Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Four weeks old!!!

Wow! It is really hard to believe our little bambinos are four weeks old today!  How time flies when you're not getting any sleep!  Seriously though, it really does seem crazy that we've already been home for three weeks.  We had another pediatrician visit yesterday and I am happy to report that the babies are all growing and have all surpassed their birthweight!  As usual Isaiah is leading the charge weighing in at 6lbs 5.9oz!  The way they measure length is an inexact science at best, but they marked him at 19.25 inches yesterday.  And as you can tell from all the pictures, he has a big noggin, measuring 35.5cm around.  Avery wins the award for the biggest gainer weighing in at a whopping 12oz over birthweight (5lbs 8oz) passing up Miss Ellie who weighed in at 5lbs 7oz.  The girls both measured 19 inches long and with a head size of 33.5cm.  Dr. Brink seemed please with their progress and said they all looked great.  We will continue to focus on getting more calories into Ellie and try to get her as much hind milk as possible, but we do not have to do any more supplements, which is great.  We've been gradually eliminating the supplements over the past week and everyone seems to be doing fine.  That makes our feeding process just a little less labor intensive, and therefore less time intensive too.  We are happy with their progress, but to put their size in perspective, even Isaiah is below the 5th percentile and the girls are more like the 1st percentile for their age, so we have a lot of growing to do!  Multiple visitors have commented that they look much smaller in person than they do in the pictures!

I have a bunch of little ideas for blog posts germinating in my brain, but haven't been able to flesh any of them out into something coherent.  It could be the sleep deprivation catching up with me!  Last night was actually one of our best nights recently with Michelle and I getting two straight hours of sleep a couple of times I think.  It is funny though how getting that much sleep in some ways makes the night seem harder. I think it is because we actually get into a deep sleep cycle and then have a hard time coming back up to the surface of wakefulness, whereas in nights where we don't get more than half an hour of uninterrupted sleep we never really sleep so we aren't as out of it (though we do tend to be crabbier I think!). 

Overall I think all of our little munchkins are doing really well.  I mean, really, think how advanced they are.  They shouldn't  even be born yet and here they are having to breathe, eat, poop, pee, and move against gravity!  That is a lot to manage!  It's funny actually, because each week on Tuesday or Wednesday, Michelle and I each get an email from telling us what that week of pregnancy is like and how the baby is developing in utero.  Seriously though, it seems like they are more alert each week and are getting more endurance for eating, which will hopefully help them keep growing big and strong.  We can tell they've gotten bigger because most of the preemie clothes are too small now, though most of the newborn things still seem a little big.

Good news...we got the final pics from the photographer! If you want to see them all you can go to this website, and fill in the following information: 

Username: Therrien Triplets
Password: 7401

We are very happy with how they turned out!  The hard part now is figuring out which ones to buy and print!

Here are a few pics from the past few days
                   Isaiah making silly faces
       Avery bright eyed and NOT ready for sleeping
               Ellie rockin' the froggy hat!
Hangin' on the bed in various stages of the eating/changing process
Mommy desperately trying to settle/hold off three babies at once until we were ready for the next feeding

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fake it til you make it

Thursday night was a rockstar baby sleeping night that followed a kind of fussy evening. Thursday night the babies went over three hours between feedings, which combined with quick feedings meant Michelle and I got 2 hours of continuous sleep two or three times that night. 

Last night was a different story. Isaiah just had a really hard night which meant his mommies also had a really hard night.  He had a difficult time falling asleep on his own and when we helped him (pacifier, patting, shushing, etc) he'd fall asleep and then wake up screaming within five minutes. We took turns soothing him and you'd swear he was asleep for good and then bam! He'd be crying again. This made for a long night and some crabby sleep-deprived mamas. 

Somewhere around 4 or 5am I went out to the couch on hopes that if I slept better out there for an hour or so I'd be able to function in the morning and let Michelle sleep. Only problem was I didn't sleep well at all on the couch.  Michelle eventually brought Isaiah into bed with her and then he finally slept. But we're still a little nervous about having babies in the bed so we don't sleep as well then. So we both slept a little but not well for the 5-7a.m. stretch.  My dad got up and took over baby soothing duty after the 7am feeding so we both got to sleep then for a bit, thankfully.

This afternoon we got everyone dressed in cute outfits and we got dressed in "real clothes."  Michelle and I have done this "fake it til you make it" strategy before when we didn't get enough sleep, usually taking a nice hot shower and wearing nicer clothes than usual to work to try to trick our bodies into thinking we feel great, so we thought we'd extend it to the babies today. :) They all got changed into cute new Bummis diaper covers today too, as you can see in the pics below!  After we all got dressed we went for a 15 minute walk outside showing my parents around the property a bit.  That was our big event for today and it was nice to at least pretend for a bit that we weren't running on fumes.

It's 7:30 and Michelle and I are in bed to rest a bit before feeding babies somewhere around 8 or 8:30.  I know I should be tired but I'm not, so lucky for you that means another blog post with adorable baby photos! Here's hoping everyone has a better night tonight!!  I guess I should at least close my eyes for a bit!

            My favorite pic of the day

      You'd think they hadn't just eaten!!

            Our cute outfits for today 

    Getting sleepy!!! Let's hope this sleepiness continues tonight!!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Random and not-so-random acts of kindness

Michelle and I are continually amazed by the generosity of the community that our children have been born into.  Our families have been so giving of their time and energy, coming to stay with us to help keep us afloat during this first month.  Denise was beyond helpful when she was here during the hospital stay and during our first couple of days at home, making sure we had food and took naps and that all the babies were getting attention when they were split up in the NICU.  Then Auntie Jess swooped into town and became a cloth diaper convert while she was here.  Jess ran a zillion errands and showered each of the babies with love.  Now my mom and dad are here and they each have their specialties.  My mom, Rae, is our laundry goddess;  she came up with a tracking system to make sure the new cloth diapers went through the wash-dry cycle the requisite five times before getting put into the rotation and has probably washed, dried, folded, and put away five loads of baby laundry in the few days she's been here. (three babies who've recently started spitting up more go through a lot of outfits, burp cloths, and linens!)  Mom is also doing a lot of cooking to make sure we have yummy food to eat.  My dad Mark's specialty is house projects.  He is the king of beautifying spaces, both indoor and out.  So he has already made multiple trips to Home Depot getting supplies.  He's currently washing the windows and screens so we can take advantage of the nice views we have on this wooded lot.  He also got rid of all the dead plant life in the garden closest to the house and swept all the leaves off the deck.  Dad is also going to spray all around the exterior of the house for spiders.  I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, but in the past week we've had five yucky spiders in our bedroom.  We have a lot of spiders here all the time, but these were the nasty kind with big fat bodies. =(  And worst of all, two of them were in our bed and bit each of us!  Soooo creepy.  The bites were no big deal, thankfully, but still, it's totally creepy and I don't like to think about one of the babies getting bitten.  So hopefully this spray will help with our spider problem.

Our local community, both friends and strangers, have also been great.  Friends have brought meals and run errands for us and many more have offered.  (We will take you all up on those offers, particularly once our family leaves us to fend for ourselves!)  Fran made the best Trader Joes run ever yesterday. =)  I texted her a list that included dark chocolate covered almonds and peanut butter granola bars, having no idea that TJs had so many variations of those two things until she brought us one of each!  Speaking of Trader Joes, I've been meaning to tell you about Barb, our favorite Trader Joes employee.  I think I mentioned this before, but a couple months ago, when Michelle was around 28 weeks (and looking like she was full term), she checked us out and when she learned we were having triplets she was flabbergasted and I think a little overwhelmed for us and handed us a bouquet saying "you'll be too busy to appreciate these when the babies come! Congratulations!" =)  So the other day, on the way home from the pediatrician we stopped by Trader Joes quickly to grab a couple of necessities (read...bacon & dark chocolate sea salt almonds!).  I ran in while Michelle stayed in the car with the babies.  As I was choosing my checkout lane I saw Barb and intentionally went to her lane so I could show her pictures of the babies.  She was so excited when she saw me and said she knew the babies had been born because someone in her lane was talking about us the other day. (Not too many other lesbian couples in State College having triplets so she figured it had to be us!)  I showed her pictures, but also told her if she could sneak out she could peek in at the babies in the car.  She told the guy behind me in line to hold on a sec' and hustled over to the flower display again for another celebratory bouquet. Then she ran back to check him out, all the while looking for a coworker to take over for her.  As soon as she spotted someone she got them to cover saying she had to help a customer out to the car so she could run out for a quick peek.  ;)

We've also been getting packages almost daily from friends of ours from all over and friends of our parents!  We've gotten a bunch of Trader Joes gift cards, which is great since it's our favorite grocery store and definitely helps with the dwindling finances.   In fact, today we got a card in the mail with a Trader Joes gift card from the family of an adorable little boy that I worked with when he was in preschool in St. Louis!  Talk about delayed karma!  What a nice surprise that was.  We've also gotten some packages of late night healthy (Lara bars) and not so healthy (mmmm...Theo chocolate!!) snacks. And of course we've also gotten some cute outfits that I'm sure people just couldn't resist, because let's face it, everyone likes to shop for baby clothes! 

It's also been fun to hear from people who are reading and sharing our blog with others.  My great aunt Nancy's coffee and book club in Illinois has been loyally following our blog, which I think is hilarious and totally awesome.  My mom's hula sisters, lunch group, book club, and college roommates are all avid readers, along with my parents' friends in Wisconsin and Hawaii and current and former coworkers.  Michelle's mom's friends, including her best friend from high school, and her stitch group have also been following along.  The blog has had almost 45,000 page views to date!  We had no idea that our little journey would catch so many people's attention.  I just thought this would be a nice record for our kiddos and a resource for other triplet families!  But it's fun to see the readership grow and to share our story with all of you.

We're trying to keep up with thank you notes, but if yours somehow get lost in the shuffle, please know that we still appreciate each and every gift, favor, errand run, and meal delivered.  Here's a cute picture of each of the babies as a temporary thank you! =)


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A behind the scenes look and sneak peek

After a lot of searching we selected J & A photography in Pleasant Gap to take the triple threat's photos.  He has a nice little studio and keeps it nice and cozy warm for naked babies.  We're at the photo shoot now and it is amazing!
Joel, the photographer sent an information packet ahead of time telling us what to expect and what to bring with us. He said to expect a lot of downtime because often a lot if time is spent trying to get the babies to fall asleep.  He also said to bring a lot of diapers and wipes and extra clothes for us because they spend a lot of time naked, and as you can imagine, that's risky business!!
We've now been here for just over half an hour and I can already tell it is worth the money. We haven't splurged on many things for these babies, getting most things used or handed down, so it's nice to feel good about it when you do!  Joel is amazing! He does such an incredible job handling the babies, posing them, and soothing them along the way! My dad called him the baby whisperer. And Michelle said we need to get him to come help at home!!  
I already can't wait to post the final photos here on the blog for all of you! They are going to be amazing and adorable.  It has been super cool to watch Joel pose the babies just so, getting great individual shots as well as group shots.  The group poses are incredible to watch; the way he gets one baby settled, then adds the second while trying to keep the first relaxed!  He said he's done photos with quite a few twins but we are his first triplets and watching him I could see how adding the third baby increased the difficulty exponentially!  Despite Joel's best efforts, the babies sometimes had other ideas as you can see from a few of the "process" pics and videos. These glimpses behind the scenes should help you truly appreciate the skill involved in getting the final shots.  Here's a quick video of one if the group shots!
Joel said we could expect the finished products in a couple weeks so stay tuned...
Where am I?!?

Joel posing babies

Another cute sneak peek

Grainy, but adorable

Babies in the star bunting from my dad


More cute baby bums
The big picture 

I think Rumparooz should use this as an advertisement!

Leave it to the professionals

We've been talking about getting newborn photos taken of our little trio since before they were born and researched a bunch of local photographers online a while ago.   We really like a lot of the newborn photos we've seen online and since these will be our only kiddos we thought "why not?"  But, it is a little pricey so we considered a couple of alternatives first.  We thought about trying a department store photo studio first and if they didn't turn out the way we wanted, then we could always go with the pros. We got some coupons for cheap sessions at JCPenney and Sears from the hospital, but our local JCPenney doesn't have a portrait studio and ALL Sears portrait studios have been closed nationwide, so that option was out.

I'm no photographer, but I do like to play around with the camera sometimes so I thought maybe I'd try a mini photo shoot at home this past weekend while Auntie Jess was visiting. I had a good time, but let's just say, some things are better left to the professionals!  We did get some good laughs out of it and a couple of decent shots, but knew it was time to schedule the "real" photo shoot...

Here are a few shots from our photo shoot at home :)  Next post will be all about the actual photo shoot today!

 Behind the scenes look at our home photo shoot =)
 I'm kind of obsessed with babies in baskets =)
 Isn't she cute??
Our little pumpkins

Proud big brother wanted in on the photo shoot

And he really wanted a "brother picture"

 Yeah...definitely should leave these baby stacking photos to the professionals!!!  Ellie may, or may not, have rolled off of Isaiah at one point! ;)

Fall baby bums

Relaxed miss Avery

Love this one!
More baby in a basket


Aw mom!  Really?! Haven't you had enough??

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Aloha Grandma & Grandpa!!

My parents, Grandma Rae and Grandpa Mark, arrived today!  It was fun to introduce them to our little trio!

Grandma & Avery in their coordinated outfits
Grandpa getting to know Isaiah
Their first swaddle free nap experiment

Grandma Rae & Grandpa Mark got their lessons in cloth diapering and swaddling this afternoon and both did an admirable job! Mom's been helping wash and dry the extra two dozen prefold cloth diapers that came today so that they're ready to add to the rotation. They also got the lesson in prepping and cleaning supplement stuff so that's all set for tonight. Here's hoping for at least one two hour block of sleep!

Monday, October 21, 2013

To sleep or not to sleep

Today was really a good day overall. We may regret it tonight because our good day meant we didn't sleep as much during the day as we usually do.  It's a tough call sometimes whether to sleep or not.  Sometimes it feels worth it to break out of the routine a bit.  Today we left the bedroom more than usual and actually hung out in the living room for a couple of hours with the babies. The kiddos hung out on their activity gym from great grandma Stephen for the first time. They didn't much notice how cool it is, but some day they will! :)

It was such a beautiful fall day here in central PA! I couldn't stand the idea of spending the whole day inside so I convinced Michelle to sacrifice a little more sleep to take a short walk. We don't have a stroller that works for newborns (ours don't recline enough) so in order to make this happen we had to do a little more experimenting with baby wearing. It wasn't perfect, but it worked.
We did the twin cradle in the baby K-tan that we bought and did the newborn tummy to tummy carry in a ring sling. Both could use some fine tuning, but it was good enough for our 15 minute walk.

Unfortunately Michelle has been having a lot of mid back pain that is exacerbated when carrying babies so we couldn't go very far. This back pain seems to be more and more of a problem so we really need to find some relief for her.  Plan is to call our GP again tomorrow morning because his is a D.O.and will do some adjustments. She didn't get relief from her visit last week, but will try again and if still no luck then ask for a referral.  Her back hurts not only when she's carrying babies, but also when she's changing diapers, nursing (sometimes), and generally not laying down, so this is obviously something we need to get fixed ASAP.  She had some of this same pain during pregnancy, but not this bad and not this often.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A day in the life

When people hear that we have triplets, often one of the first comments is "I don't know how you do it!"  So I wanted to write this post to give you a better idea of what our typical day looks like right now and just 'how we do it!'  As I've mentioned before we read a lot of triplet blogs during the pregnancy and honestly, not very many people keep up the detailed posts after the babies are born. It is mostly just pictures, which I completely understand! (And obviously, I know that's why most of you keep looking at the blog!). But as we prepared for our trio's arrival, I found myself searching for the details and wanting to ask each family "No, really, how do you do it?!"  So this post will give our family and friends some idea what our days are like, but most importantly, for any families who are expecting, or just had triplets, this post is for you!

In thinking about writing this post I had a hard time figuring out where to start "the day!"  Our days don't exactly start at 6, 7, or 8a.m. but it seemed weird to start at midnight too!  So I decided to start with a normal person's morning and go from there.

•5am-Both M&M feed babies 
•5:30-One of us feeds baby #3 while the other starts changing diapers. (If we have a helper for this one, Michelle usually sends me to bed so I get an extra bit of sleep because the late night/early mornings are the hardest times for me.)
•6:00-Swaddle and soothe babies and put them down to sleep
•6:15-M&M pump to maintain milk supply and get milk for next feeding's supplements
•6:30-Wash pump parts and supplement contraption, prep supplements for the next feeding, & take any extra milk to the fridge
•6:45/7ish-M&M eat a snack & lay back down to catch an hour or so of sleep before starting all over
•8ish-Babies start stirring again and we start the feed, change, swaddle, pump, clean/prep cycle all over again (We often have a helper for this cycle so it tends to go a little faster...sometimes done in an hour!) 
•9/9:30ish-M&M eat a quick breakfast and either lay down for another snooze or take a shower or do one small productive task like put in a load of diaper laundry, tidy up the zoo of a bedroom, or do dishes
•11ish-Babies start stirring and repeat. This cycle is either followed by a nap or lunch or breakfast if we prioritized sleep the previous cycle!
•2ish-Samesies-almost always followed by a nap-particularly for Michelle whose hardest time is the afternoon.
•5ish-Surprise surprise...we do it all over again!  Mari might start this one solo to give Michelle an extra half hour of sleep or might do it all alone with a helper handling the diapers and prep
•6:30ish-M&M eat dinner--generally something a helper prepared for us or that we heat up from the freezer.  Prep night time nursing snacks and bring them to the bedroom.
•7ish-M&M lay down for a short snooze before the 8pm cycle. Or, if we're not feeling sleepy we might actually hang out with each other, check in, & talk over our plans, if any, for the next day.
•8pm-Hungry hungry hippos are ready to eat again (did I say hippos?!  I meant babies, of course!) and the feed/change/swaddle/pump/clean cycle repeats. We try to do this one quickly and with as little light as possible, trying to help them get the idea of night time = sleep time.  So far it doesn't seem to be helping and they are just as likely to be wide eyed after this feeding as any other.  Hope often watches the babies during this time, soothing them if they stir, so we can both get a nice solid uninterrupted hour or two of sleep going into the night.  
•11pm-Repeat. Same as 8pm with low light and as quickly as we can manage.
•2am-Here we go again...This is the hardest one for me and Michelle has had to wake me up for this feeding some nights! Half the time I feel like I'm sleep walking and struggling to stay awake while nursing. Sometimes I have to stand up and move around the room to keep myself alert and functional.

Whenever we have help, one or both of us tries to go sleep in the guest room so that we aren't disturbed by the little stirrings/rumblings/cries of one or more babies as they cycle through lighter periods of sleep.  The above schedule is like a rough draft. We are not hard core about the clock and the babies really lead the way. Oftentimes our lovely 3hour cycle is shortened to 2.5 hours because of hungry tummies.  And occasionally, they'll stretch it to 3.5 hours! This has only happened a handful of times, and of course, only once at night. We will be so happy if/when we can get the 3.5 hour cycle happening at night on a regular basis. It's amazing how different that extra half hour of sleep can make you feel!

Now that we have a fairly good handle on the above routine, we now have to figure out how to manage all of this plus getting Michelle back to doing school work and me slowly going back to work. I'm starting with three visits this week, and all of them are local State College kiddos so I shouldn't have to miss a feeding just yet.  We'll see how this goes! The thought is a little overwhelming, but we know it has to happen eventually because my paid time off will be gone after this week, or partway through next week I think.  And we can't pay the bills without me working at least part time...

Hard to leave these cuties even for an hour though!

What time is it?! It's Tummy Time!!

Those of you who know what I do for a living will not be surprised by this post in the least!  My mission over the past few days has been to start building tummy time into our routines a little at a time.  All the kiddos spent some time on their tummies in the NICU, including sleeping on their tummies. (which they can do safely because they're attached to all the monitors)  Tummy time didn't even cross our minds during our first week home, but now that we're getting our feet under us at home, I figured it was time. So periodically over the past couple days we've been sneaking in some tummy time while they're awake either just before it a little while after eating.
Sometimes tummy time leads to sleepy time!  Right Isaiah?
And sometimes it is better with a buddy and a little boost from a rolled up burp cloth
Tummy time gives you a different view of the world, doesn't it Ellie?
And sometimes it's just a nice place to hang out during the feeding line up

And sometimes Mommy pulls double duty and gets sneaky by getting us on our tummies on top of her body! (Avery is on her tummy on my chest and Ellie's doing tummy time on my lap)

Because they were born at 34 weeks, we can have them evaluated to see if they qualify for early intervention services. About 80% of my caseload at work consists of early intervention kiddos (birth to three) including a lot of preemies. Most of the time preemies qualify for PT services because their motor skills are naturally a little behind, since they weren't even supposed to be born yet! (And let's be honest, gravity is a bitch!) Since the goal of early intervention is to help families incorporate therapeutic activities into their daily routines, I don't know that we will even take PT services if they qualify, but figured it would be good to have the comprehensive evaluation done anyway to make sure we aren't missing anything.  So I made the referral yesterday and requested a specific evaluator, who I know has great experience with preemies.  We'll let you know how that goes!