Monday, December 30, 2013

Triplets are popular!!

When I was trying to figure out a title for this post I kept thinking about the Wicked song "Popular" so when you read this title, if you know the song, you should sing the last bit in your head. =)  In all seriousness though, these kiddos met a LOT of people in addition to meeting Michelle's immediate family.  Here's a photo blog post with pictures from lots of these visitors, AKA babyholders.  They got to meet a bunch of our friends from college...
Michelle's friend Laura "helping" Sam hold Avery
(LOVE Sam's cheeseball smile!!)
Auntie Elise & Michelle bonding on the couch with babies
We went to see Meredith & her brand new peanut (future Chicago playmate)
My college buddy Erika & I with the crew
 and a lot of Grandma Denise's friends & neighbors....
Mrs A. holding Ellie
The Kinneys with Isaiah & Avery
Avery & Mrs. Nelson
They also got to meet Michelle's extended family on Christmas Eve & Christmas night....
Cousin Sarah & Santa butt Isaiah
Great Grandma Stephen snuggling Ellie
Great Uncle Jim & Ellie matching in green
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Home for the Holidays

The trip was long and we're in no rush to repeat it, but it was great to see Michelle's family and have the triplets meet their Auntie Tracy, Uncle Matt, and Grandpa Stephen.  Let me tell you, these babies did not want for attention or love during this trip!  Here are some cute pics of the babies soaking up all the Stephen family love...
Isaiah & Beckett chillin' with Jess
Love this little reindeer butt

Uncle Matt snuggling with Avery

Aunties & Avery

Avery snuggling with Mama

Ellie in her fancy Christmas dress from Jess

Tracy & Avery during the grab bag exchange

Santa baby & Grandma

A less than thrilled looking Isaiah hangin' with Grandpa...
must be because their outfits clash so much

Stripey buddies (sorry it's sideways!)

Michelle & Ellie sporting her First Christmas bib

family Christmas photo

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Home sweet home & triplet travel tips

Well we officially survived our first round trip road trip with triplets!  We got home a day later than planned but we made it.  We got home a little before 10pm, almost 12 hours after we started the 9.5/10 hour drive.  The house feels like a chaotic mess which drives both Michelle and I crazy.  We had to force ourselves to stop picking up/putting things away after the babies were fed and in bed so that we could sleep for as long as they'd let us, which turned out to be about three hours.  We are looking forward to being back in our familiar environment and in our familiar routines. Though we will miss all the extra baby holders!

Before I forget them, I thought I'd jot down a few of the lessons we learned on this trip, both so we can look back on this before the next trip and for anyone else planning a road trip with triplet infants.

1) Don't pack as many clothes, especially when it is Xmas time and you have easy access to laundry. The kiddos mostly rotated between the holiday sleepers and outfits they got as gifts since we did baby laundry at least once a day to keep a clean supply of burp cloths and swaddlers.  Also pack an extra set or two of swaddlers. We had one extra, but a few times I wished we'd had two when they peed through or spit up on the one they were wearing.

2) Hotel lobbies are hands down the best places to stop to nurse and change three babies. They are clean, not usually terribly busy, and the front desk people either didn't say anything to us (despite curious glances) or were very nice and accommodating. We stopped at a Best Western, a Hampton Inn, & a Hilton Garden on this trip.  As you would guess the Hilton was the best and we got to nurse in front of a fireplace and a TV playing the end of the movie Ice Age. :)

3) Pack an extra bottle or two for tiding babies over while driving. The plus for the minivan was that whenever there was fussing one if is could crawl to the back seat to provide pacifiers or a bottle as needed.  Feeding en route is less than ideal, but it can get you through some rough patches until you're able to stop for real.

4) Pack real food for yourself for meals. We had snacks out the wazoo but didn't have lunch/dinner type food packed and that was a mistake. We ended up eating at Arby's and Taco Bell just because it was the fastest food option that would get is back on the road quickly, but that was a first for us in years and made us feel gross.  Next time we will make and pack sandwiches and/or salads for the drive. One tip if you do have to do fast food is to send one parent rather than doing the drive thru because then the other parent can just keep driving in circles.  I swear I drove ten times around the Taco Bell and I'm pretty sure any cars in the drive thru thought we were nuts (unless they remember having little ones sleeping in the car.). Driving in circles also works well for quick rest stop pee breaks.

5) If you're going to pump in the car, try to get your hands on an AC converter. I mentioned how our batteries died on the way there and it was a major hassle to stop for new ones. On the way back Tracy let us borrow her AC adaptor and that worked much better!

6) Have more than one set of extra clothes easily accessible for the drive. Each of the kiddos had a pooplosion (as we like to call poop explosions), requiring a change of clothes. We also had two spit-up related sleeper changes.  By the way, Michelle's autocorrect on her iPhone has now learned the word pooplosion. :). 

That's all I can think of right now. As we suspected, the transition back to home and normal routines has been mixed. It's easier to be home where everything is set up the way we're used to it. It is not easy though getting the babies back to napping/sleeping in their cribs and not always being held during awake time after a week of being held so much. I love that they got so much love and cuddle time on vacation but the reality is that at home they can't always be held so I think we might be in for it for a while. Avery, our top traveler, seems to be having the hardest time with the adjustment. Ok, time to try to catch a bit of shut eye. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Caption series game

I've taken well over 1000 pictures over the past couple months (hard to believe right?!) and I need to make space on my phone by deleting photos. So I've been working on that today while nursing and ran across some fun photo "series" that I thought I'd share with you for some Xmas fun.  It seems to me like these photo series are just waiting for the perfect captions and we'd love to hear your suggestions for series titles and captions for each!  

We could even make a game out of it and many of you know how much we like games in this family!  So leave your captions in the comments (on the blog or Facebook) and we'll pick a couple of favorites! Don't feel like you have to caption them all. Just tell us which one you're captioning using the numbers and if you want to caption each photo you can label them a, b, c, etc. Feel free to show the pics to your family & friends and make a Christmas Day game out of it or use it as a conversation starter to help you through an awkward moment with your Aunt Gertrude who's had a little too much egg nog. (we might get some funny captions outta that!). :)

Number 1: Isaiah & Avery

Number 2: Ellie & Isaiah

Number 3: Isaiah 

Number 4: Avery

Number 5: Ellie

Merry Christmas and happy captioning!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Early Intervention update

As I was writing the last blog post with the health update, I realized that I told you that we'd scheduled the early intervention evaluation, but then never followed up on how it went. The eval itself went fine. Avery was the most cooperative, being in a nice quiet alert phase and really engaging with the examiner. By the time it was Ellie's turn she was getting pretty sleepy and fussy so she didn't tolerate much. And Isaiah had fallen asleep and woke back up for his eval, so again, probably didn't put his best foot forward. But overall the examiner was impressed with them and said she really didn't have any big concerns, but that if we had any concerns or questions she would support them getting early intervention (EI) services just because they were preemies.

So we decided to do an OT consult (check in) with an occupational therapist that I know has experience with oral motor skills (I did my research before the eval!) so we could ask her for suggestions to help the girls with eating better. We only had one visit and she gave us a few exercises to do with them (stimulating the muscles around their mouths) but said she thought they were coming along nicely and would just improve with growth.  The other service we asked for was infant massage. I've done some infant massage but am not certified so I thought it would be nice to have someone come in and teach all of us (Hope, the PSU student who lives with us joins the sessions too to take baby #3).  It has been nice and we've been doing massages after baths and sometimes before bed.  Infant massage has been shown to help with weight gain and sleeping so it's definitely worth a shot!  

And for Miss Ellie, who is just a little more of a low tone/floppy baby (meaning her muscles are just a little looser/ squishy) and a bit behind her siblings on her milestones, we are doing every other week PT. It seems more than a little silly to be doing PT since I am a pediatric PT and do things with her every day, but we figured it would be a good idea to have a pair of non-mommy eyes checking in just to make sure I'm not missing anything. (Though honestly I think I'm able to maintain pretty good objectivity about it all!).

It sometimes seems like a lot just to schedule the one or two visits we have in a week so I empathize with families I work with who have even more providers to schedule with! Scheduling visits to line up with awake times is also a bit tricky right now. And I can empathize with how hard it can be to remember or find time to do the recommended activities in a week!  That is why a key tenet of EI is to incorporate therapy activities into families' daily routines...

Ellie's tummy time on Mommy's chest

Tummy time for everyone after eating

Insurance issues & growing munchkins

I spent an hour on the phone yesterday trying to sort out some problems we've been having with insurance to get the babies their RSV vaccine, called Synagis. RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) affects the lungs and for you or me would just present like a cold. But for preemies who were born with immature lungs it can be much worse, causing pneumonia and bronchitis.  Because our babies were born before 35 weeks and were less than three months old at the start of RSV season, they should be receiving the vaccine, but getting it has been a royal pain in the arse!!  They got their first dose at their six week check up because the doctor just pulled it from her stash, hoping that by the time they needed their second dose (this week) we'd have it from insurance. Well that didn't happen so now we have to make another appointment just to go in for vaccines.

Our Synagis troubles started with our Aetna insurance, name changes, and a PSU process issue.  First they were having trouble with the switch from Baby Girl B to Avery, etc so it didn't look like the kiddos were covered. Then we had a problem because PSU hadn't submitted the babies enrollment forms to Aetna, so again it seemed like the babies had no insurance.  We finally got that sorted out, after Michelle made a bunch of phone calls, but then there was the matter of the copay.  The pediatrician warned us that we could have a pretty hefty copayment (think she mentioned ~ $500) so she told us we needed to apply for medical assistance for the babies so we wouldn't have to pay that. (Because the babies were premature they qualify for MA regardless of income status.) So we did that and got their cards in the mail and it is a good thing because our copay was $1300 PER KIDDO!!! Only problem was that the Aetna specialty pharmacy wasn't a preferred pharmacy for the MA plan the kiddos were automatically enrolled in!  So once they enrollment in MA was complete, everything got sent to another pharmacy. Well that pharmacy submitted the paperwork and was told that the Synagis wouldn't be covered by MA (for some reason that makes no sense...something about it being a medical not a pharmacy benefit?!?).  We got a confusing voicemail from Dr. Brink's nurse telling us to call this patient copay assistance group.  I did that today and it said you could apply online so I started that process only to find that social security number was a required question and we don't have theirs yet!  So I called back to apply over the phone and got to spend a fun 40+ minutes on the phone completing three applications! The good news is they were approved so we won't have to pay the $1300 copay!  (This time at least. I'm guessing next month's vaccine will involve another big process like this! Oh yeah I didn't mention that the RSV vaccine is a monthly thing throughout the winter!) 

So anyway, we're hopeful that this month's dose will make it to the pediatrician's office next week and we'll get the next round of vaccines either Friday or Monday.  The annoying thing is that things will change again next month because the kiddos' MA plan will be different as of January first. When you first sign up, They auto-enroll you in one of their HMO style plans, and then allow you to choose the plan you want at the start of the new year. Fingers crossed that we made a good choice and the approval process is simpler next time!!!

Speaking of pediatrician visits, the kiddos all got weighed on Tuesday and all are trekking right up their little preemie growth curves. They haven't shot up to get into the "real baby" growth curves (as Dr. Brink calls the normal/regular ones).  They're still below the 5th percentile on those charts as you can see from our app. 

Here are their weights as of Tuesday, one day before turning 11 weeks:
Isaiah: 8lbs 12oz
Ellie: 8lbs 3oz
Avery: 7lbs 15oz

By now I'm confident that we have three eight pound babies! That would explain why they're outgrowing a lot of the newborn clothes, but the 0-3 month clothes are still pretty big on them!! At the same time, it's kind of fun to be moving on to a new batch of clothes! 

In other health news, Isaiah and Ellie continue to struggle a bit with reflux and are taking Zantac to help with that. We weren't sure if the Zantac was helping so the doctor said we could stop. But stopping for a day was enough to let us know that it is helping! Avery got her first cold last week and passed it on to Ellie.  But overall they've been pretty healthy so far and we're thankful for that!
Tummy time
Showing off her head control