Friday, January 31, 2014

I need an off switch

Ugh! We're all up for the second night feeding time and I feel like a zombie. After the last feeding ended, a mere hour and a half ago, I laid in bed not sleeping for way too long. I just kep thinking and thinking. I was thinking about ideas for blog posts, about my upcoming day, and giving each passing thought some conscious time rather than letting them pass on by, which is what I should've been doing. I know that I eventually fell asleep because I woke up dreaming about running a 5k, but it wasn't enough sleep. This is why I need an off switch for my brain!

I'm thrilled that the babies are getting one longer chunk of sleep these days, but I wish it wasn't from 8:30-2ish. Because after that first long chunk we're lucky if subsequent sleeps are three hours. (Tonight it was 2 hours & 10 minutes.) Michelle and I just need to go to sleep earlier so we get to appreciate that long sleep more, but it's hard. Tonight we were in bed, lights out by 9:39/9:45, but that means we missed an hour of baby sleeping time. And while the little man, AKA our clock, slept just over two hours this last cycle, his moms only get to sneak in an hour and a half because when he's done eating, one of his sisters still needs to eat & we still pump after that feeding. :(

This week, as we continue trying to figure out how I can work more and Michelle can find enough time for schoolwork, we've experimented with getting up for the day after this feeding (sometime between 5 & 6 a.m.).  On the days when we manage this feat and don't crawl back under the covers, Michelle gets a nice quiet hour plus to do homework and I usually make breakfast, get coffee brewing & get myself ready for work.  But making that choice, especially on days (nights) like this, feels impossible sometimes...

Wednesday's breakfast-Brussels sprouts & pancetta hash with an over easy egg & grapefruit. Somehow this kind of fancy breakfast made the tough choice to get up seem much better.  But still doesn't make getting out of bed easy!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

When reality TV & a game show meet

Sometimes that's what our life feels like these days. The idea for this post came to me in the kitchen the other day as I was rushing around like a mad woman trying to whip up some dinner before time was up, i.e., the babies woke up. I felt a bit like Top Chef or some food network show where contestants have 20 minutes to make an elaborate meal!  

The other afternoon I had a similar feeling as I tried to make a kale salad for dinner later. Only in this version of the game show, random distraction tasks kept being thrown at the contestants as they tried to cook--let the dog out, now run to the basement to switch diaper laundry, let the dog back in, go soothe a crying baby,  back to cooking. Oh wait, rush back to get crying baby before that baby wakes the other two. Try to finish whipping up dressing while bouncing crying baby in one arm before the other two wake up to eat!  Uh oh, time's up! :) I managed to get all the pieces done but didn't get to "plate" my kale with wild rice, roasted squash, feta, & pomegranate salad, but heck, we couldn't eat until after feeding babies anyway, so that could wait!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Parenting tips for triplets (or anyone really)

We certainly don't claim to be parenting experts (far from it!), but here are a few things I've been thinking about lately that I think are good tips for parents of multiples.  Really, they probably apply to all parents of newborns, but to the Nth degree for parents of multiples!

1. Get comfortable with crying. Face it, crying happens. And when you have three babies, sometimes there's no way around it.  Waiting is hard whether it's waiting to be picked up or waiting to eat and since newborns can't be rationalized with, they're going to cry. Unless you're an octopus with incredible multitasking skills, sometimes you just can't make everyone happy at the same time!  And in those moments where the crying is getting to you and making you feel a good dose of mommy guilt, just remember that kids are resilient and as long as they are safe, a little crying is really okay and will not do irreparable harm! And sometimes we all just need a good cry don't we? (And yes, that applies to mommies too!)

2. Chocolate & wine! (Or whatever your favorite treat is) Do NOT run out of these things!  We've found that just a small glass of wine &/or bit of chocolate to be a necessity some evenings to help settle frayed nerves after a couple of "bad naps." If you have triplets and have to ask "what's a bad nap?" You should be very thankful & pray that your luck holds out. (I know that for some moms chocolate seems to have a noticeable affect on the babies & I'm so thankful that doesn't seem to be the case for us!)

3. Pandora or your favorite tunes that you can turn on to help drown out the crying (see #2) when you can just tell they need a few minutes to "work it out" before any settling techniques will be effective. Others have recommended ear plugs, which I'm sure works too. But I think there's an added therapeutic bonus to belting out your favorite tunes. Playing your favorite music also provides a nice opportunity for impromptu dance parties in the kitchen with your spouse. :) (Try it! You'll be glad you did!)

4. Indulge in a long hot shower. When inevitably you find yourself debating what's more important, ten extra minutes of sleep or a shower, choose the shower. I don't think I've ever regretted that choice. A nice hot shower is rejuvenating and, at least in our experience, really helps when the sleep deprivation is getting to you.  

5. Set realistic expectations. This goes for both the babies and yourself! I'm not saying you shouldn't have goals, but expecting too much too soon will just leave you feeling sad/frustrated/hopeless when whatever it is doesn't happen. When you're caring for three babies there isn't a lot of extra time in the day, even when you have an extra set of hands!  On a "good nap" where all babies go down smoothly and sleep for an hour plus, you maybe have half an hour to get something accomplished. And likely, not all naps will be good so sometimes you might have just enough time to pee and grab a snack before it's time to start the next feeding/diapering/playtime/nap routine. So, sure, sometimes you can get a load of laundry in, make a quick meal, sweep the floors, or catch up on an email or two, but some days just one of those tasks might take you all day to actually finish. I think this is really important for spouses who aren't home all day to remember too!

I guess if you boil it down, what we've learned over these first few months is that being a mom is hard work and being a mom to three little babies at once is really hard work. It is important to remember that and give yourself credit for everything you are doing when the things you're not doing (dishes, cleaning, laundry, calling someone back, doing schoolwork, working out, etc) seem overwhelming. Do what you can do and remember to take little moments here and there to take care of yourself too! And soak up all the positive baby energy you can (smiles, cuddles, etc) to help you through the tough times!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Balding babies

Our babies are starting to resemble little old men, albeit cute little old men, because their hair is thinning so much on top!  It has happened so slowly over time that it's taken us a while to realize just how pronounced their receding hairlines have become. But on Friday, my first long day back to work, Michelle texted me a picture of Ellie and she looked practically bald on top! So I looked back at some old pictures and then the difference was more obvious.
first couple weeks

They all have a nice bald spot on the back if their heads too as you can see in these pictures! They turn their heads back and forth so much when laying on their backs that they've managed to rub all the hair off. 
Avery's bald spot 
Ellie's sticks out the most because of her dark hair

Isaiah's is less obvious, at least in this pic

Apparently when Michelle was a baby she rubbed off an entire strip of hair so she had the reverse of male pattern baldness with hair all over her head except in a strip from over one ear to the other. Michelle was also born with a head of dark hair and eventually lost it and ended up much blonder as a kiddo. Here are some pics of Michelle as a newborn. & older baby so you can see the difference: 
Newborn Michelle (who looks like Ellie in this pic)

Michelle's blonde hair

It will be interesting to see how long it takes our kiddos hair to change and if they'll all end up blonder than they are now.  I'll have to add some more pics of Michelle as a baby in another post so you can see how they compare to pics of our babies now.

At least we always have Hope

A long time ago I mentioned that we have a Penn State student living with us to help with the babies and then have periodically dropped her name, but I haven't really explained the situation. Hope is a junior at PSU majoring in education. She lives in our basement in exchange for about ten hours a week of helping out with the babies. I've been meaning to write a post about Hope for a while but it just hasn't happened so now it's time. With a two week visitor hiatus we have said more than once "at least we have Hope!"  (And yes, we do crack ourselves up saying that.)

Hope is an amazing person with an incredibly kind heart and fun loving personality. She is awesome with the babies and misses them when she's away from them too long. Hope is a rockstar with diapers and helping out with the never ending stream of laundry. She sings silly songs to the babies, reads them books, and is generally great with them.  Hope isn't a big dog person, but Humphrey has won her over and she'll take him out to play frisbee sometimes which is also a big help.  She now says "I'm not a dog person, I'm a Humprey person!" =)  And she has a funny relationship with Bailey.  She lets him snuggle with her in bed, but also likes to torment him just a little. =)  We've told her that's taking her life in her hands and she has gotten a couple of good scratches. (All deserved I have to say in Bailey's defense!)

Hope & a surprised looking Ellie
I met Hope when I was helping coach the PSU women's rugby team. Not only is Hope a good student but she's an incredible athlete who at just 21 years old, is on the short list to represent the US on the Women's National Team at the Rugby World Cup this summer in France.
Two PSU girls showing off their USA jerseys
(Hope is on the right)

The only bad thing is that Hope is such a superstar that she's going to be traveling a lot for rugby this summer so we are going to need more baby coverage. But we are already working on getting someone else in to help with the babies because Hope's school schedule is packed Monday and Wednesday and starting in February she has student teaching on Tuesday & Thursday.  Since I can't just work Monday mornings and all day Friday, we're going to have to hire someone else to help with the babies. We are always thankful to have Hope around though because she'll happily snuggle with a crabby baby even when she's not officially "on baby duty."  It's going to be tough to find someone we're as comfortable with as Hope!

Michelle also started spring semester classes this week and has two three hour classes so we will need help then too.  We are lucky that Hope is home more until student teaching starts so we have a little time to find the right person.  We are using the next couple of weeks to figure out how much help we need. On Tuesdays I'm trying to schedule my clients so I can make it home in between for all the feedings and we are hoping that Michelle feels like doing the rest is the day solo is reasonable so we don't have to pay for help that day but we'll see.  Three babies is a lot to manage on your own even during non-feeding times. We've read triplet blogs where the mom is on her own a lot and honestly have no idea how they do that!  So any good "find the right person for the babies" vibes you could send our way would be great!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Uncle Matt meets the Triple Threat

My little brother Matt (not to be confused with Michelle's little brother Matt!), came from the balmy Big Island to visit for a week just in time for the polar vortex.  The polar vortex did get me a "snow day" which was pretty nice & since we don't leave the house much anyway, it didn't really have a big impact on us! The babies got all dressed up in their Hawaiian honu outfits for Uncle Matt.
Ellie is particularly happy about tiedye =)
"Hold the phone!! I have TWO Uncle Matts!?!"
"Tell me another one Uncle Matt!"
"Can I come visit you in Hawaii some day?!"

Matt hasn't spent much time with little babies so at Christmas dinner in Hawaii our family friend Nina, a midwife, was giving Matt a mini lesson on holding small babies. :)  The first time Matt held one of the babies you could tell he was really nervous and very careful and it was fun to see him grow so much more comfortable holding them through I the week. He's a baby holding pro now!
Uncle Matt & his namesake
When our niece was a little baby Matt didn't get to hold her much because there was lots of competition for baby holding. At our house that is rarely (okay, never) the case! You walk in and we hand you a baby! So Matt got LOTS of baby holding practice and did a great job getting thrown into all sorts of baby care experiences. Matt got to feed a couple of bottles, soothe and shush fussy and sleepy babies, wear babies in carriers while he cooked, get babies dressed, and even change a few cloth diapers, including one pooplosion! On his last night Matt was reflecting on the experience and said he now feels a little more confident with his "dad skills" and that one baby now seems a lot more manageable.  (Not that he's planning to have one any time soon!!)
serious man to man talk

Playing with the babies

While he was here, Matt also got to experience the difference between having three adults to three babies versus being outnumbered and the difference between a good day and a bad day.  I had to work last Monday afternoon and evening leaving Michelle & Matt home with the babies. It was a rough afternoon for naps and then a rougher evening as a result. By the time I walked out of my 6pm meeting I had a series of texts about babies not sleeping and a final one saying "all the girls in the house are crying their eyes out!"  Uh oh!! Oh yeah, and it was snowy and a little icy on the roads do there was no speeding home to the rescue. I walked in and Matt had Isaiah in a carrier and was bouncing up and down while trying to cook dinner. When he saw me, Matt just looked at me with wide eyes and let out a big breath saying "woah!"  I said a quick hello and went straight back to my three crying girls. I gave the big girl a big hug and then went into the baby room to get my crying little girls so we could start the bedtime routine. Everyone settled down after a bit, but that experience really reminded me to minimize late afternoon/evening work visits as much as possible because those times are just plain harder for everyone right now.

It was great also to have Matt here because he made us a lot of meals for us.  When we all lived together in Seattle, Matt worked for his friend Pai in his food truck that served some amazing Hawaiian-Asian fusion food so we asked Matt to make the bulgogi from the truck one night. It was just as good as we remembered! He said he hasn't been cooking much lately but he did a great job and hopefully this will get him back in the kitchen more.  It was great to see Matt and have his help. Hopefully the next time we see him it will be on the Big Island!  

Our next visitor is January 25th so we have to navigate having less help (Hope is still here...more about that next post) along with Michelle starting school again and me adding in more work hours. Wish us luck!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Cloth diapering update

We've changed a few things about our cloth diaper routine so I thought I'd post a quick update for anyone who might be interested. The babies seriously outgrew the preemie sized prefolds over Christmas. It was not only getting more difficult to get them on, but they were also overloading the little diapers with pee and we were having a lot more leaks, resulting in a lot more laundry. So when we got home we switched to the next size up, some Osocozy "better fit" prefolds. Woweewow did they seem a lot bigger! It was virtually impossible to get them all tucked into our newborn Bummis covers so those got packed up along with the preemie prefolds to eventually try to resell.  The new diapers fit okay in the Rumparooz covers but we did have to loosen the rise snaps (that control how high the diaper goes in their bellies).
not that different in width/length
But a LOT thicker & therefore more absorbent!

We have started using Flip covers that we got as shower gifts and from a SLU classmate of mine and we love them! They're definitely bigger and we snap them on the tightest snaps, but we really like the fit for our skinny babies and have had virtually no leaks. The bigger size of diapers is notably more absorbent too which helps a lot, though it does give the babies much bigger looking bums!  The only downside to the FLIPS that we've found so far is that the are all pastel colors, which I find to be notably less fun than the bright colored Rumparoos and patterned Bummis. :)
Isaiah kindly modeling the FLIP =)

We've also been experimenting with some fuzzibunz pocket diapers we got as hand me downs, but they're still a bit big (despite claiming to be one size fits all!) and we've had a few leakage issues with them. On the plus side, as we expected, the fuzzibunz are SUPER easy and will be a nice option if we have less familiar helpers around because there doesn't seem like there is a learning curve with these compared to the prefolds with snappis. We kind of had to add the fuzzibunz into the rotation because now that the babies have switched from small poops after every feeding to one or two big poops a day we have more pooplosions where it gets on the cover and that has to be tossed in the laundry with the prefold. So we're going through covers faster now than we used to! Fortunately, the covers have been doing their job and we've only had a couple of pooptastrophes so far! (my new word for when the cover can't contain it all...thanks Katie for sharing that word!)

We are also very excited to have found an overnight diaper solution, at least for now, which means no more middle of the night diaper changes! This is a big deal because the babies are like triple swaddled at night so doing a diaper change was always a big ordeal that woke then up way too much!  We're using a prefold with one of the pocket diaper inserts and a fleece liner for nighttime. The fleece liner helps wick away the moisture so the babies don't feel wet.  We've been doing this for a couple weeks now and so far so good.

As a side note, we also tried a couple of small g-diapers and one cocolo bum we had and were not big fans of either design for our babies. :( So those got packed away with the preemie diapers for someone else to try. Speaking of preemie diapers for someone else... In the first two weeks with the babies, before making the move to cloth diapers, we realized just how many disposable diapers we were going through each day and made a panicked Amazon prime order of twelve packs of 20 preemie sized Pampers Swaddlers. Of course, right after that giant box of diapers arrived we tried and fell in love with cloth diapers. So here we sit with this stash of disposable preemie diapers, past their Amazon return date because we have no time for silly things like printing labels and going to the post office.  So if you, our loyal blog readers, happen to know someone who has a preemie and could use these diapers please email me maritherrien<at>gmail. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Our three month olds in action

As promised here are some videos of some of the babies' new skills!  First up we have Ellie rolling belly to back. It wasn't easy to get this video because she was so fast. That's not to say she is always rolling this quickly, but when she's in the mood, good luck getting her to stay on her tummy!  She's getting speedy!

Next up is Isaiah chatting away with Michelle while hanging out in his favorite place, the changing table. I swear the changing table is Isaiah's Disneyworld right now! It is fun to just hang out and "chat" with all of them now. I love how expressive his whole face is!

And last but not least is miss Avery showing off her nice head/next strength doing a pull to sit on the changing table! Avery is the best at this exercise and she usually seems to enjoy it.  She is really getting this head control thing down! We call these baby sit ups and try to fit them into our daily routines, like doing at least one after each diaper change. 

All the smiles, cooing, and moving they are doing is really fun to see. As any parent knows a couple of good smiles and coos can make up for a lot of the hard stuff!  Like the other night after a rough night of sleep (or lack there of) when I told the babies that they owed their mommies a lot of "I love you & I'm sorry smiles!"  We've been taking a lot more videos so I'm trying to figure out more about YouTube and subscriptions and such. If any of you are YouTube aficionados and want to help me learn more about channels, subscriptions, & privacy settings that would be great!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Shots are no fun for anyone!!

But they are a necessary evil!!  I already posted this picture on Facebook, but thought I should probably get it up on the blog too so that one day our kiddos would see it. Here's what our house looked like the day after this last round of shots. (Synagis & HIB). 
It's just plain awful
So sad

Shots are no fun! They are heartbreaking in the moment and, at least so far, have left us with crankier than normal babies for a couple days afterwards. The first 24 hours after shots hasn't been too bad for us because they're on Tylenol, which tends to make them sleepier, but once they're off the Tylenol they tend to be pretty fragile. They'll be fine one minute and so sad or mad the next.

 Our friend Carrie joined me for the doctor visit on Thursday so that Michelle could get some school work done. I warned her on the drive there that their cries would be heartbreaking and they were.  I was going to try nursing them while they have the shots this time to help with pain relief, but they said that instead we could have two nurses come in and deliver the two shots simultaneously & that seemed like a good plan so we did that instead.  Immediately after their shots I nursed them to help them calm them down.  Avery was screaming so much that she couldn't even latch right away, poor thing. Carrie was surprised at how quickly they calmed with just a minute or so of nursing.  
My doctor visit helper

While we were at the office for shots I asked the doctor to take a peek at Avery's back to confirm my suspicion that the red area on her low back was indeed a hemangioma as I suspected.  It is and is no big deal. Here's a picture of it. 
Avery's hemangioma

We first noticed it when she was about three weeks old. Then it was just a small red spot and it lined up so well with the diaper covers that I thought maybe it was a blood blister from the skin getting pinched during changing. But it never went away and instead got a little bigger. It is now raised and when I checked in with "Dr. Google," it seemed to fit the description of a hemangioma. Here's a wiki link if you want to read more about it  It will likely continue to grow over the next few months and then start to shrink on it's own, likely disappearing over the course of the first couple of years. 

I also asked the doctor about the dosage for Zantac for Isaiah because he's been fussier over the past week or two and often seems uncomfortable after eating (though not every time).  She did say we could up his dose to .6ml from .4 now that he weighs more to see if that helps.  
We can't wait til he (& the girls) outgrow this reflux business!  Sometimes spitting up doesn't seem to bother them (see this video of Ellie for example:, but other times they seem to be on pain or just be so sad about it. The worst though, is when it happens when they're sleeping or just falling asleep and it wakes then up!  Grrrr....  I'm actually nursing Isaiah right now because he spit up and woke himself up!  Like I said, we're ready for them to outgrow this! 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy 3 month birthday babies!!!

Our babies are getting bigger!  Hard to believe they're three months old already.  Of course, they're only about 7 weeks adjusted, but they're doing very well developmentally I think.  Let's see, what's new this month??  Oh, well Ellie rolled over from her belly for the first time just this week.  And she's a big fan of this new skill and rolled over three times in her crib today when she didn't feel like napping!  Isaiah is rolling over more consistently too, though Ellie might be passing him up with rolling frequency.  Avery doesn't seem to give a rip about rolling.  She pushes up nicely on her elbows, but hasn't shown much interest in rolling, though she did shift her weight a bit today.  Avery is still our biggest smiler, though Ellie gives her a run for her money sometimes.  Isaiah's smiles are more random still and harder to elicit, but are usually these little coy smiles when they come.  They have all started cooing more, which is super cute.  We hear a lot of "ga" and "goo" sounds now along with the vowel only sounds.  Isaiah makes a lot of adorable squealing noises too.  I'll try to capture some of videos of our little chatty babies and some tummy time videos to post soon!  For now, here are the three month photos.  They are all bigger than the froggy now!  As always the group shots are the hardest, especially now that they are moving more!  I had this big plan to capture a shot of them all pushing up on their elbows when on their tummies, but they weren't the least bit cooperative with that idea!  They either just laid there relaxing or they were trying to roll over on top of each other!  So no luck with that shot....

Big guy
Even Avery is longer than the frog now!

And a collection of group shots
"woah!" Not really sure what surprised them all so much!
The best of the "action shots" though many of the pics
were blurry from all the movin' & groovin'
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Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year everyone! 2013 sure was quite the year for us!  It was a year full of great challenges and tremendous joy,!  Michelle managed to carry 3 babies to 34 weeks and I managed to finish my doctorate finally.  Looking ahead, 2014 should be a super fun year full of lots of cute baby milestones. 
The babies got all dressed up for New Years Day in these adorable outfits the babies got from Cara (one of our favorite kiddos from Seattle) and her mom Jeanette.  Aren't they gorgeous?!  The kiddos weren't thrilled about this photo shoot as you can see but we sure enjoyed having them in these super soft and super cute outfits all day.  
"No pictures Mom!!!"
"Stuff a sock (er, pacifier) in it son!  We're taking pictures like it or not!"

happy Ellie close up
wide eyed Avery

This year is starting off on a great note, with a visit from our good friend Carrie from Seattle. It is so wonderful to see Carrieand of course, to have her help with the babies!  Hopefully 2014 will bring many more visitors! As of right now we have my brother coming tonight through the 11th or so and Marty coming for two weeks from January 25th to February 8th but that's it for scheduled visitors.  So if you have time and want to come hang out with three cute babies and their moms please let us know and we'll get you on the calendar!  We have a guest room just waiting for visitors!  (we'll get down on our knees and beg if we have to!!

Here's hoping 2014 will also be a year of developing good healthy sleep habits!  Check out these funny t-shirts Carrie got us for Christmas!  Sooo true!!  We are particularly tired this week as we work to get the kiddos adjusted back to our normal routines and schedules.  Wishing you all a joy-filled 2014!!

Our wild & crazy New Years Eve!