Friday, November 29, 2013

Sleep deprivation side effects

Yesterday as we were eating lunch (at 3pm!) Michelle and I were recounting some funny night time stories and crying because we were laughing so hard. I decided that chronic sleep deprivation must be like a mildly hallucinogenic drug! I thought you guys might enjoy hearing about our nighttime nonsense too.

We'll start with my ridiculousness. I am definitely the better sleeper between the two of us and I estimate I get an extra half hour to hour of sleep each night because I fall asleep faster and probably sleep through some light crying. But because I'm a good sleeper on also a wreck when being woken from a deep sleep. I have a very long history of sleep walking and talking. (just ask my parents, whose big vase I once tried to pee in!) Anyway, I guess a few weeks ago Michelle wanted me to get up and check on a baby who was stirring.  She tried just asking, no luck, then tried lightly shaking, still no luck. I wasn't responding to her, but she could see that I was doing something with my pillow. Instinctually she guessed that I was dreaming and thinking the pillow was a baby (this may or may not have happened before!), so she came over to my side of the bed and asked me what I was doing. I said, "I'm trying to get her off!" (as in unlatched-apparently dreaming that I was nursing a baby).  She then told me that all the babies were in their cribs and then patted the pillow hard and I jumped about a foot thinking she was about to knock a baby off the bed.  On other occasions Michelle has had to really raise her voice to snap me out of one of my deep sleep cycles. Last week she said "Mari, you're not listening to me" in her best stern teacher voice. :)  To top it off I don't remember any of this so Michelle has to fill me in the next morning,

Michelle has always had more trouble sleeping than me, but now that she has the hormonal "super mommy" hearing, it's even worse!  She wakes up at the slightest whimper even when we don't have the monitor on. And sometimes she wakes up to nothing but thinks it's something!  Like the other night when she sat up and turned on a light to get ready for nursing and woke me up saying "it's time." So I roused myself from sleep and then we both sat there for a few minutes and didn't hear even the slightest peep from the babies. During those few minutes Michelle woke up more and realized she'd been dreaming because she thought we'd already fed one and were on to the next baby.  We checked our phones and it really wasn't time and everyone appeared to be fast asleep, except us of course!

Now that I'm writing these anecdotes, I don't even feel like they're that funny, so maybe sleep deprivation also shares some properties with laughing gas!?! 

"Oh moms, you're so silly!"

"Whew, glad I didn't actually get knocked off the bed!"

"Mommy, did you really pee in a vase when you were little?"

Thursday, November 28, 2013

So Thankful

This Thanksgiving we have a whole lot to be thankful for! Last year on Thanksgiving we did the embryo transfer for our first round of IVF. We celebrated with a nice Mexican dinner and were feeling very hopeful and positive. That first cycle obviously didn't work, but the second one sure did!  We have so much to be thankful for this year, starting, of course with our three little munchkins.  We've been seeing picures today of babies who are celebrating their one year birthday today and have a hard time believing our wee little ones will be that big this time next year.  (On the plus side though, they will be sleeping more by then!!)

I'm incredibly grateful for my amazingly strong an beautiful wife and the wonderful, loving relationship we have created.  If anything can test a relationship it is constant sleep deprivation and three crying babies, but I am happy to report that we are weathering this storm well.  Now that's not to say that it is easy or that we don't each get beaten down at various times.  But we are such a good team that if one of us needs to have a mini breakdown, the other person somehow finds the inner reserves to be the strong one in that moment. (even though we might also be on the verge of losing it!)  Through all the feeding, pumping, changing, soothing routines of the day Michelle still does the little things to let me know she loves me.

We are also thankful for our "village."  We honestly can't imagine doing this without all the family (and friend) support we have had over these first couple of months.  Having the extra sets of hands to hold and soothe or change babies has, I'm quite certain, preserved our sanity more than once.  Not to mention all the "non-baby" support like making meals, doing laundry, and cleaning that they have all done.  Our little trio won't remember these days, but we certainly will and we will be forever grateful for your time and energy.  We are also thankful for the support of our friends and family near and far who have chipped in with giftcards, treats, and meals to help us make it through these sleep deprived days and nights.  Michelle and I are continually amazed by the generosity of this community here in State College and so appreciate all the "baby stuff" that people have given or loaned us to help us care for these babies.  And we promise continued appreciation all year long for al the local (and non-local!) folks that we hope will continue to come hold babies or bring meals over the coming months!!

I'm thankful that I have a job that I love and that both my boss and the families I work with are so understanding and flexible.  I love the work that I do, working with families to help their children learn to move and play, and I enjoy celebrating new milestone with them.  I'm so grateful to all the families of preemies who have been great resources for us to draw on as we prepared to welcome our little trio into the world, knowing that a NICU stay was almost guaranteed.  And I feel lucky to still be in touch with so many families I've worked with over the years, not to mention the amazing people I have worked with over the years.  I feel confident speaking for Michelle, that she is also grateful for the people in her PhD program, both fellow students turned friends and professors, for being so supportive and flexible this semester as she tries to juggle raising three babies with schoolwork.

I could go on and on, but I'll spare you and move on to what you've all been waiting for...the adorable Thanksgiving photos! =)   The group shots have the kiddos modeling their matching turkey onesies made by Auntie Jess.
Avery sporting the turkey day onesie from Grandma Stephen

Ellie the turkey butt and her siblings

Are these the cutest Thanksgiving onesies or what?

gobble gobble gobble

shake your tail feather

thanks for the cute outfits Auntie Jess!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Assorted pictures from the past couple weeks

Ellie showing off her new hat from my cousin Kim
A gorgeous sunset view from our house
Got out for a quick hike with Dad & Kate
Avery rockin' the jeggings
Mom & her daughters & granddaughters (& grandson)
sisters who are getting chubby cheeks

another cute sister pic right after a bath
(which is why Ellie's hair looks so tame!)
"uh, guys?!?  where'd you go?"

"there you are Auntie Jess!"

Isaiah and Grandma Stephen matching in green

Isaiah modeling the double swaddle with his coordinated monkey attire

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Playtime & bedtime

I've been wanting to write a post for a few days now but it's hard to find the time!  That and I think the sleep deprivation is making it harder for me to string together coherent sentences around any one topic. Now that our babies are 7 weeks old they're starting to have longer awake and alert periods. This is great, but also a little harder to manage. Before they'd eat, get changed, and get put back down. That still happens sometimes but at other times, mostly early morning and late afternoon/evening, they are pretty wide awake. It is fun that they're more awake because then we get to have some more playtime. They've been hitting toys that we hang near their hands (unintentional at this point, but still teaching the beginning of cause effect), trying to mouth soft rattles placed in their arms, and are starting to track rattles side to side. We're also getting in more tummy time both on the floor and on a boppy and they're doing more work lifting their heads up but it's still really hard.  The trickiest part about awake time is being able to keep a good eye out for those sleepy signals that tell us it's time for bed, especially since we might still be feeding the third baby! And even if we catch them, actually getting them swaddled and in bed at the right time might not happen because of the needs of another baby. Welcome to being a multiple kiddos.
Isaiah showing you everyone's favorite part of the elephant

Avery & the monkey
family story time
Speaking of sleepy babies... We've also started a bedtime routine. Since they still sleep after every feeding 'bedtime' is kind of an arbitrary thing that happens after the feeding that falls in the 6-7 o'clock hours. We've debated and sometimes waited until the next feeding though because the evening sure doesn't seem like sleepy time most nights. Our bedtime routine is short by design so we can be consistent, and involves a swaddle (like all sleeps right now), a story, and a song. Most nights they're just listening to the story, but occasionally someone will be alert and at least looking in the direction of the pictures. :)
Mommy reading to Ellie & Isaiah
Avery & Mama reading a Kate Endle book

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's been a "three fussy babies" kinda day...

So I got the idea for this post last week sometime, but it's never been more fitting than now.  As I mentioned in another post, everyone got three shots Thursday. We had them on Tylenol for the first 24 hours and we were pleasantly surprised by their reactions which seemed minimal. Well, starting around 2am Saturday night that assessment went out the window!

Oy! Being a mom is hard.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we had any illusions that we were going to have it easy.  And I  don’t think our expectations were too far off base, but still, being in the thick of it is hard.  I found this blog post, 10 True Things About the First Year of Parenthood last week and then someone posted it on my Facebook timeline and I think the author hit the nail on the proverbial head more than once.  In fact, I bookmarked the post on my phone so I can go back and re-read it periodically.  The blogger, Karyn Thurston, starts her list with 1You are going to suck at this parenting gig and be awesome at it at the same time, all the time.    This is sure is true.  Rationally, I know we're doing an awesome job, especially considering that we have not one, but three tiny humans depending on us. I mean they're all being fed, changed, and loved on daily which is awesome enough!  But there's nothing quite like a fussy baby (or three) to destroy your confidence in your ability to be a good parent! That feeling when you know they've been fed, have a dry diaper, and aren't in obvious pain but are still crying and you can't for the life of you figure out why or how to make it stop is pretty defeating.  We're sure hoping we can attribute the past 24 hours worth of inconsolable fussiness to the vaccines and that this isn't a "new normal" for us because if it is, I'm not sure we'll all survive. Saturday night around 4am I camped out on the floor of the nursery so Michelle could get a little sleep because Avery was inconsolable and Isaiah was also having trouble giving in to the idea of sleep. So I had Isaiah in the Rock-n-play and tried putting  Avery in the vibrating bouncy seat, but Avery wasn't having it.  I ended up with Avery in my arms and a foot keeping Isaiah rocking slightly.  Eventually we all fell asleep for an hour or so until the next feeding time. 
The next point from the 10 True Things blog post that hit home was her fourth one: "4. We have got to stop telling people that things should be easy and painless. We live in a culture that equates ease with value -- the easier it is, the better it is; if it hurts you, something is wrong. Reality check: sometimes things that are hard and painful are also really, really good."  I'm not even going to pretend that there is anything about raising triplets that is easy and few things are painless, but it is still pretty great.  There was nothing painless or easy about crashing on the nursery floor Saturday night though honestly, I can't really say there was anything good about it either, except maybe Michelle getting an hour of sleep!  But there are painful moments when you can see the good through the pain, like knowing even through those painful tiny mouth latches we sometimes get from the girls that it's amazing that our bodies are providing all the nourishment they need right now.  And those fleeting moments of eye contact, the new baby smell of their heads as we snuggle, and the sleepy smiles all go a long ways towards reminding us of the value in all the hard stuff we're slogging through.
And the last, and probably most important, point I think Karyn made in her 10 True Things blog, was number eight. "8. The most important thing to get for your baby is not a Rock n' Play, nor a good set of swaddling blankets, nor a high-end stroller. The most important thing to get for your baby is a village.  Your village will keep you afloat."  Our village is most definitely keeping us afloat.  I don't even want to think about where we'd be without our village.  Just today Fran dropped off another bag of Trader Joes goodies and some soup and then played outside with Humphrey.  And tonight Michelle's mom, Denise, is really saving us by volunteering to take on "monitor duty," going in to soothe babies between feedings so we can maximize our sleep and hopefully recover from the previous night and day.  The gazillion loads of laundry Hope and others have done are key to keeping things running around here; I bet Hope can't even count the number of diapers she has folded in the last six weeks!  Sure, there are some naps when I think the Rock-n-Play and the swaddling blankets are clutch, but really they don't compare to the village.  So to all of you in our village, both those who have helped so far and those who will help over the coming months and those near and far, thank you...thank you for keeping afloat!  And please, keep the help coming.  We can't do this alone!!!
Here's hoping that this new level of fussiness is temporary and that the number of "three fussy babies at the same time" days are few and far between. So far tonight is going much better than last night which bodes well for tomorrow. (well, technically that's today. It's confusing when you're writing in the middle of the night!)  This picture seemed appropriate for this post!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

More visitors here to soak up all this cuteness

On Wednesday night my cousin Tara popped in for a quick over night visit on her drive from Massachusetts to Vegas. It's been a couple of years since we've gotten to see her, so it was great even though it was such a short visit.  Tara gave a lot of love to Humphrey, even inviting him up cuddle in bed with her for a bit.  We didn't manage to get any pictures of Tara with the babies because they were sleeping on the morning & we didn't want to wake them.  But we did get a couple of other cute pics.
Tara & her buddy Humphrey
Tara left Thursday morning and most likely passed Auntie Jess somewhere on the highway between here and Chicago. This was a quick visit for Jess but nice for her to be able to notice differences from the last time she was here, when they were two weeks old!  Jess got to give Avery a bath. Avery decided maybe this bath things isn't sooo bad after all.  Last time Jess was here we failed to get a picture of her with all three babies so we made sure to get that done before our big outing to walk around downtown.

don't know why this one won't turn, but too cute not to include
Auntie Jess with the trio right before our walk
Here are the babies sporting the booty & hat sets from one of Denise's friends.  I need to post a then and now pic of Avery wearing this hat so you can see how much she's grown! We've been wanting to take this pic for a while and figured we better do it while they still fit!  You can see how Isaiah really felt about this photo shoot in the second picture!
Here's a pic from our outing to walk around downtown State College on Saturday, which was a beautiful day!  So far we've been able to get out of the house about once a week for non-doctor visit outings, which I think isn't too shabby for having three 6 week old babies.  Let's hope we can keep this up once the weather gets worse.
I loved the twin carrier!  worked great for the girls!

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Friday, November 15, 2013

You want something to cry about?!

Yesterday was the babies 6 week check up and weight check.  It was also their first round of shots. :(   Wednesday night was a rough one so everyone (moms included) was a little cranky yesterday. On top of the baseline crankiness we got to add poor timing because the appointment was scheduled at a feeding time.  So just the usual strip down for weight and doctor check was met with a lot more crying and fussing than usual. At one point, while we waited for the doctor, we had to do a baby shuffle because I had both girls and Avery was super fussy and couldn't keep her pacifier in. So, using the examining table as a loading zone (it's not easy to transfer babies when you're holding two!) we traded so Michelle could keep Avery's pacifier in with her free hand. Knowing they we're going to get shots, at one point Michelle told Avery "just wait, pretty soon you're really gonna have something to cry about!"  I repeated that "something to cry about" phrase a couple times to various crying babies during that appointment!

Their check up went very well and Dr. Brink is very pleased with how they are doing.  All continue to gain weight which is great. After the last visit, when Ellie's weight gain had fallen off the curve a bit, we were worried about her so we paid her some extra attention at feedings, making sure she got a lot of hind milk (the fattier cream-like milk) and went back to giving her supplements if she had a bad feed.  All that extra focus paid off because Ellie was the biggest gainer, going from 5 lbs. 6 oz. all the way to 6 lbs. 10 oz!!  Avery has regained the littlest peanut status of the family, weighing 6 lbs. 4 oz. and Isaiah, of course, is still the biggest at 7 lbs. 3 oz. It makes sense now that Isaiah's starting to outgrow some of the newborn clothes.

After their check up with the doctor, it was time for the nurse to come back and give the dreaded shots. They each got three shots yesterday; Synagis, which is an RSV vaccine that they qualify for because they're preemies, a T-Dap, and a pneumonia and meningitis vaccine.   The whole shots experience was pretty rough on all five of us! We have never seen these babies cry the way they cried when they got the shots. Even with all the procedures in the NICU, they never cried like that. But that may have been just because they were so little and just didn't have that big of a cry then.  I don't know.  They all turned beet red and let out quite the wail complete with real tears.  I was able to 'boobify' (ie pacify with the breast) each of them right after which settled them right down, but still it's no fun to see your babies cry like that.

Oh, one other exciting thing happened at the doctor visit yesterday besides the great weight gain!  While Dr. Brink was checking out Avery I had Isaiah and Ellie on the examining table and they were both getting a little fussy, so I rolled them over on their tummies just to mix it up a little bit. Well Isaiah pushed right up on his elbows apparently trying to show off and then tried to roll over. On his first attempt to got to his side and then rolled back over to his tummy, but the second time  he got it! So Isaiah's first time rolling belly to back happened at the doctors office. Talk about proud mommies! 

Here are a couple of recent cute pics:

 two thirds pics

(oooh boy does she hate it when her thumb jumps out of her mouth!)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Happy Due Date Babies!

Today is 11-12-13 and was the original due date we were given for the triplets. It's a long story, but eventually their due date was officially changed to 11-13-13, but we're sticking with the original just for the cool factor. Obviously there wasn't a chance we'd make it to this due date, but wouldn't it have been awesome!?  I hope all the babies being born today appreciate just how lucky they are!  Instead of being born today, our babies are almost 6 weeks old!  Now that they've passed their due date they can officially be compared to newborns.  So what a term baby does at 2 weeks old, our babies should be doing at 8 weeks.  Their "adjusted age" is calculated by taking their actual age minus 6 weeks, since they were born six weeks early.  They get this free pass until they are two, at which point, they should be caught up.  As a PT I can tell you that is usually the case in that they can usually do what most typical two year olds can, though sometimes there is a lingering quality difference (in my experience anyway).  This adjusted age will come into play next week when they get evaluated for early intervention services. Okay, babies are stirring so gotta wrap this up!

Here are a few pics to celebrate their "coulda been" due date!

Some highlights from Grandma Rae & Grandpa Mark's visit

I'm not ready to say goodbye, but my mom and dad have to head home today.  Their help over the past three weeks has been incredible and it makes me nervous that they are leaving!  Anyone that knows my dad will not be surprised to hear that he has been an energizer bunny style worker.  He has attacked our overgrown yard with a vengeance.  I soooo wish we had taken before and after photos, but we did get a few pictures of the great work he did in the yard.  It is going to make it so much more manageable for me to maintain next spring and summer.  In addition to all the work outside Dad also deep cleaned our house including cleaning baseboards, using a magic eraser on the walls, washing windows and screens, etc!
the view from our carport just before dusk after clearing out

clearing out the brush-filled dog run for Humphrey

this was completely overgrown and hidden
the pretty rock garden uncovered
He also power washed all our strollers and outdoor toys, braving the chilly weather shirtless
Mom has been the queen of the laundry and has been in charge of keeping us fed!  I can't even count how many loads of laundry she has done and the number of diapers she has folded!  Whenever e couldn't find Mom, it was a good bet that she was in the basement switching laundry!  They've also made sure we were well fed and not yet dipping into our freezer stash of food.  Mom has also helped manage the milk stash making sure that the milk is getting frozen every day.
We're going to run out of space in the freezer soon at this rate!

Mom's system for line drying diaper covers

one load of diapers and cloth wipes
2-3 days worth of sleepers

And of course, in addition to all these "chores" they have also helped with a million diaper changes and lots of baby soothing and loving!

Humphrey making sure Grandma & Grandpa are doing a good job!
Mom enjoying Ellie

Mom's attempt to keep two babies quiet & finish her lunch while we slept
Dad trying to multi-task =)  *note his finger holding Ellie's pacifier in!

We are really going to miss having two sets of extra hands around to help with diapering, burping, and soothing babies!  But they're leaving us and our house in much better shape than they found them and we certainly appreciate that!  We're all looking forward to their next visit in May.  Hard to believe that they will be rolling and starting to sit up by then!