Friday, February 27, 2009

No Biting, Please

The other morning when Amelia left the house with her daddy I told her to have a good day. She said, "You, too, Mama, and no biting my brothers."

Amelia had her own issues with biting almost a year ago, but they are a distant memory now. So I'm not sure why she felt the need to tell me that. (Perhaps I snapped at her -- figuratively, of course -- one too many times the night before?) But, as it is always good advice to not bite others I thanked her and assured her I wouldn't.

And I didn't.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Miss Manners, or Should That Be Mis-manners?

This post has been brewing for a long time, really ever since I first started to share with the world that I was pregnant with triplets. I'm motivated to put it out there now as the one-year anniversary of this journey rolls around.

I realize that triplets are not an everyday occurrence, and I am getting used to the fact that we will create a scene wherever we go. But what I cannot get used to (and refuse to, for the sake of civility, at a minimum!), is how total strangers will now ask me how my children were conceived.

The question comes in many forms: Did you use drugs? Do multiples run in your family? Did you do IVF? Did you use fertility treatments? Are they natural?

(The last is my personal favorite as it gives me the opportunity to respond with a snappy, "No, they are made of space-age polymer. It's machine washable and very durable.")

However it is phrased, what everyone is really asking is how we conceived our kids. That question is pretty personal even for close friends and family, but complete strangers? Grocery store cashiers, waitresses and other moms at the pediatrician's office? It's the very definition of rude.

I am not naive, but I was taken aback by this the first few times. I guess I thought there was still some civility and common courtesy in the world. Do people really not realize how rude their questions are? Miss Manners would have a fit. Oh, and if you find yourself starting a question with, "Do you mind if I ask..." rest assured that it is a question you shouldn't be asking.

There are plenty of families with multiples who are out there telling (and selling!) their stories for all to hear. Go watch TLC's "Jon & Kate Plus 8" or check out the latest appearance by octomom Nadya Suleman if you want intimate details about someone's multiple conception. Unfortunately, too many people take the sharing of these stories as license to ask the rest of us multi-mamas (and papas) anything they want to know.

Don't get me wrong. I have no objection to Jon and Kate Gosselin or any other family sharing their story. That is their choice. If they didn't want the world to know, they wouldn't be on television. But their stories shouldn't make it open season on every family with multiples who just wants to take their kids to the zoo or get the grocery shopping done.

Since we had our triplets, we have gotten to know a lot of parents of multiples. Some conceived their multiples without fertility assistance and some didn't, but all of them have to deal with this question. Everyone has different ways of handling it.

One dad of triplets likes to respond with a perfectly deadpanned, "I have super sperm." He says it never fails to end the conversation.

Some moms who dealt with infertility, like to respond with "Why do you ask?" This leaves the door open for a conversation about struggling with infertility, if the person asking is going through that struggle themselves or knows someone who is. It is also designed to embarrass the person who is asking because they are just curious, though I doubt that ever works. If they had that kind of sensitivity and manners, they wouldn't ask in the first place.

When I'm feeling nice I respond by telling people that I am a twin. I have a fraternal twin sister, and it is relevant to the conversation, but it doesn't really answer the question. It's a little like answering the question, "Do you like dogs?" by saying, "My grandma has a parakeet." But, people generally draw their own conclusions and move on to politer, more appropriate conversation.

When I'm feeling less benevolent, I like to take the opportunity to answer in a way that will make said stranger think twice about asking anyone else that question. It goes like this:

Stranger: [Insert insensitive, inappropriate question about my triplets' conception here.]

Me: Well, since we really don't know each other, it's a little personal to ask how my babies were conceived, but if you must know. My daughter had severe acid reflux and was a horrible sleeper until she was 18 months old. When she finally started to sleep through the night, my husband and I were just full of energy, so one afternoon...

Generally, the uncomfortable TMI (too much information) look comes across the stranger's face and you can see them wishing they had never asked the question. Which is exactly the result I'm after. Perhaps, at a minimum, I've made them think twice about asking the question of someone else. If nothing else, I feel better.

The short variation on this theme is to smile sweetly and say, "If my husband isn't questioning how they were conceived, why should you?"

[Sigh.] Miss Manners has a lot of work to do.

In the Beginning

One year ago today, I found out I was pregnant again. Jeff and I were thrilled at the news. Little did we know that this was what God had planned for us!

Sam, Isaac & Alex

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jelly Doughnuts

The last couple of days my kids have been like jelly doughnuts -- sweet, but no matter how carefully you handle them some goo is going to come out.

Which leads me to a couple product recommendations:

1. Woolite Oxy Deep carpet cleaner -- The best spot cleaner for carpet I've found. Not only does it take care of the spit-up like a charm, it took out some older stains of unknown origin that I had tried unsuccessfully to remove with a different brand.

2. Kirkland household wipes -- This is a Costco product and comes in a three pack. Every time they are on sale I stock up. They are great for sanitizing door knobs, bathrooms and kitchens, but also for cleaning toys, the exersaucer, and the changing table following a particularly ill-timed diaper change...

3. OxiClean laundry spot remover -- The overenthusiastic Ron Popeil wanna-be who hawks this stuff on TV isn't exaggerating. It gets everything out. I keep a bottle upstairs to spray the worst stains as soon as I can. And I keep another bottle downstairs in the laundry room to catch anything I missed. It all comes out clean as a whistle.

And after a long day with triplets that requires the use of these three products, I recommend this:

And remember, if it doesn't work the first time you can always reapply!

Friday, February 20, 2009

About That Laundry

Everyone in this house has had at least two complete changes of clothes since getting out of their jammies. Some have had three.

I'll spare you the details.

Excuse me while I start another load of laundry.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Zen of Laundry

Laundry is one of those tasks that is never done. No matter how hard I try there is always something waiting to be washed, dried, folded, ironed or put away. I can wash all day long and think the job is complete, but new laundry magically appears. There's the dishrag that didn't get put in with the last load, the socks and undies we're all wearing, or the shirt that just got spit up on.

I'm sure laundry teaches us some deep lesson about permanence and eternity. It certainly feels permanent and eternal.

I recently read that, despite our modern conveniences, we spend MORE time doing laundry than our grandmothers did. This is because we have more clothes, and we wash them far more often. I don't know about you, but I rarely wear the same dress all week before I wash it.

I DO, however, have a strict one towel a week rule in my house. It's something that was drummed into me growing up as one of eight kids. (You can have two if you're working out or doing a really dirty home improvement project that involves the crawl space or attic.) If you were doing laundry for 10 people, believe me, you'd make that rule, too. Besides, these days can't I claim it's a "green" practice? Yeah, that's it. It's about the environment, not about creating less work for me.

I am doing a lot more laundry these days, though the job is definitely made easier thanks to the spiffy new high-capacity washer and dryer I bought on my infamous trip to Home Depot. (Their electric cart died and I had to roll my very pregnant self around the appliance section on an office chair).

Doing more laundry has yet to elevate me to a higher spiritual plane, but I sure am glad I don't have to run it all through the wringer and hang it on the line to dry.

One must come to accept that laundry and the state of doing laundry are continuous.

There is peace in acceptance.

Then again, maybe I just need to put the cap back on the bleach.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Miles of Thanks

There have been so many people who have been a HUGE help to us during my pregnancy and now with the boys. I could say "thank you" for years to come and never begin to express how grateful we are to everyone for their help.

I'd like to thank the Academy, and my parents, and the best director ever... wait, this isn't my Oscar speech!

This is my thanks to Beth and Kim who have been coming every couple of weeks for a few hours to let me get out of the house and do whatever. Today they came bearing diapers and a crockpot full of supper. And they came in just a lovin' my boys almost as much as I do.

It doesn't get any better than that.

I ran some errands, got a much-needed adjustment from the chiropractor, and then went grocery shopping. It was a pleasure to pick out my own produce during daylight hours instead of at 10 p.m. when all my little ones are in bed.

All moms deserve this kind of a break once in a while, but few are lucky enough to get it. I'm fortunate to have such wonderful people in my life, and "thank you" seems inadequate, but it's all I've got.

So thanks, Beth and Kim. You guys rock!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reflux Rears Its Head

Today I started Alex on his acid reflux medicine (Zantac). I have been almost paranoid about the boys having reflux because of our horrible experience with Amelia. I have tried really hard to make sure that I am not overreacting to possible symptoms the boys have, because I did not want to put them on any medicine unnecessarily. But, it is pretty clear that Alex has reflux.

Amelia was a "silent refluxer," meaning she didn't exhibit the classic reflux sign -- spitting up. We did get her diagnosed and on Prilosec relatively early, but as it turned out, the medicine wasn't strong enough and the pain she was having led to problems sleeping. We endured months of walking the floors with her at night and frequent nursing (which, we now know, soothed her throat), eating issues that led the doctor to tell me she was under-nourished, and the doctor telling me that some babies are "just difficult."

In the end, we took Amelia to a specialist when she was nearly a year old. She was ulcerated all the way up the back of her throat. I felt like the worst mom in the world! Especially when I thought about all the nights she would cry instead of sleeping, and I realized she was crying because she was in pain.

Alex spits up at every feeding, but not usually a lot. But, he has started to not sleep well. He usually takes 30- to 45-minute cat naps, while his brothers are sleeping an hour and a half to two hours. At night, his brothers are sleeping straight through, but Alex is waking up about three hours before them. And Alex looks tired, poor kid! He started waking up screaming and it would take me 5-10 minutes to get him to calm down. Often he'd go back to sleep on my shoulder, because being upright helped keep the acid down. Then I heard him gulping when he swallowed. That was Amelia's primary sign of reflux, so I immediately called the doctor.

Alex is still a much better sleeper than Amelia, but he doesn't sleep nearly as well as his brothers. Yes, some of that can be personality, but we also know from past experience just how badly reflux can interfere with sleep. In Amelia's case, she didn't sleep through the night until she was almost a year old, and she still struggles to sleep through the night at almost three years old. She just never really learned how to sleep long stretches.

The amazing thing about Alex is that, just like Amelia, he is the happiest baby, even though he has every right to be miserable. Hopefully the Zantac will work its magic and we'll be back to three children who sleep well at night -- even if Amelia still doesn't!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'...

That's three "rollin's" you see up there. Sam rolled from belly to back this evening while my friend Betsy was here. We didn't see him, but suddenly there he was, face up in the crib. Go, Sammy!


I've finally seen both Isaac and Alex roll over. In no time at all, they will all be rolling like experts!

As excited as I am to watch them growing and learning new things, I'm not sure I'm ready for three mobile babies. Maybe I'd better buy a pair of running shoes and start getting in shape now.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Last night everyone in my house slept. They slept all night. ALL NIGHT!

Amelia was asleep in her big girl bed by 9 p.m., and the boys were down by 10 p.m. Jeff and I were asleep by 10:30. And no one even made a peep until 6:15 this morning.

Alex fussed a little just after 6 and Jeff grabbed him and brought him to bed with us where he slept another hour.

First I was in shock.

Then I was so happy I could have cried.

I slept almost an entire nine hours. Uninterrupted.


Pure bliss.

Now here's hoping (and praying!) that they can all do it again.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sam the Man

Just because he hasn't rolled over doesn't mean that Sam shouldn't get a little face time on the blog. Here he is in all his red-headed, blue-eyed glory! Just so cute!

Sam hangs out in the Bumbo seat.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cranky Pants

Sorry I didn't post yesterday. It was one of those days as a triplet mama that makes you want to salt your children and eat them whole. Or at least eat a gallon of premium ice cream.

No one napped well and everyone had their cranky pants on all day. HA! That's an understatement. All of the boys power napped in about 30-minute increments. That doesn't sound too bad, right? Until you factor in the time it takes to get them all down and come up with 10 minutes at stretch without a crying baby.

Nothing made them happy. Not bottles, not bouncies, not peekaboo, not rocking, not walking, not being salted... (Just kidding! Had to make sure you were still paying attention!) Jeff, also known as World's Best Husband, came home early after we talked at noon and I was entering my fifth hour of non-stop crankiness. (The children's, not mine. Though come to think about it...)

A quick, hot soak in the tub to unwind muscles that had literally been holding two babies at once most of the day made things look a whole lot better to me. And while one or the other of us still spent much of the evening holding two babies at once, just having a second set of hands here cuts the stress level at least in half.

Perhaps the hardest part about yesterday wasn't the crying and fussing, but knowing the whole time that if I had just one baby and he/she was having a bad day I could have held and soothed that one baby much better than I could help my triplets. Sometimes it's very frustrating to do half a job or one-third of a job in comforting a child. When do you set down the one that's still crying in your arms to pick up ONE of the two children crying in the crib? Who do you pick up first? How do you soothe the babies you can't hold or even pat because your hands are already full? And then there's the gymnastics of holding two babies, setting one baby down while holding another, jiggling one on a hip while trying to pat two others in the crib.

When we had Amelia I remember someone telling me that nothing in this world could make you feel more inadequate than a crying baby. I found that to be very true. But THREE crying babies will make you feel even more inadequate. Trust me

Even though it was a challenging day, it was still a day that brought the occasional smiles and giggles in and amongst the fussing. And those things will make even the worst day seem pretty darn good.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

33-Hour Meals

OK, so Rachel Ray I'm not. It just took me 33 hours to make this pan of scalloped potatoes and ham.

They look delish, don't they? But let's face it, this is not a dish that requires 33 hours to make. Unless you have triplets.

I took the potatoes out yesterday morning about 8 a.m., thinking I'd get my potatoes washed and peeled and maybe even sliced before the 9:30 feeding. HA! Jeff finally helped me wash and peel the potatoes last night at 9:30 p.m. That's the first 12 hours of meal prep.

You could exclude the next 7 hours, as it was sleeping time, which would make this a 26-hour dish. (That sounds soooo much better, don't you think?) I finally got the potatoes sliced and parboiled just before the 3:30 p.m. feeding today, and managed to throw the ham, chives, garlic and sauce on them just before they had to go in the oven at 5:30 p.m. I did that part while I had various boys on my shoulder settling down for their naps. Nap time has not gone particularly well yesterday or today, which contributed to the lengthy potato prep time.

On the other hand, in the time it took me to make these potatoes I fed three boys 10 times, put them down for 9 naps, washed, dried and folded 6 loads of laundry, washed more bottles than I care to think about, pumped milk 6 times, took the boys for a walk, made a different dish for supper last night, gave Amelia a bath and read her bedtime stories, and showered twice.

Phew! Maybe 26 hours of prep time wasn't so bad after all.

These potatoes had better be darn good...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Road Trip

Today was an unseasonably warm February day, so I decided to take advantage of it by loading the boys into the stroller for a little jaunt around the neighborhood. It was their inaugural ride in the Runabout, affectionately known as "The Beast." They loved it, but we kept it short because nap time was quickly upon us.

Sam, Alex and Isaac take their first ride in "The Beast."

I love my Runabout. It pushes easily and rolls smoothly, even with nearly 4o pounds of boy in it! Talk about a great workout. We got ours secondhand, and it still cost more than our first car. (Admittedly, our first car was an old Plymouth Duster, so it wasn't worth much, but still!) I know we'll put a lot of miles on this stroller, especially if they continue to enjoy the ride as much as they did the first time out.

I need to practice loading and unloading to speed things up, but now I can't wait for spring to get here so we can get out more frequently.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pattycake and Playtime

As the boys get older, it is easier and easier for Amelia to interact with them. When Grandma Alice was here they had a little fun playing pattycake with Alex.

The boys love pattycake right now, so Amelia is getting lots of practice!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Rollin', Rollin'...

Isaac made his move this afternoon, rolling from front to back just like his little brother, Alex. We haven't seen either of them roll yet, just walked up to the crib to find them rolled over.


As for Sam, he's still thinking about it...

Friday, February 6, 2009

On a Roll!

If your money was on Alex to be the first to roll over, it's pay day. I put the boys down for a nap after their 6:30 a.m. feeding and about 9 a.m. Alex started hollering. When I got to the crib he was on his back, though he had been put down on his tummy. He was desperately trying to turn back over, and voicing his frustration loudly!


I don't think Isaac is far behind, and Sam is still assessing this whole rolling over thing. I think he's waiting for his brothers to figure it out so he can analyze how it's done and get some pointers.

Look out world (and Mama!) here they come!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Four Month Check-up

Today a fellow triplet mama whose kids are school-aged helped me take my trio to the doctor. (Thanks Jackie!)

The boys are all doing great. Here are the stats:

Samuel: 13 lb. 3 oz.
Isaac: 11 lb. 12 oz.
Alexander: 14 lb. 1 oz.

Alex is the longest, by half an inch, but they are all pretty average length right now -- around 25 inches. Sam is the shortest, so far. Alex is in the 50th percentile for weight, which is great. Sam is in the 15th and Isaac is in the 5th percentile. What a difference a couple of pounds makes! We're just thrilled that all of the boys are on the growth charts, even without adjusting for them being three weeks premature.

The doctor pronounced them all healthy, growing boys. Even though we didn't expect to hear anything different, it's still great to hear!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Moment to Remember

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

This is one of those moments. I am sitting warm and snug inside my house watching the snow fall softly outside. I can hear the soft whiffles and snores of three precious babies who are slumbering together in their crib.

It is a moment of peace and perfection that fills me with gratitude.

It is a moment I want to capture so on those days when there's a shortage of peace around here I can remember this little quietude -- perhaps with longing, but certainly with a smile.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Big Girl Bed

Last week, Amelia asked if she could sleep in the big girl bed in her room. Yes, she's fast approaching three and still in the crib. It's a good place for a little girl who doesn't sleep through the night very well yet. I've threatened to leave her there until she hits her teens and learns to sleep all the time.

There has always been a daybed in Amelia's room, and we've napped on it from time to time or laid down with her on it when she's struggling to fall asleep. But one night last week she asked to sleep there for the night. Since she was interested and it's probably about time, I said yes. I did tell her she had to stay in it, and she did pretty well. She got up once, and scared the tar out of Jeff when she padded into the kitched in her footed jammies. She's slept there every night since, and seems to be sleeping better at night, too!

Amelia in the big girl bed

As Jeff says, why should it be a surprise the she's moved herself to the big girl bed? She did exactly the same thing with the potty. We had a potty chair, but weren't pushing the issue and then one day Amelia decided she wanted to use it and within a month she was fully trained. She also started to insist on not wearing a diaper to bed at night, too, and rarely had an accident after she made that decision.

Exactly who is raising this child? Her or us?