all towards them and seeing their nutritional needs were met. There wasn't a lot of guidance anymore on what to eat and how to care for my body. In the beginning, I followed breast feeding advice of high protein and lots of water and kept taking a prenatal vitamin to help with that but eventually the demands of caring for four infants, my own mom in the hospital in very critical condition with what we later learned was cancer, and a husband working out of town got to me and I gave up breast-feeding and along with that, the vitamins and well, if we're honest, pretty much taking care of myself. Instead, I began to exist on a diet that consisted of mainly coffee, lots of good old Coca-Cola, and grabbing whatever food I could grab and eat without requiring any cooking.
I didn't immediately feel the affects but over the course of several months, I started to feel worse and worse. I gained back weight I had lost after my pregnancy. My ankles hurt. The bottoms of my feet hurt. I had constant carpal-tunnel pain and my hands were constantly numb. My hair fell out by the fist fulls. If I sat down for even a few minutes, when I tried to stand up again, I walked like a 100 year old woman. I didn't want to do anything but sleep and I had constant headaches but when I went to bed at night, I couldn't get comfortable to sleep!
When the quads were about 16 months old, I finally broke down and went to the doctor, convinced that I must have a thyroid problem or else diabetes. When my blood-work came back just fine, I was puzzled and angry at my doctor for refusing to do additional tests and sending me on my way with the advice to sleep more, eat better, get as much exercise as I could and put the quads in a mother's day out program and just go home and sleep! Frustrated with this answer and still feeling terrible, I turned to the only place left: my Moms of Multiples groups on Facebook. One group is filled with women who all had multiples around the same time I did. Many of them suffered from many of the same symptoms that I had and one mom in particular had fought her doctor on it for many months and FINALLY gotten answers! The root cause: vitamin deficiency!!! At her advice, I immediately went out and bought a prenatal vitamin, Vitamin B-12, and Vitamin D and began taking them daily. After only a couple weeks of taking them, I began noticing improvements in my symptoms. My carpal tunnel improved, I had more energy, and I didn't feel like I needed to be headed to a nursing home instead of chasing around four toddlers!
I'll be honest, these days, I do good to remember to feed myself and there are times that I do forget the vitamins sometimes for a week, or maybe even more if I'm really honest. I can tell when I don't take them and after I start back up again, it usually takes a week or two and I'll start feeling better again.
I'm no doctor by any means, but I truly feel like my body had to work so much overtime and gave so much of my own nutrition to support four lives that it depleted a lot of nutrients and has done something that makes it difficult for my body to extract those vitamins and nutrients from food.
The more I've shared my story, the more moms I meet who've gone through the same thing! Pregnancy is hard on your body. Therefore, my plea is that all new mothers, but especially new mothers of multiples, continue to take at the very least a multi-vitamin long after your pregnancy and after you stop breast-feeding. You have nothing to lose and take my word for it, you DON'T want to feel like a 100 year old lady who needs a walker WHILE you're chasing toddlers!