Monday, December 20, 2010

One year adjusted milestones

** MUSIC **

We've been singing songs like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," "Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to death in our house. The "wash the spider out" part is Julia's favorite. I pause just before and she giggles and then waves her arms back and forth. Cracks us both up. Julia and Emma are starting to put their index fingers together to show me they want me to sing the song. When I'm done singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider," they touch their heads to ask for the "Head, Shoulders..." song.

** TICKLE, TICKLE **

Ada loves being ticked. She'll giggle and gasp, then giggle and shriek and then giggles some more. She has the cutest squirm! And when I ask "More?" she gives me the baby sign for more: index finger of one hand against the palm of her other hand.

** WALKING **

Emma started walking on Dec. 5th. By Dec. 20th, she was stll crawling a fair amount, but she could walk halfway across the kitchen, do a controlled turn, and walk back to where she started. As of Dec. 31, Emma is truly walking. Everywhere. Non-stop. She rarely crawls now, and is so much steadier on her feet. She can step over toys and the raised foam mats without falling down.

Julia started walking on Dec. 23. She gives about 10 or so steps before she plops down or falls into my arms. It'll probably be another few weeks before she's as steady as Emma.

Ada used to scoot on her behind, but is crawling all the time now. She is saying "Uh-Oh" when she drops toys. Sometimes she says that even before dropping the toy. It's funny to see her learning about cause and effect. She also watches for our reaction!

** PLAY **

She figured out the stacking cups on Dec. 20. I've seen her fit things inside of other things before, but today was the first time she adjusted the cups - taking them out and trying another one - until they fit. She placed about six of them from big to small, with a few gaps, but "got it" for the most part.

She'll find similar objects and group them. 3 bibs on top of one another. 3 ducks lined up in a neat little row. When she's done playing with the Megablocks they received for Christmas, she'll drop the blocks into the bag one by one. What a great little helper. Ada said, "oupa" on New Year's Eve and that same day she truly started calling me.

** SPEECH **

As of Christmas Day, when Ada wakes up from a nap, she'll say, "Mamma?" like she wants to know my whereabouts. She's been very vocal lately, but not saying a ton of words.

All 3 can point to their heads and noses and belly buttons. Those are the 3 body parts we started with.

We're working on toes and ears, but they don't "get" those yet. They're pointing to everything in sight, and we find ourselves labeling it all. It's exhausting, but wonderful that they're expressing an interest in what they see! Emma does a double point when she's excited. The Christmas Tree lights are two index fingers on the excitement scale, for example. LOL.

Their receptive language is increasing by the minute, but not much is happening on the expressive language front. They understand questions about animal sounds, can point to and identify their grandparents, the dog, lights, the Christmas Tree. We can predict when they're hungry/thirsty, but they don't really indicate or distinguish those yet. They can mimic the monkey movements and shrug their shoulders when I ask about the buffalo.

** TANTRUM **

Ada threw her first true tantrum today (Jan. 1) complete with leg kicking. Her sister had a musical toy she wanted (the blue maraka - see below). When they're tired, hungry, or thirsty, there's a lot of flailing going on. We usually move to the foam mat and start solving the problem - quickly! - because otherwise it spirals into a complete meltdown. The tantrumming can be timed to how tired they are. If one sister takes a toy from another shortly before nap time, the consequences are epic. Crying, moaning, grabbing the toy back, even hair pulling, and if they don't get what they were after, they'll lay down - face down - and bump their foreheads into the foam mat out of frustration. This is sometimes accompanied by kicking, sometimes wailing. It just depends how tired they are.

We don't let that go on too long before redirecting or distracting, but it's pretty hysterical to see how they're "dealing" with frustration. Poor babies. If it's shortly after waking, toy snatching is no biggie, they just move onto the next toy.

We observed Julia trying to express her displeasure by throwing a mini tantrum today. Only problem was she was standing by our coffee table. She leaned forward and gently placed her forehead on the table. No headbanging. She finally figured out that it hurts.

On a related note, when something goes awry and we say, "Oh my goodness!" Julia and Emma will bring their hands to their cheeks or to the top of their heads. Think "Home Alone." I could just eat them up when they do that.

** BONDING WITH INANIMATE OBJECTS**

They are starting to bond with objects like teddy bears. It's too cute - they squeeze them tight into their necks, and even rock them. So sweet. Emma is pretty attached to her blanket too, but only gets to hold it - and suck on the tag - at bedtime.

Whenever the door to the nursery is left open, she'll walk in, go straight for one of the cribs, and pull a blanket out. She is our stealth blankie snatcher.

Ada has a gray teddy bear she seems to favor, and Julia loves the Dr. Seuss character stuffies. They are so gentle with the stuffed toys.

** RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR WITH MUSIC **

On New Year's Day, Emma truly discovered music. Amazing friends came to visit - one who is a musician - and she played a variety of instruments for them: guitar, differently-sized harmonicas (even a peewee one!), a "Woody" toy, spoons, and shakers of every kind. Emma wiggled and bounced and rocked and clapped and danced her way through their visit. She couldn't get enough of the rhythms, rhymes and music.

Towards the end of the visit, Emma stood with both her hands on the guitar, feeling the vibration as our friend played Joh.nny C.ash's "Wa.lk the Li.ne." Emma was mesmerized by the sounds. It was just lovely to watch. After our friends left, we continued playing music, and it was the first time - ever! - that all 3 "hummed" along. Not quite singing or true humming, but they were vocalizing with the music. They all went down for their afternoon nap, and when they woke up, Emma found the maraca again - the blue shiny one - and walked around with it until bedtime. That's 4 hours of walking around with a maraca! Quite the party animal.

Happy New Year to all!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

We finally got our act together and bought a tree. Miraculously, we managed to decorate it the same day. Not our usual classic and tasteful clear-glass-ornaments-only tree. Oh no no no. This year, it's gawdy and pimped out, triplet toddler style.

The kids love it, it's hokey, and that's what it's all about.

We even bought new colored LED lights and they are like voodoo magic. Our kids have never watched any television so anything that lights up is pretty novel to them. Ada said, "Whoa whoa whoa whoa!" when she first saw the tree all lit up. Too funny. Julia and Emma stare at it, smile excitedly, and keep pointing to it all day long. They're mesmerized.

We have some unbreakable ornaments on the tree, but mostly just the lights. When they first saw the undecorated tree, they were stunned. If I could interpret their facial expressions, it was something akin to being freaked out that a tree had the audacity to "walk" into their home and "park" itself in the corner while they were napping.

We held the girls in our arms as they woke up, a few feet from the tree at first, because they seemed really startled by the whole thing. As in:
"What the heck? Why is there a huge tree in the house?"
"Look, mommy, a T-R-E-E! A TREE!"
"Mommy, Daddy, A TREEEEEEE. WTH?"

Of course they can't speak in sentences yet, but that's definitely along the lines of what they were thinking.

It was amusing, but being the fabulous parents we aspire to be, we didn't want to traumatize our children or foster negative associations with living things. So we eased them into seeing the tree, talking about the tree, touching the tree, touching the ornaments on the tree, and eventually, switching on the lights. Then all was finally right with the world.

Now seeing the tree is their favorite part of waking up. Ah, Christmas is finally here and it is good.

Monday, December 13, 2010

One year adjusted

Today is the girls' one year adjusted birthday. Dec. 13 was their due date.

For the past 4 days, all of the girls are on whole milk. We switched Emma back to formula for a week or so (upset tummy), but it turns out it had more to do with the teething than the switch to milk. We weaned them very slowly by adding an ounce of cow's milk per week.

The girls are completely off of Pre.vacid and their reflux is under control. After all the struggles, this is an amazing milestone.

I was nervous about decreasing the Pre.vacid, adding whole milk, and switching to sippy cups all in one go. Staggering it made more sense to me. Just a few weeks ago, the girls weren't strong enough to hold their sippy cups. They couldn't lift their arms above their heads, let alone tilt their heads backwards. We played the following games to death to get them to lift their arms and build their strength: "so big," peekaboo, high five, pat a cake, wearing funny hats, played with sweaters with hoodies, even put small toys on their heads! We made them reach above their heads for anything they wanted. And it worked.

I was becoming very discouraged, because we tried every sippy on the market, including several different straw cups. It was stressing me out, and as badly as I wanted them to move on, they just weren't ready.

In the end, we had to work with transitional cups (with handles and bottle nipples) first, and then we moved to straw cups, and then to sippies. The only way they're able to drink out of the sippy cups is if we take the no-spill valves out (eek! messy!) Now it's finally going very well.

You know, I never thought I'd take their struggles as personally as I do. It's almost impossible not to. Whenever something doesn't just come naturally to them, I feel like I'm failing them. Like there's something I should be doing to make it easier for them. Motherhood is beautiful, but crazy hard sometimes...

Anyway.

They're still taking their glass bottles first thing in the morning and just before bed (we help them hold those), but the rest of the day they're using sippies for water. With their lunch, they drink milk from the tiny little bottles we got from the NICU. Their glass bottles are just way too heavy, and I can't deal with the mess of milk in a sippy cup without a no-spill valve. One step at a time, as I said.

This progress is good enough for me, considering where we were just three weeks ago. We'll be cutting out the morning bottle next, and then take on the last one before bed. Chelle, if you're reading this, I'm right there with you. When kids have feeding issues and were premature, taking it slow seems to work. One battle at a time maxes out my sanity.

With the teething (eye teeth, and first molars simultaneously - oh, the pain!) they are still waking at least once per night. Julia and Emma have started banging their heads as they rock themselves to sleep. We've tried everything to discourage that, but nothing is working. As other moms are removing crib bumpers, we had no choice but to add them. *sob* If you have advice, or can commisserate, please leave a comment. We'll be forever grateful.

Nobody has tried to climb out of their cribs, but we're in the market for crib tents, because, you know, we like to be ahead of the curve. (Yeah, right.)

Emma is walking about a dozen steps at a time. Very controlled, with turns. Yesterday, she stood up without her hands touching the floor. It was mindblowing.

Julia wants to walk so badly. She's taking about 6 steps at time, and runs rather than walks, and then leaps when she gets close to us. She is fearless.

Ada has made tremendous progress. In just 2 weeks, she has gone from pulling up, to starting to cruise. She manages to stand without holding on for a few seconds at a time, and often holds on with just one hand barely touching the object she's holding onto. She has been moving much more freely. Whenever we switch the music on, she looks like she's conducting an orchestra. She sways from side to side, moving her head with the music, while waving her arms, and turning her hands back and forth. She has also started to crawl just a few steps at a time. It's pretty cool.

Ada has the best belly laugh. Her sisters are much more subdued. They crack up, and smile, but don't laugh out loud as often. Emma has been much more pensive from the get-go, and definitely more sensitive in general. Julia seems to need more cuddling. She'll often be the first to walk/stumble to me, her dad or her grandparents and "claim" a hug.

Happy "real" one year birthday, kiddos!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

13 months

I'm done pumping! I never thought this day would come. After many tearful episodes of blocked ducts and mastitis, I can finally say, "good riddance!" The Medela Pump in Style Advanced served me well, but I can't wait to pack it up and reclaim the space next to my bed.

Providing breastmilk for the girls this past year has been a privilege. I was beyond fortunate to have a decent supply of milk. At times, though, it came at a very high cost. Sometimes I just felt so torn when I didn't have enough time to do it all.

I wanted to quit a million times over, especially when I had mastitis. Since weaning isn't something I could do in a day, I had to keep going. And once I got past the rough spot my supply would return, I would find some kind of equilibrium again, and keep going another week and another week and... before I knew it, the year was up.

The girls are finally eating well, so the decision to wean has been easier. We've started the transition to whole milk - they're getting about 75% cow's milk and 25% formula as of today. I'm hoping to switch to all cow's milk next week. So far so good.

They are teething like crazy right now. Top eyeteeth and molars coming in simultaneously for Julia and Emma, and Ada is getting her first bottom molars. It's been a hard week for everyone, with not much sleep. They've been troopers during the day with only occasional fussy periods, but the nights have been hellish.

They are also crazy cute right now which makes up for the sleepless nights. I'm loving this stage. They're starting to play practical jokes. They eat all finger foods/table food, and the only thing they'll let me spoon in their mouths is yogurt and occasionally, pureed fruits. Emma will get this devious expression on her face and then bite the spoon and not release it until she's good and ready. She giggles when she does it and watches in anticipation for my reaction. So cute.

She has learned to lean in for kisses. She will lean in and then hold still until I kiss her on her forehead or cheeks. Tonight she leaned in and kissed her dad when he came home. She didn't make the kissing sound (which she knows how to make), but just kind of pressed her lips against his cheek. Too sweet.

I remember a few months ago when I first realized they anticipate us bringing our heads together for a snuggle. She would hold her head still as I brought my head closer to hers, and then if I stopped and kept my head still, she would slowly press her head against mine. It melted my heart.

This afternoon, Ada had the stacking cups in front of her. When she kicked it with both legs, they made pleasing sounds, so she giggled and kicked kicked kicked them until they were beyond her reach. I watched her and laughed out loud with her, then gathered all the nesting cups and started dumping them in front of her. She thought it was hysterical that I was egging her on and so she kicked with even more passion as she belly laughed at our made-up game. Way adorable.

Julia shrieks with delight whenever I play a game just with her. She loves it when I lift her up (with my feet on her tummy) to play "aeroplane." She is the busiest bee of the three, the most daring by far, and is always busy trying out some new gymnastic move. Julia has taken to doing headstands. I've seen her lift both arms up and pull away her pants so she can watch everything happening around her (upside down, through her legs). She doesn't want to miss a moment of the action, but sitting/standing/walking is way too boring of a perspective on the world.

They are understanding more and more each day, and starting to follow simple commands, like "please hand me that." They've understood "jump" (thank you, Jumperoo)and "hug" for many months now, but I realized today that they also understand, "dance." They jiggled the most adorable jiggle when the music on the activity table started playing. Later, when I said, "dance dance" they all started wiggling their hips and bending their knees. I about died - it was the cutest thing I've ever seen. 3x one-year olds, "dancing" to music.

In other news (sorry, time's short) -

- They are all signing back to me when they want, "more." Mostly for a particular food, but also if they want a particular game repeated.

- They love playing, "Smooth road, bumpy road, hole in the road."

- We have a nanny - and some sanity back in our lives. She is beyond awesome. An OT grad student with tons of childcare experience. Since she' graduating she won't be with us past March, but for right now, my life is complete. My kids adore her, and she is the most attentive, loving person.

- Ada is pulling up with such grace and ease after last week's wobbly start. She is standing so much sturdier now. She still needs to hold onto something, but manages to let go for a few seconds at a time without losing her balance.

- Emma has her first shiner. Julia accidentally knocked her over and she bumped her forehead. Poor baby, her dad said she didn't cry much, but it had to have hurt. She has a penny-sized bruise now that the swelling has gone down. She's my tough cookie.

- Julia took two steps today and then dove into my arms. Emma is cruising everywhere, and so incredibly close to walking. She takes about 3 steps at a time before sitting down gently, or diving into our arms. I love that she sometimes tries to run instead of walk. This happens mostly when she's super excited, e.g. when her dad gets home from work. They shriek and squeel and hustle to get to him as fast as they possibly can.

- Tantrums have begun. Oy vey. Julia will flail, fall backwards and then sob. Emma and Ada tend to lay their heads down gently and then cry. I'm sure the kicking and screaming will come. All in good time. :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

1 Year Milestones - STTN, eating - falling into place

Our little monkeys are imitating so much these days. I've been showing them how a gorilla thumps its chest. In the beginning, they were only imitating the motion when I did it, but now they can answer the question, "What does the gorilla do?" They are also starting to use the ASL sign for monkey.

Here's the rundown, by date:

October 20
5 days before her first birthday, Ada started sitting up in her crib by herself. She had not been able to get herself from a lying position to a seated position prior to that. Exactly a week later, she started moving from lying down to sitting up and back like it's no big deal. She is so much less frustrated now because she's able to get herself up and down.

The girls know how to give high fives. They're very excited to play the high five game over and over and over again.

They can all respond with motion to, "How big are you?" And lift their arms all the way up to show "Sooo big!" We've been working on their core strength and upper body strength with physical therapy, because they are having trouble lifting their arms high enough to hold a sippy cup.

Julia is now standing and then turning to get from one place to another, and takes a step in between.
We finally realized that when Emma says, “Ai Ai ai” she means, “hi hi hi.” I say it three times, because I’m greeting all 3 of them. It’s funny that she’s picked that up. I’ll just take that to mean she’s greeting me and her two sisters!

They’ve been riding on a rocking horse and a ride-on car toy they received for their birthday. Emma is the only one who managed to elegantly slide off the ride-on toy all by herself. I still have to hold them while they rock and ride, but can now stand back and let go for periods of time.
Emma has been imitating the “neigh” sound I make. She says, “eigh eigh” with the ‘n’. They’re learning about animal sounds, but often she’ll start with the doggy sound she knows and then proceed to the “new” sound. So, in this case, the horse made a hilarious out-of-breath sound and then “eigh eigh” in a high-pitched voice like a horse neighing. It made me crack up.

October 28
Emma figured out how to roll a ball back to me and her grandpa.

They’re constantly taking toys from one another. Sometimes they amaze me with how well they share. It seems they could care less sometimes that their sister has just snatched a toy, and they would just move onto the next thing, but other times it’s all drama and lots of grabbing it back from whoever “stole” it.

Since Ada isn’t crawling yet, she has found ways to get around “obstacles” or remove “obstacles” from her path. If a sister happens to be in the way, Ada will pull them over using their clothes or their bib to get them out of her way. Julia and Emma have cottoned on, so now they just crawl away.

Ada is holding her hands up and reaching out more often to be picked up. October 28 was the first time ever she was downright clingy despite not being fussy/teething/sick. She seemed anxious, and I think she was scared of the sound the new little wheeeee!ls cars made that they received for their birthday. (Update: she’s gotten used to the cars since and will now happily play with them on her own, or with her sisters.)

November 7
All 3 slept through the night! This day happened to coincide with me giving each of them an ounce of whole milk (neat – not mixed in with their formula and breastmilk). Emma liked it best and finished the whole ounce, Ada drank half, and Julia took one sip and decided it was not for her.

November 8
Julia gave her first real step without holding on to anything!

Ada has been pulling up onto her knees this past week. This is a huge milestone as it marks the first time she’s been able to lift herself and bodes well for starting to pull up to stand. Ada said 'go' today. She heard, “Let’s Go!” over and over because they have a little talking racecar that says that.

Julia and Emma are both cutting their top two eyeteeth. It's visible at the gum line. All 3 girls’ faces have changed so much since their teeth started coming in. They look so much more like little toddlers now.

November 9
They’re all repeating the sound I make when I show them the gorilla. Not just the motion of thumping their chests, but also the sound. Julia loves moving her head from side to side, the way I do when I imitate the gorilla. It’s so adorable.

November 10
Ada is lifting her bottom off the floor and getting herself to her knees, often and easily now! It’s only been a week since she was first able to do this and her progress has been amazing.

November 11
The girls have had their 5th – and likely their last - acupuncture appointment. Of all the things we’ve tried for reflux: Preva.cid, positioning, therapy, Dr. Browns bottles, etc. etc. (we’ve tried it ALL!) the acupuncture has had the fastest, most dramatic and remarkable impact. I’m sure they had damage to the lining of their esophagus and now that the healing is in progress, they’re all doing phenomenally well with eating. I can hardly believe how the acupuncture has helped regulate their bowel movements and improve their digestion. It’s been miraculous to watch Julia and Emma ENJOY their food and actually eat decent amounts.

As a result, we’ve just had the 5th night in a row that they've all slept through the night. Acupuncture has changed our lives in every way.

Ada pulled to stand today – totally on her own. It was wobbly, but she did it!

They have all started to imitate me when I blow on their food to pretend that I’m blowing on it to cool it off (I do this to teach them how to blow air through their lips– I don’t really blow on their food…!) So neat to watch them all figure it out.
Ada subsequently “asked” her dad to blow on a toy with a spinny whirly thingy. It’s meant to be a bath toy that spins in the water. She knows it can move if water or air flows over it, so she made eye contact with her dad, tried “blowing” on it, and then handed it to him as if to say, “You do it!” Clever girl.

I’m finally weaning the girls! Now that they’re eating good amounts, and greater variety, I finally feel that I can wean them. I’m down to 1 pump/day. Oh, the freedom, not to mention “found” time . I can’t express how glad I am that I made it to a year. It seemed like an impossible goal, and I was ready to quit almost every day, and certainly every time I had a plugged duct or mastitis. If it wasn’t for the fact that you can’t just quit cold turkey, I would’ve given up a loooong time ago.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A year has flown by

As I was preparing for their first birthday - already 3 weeks ago now - it felt just as unreal as when I first found out I was pregnant, or when we first found out we were having triplets, and those first dazed months after their birth. I just can't believe how fast we have reached this point.

There is something awe-inspiring about the big milestones. They're almost surreal, too big to contemplate. And so it is with a child's first birthday. It sneaks up on you and suddenly it's there, looming larger than life, begging to be celebrated in a significant, memorable way. Which we did. And it exceeded my every expectation: my little forest fairies had their grandparents present against all odds, and enjoyed every minute of being surrounded by our friends and family. Miraculously, no meltdowns. And my reflux-babies ate cake. Chocolate cake no less.

It was important to me to do as much of the prepping for the birthday party myself, to help it sink in. To make me come to terms with them becoming toddlers. To take the sting out of them not being babies anymore. To help me embrace their toddlerhood and move on right alongside them. As I was baking and cooking up a storm, I felt the cloud lift and the excitement set in: we have made it!

When you're raising triplets, it's all about fighting to stay in the moment with everything and everyone pulling simultaneously for your attention. It's hard not to be fully immersed in it, yet you have to be efficient, multi-task and stay 10 steps ahead or else everything comes to a grinding, epic halt. Raising triplets is not the kind of experience that allows for much perspective on the experience. That's primarily why I blog. And that's apparently why I bake too. To keep my hands busy while my head tries to make sense of it all.

Of course I feel extremely happy and fortunate about how far we've all come. There are many days where I'm sad about how fast it has gone (*lump in my throat*), and how little 1:1 time I've had with each of them (*guilt*), despite claiming as much time as I could. After a year of being a mom to triplets, I can truly say I feel like I can conquer the world one day, and that I'm drowning and utterly overwhelmed the next. I don't expect that to change anytime soon. Fortunately, the confident "We can do this" days are now outnumbering the pitiful, "We are hopelessly outnumbered and exhausted beyond comprehension" days.

There have been times that our life has felt entirely unmanageable with sick kids, difficult medical diagnoses, and Early Intervention evaluations and therapy. There have been equally triumphant days where the girls have reached milestones right on target. (More on their milestones in a separate post.) And then there have been plenty of blissful "run of the mill" days of just enjoying my children and getting to know them. Those days that almost seem normal are the ones to cherish.

This year has been an incredible thrill ride, full of the highest highs and the lowest lows one can imagine. It needed to be celebrated for all it was and for all it will never be again.

For the victory over infertility, for surviving the odds of a HOM pregnancy, for closing PDAs and still no signs of ROP, for being discharged from the NICU before Thanksgiving and well before their due date, for Emma's hip displasia resolving, for battling reflux and feeding issues and coming out whole the other side, for getting expressed breast milk for 12 months, for everything, just every single thing. And as much for their sake as mine. Because if we could make it through this year, we can make it through next year.

What gets me through the tough moments - like my one little girl's recent neurological diagnosis - is this: our hardest day with triplets is still a walk in the park compared to facing infertility.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Miss Personality x 3

For the first time last night, Ada called out for me when she woke in the middle of the night. She didn't cry, she didn't make sounds. She just called, "mama" and I went to scoop her up. Who could resist such an incredible moment? I held her for a bit, and she clung to me, then I laid her back down.

She's been sick this past week and it's been challenging at night, but during the day she's happy as can be. She really is a ray of sunshine. So bubbly, with belly laughter, even when she's sick. She giggles and laughs when I tickle her or blow raspberries on her tummy. Since she's not feeling well this weke and she's congested, she's hasn't had nearly as much to drink as usual. She's still getting enough that I'm not worried about dehydration.

Ada is trying to pull herself up, but she's not strong enough to pull to stand yet. We have hardwood floors and even though they've been pulling up and trying to cruise around our furniture, it's been tricky keeping them safe. We've placed a large plastic tub in their play area to give them something to pull up against and cruise around. They love it. We've filled it with boxes of wipes to weigh it down and it's working well because they can't pull it over and can't open it up. There's a surface (the lid) to bang on and stack toys on, and throw toys off of. It was such a simple solution. Their play area has foam matting and it's not a big deal when they lose their grip and keel over. Julia and Emma have learned how to plop down, and even when they fall, they have learned to roll and lift their heads off the floor so as not to bump it.

During the day, they wear dresses with pants or shirts and pants, usually with grippy socks because they get cold easily. Even with the grippies, they still slide around on the wood floor.

**

Julia started cruising this week. She's now bending down to scoop up toys with one hand, while standing. It's so cool to see how fast she's progressing and catching up to Emma who has been doing this for a while.

Julia is our wriggly worm. She was the first to start getting stuck in the crib, and yesterday she squirmed her one arm out of her sleeve. I fear this is the beginning of the end in terms of them undressing themselves and eventually learning to take their diapers off. I'm just hoping we won't get to THAT phase too fast.

Last week she figured out how to climb out of the feeding table seat. Thankfully she didn't get hurt. We purchased better click-seatbelts for the McCourt seats, because they come with crappy slide-through seatbelts that were driving me nuts. We built our own feeding table, but we purchased the seats online.

In terms of talking and comprehension, she has made leaps this week. She's making breathy sounds when I ask her what sound the dog makes. She breathes in and out like a doggy who is out of breath. She is also trying to imitate lots of different sounds, and although they don't come out sounding exactly like what I said, she's getting close, and I can see the wheels turning in her head. Such concentration, and intense focus on my lips.

She is saying "tee tee" for her bottle. 3 nights ago, I was feeding her, and I said "tee tee." Julia finished her bottle (couldn't speak while drinking - duh!) and the moment I pulled out the bottle, she said, "tee tee" and smiled the biggest "I comprehend!" smile. The next morning when I reached to get her bottle, she said "tee tee" again and looked at me, smiling proudly. She definitely gets it now.

Ada and Julia held hands this week while they were drinking their bottles. So sweet.

**

For the past few days, Emma has been saying, "Ada Ada Ada" interspersed with "ja ja ja" which means "yes yes yes" in Afrikaans. A few times, it's sounded like she's saying "ai jai jai" which is kind of like saying oy vey. She said that once after I complained that my coffee was cold! Too funny. It's like she read my mind. LOL.

So many of my friends have commented that she has an impish smile. I couldn't agree more. She is my littlest pixie who is always watching and scheming about her next move. I think she's going to be all sorts of fun "trouble" when she's a bit older, wanting to play practical jokes and figuring out how to get her sisters to join in at our expense. Her personality reminds me so much of her dad. Fun-loving and sweet, observant, but full of mischief and jokes.

Infant Acupuncture for Reflux - Who knew?

I took all 3 to an acupuncturist on October 7 hoping it would make a difference with their GERD (reflux). My goal is to get them off the Pre.va.cid and get Julia and Emma eating larger quantities and greater varieties of food.

Now, let me preface this by saying that anyone who's ever had a baby in the NICU would understand that having your child undergo any kind of treatment involving needles ever again is beyond traumatizing.

I dreaded it. I avoided making the appointment with the acupuncturist despite the speech therapist's insistence that it has made a huge difference for other kids she sees who has reflux. The acupuncturist is also a RN, and the head of an acupuncture school. Still, I put it off. I just couldn't bring myself to take them.

Given that I had gone for acupuncture treatments during IVF, and I believe it can make a difference, I still dreaded it. Until finally, I closed my eyes and just did it. And now I'm scheduling follow-up appointments because the change is just.that.good.

But let me back up. The appointment itself went surprisingly well. The speech therapist met us there and worked with two while I answered the acupuncturist's questions and held the one receiving treatment. That worked great.

The babies were fine with the acupressure and cold laser therapy, and miraculously fine with the needles. The acupuncturist explained she didn't "have to" use the needles, and that we could "see how it went." That made me feel better, like I had an "out" if it was torturing them.

The needles were only in for a few seconds at a time. The acupuncturist worked gently and quickly. She used one in each of their feet, one in each of their hands, and one in their legs. Julia only complained about the ones in her hand, but it was a brief whine, not even a cry. Emma didn't like the one in her left hand at all - she let out a quick cry, and the acupuncturist decided to forego the one in her right hand. Ada was fine with the ones in her feet, thighs and hands. When the acupuncturist was working on her head and neck, she'd whip her head around to the side to sneak a peek at her as if to say, "Hey! What are you doing back there?"

They're such little troopers. I couldn't be prouder of them for tolerating it as well as they did. No mommy guilt, just relief.

There was also one funny moment with Emma wiggling her feet while the needles were in it. It was hilarious and totally relieved the stress and anticipation about what the experience would be like for me. I could tell she was thinking, "What the heck are those little things sticking out of my feet suddenly?! And WHERE did they COME FROM?" (The needles have little green tips - she was fascinated by them.)

They've only had one appointment and the most amazing thing has happened. (TMI alert.) Julia's metabolism kicked into gear and she now has daily dirty diapers. She's had trouble from the get-go, but the pediatrician kept reassuring me that nothing was amiss with her going every 3-4 days. In the NICU, her tummy was so distended on the day she was supposed to be discharged that they kept her there a few more days. She's not constipated, it's just that she's never been regular. Until now.

Let's hope her reflux will improve because of the acupuncture, and that she'll start to eat better because her bowels are emptying faster.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

11 Months - Mobility, sippy cups, and new almost-words

The girls tried sippy cups on October 3 and Ada couldn't figure out how to get the milk out, but Julia and Emma eventually "got" it. They held it lying down and drank about 5oz each from it, but haven't figured out how to tilt the sippy while sitting up yet. Ada wants to play with the sippy cup, and she brings it to her mouth, but then becomes really frustrated when the milk doesn't flow. Darn those spill-proof valves. She wants it so bad, but couldn't figure out how to close her lips around the spout! I caved and gave her her bottle because she was getting very mad. My friend figured out how to "trick" Ada into drinking from her sippy cup. She performed 'thee olde' bait and switch. Ada was happily drinking from her Dr. Brown's bottle when my friend surreptitiously slipped it from Ada's mouth and substituted it with the sippy. Ada loves her bottle - she has started calling it her "tee tee." She whispers "tee tee" when it's time to drink. So cute.

Emma said "bye bye" for the first time on October 4 as I was leaving for work. It's pretty funny that Ada is saying "ta ta" in Afrikaans while Emma prefers the English. Emma repeated it after I said it, but now it's old hat. I'm trying to get her to do it again, but she won't oblige. Sometimes they're so sneaky. We'll say things over and over and over again, and then they'll repeat it once, with barely a whisper. And I'll go, "What? Yes! What you just said!" but no amount of excitement on my part will make them repeat it again. Sometimes I think I must have imagined it.

There is lots more copying going on in general. They now mimic one another with clicking their tongues. If one starts, they all join in. They sound like a little Zulu tribe. The only sounds I can consistently get them to copy are clicking their tongues and blowing raspberries. For some reason, they really enjoy making those sounds.

The speech therapist wants us to work on repeating sounds and words, and I'm starting to sound like a broken record to myself. But then, magic happens when you least expect it.

The day after Emma said "bye bye, she repeated "Woof!" (or some approximation thereof). I about died. I told her what sound the dog made earlier that day (Oct. 5), and clear as day, this afternoon she answered me "Bwoof bwoof" when I asked her about the dog. I think she's bored with the whole, "Where's Mama?" "Where's Papa?" "Where's the dog?" game I've been pestering them with.

They all can say, "mama," but not consistently, and they don't use it to call me... yet. I guess I should count that as a blessing that they're not calling for me specifically in the middle of the night. On October 7, Emma said "mama," but I don't know if she was just making sounds.

Emma can now stand for about a minute at a time without holding onto anything and looks like she wants to start taking steps. She's starting to cruise from object to object.


***

On October 4, Ada cut her 4th bottom tooth, and 8th tooth in total. She has finally caught up to her sisters in the teething department. Ladies and gentlemen, between the 3 of them, they have 24 teeth. Wowzer. No wonder we haven't been sleeping much. Only 36 to go. Tee hee.

Ada's making lots of word-like sounds, but nothing recognizable yet (aside from the words I've mentioned before). She sounds like she's telling me a story sometimes. Very adamant, with intonation. She made "rrr" sounds for the first time yesterday before falling asleep.

She's also started saying "du du" - which means to sleep in Afrikaans - at bedtime.

Ada rolled a ball back to me on October 7. She has totally figured out the game.

On October 8, she said, "papa" to her dad. It was great that he was there to hear it, because she hasn't repeated it to me at all.

When Ada hands toys back and forth, she now says, 'ta' which means to give.

**

Julia is standing for longer and longer periods every day, about 10 seconds at a time now. She is not yet cruising but looks like she wants to move while upright.

Julia started making many more sounds on October 7, including ones that are starting to sound like words.

She seems even more frustrated than usual with eating solids. She refuses to let others give her cereal in the morning, and has figured out how to spit anything out that she doesn't want to eat. Sometimes it's just a slow refusal. Stuff will go in, she'll taste it, and then it'll slowly ooze out of her mouth again. So messy and amusing to watch. I've just been going with it, keeping it happy, but it's been challenging. I feel like she's regressing - refusing pureed stuff she ate a few weeks ago.

I've been having her try different textures and foods, and just letting her play with it. She's more inclined to touch new foods, and sometimes will bring it to her lips, but won't actually put it in her mouth. Feeding them smaller pieces of spaghetti (mostly to play) is a riot. They wiggle it around, but then it accidentaly sticks to their face, hand or bib and they lose track of where it is. I intervene every now and then to help them locate it, and then I'm rewarded with a giggle when I hand it back to them. Who said you couldn't play with food? Despite the challenges, I love meal times. They crack me up.

More in a separate post about taking them to the acupuncturist for reflux in an effort to get them off the Pre.va.cid once and for all.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

10-11 months - Hold on! I can't keep up!

The girls are 11 months old this week and I'm delighted and overwhelmed at the thought of celebrating their first birthday. I get all bent out of shape just thinking about the year. Their joyous but scary birth, the rollercoaster NICU ride, the months of horrible reflux, the Early Intervention, and all the incredible firsts. I'm already starting to see signs of my "babies" disappearing and turning into little toddlers. This makes me incredibly happy and incredibly sad.

I am struggling to keep up with their milestones, because they're happening fast and furious right now. The babies have been sick, and uncharacteristically clingy, so it's made it that much more challenging to not only care for them, but to keep track of it all.

Here are my utterly incoherent observations of the last month, mostly to document it for posterity before I forget it all. Disclaimer: as you're reading this, just know that it's jumping around from milestone to milestone, with no bridge in between (who has time to work on flow!) I'm writing this on 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep after a horrific week of having sick, snotty, cranky babies.

****

On August 30, Julia crawled on her hands and knees instead of sailing on her tummy for the very first time. It was just a few "steps" but still! Now she's crawling properly all the time and it's so cool to watch her zoom. I thought she'd go from commando crawling to cruising, but she stuck with it and figured out "true" crawling. I can no longer tell Julia and Emma apart when they're crawling away from me. They're both super fast and so coordinated. Such determined little babies too.

Ada has had an explosion of movement the past week. She's so much less frustrated. She is such a bubbly, happy baby during the day. She is content to play on her own and observe what everyone else is doing, but is very independent.

Ada manages to travel farther and farther without actually crawling. She turns and scoots on her butt. It's pretty funny. At first she just turned and then wiggled and wiggled until she inched closer to toys, but now she's flyin' on her butt. She will literally "walk" on her behind, cheek by cheek, from the nursery to the living room! It's way adorable.

She used to pull her sisters over by yanking on their bibs to reach their toys. Now she snags whatever she wants. It's payback time, because her sisters have been snagging her toys and crawling away for weeks now! Missy Ada now wants to pull up and stand. She's not quite strong enough to pull herself up, but will reach for me with outstretched arms to help her stand up. Once she's up, she giggles. It's too cute. She is balancing a bit better every day and will soon be standing for a few seconds on her own, the way Emma and Julia do.

She now waves bye bye and will say, "ta ta" while waving goodbye. She did this the first time last week Wednesday as I was leaving for work. It was extra hard to leave them after that overdose of cuteness!

She started handing me her toy today and I gratefully accepted, thanking her, and then handed it back. Now it's a game. We were handing toys back and forth for goodness knows how long, but neither she nor I can get enough of it. I just love that she's figuring out give and take. She's also figured out that the stacking ring hole is fun to peer through, and that the shape sorter silos can neatly fit through the largest blue stacking ring. I think because she was stationery for so long, it forced her to do more detailed exploration of toys while her sisters were zooming all over the place. She's also talking more than them, and started making "sss" and "shh" sounds yesterday.

Ada clapped hands for the first time today! This felt like such a huge milestone, because she has low muscle tone and it's a little harder for her to bring her hands together. Her sisters have been clapping for a few weeks now, and she has been doing the "chicken dance of excitement" whenever they clap. But today her hands were open and she brought them together to clap while I was standing a few feet away. Beautiful.

Ada cut her 5th and 6th teeth on September 1. One next to top middle teeth, and one next to bottom middle teeth. I think another bottom tooth is on its way, because she's been feeling her gum in that spot with her tongue all day.

***

Emma clapped hands for the first time on September 7 and that same day, stood on her own for a good 20 seconds. I was like, "Wait! What?! You're STANDING!" I couldn't believe it. Since then, she's been practicing this newfound skill every chance she gets. She's so sturdy on those tiny little legs of hers. She'll clap hands while standing without losing her balance.

She's working on standing up from a crawling position. She'll stand on all fours, with her butt in the air. Or she'll dive down from a standing position to swipe a toy off the floor. Pulling up against anything is 2nd nature for her now. I'm just amazed that our littlest monkey, who had the roughest NICU ride, is leading the pack in terms of gross motor skills. She's made incredible progress since her initial EI evaluation. The smart money is on her walking first. But I'm not the betting kind.

She likes to take these huge T-Rex type steps. She'll lift her leg way up and then plonk it down. Walking is probably still a ways off, for which I'm thankful. Once they can all walk, we're so screwed. Seriously.

***

Julia is breathing down Emma's neck with every single skill mentioned above. They are developing so similarly that it's uncanny.

Julia stood on her own for about 10 seconds on September 10 and has been getting better at it ever since. She wants to cruise and take steps, and will pull up on everything. She loves to lie down on the Boppy pillow and then slide over it on her back until her head touches the ground. Then she'll look at the world upside down and just let out these bursts of giggles that seem to say, "Look at me! I'm being silly!." I love that she laughs like my brother. Her personality reminds me a lot of my own, which is sure to spell trouble down the road. She's mostly amused, but reserves the all-out belly laughs for the special tickles or raspberry games I play with her 1:1. She's always watching when I play with her sisters, and always smiles along, even if the game isn't being played with her.

This poor kid is still struggling the most with reflux. She loves her puffs and Cheerios, but gags on pieces of banana or anything that isn't dry-ish and firm. The speech pathologist suggested I try peeled, cooked apple and she vomited. Just lovely. I felt so bad for my little munchkin and she looked so miserable and helpless when it happened. I never knew eating could be this hard!

Today she turned a toy over to look for the on/off switch. She knows it has a vibrating function and there's something I do to make it work... or not work (when I need peace from the incessant silly ditties.) It's only a matter of time.

***

There were about 2 weeks where I'd go into their nursery to find Emma standing, Julia sitting and Ada lying down. Now that Julia can pull to stand, she and Emma are almost always standing up and chit-chatting. Ada is still lying down, but she's rolling over from one end of the crib to the other to get the best eye contact with her sisters.

They talk up a storm in the nursery every morning. I often leave them for a few minutes while I stand outside the door, just listening and being intrigued by their "conversations." Sometimes it really sounds like full sentences. They are starting to imitate one another (and us). One will cough, and the others will follow with an utterly fake cough. Or one will blow a raspberry and the others will respond with the same.

I just love this age. As hard as the nights have been (they've been BRUTAL!), the days always make up for that. They wake up with smiles, giggles and hugs for me and are such fun to be around. This summer, we have been going on tons of fun outings. They were in a parade, we took them to a museum, the zoo, a picnic with colleagues, a state park, etc. We go hiking on a local trail with them a few times a week.

Sadly, we've packed away their swimming pool, but they loved every second of "swimming" in our backyard this summer. Such water babies. We have a swing set in the backyard that they tried out for the first time on September 6. They love the swings, and I love it, because I can swing all 3 simultaneously.

I'm looking forward to the fall and winter, but we'll have to get creative during RSV season. If this week's colds are any indication, I really want to avoid having sick babies all winter long.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Waving Talking Crawling Standing Madness

Ada started saying "Ada" very clearly. Last week it was just "ah" "dah", but now she's putting it together.

Ada waved to the dog and then her dad today, opening and closing her hand. Her sisters aren't waving yet, but are mesmerized when I open and close my hand to show them how to wave. It's like I possess a magic power. They look at my hand, crinkle their nose in fascination, look at theirs, wiggle their fingers, but can't quite get it yet.

Ada isn't crawling yet, but she managed to turn around while seated - 180 degrees. It's funny how she can scoot without getting out of a sitting position. She has figured out how to pull toys towards her, and she benefits from her sisters dropping toys wherever they crawl.

She's starting to want to stand more and I suspect she's going to give this crawling thing a pass altogether. It's beneath her, methinks. Little Miss Ada gets incredibly upset when she's on her tummy. It's a reflux thing. She arches and straightens her legs to get out of that position. She can almost get herself into a seated position from lying down.

What a wondrous day that'll be, because she gets so frustrated and tantrum-screams when she topples over and can't get herself off the floor again. Then when we help her up, she's all smiles and giggles again.

Emma is pulling to stand, and letting go with both hands, standing on her own for a few seconds at a time. She did it the first time on the 25th (10 months from birth day) and has repeated it a few times since then. She's so solid when standing - she really has great balance for that tiny little body of hers.

Julia stood by herself for a few seconds today. She and Emma are hitting the same milestones very very close to one another. It's uncanny. They rolled over on the same day, sat unassisted on the same day, cut the same teeth on the same day...

Julia is getting herself stuck in her crib almost daily. She's such a little wriggly worm. She figured out she could lift her bum off the mattress and slam down with both her legs and does that repeatedly. Now Emma has caught on and is doing it too. The two of them are such little monkeys. They rev one another and will sit and say, "aah" "aah" to one another, increasing in intensity and taking turns and then burst out laughing. It's such a funny game to watch. Ada just smiles and looks at them like they are nuts.

They're all starting to be more uncertain around strangers - an important developmental milestone. Especially Emma needs more time to adjust to new places, people and situations. She had a quivering lower lip today when a friend picked her up, and started bawling when we bathed her in our big soaker tub. It was the first time we bathed all three together in our big bathtub instead of one by one in their baby tub and I guess the sudden shift caught her off guard. She did acclimate eventually and was kicking and slapping the water while shrieking with laughter towards the end. Hopefully tomorrow night's bath time will start happier, too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

10 months - pulling up to stand

Whoa - we have busy bodies in this house! They are all hitting so many milestones at once that I'm losing track and just had to post to catch up before they're onto the next thing.

We have stopped charting and keeping track of every bottle. This is a big milestone for me, because I'm finally trusting that they're eating enough. Emma isn't on the official growth curve yet, but, like her sisters, she is following her own growth curve nicely. They are all still getting breastmilk, but we have been supplementing Julia and Emma's bottles with high calorie Neosure. As of this week, they are off the Neosure! In addition to the breastmilk, they're now drinking just regular Enfamil. Phew - so much easier to prepare their bottles and mix only one kind of formula for all 3 in addition to the breastmilk.

Ada is leveling out after rocketing up the weight charts at a 45 degree angle. She's in the 84th percentile for weight, which is incredible compared to the 3 pound 14 oz preemie she was at birth. Julia is somewhere in the middle. On the growth curve, but below average for weight.

I've cut down on the number of times I express milk for them, and they're now getting about 50/50. It's been hard for me to let go and start to wean them, but as they're eating more solids, I can at least try to rationalize it. I try to feel good about what I've provided to them these past 10 months, but it's still challenging. My body and mind need a break from the constant pumping. I'm still pumping 3-4 times a day despite my part-time work schedule, but it's nowhere near the 6-8 times it used to be. Not feeling chained to the pump has been wonderful, but it's also hard not to feel guilty about cutting back and reclaiming some normalcy.

This past week Julia and Emma have been pulling up to stand. Emma managed to do that in her crib on August 16, which prompted an emergency lowering-of-the-mattresses on all 3 cribs. They go into 4x4 mode and bulldoze over our legs when we're on the floor with them, and pull themselves up while holding onto our clothes. They are so busy, but we also have our hands freer than ever, because they can sit without falling over, and two out of three can crawl to where they want to be.

They are much less frustrated than just a month ago, and such a joy to be around now.

They have been eating puffs for about two weeks now and are doing well with it. No gagging when they feed themselves, it works great to keep them busy while I mix their cereal. I've also been able to eat breakfast at the feeding table while they eat their puffs. It's been amazing to watch them improve their pincer grasp and how many puffs actually make it into their mouths as opposed to dropping on the floor. We tried cheerios today and they did fine with it. Emma was even preferring the cheerios - she picked them out between the organic apple puffs!

They are all eating pureed apple, pear, banana, sweet potato, butternut, zucchini, green beans and peas. They've tried pureed blueberries with mixed success. On Thursday, they tried banana pieces and did fine. We cook and puree most of their food ourselves. Whatever is not in season, I buy premade, but that is in the minority.

The speech pathologist was here this morning to check their progress with the solids (they were struggling because of the reflux.) On a side note: she told me clapping comes before waving. I tried showing them all how to clap hands. Julia looked like she was going to get it, so I held her on my lap and moved her hands towards one another (still in fists), then showed her how to open her hands and with fingers curled made the clapping motion. I showed her my open hands again, she then opened hers, and without my help, she clapped her hands together! She had it down in about two minutes. I was so excited - I couldn't believe it.

Now she has a new party trick and claps hands all the time, even above her bottle, while I'm feeding her. It's hilarious to watch. I'm still working with Ada and Emma. They can all bang toys together, so I guess it's just a matter of time before they get it too.

When their dad came home yesterday, they were super excited. Ada "flapped" her arms like a flailing little bird, and Julia and Emma crawled toward him. It was the first time he received such a big reaction from the trio. They have just started reaching out to us to be picked up. Not every time, but it's so special to see them communicate that they want our attention.

When something new or strange happens, they all have this curious expression on their faces: their eyebrows perk up and they scrunch their noses. It's pretty funny.

There is so much joy in every moment now. There's an explosion of interaction. We're just soaking it all up after all the hard months. This is the most fun I've had. Ever.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

9 Months - teething is out of control

Boy, are they teething! Julia is leading the pack with 8 teeth, 6 of which are cutting simultaneously (2 top front, 2 top eyeteeth and the bottom two next to her bottom front teeth). Emma is cutting her two top front teeth and 3rd and 4th bottom tooth simultaneously. Ada is taking it slower, with her 3rd cutting now.

Suffice it to say we haven't slept much in this household. They've been taking turns waking up at all hours. We are as exhausted as we were those first five months.

Emma sitting up from crawling position as of yesterday. Saying, "mama, tata." Ada is making "bwa bwa" sounds. Julia is saying "mama" (she has been saying this the longest) and making these funny Spanish-sounding rrr sounds. She talks more when she's tired and then it becomes a whiny "mwa mwa mwa mwa" sound interspersed with "rrrrs."

Emma started crawling last week and has become more coordinated and faster with every passing day. Julia started commando crawling the same day Emma figured it out. Julia gets from point A to point B faster than Emma. She is stronger on one side and places her right hand over her left hand and then pulls with both arms. She loves it when we have the Superyard gate down and she can slide from the foam mat onto the hardwood floor. Whoa, is she fast! She's constantly crawling towards the forced air grates over the vents and towards the dog.

Trying to take a photo with all 3 in the same position ended up feeling like I was herding cats. It's quite the adjustment for me that they're no longer staying where I put them. Scary!

Miss Ada is sitting and watching, but is just not motivated to follow suit yet. I'm sure she'll get there. She is taking her sweet time to do things, but is such a content, happy baby. I suspect she'll be our little day dreamer. I can already picture her sitting with a book somewhere, lost in thought.

They are snagging toys from one another left right and center. Yesterday I observed Ada taking a toy from Julia and Julia promptly snatching it back. Oh boy. I'm sure triplets will learn sharing before singleton babies, by necessity. I don't suspect it will be any easier, though. Fortunately, there's equal opportunity snatching of toys. Although Ada isn't crawling to get toys, she certainly benefits from her sisters crawling and dropping toys near her.

It's too cute when Julia and Emma pick toys up, make a "run" for it (sometimes with the toy in their mouth like a little puppy), sit and play with it for awhile, and then when they're done with it, drop it behind them. It looks like they're hiding it! It cracks me up every time.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A mother's lament

The girls are starting to crawl. I'm trying hard to embrace their newfound independence, but we are utterly unprepared for this next phase. Of course we knew it was coming, but it still feels like it happened overnight.

We rushed out and bought an extra tall gate for the stairs that lead to the basement, hastily plugged all of the electrical sockets, and have the XT Superyard up around their play area.

Suddenly, our entire house seems like a danger zone - a choking, pinching, toppling over hazard. They crawl towards the dog, the camera, grab at my coffee cup while I'm drinking it, poke one another in the eye, want to crawl inside the exersaucers and underneath the bouncy seats. They demand constant vigilance now and I realize it will only get worse.

They are growing and developing so fast. I choke up when people comment that they've lost their infant-look, when I pack away clothes they've outgrown, or when I think about their first birthday just three months away. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited by their progress, proud of how far we've come, but I can't shake the sadness that I'll never get to experience this particular kind of baby magic again.

I feel like I've hardly had a chance to enjoy their babydom. It has consumed almost every minute of every day, but having triplets immerses you so fully and completely in the experience that you rarely have a chance to step back and recognize time has past.

I force myself to come to a standstill sometimes and just breathe. I watch them sleep, or linger a minute to snuggle their necks and steal kisses before I lay them down after a middle-of-the-night feeding. I play peekaboo, tickle games, and blow raspberries on their tummies, but there's never enough time between everything else that needs to happen to just enjoy being with them. It always feels like stolen moments.

It's almost with a shock that I realized I've stopped burping them, or that they no longer wail for every little thing.

Mostly their cries are now related to frustration at not being able to get into a specific position or reach a specific toy. Even though they don't have separation anxiety, they often let out a quick displeased cry when I dare walk away.

They crack us up when they talk to one another, giggle at one another's antics, or mimic one another. When they're in the exersaucers and one starts to jump, it causes such a ruckus when the others join in and it leads to lots of belly laughter. They really do amuse one another. It's adorable to watch.

I often sneak a peek into their bedroom when they've woken up to see them "chatting" with and cooing at one another. Sometimes they'd coo a bit before falling asleep too. There are lots of conversations happening in their nursery that we're not privy to.

Their personalities are really starting to show. They're such little people now.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Eight Months - Sitting!

Ada has been sitting up unassisted since June 29. She's not comfortable on her belly and doesn't roll as frequently as her sisters. It'll take some time before she starts crawling, I think. She still falls backwards sometimes, and struggles to go from a seated position to a crawling position, so we still have a Boppy pillow behind her, just in case.

For a few weeks now, Emma has been rocking back and forth in an attempt to start crawling. A couple of days ago she finally managed to free her hands one at a time and scootch her knees forward. She's so darn close now. Be afraid!

She started cutting her first top front tooth last week, and a 3rd bottom tooth cut yesterday. Our littlest peanut, who struggled the most in the NICU, is blazing a trail. The past two weeks eating cereal has finally clicked for her as well and she now anticipates the spoon coming towards her and opens her mouth. I'm sure they think I'm a riot because there's lots of bee buzzing and chucka chucka toot-toot train sounds as the spoon approaches them. It's so much faster to feed her now than it was in the beginning. Emma and Julia both have a pretty significant gag reflex. When I tried peas and sweet potato (different feedings), she gagged and barfed.

Julia is close to sitting unassisted and can get herself into a crawling position, but hasn't been able to move forward yet. Her first top tooth is just under the surface. She doesn't particularly care for solids and clams shut if it's anything but cereal and fruit.

They're clinging on to us when we pick them up. Just like little monkeys. They're not stretching out their arms to be picked up yet, but I noticed Ada reaching somewhat when her dad bent down to pick her up yesterday.

We've been teaching them basic sign language and yesterday Julia made the sign for milk. She opened and closed her hand several times in a very deliberate way. It was an approximation of the sign, but I'll take it.

I suddenly realized last week that we're no longer burping them. They tend to take care of it themselves when they start moving around. It's the best. With them sitting a bit better, I suddenly have my arms free while playing with them and it's so much easier!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Checking in at the doctor's office

Being a triplet momma often elicits big reactions from strangers. Even without my kids present. I've gotten used to the idea of having triplets. As used to it as is possible, I guess, because it does still feel weird to use the word, "triplets." I just think of them as my 3 children, born minutes apart.

So there I was, presenting myself to the receptionist at the doctor's office. She asks me all the usual questions to confirm my identity. "My personal information is unchanged and my insurance number is the same. But there are a few new names on the card, in case you wanted to scan it again."

I hand over the insurance card.

She: Which name is new?
Me: There are 3 new names - my babies.
She: Wait. What?
Me: I have triplets.
She: YOU had triplets?
Me: Yes.
She: YOU?
Me: Yes. Almost 8 months ago now.
She (incredulous as she sizes me up): You BIRTHED them yourself?
Me (smiling): I did.
She (now elbowing her colleague to share her disbelief): Hey, SHE (pointing at me) had T.R.I.P.L.E.T.S?! Can you believe it?!

Now I have all 6 employees behind the window staring up at me, asking questions simultaneously. I answer them all, and then drift away on a cloud of ego-stroked bliss.

The girls' development at seven months

The girls are all starting to sit up, but they are not able to sit unassisted yet. They laugh out loud - easily and frequently - and it's just the best sound ever. It melts my heart. Of course, they think their parents are a riot. We pull faces, play tickle games, make funny sounds as we touch their noses and blow raspberries. Any game that works with anticipation is just the ticket.

In general, getting belly laughs and giggles now is so much easier than two months ago. It's bliss! I love love love this fabulous stage.

They light up when they see my husband or I and what could be better than that? They are totally okay with being picked up and held by our friends, but they definitely keep tabs on my whereabouts, which is so cute. They're starting to be a little less sure around people they haven't met or seen in a while, so we're seeing a few quivering lower lips every now and then. It usually just takes a quick reassuring expression from me or them just catching sight of me, for them to settle down and enjoy the interaction with the "new" person.

Ada finally rolled from stomach to back and once she figured it out, she couldn't stop doing it. They all go to sleep on their tummies because of reflux, but when they aren't tired enough, they'll flip themselves over. This usually goes along with a ginormous grin observed out of the corner of my eye as I'm trying not to make eye contact. Sometimes there's a giggle for special effect, and a fabulous, "Look what I can do! I'm so totally adorable. Come on, pick me up!" expression.

We resist the urge to interact when they're going down for a nap, but I often walk out of the nursery, close the door and then crack up because the cuteness factor is simply off the scales.

Julia and Emma are rolling both ways now. They're not able to roll multiple times yet. Emma almost did it yesterday, but then a toy distracted her and stopped her in her tracks. Our littlest is the most mobile of the three. She has been making crawling motions and will get her one leg under her and rock, but then doesn't know where to take the movement. She scootches after toys, and is quick as lightning when it comes to snagging toys away from in front of her sisters. Emma has been tummy "surfing" in circles recently. She completed two 360 degree circles in the spate of a few minutes.

We often joke how true it is that kids would rather play with the cardboard box than their toys. They love the shadows on the walls, the tags on their toys, bouncy seats and Boppy pillows, and playing with their own fingers and toes!

On that note: we have 3 little toe suckers now. Eek! I know it's a developmental milestone when they find their feet and can bring their toes to their faces, but yikes. I've even caught them suckling on one another's toes, which is just one more wonderful benefit to being a triplet: 30 toes to suck on!

I often find them holding or touching one another's hands, faces and hair. Those are the sweetest moments. There is, of course, lots of accidental slapping of their sisters (darn those fine motor skills), accidental face poking and scratching, but for the most part, they're as gentle as they can be at this age.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sunday, June 06, 2010

It Finally Happened

Imagine that: a good night's sleep! All 3 girls slept through the night and we did too. No waking, no fussing, no feeding, no nothing between 11 and 7. Not a peep!

And miracle of all miracles: both Dh and I slept straight through too. Usually, we're anticipating their wake cycle and struggle to go back to sleep despite being overtired. Dh thought I was up with them and I thought he was up with them. It took us a while this morning to realize they had slept through the night.

I was so uncomfortable during the IVF cycle and pregnancy that there was no sleeping through the night. Therefore it is the first solid night of uninterrupted sleep in more than 14 months!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Out & About

We've been getting out much more often, which is phenomenal. The girls love it, and I get a sanity break. It is a heck of a lot of work to pack, load, unload, feed, diaper, load, unload on my own when we're on the go, but I manage. Whenever we venture out with the minivan, I'm exhausted by the time we're home. But it gets easier the more we do it.

Going out for walks around the neighborhood is much easier and faster. We regularly go on a 2 mile hike on a nearby trail. It used to be a railroad track, so it's not too uneven with the stroller. Just a good enough shakey shake to help them burp!

We participated in a parade recently and it was awesome. I mean, we're a freak show anyway with the triplet limo, so why not flaunt it? There were lots of exclamations along the lines of, "Triplets? Awesome!" or "Look, cute babies!" and "Wow, triplets!" Wonderful, supportive shouts of "Yay for the mommy!" which was just magic to hear. I loved seeing the crowd's reaction and my husband had a video camera pointed at the crowd so we could capture it for posterity. My face hurt, I was smiling so much.

The girls get tons of attention whenever we head out, of course, because who can resist a baby? Any baby. And 3 of them, well, that's just 3 times the magnet.

I've learned to embrace it rather than resent it, since they'll blend in soon enough once they start walking and we ditch the stroller. I realize spotting triplets is a novelty, and I would probably have reacted the same way if I suddenly encountered a set of adorable triplets.

We're lucky in the sense that we haven't had too many awful comments and that not a single stranger has attempted to touch the babies. There are often very strange and quirky questions, comments and responses that amuse me. People are clearly caught off guard and then say the funniest things. The best one from yesterday, "Are they REAL triplets?" I just laughed proudly and said, "Yes!" But it left me wondering: real... as opposed to?

Since we were in a huge parade, I knew people would be taking photos and I was sort of trying to be okay with that. The only annoying encounter we had was when a woman walked up before the parade as we were crossing the street and without even making an attempt to talk to us, she just put her cell phone camera in their faces to take a photo. I purposefully stood in front of her, made a face, and said in an offended tone, "No. Please don't." Ugh. Thankfully, she retreated and said, "Sorry." I think people don't realize in that moment that these are my children, not some oddity. She had kids with her, and I'm sure she'd be mortified if some stranger walked up to her, randomly pulled out a camera, and took close up photos of her kids! Sheesh, people.

On a happier note, there was a surprise bonus: we spotted 2-year old triplets in the crowd during the parade! The mom was waving like crazy to get our attention. LOL. And afterwards, a woman came up to me to tell me her best friend was 10 weeks pregnant with triplets. I gave her my contact details to share with her friend, and I hope she reaches out to me. It's so scary in the beginning when you have no idea what the outcome of your pregnancy will be. If she contacts me, I'd love for her to meet our kids and hopefully, that will give her some encouragement to see how they're thriving now.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Miss Personality x 3

Over these past 6 months, I've learned to distinguish my babies' cries from one another, to pick up on their tired and hungry cues before it reaches epic proportions, and to be in the moment with them.

They're acting more like little girls these days rather than fragile preemie infants and it's wonderful to see.

Ada has started cooing more frequently and with a larger repertoire of sounds. She laughs out loud more often and giggles in reaction to the games we play with her. She can go from frowning and looking very serious to the widest, happiest, beaming smile. She's such a joy and was first to laugh out loud. Ada is more content during the day than at night. Her fussy periods are thankfully shorter than they used to be. She still doesn't settle herself, though. When she gets overstimulated or overtired, it's really hard to calm her down. She has the saddest sob ever and it takes a long time to calm her down after she cried. Sometimes I can't soothe her at all regardless of trying all "The Happiest Baby on the Block" techniques and it just breaks my heart when she cries uncontrollably like that. I don't want to rush this precious stage she's in right now, but I can't wait for her to outgrow the GERD (reflux) and colic.

She loves eating solids and we have progressed from rice cereal to veggies and rice cereal with fruit. So far, she's tried carrots, peaches, green beans, pears and apples. She made the FUNNIEST "What are you doing to me?!" face when we offered her the carrots and peaches, but ate it anyway. She waves her arms and kicks her legs when I approach her with the bowl and spoon and then proceeds to smack her lips once she tastes the food. It's a riot watching her eat as she's now taken to blowing raspberries and "speaking" with her mouth full of food. I've also been sneezed upon with a mouth full of sticky cereal!

Ada is not that into her toys yet and struggles with gross motor movements. She is pretty sturdy in the sitting department, but movement? Not so much. She can hold her head up and push up, but is not interested in aeroplaning or rolling.

Julia is grasping toys with both hands and studying them. She coos and blows bubbles and makes lots of different sounds. Unlike most babies, she decided to make consonant sounds before attempting the vowels. She likes to say, "rrrr" like the Spanish would pronounce it. She had a few fussy days recently and the drooling has increased a million fold, so we figured teething was imminent. We were right. Two days ago, we noticed her first bottom tooth, and today she's sporting another. She's cutting them fast and furious.

Julia was the last to come home from the NICU, but first to roll over from stomach to back, and she's first in the teething department. She was first to push up when lying on her tummy. Now that she knows how to coo, giggle, push up and roll, it takes some effort on our part to get her to keep doing it. She seems to bore easily. As soon as she acquires a new skill, she wants to move on to the next big thing. Her latest maneuver is lying on her back and lifting both legs up. Once she realizes she can sway her body to the side by doing that, she'll be rolling to her tummy in no time.

She has a slightly more serious disposition than her sisters. She finds my games amusing and will laugh out loud when I persist, but I have to earn it. Tough crowd. Sometimes I'll only get half a smile. She does this almost teenager-like expression where just the corner of her mouth is turned upward, like she's throwing me a bone. "Here, mom, here's your consolation prize for trying so hard."

Julia has tasted all of the same foods as Ada, but isn't as keen on solids at this point.

Emma is our tiniest pixie (we call her "Pixel" sometimes because she's so small). She has struggled the most with reflux. Despite that, she is such a content baby. She soothes herself to sleep by sucking her thumb and is by far our champion sleeper.

Emma has such a sweet, calm disposition. She rarely cries and fusses and now that we have switched to Prevacid for GERD, she is eating much better. A few weeks ago, I struggled to get 22 oz in her per day, but now she is regularly eating 26oz+ and less symptomatic. She isn't into solids at all and gags easily, but we've been having her taste whatever Ada eats, just for practice.

Now that her cheeks are filling out, you can see her dimples!

Even though she's much smaller than her sisters, she is pretty darn strong. During tummy time she pushes herself up the farthest and was the first to figure out that she can extend an arm to reach toys when she pivots to one side. She stares at her hands, opens and closes them like they're the best thing since sliced bread, and has clearly figured out that they're useful appendages. Just yesterday she snagged a toy that her sisters were looking at and I thought, "Oh boy, here we go."

Nobody is aware of their feet yet. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before they realize they have feet and start chewing their toes. Tee hee.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Getting the giggles

The girls have been smiling and cooing for quite some time and every now and then we heard Ada giggle. Yesterday, suddenly, they all got the gigggles. What a delight to hear all 3 laughing out loud! It was more of a gasp-giggle sound, but I'll take it.

Now I know it's easy to entertain any baby with "tickle tickle," peekaboo, funny noises, face pulling and blowing raspberry games, but mine had been looking at me like I had two heads. Not that it deterred me (hee hee), but I was starting to wonder if our sense of humor gene had skipped a generation.

That's until yesterday. Close friends came over and their almost-teenage son helped to entertain the girls. It all started with a soft toy frog. He made, "doob de doob de doob" sounds as the frog slowly "jumped" toward their faces. They thought it was hilarious. Granted, the frog is pretty goofy looking with its tongue sticking out and it is one of their favorite toys, but something just clicked for them. Once they figured out they could laugh audibly, there was no stopping them.

Every game from that point on solicited chuckles and belly laughs. It is the most beautiful sound. Ever.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Bonding

This post has been brewing in my mind since the early days of infertility. I've often wondered how I would bond with my child(ren). Would it be an instantaneous feeling at some significant "safe" point during pregnancy, a progressive realization culminating in birth, or a combination of experiences and interactions prior to and post birth?

I felt an instant connection when I first saw 3 little flickers on the ultrasound. I knew they were my babies, but it didn't feel real for many many months. I went ahead with a CVS procedure to help ease my mind or help prepare me for a child (or children) with special needs. There was never any doubt that I loved these peanuts who were growing inside me. Even though I was thrilled, scared, intrigued and mesmerized by them on every ultrasound, it still felt strangely unreal. It just wasn't sinking in that I could actually have children - let alone three.live.babies.

I guess it was self-preservation in the event I miscarried one or all, sheer overwhelmedness at the prospect of raising triplets, and continued disbelief that I was fortunate enough to be pregnant at all.

Now that I'm on the other side of the birth, have had the life changing experience of meeting my children, and have had the benefit of a mere 5 months of perspective, I'm still not entirely sure. But somehow, in the past few weeks, I've felt more bonded to these babies than I did during the pregnancy, their birth and shortly thereafter.

Anyone who has had a C-Section can understand how robbed one feels after the birthing experience. If having children is one's singular focus for so many years, it's hard not to feel a little cheated by the way the actual birth happens. You are shielded from seeing your children's first breath, censored from the full experience. It is bizarre. After having carried them for so long, there is no moment of recognition, no skin-to-skin snuggle, no meet and greet. Just a frenetic, sterile OR with babies briskly whisked away by NICU staff.

You are left pondering the biggest moment in your life while being stitched up, sedated and unable to move. There is no post-birth bliss, no time to exhale and just breathe, no moment untainted with fear over their well being. I heard their cries in surround sound as they were born, and listened as it faded down the hallway when they were being wheeled to the NICU.

The NICU ritual is even more distancing. You sanitize your hands, cover your clothes, touch your babies through isolette port holes at designated times. It is regimented, structured, clinical... There is no privacy, nowhere to bond with your babies or flee when the fear and guilt at their premature birth and suffering overtake you.

It's no wonder then that our bonding has progressed slowly. With each glimpse of their personalities, each prolonged stretch-after-waking that resembles a slow thaw, each snuggle, each smile, each cry, their being is etched deeper onto my heart. I'm so in love with them. Even more profoundly, I am so fond of them.

I find myself staring at each of my babies in wordless wonderment, even when I'm exhausted beyond comprehension. I feel strangely empty when I'm away from them, like I'm missing an essential body part. I know I will never be whole again unless they are in my life.

They look at me knowingly, with the expectation that I will feed them, clean them, entertain them, ease their pain. Their cries are like shock waves of electricity to my soul, a visceral reaction requiring immediate attention.

They are barely five months old, but in this short period of time, they have made me a mother. Finally.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Strange encounters of the third kind

Today a year ago I took a home pregnancy test and well, the rest is history. I can hardly believe our babies are five months old already. As I was packing away their 0-3 month clothes, it just hit me how fast they're growing.

Ada is 16 lbs, Julia 12 and Emma 11. Ada is in size 3 diapers - rapidly approaching size 4 - and wearing 6-9 month clothes. Julia and Emma are wearing size 2 diapers and 3-6 month clothes.

Although their newborn phase is a blur of NICU visits, sleepless nights, refluxing and horror feedings, I'm sad that it has gone by as fast as it did. If infertility has taught me anything, it's to enjoy every moment, but I feel like I've barely blinked and they're almost halfway to toddlerhood.

Our time is even more precious now as I am planning to return to work. I don't know how on earth I'm going to manage it. I'm excited to be back at work, even just part time, as I love my job, the place where I work, and my colleagues. However, I'm filled with trepidation about the level of juggling it will entail. I don't want to be spread so thin that I'm both a bad mother and a bad employee. I guess time will tell. Perhaps being forced to lower my standards will be a good life lesson to learn. Gmph!

It's been a loooong winter of being cooped up and quarantined. I'm looking forward to getting out more often with the trio, and introducing the babies to the big, wide world. Fortunately, our cocooning efforts have paid off during the RSV season as we have managed to avoid illnesses so far.

In recent weeks, whenever the weather has allowed, we've been getting out of the house for walks using the Triple Decker stroller (we affectionately call it the "limo"). Today, as cars were driving by, I noticed how many people were rubbernecking. It was rather entertaining to watch drivers go, "What the hell was *that*?!" as they whip their heads around and then continue to stare from their rear view mirrors. I was afraid we were going to cause an accident.

Once we start heading out more frequently, I'm sure we'll get all sorts of "wonderful" questions and comments...

The girls received their last Synagis shots for the season today. Afterwards, to calm them down, we went for a stroll in a nearby park. There's no being inconspicuous with the "limo," but fortunately people were very friendly and respectful. I was braced for the stares and comments when a woman piped up from a minivan, "Excuse me! Are those triplets?!" I thought, "Ha! Here we go." I smiled politely and nodded affirmatively. She absolutely floored me when she responded with, "Because I have 5-year old triplets here in the car with me! Did you want to meet them?"

What are the chances of THAT happening on our first outing to a public park?! And so we met the most adorable, delightful, freckle-nosed 5-year old GGB trips who made me so excited for our future. We asked them who was born first, and they pointed to their sister. When I asked the little boy, he claimed he was the 2nd born, but then his other sister vehemently disputed that fact. It was so cute to watch them duke out their birth order.

They were with a friend of the family and therefore we didn't get to meet their parents, but hopefully they wouldn't mind being in touch with us.

All in all, a successful trip to the park was had by all.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Retrospective

Today, a year ago, I woke up in the depths of despair. The first self-pay cycle had failed and I just couldn't see us continuing to throw money down the drain for a shot at parenthood. I was lost, sad, angry, frustrated. I had spent months researching procedures, clinics and stats, reading forums and coming up with a plan, only for it to end in failure. Sure, my Endo surgery was successful and I had quality of life back, but still no baby.

I know one failed IVF/ICSI is nothing compared to what so many go through, yet I saw it as a sign that it would never work for us. I was thinking, "How do I pick up the pieces today only to be crushed by another failure a month or two from now?" What would be the point of torturing ourselves with failed cycle after failed cycle?

It all felt hopeless. I just couldn't see a way forward. My Dh wasn't keen on using donor sperm, even though he had relented. Adoption is too expensive, and our age would count against us. Yet I couldn't imagine my future without children in it.

I listened to a lot of Annie Lennox, specifically, "Songs of Mass Destruction" while my husband traveled internationally. The time alone was a blessing. I could lose myself in the despair without him witnessing the downward spiral. I could sob and feel sorry for myself without increasing his guilt. My days were spent trying to come to terms with our childless future while trying to keep it together at work.

The frozen lake near our house, the weeping willows surrounding it, and the stillness of late winter mirrored my state of mind. I was stuck in a perpetual winter.

Then my clinic offered to enroll us in a grant program. I couldn't believe we qualified to get a portion of the next IVF/ICSI cycle covered, but we did. The grant covered enough of the cycle to enable us to try one more time. Just one.more.time, with feeling. I was in a daze. Cycle #2 started just two days after the previous BFN. My husband was still out of the country. I just jumped in, blindly, as soon as my progestorone level normalized.

I was still numb when I went to buy the second cycle's meds. I didn't think it would work, but there was no other viable option on the road to parenthood. One foot in front of the other: inject Lupron and Gonal-F, ultrasound, repeat. I tried not to think too much, and just do.

And then I peed on a stick and was dumbstruck. I POAS again and again and again until there was no denying the second line. It was so early, I thought it was the trigger showing up, but then it got darker and darker instead of disappearing. Disbelief. Even after beta number one, two and three, I didn't dare hope that I could actually end up with a real, live, perfect baby of our own. The ultrasound showed three sacs, and later three heartbeats. Triplets.

It scared me. High risk. So many things could go wrong. The more I read about the risks, the more petrified I became.

Yet, here I am, with three real.live.healthy.babies. Despite the odds, despite my disbelief, despite the risks, despite preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome, despite their prematurity. I know I played roulette and won.

I'm incredibly thankful they made it, I made it, we made it. I know how rare it is to have a happy ending (or in our case, this happy beginning), to have this abundance, this instant family. I cherish my children. Always.

Although I do not wish a high risk pregnancy on anyone - and know of too many tragic outcomes - I do wish for everyone struggling with infertility to have the family they dream of.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Survival guide: things I couldn't live without

Expecting parents ask this question on Triplet Connection all the time. I hope this post helps parents-to-be, specifically those with multiples. When I was pregnant, I fashioned my own list of things to register for based on the information I found on blogs and forums, but I wished that someone could have done this legwork for me.

I'll be adding to this post as I think of more can't-live-without items.

TRIPLET MUST-HAVES

Triple Decker stroller. We use the Graco Safeseat infant carriers that click into the frame and it's worked very well to not load/unload 3 babies in and out of the car seats in cold weather.

3 Boppy pillows

3 Boppy covers

12+ Dr Brown's bottles (we bought the glass version and they've worked beautifully). We initially used Munchkin's glass bottles and love them too, but with 3 reflux babies, it was more important to switch to bottles with an internal vent. Read the post about glass bottles.

Bottle brush (we use Munchkin brand)

3 Munchkin drying racks

Crockpot or electric kettle to always have hot water on hand to warm bottles

24+ burp cloths. A friend bought more than two dozen "old style" cloth diapers for us to use as burp cloths since they're more absorbent than the commercially available muslin burp cloths. They're like hand towels, but square, and work beautifully. We go through *all* of them! It's handy to have enough to not do laundry every day, and to keep 3 in a diaper bag. We always have a clean one on the changing pad as an easily removable "cover" in the event that a baby pees while we're in the midst of a diaper change. It prevents urine from reaching their clothes in an "accident."

Bibs. We go through dozens of bibs with our refluxers. I like the Koala Baby bibs from Babies R Us as they're more absorbent than others we've tried.

3 Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe Blankets. I've heard good things about Miracle Blankets too. Alternatively, buy any 60x60 blanket large enough to swaddle securely. At 4 months, we do not swaddle the babies for naps and nighttime sleeping anymore, but it still works wonders when they're fussy. I know of many parents who swaddle their babies until 9+ months of age.

Swing(s). We have 3, but have only used 2. You could get away with 1.

Baby Björn or Moby Wrap. We have 3 Baby Björns, but only use 1.

3 Bouncy seats. We have used all 3, all the time, from the time that they could hold their heads up.

3 Cribs. Initially, you could get away with 1, or a Pack 'n Play. Our babies have slept in separate cribs at night from day 1, but we had them co-sleep in one crib for naps until they were about 3 months actual.

3 Bumbo seats. Our babies will start using these in the next few weeks. We've tried them, but at 4 months (2 months adjusted), the babies still tire easily.

Playmat(s). Get different mats with different toys to prevent them from getting bored.

Crib sheets. We have 6, but I'm going to buy more. We have crib sheet savers, but haven't used them yet.

Sleep & play suits with zippers. One caveat, these won't work if your babies come home on monitors. Fortunately, ours didn't use monitors and LIVE in these outfits. It's faster for diaper changes, especially the middle-of-the-night ones. Refluxing babies hate wearing anything with a waist band, so even though they have tons of cute outfits, they hardly get to wear them. Constantly chasing down 6 little socks gets old fast too.

Gripe water. This has made a HUGE difference. Even though the babies are on prescription meds for reflux, I see a marked difference every time I stop giving them gripe water.

PUMPING

Hospital-grade breast pump. I've used Medela Pump in Style Advanced (portable) and Medela Symphony (at the NICU) and both are very efficient. Unfortunately, my first Medela PISA broke after a month, which is the absolute worst fear of anyone who is exclusively pumping. Fortunately, Medela has terrific customer service and replaced it immediately by overnighting it to me. No problems since.

3 sets of breast shields so you don't have to wash pumping parts in the middle of the night. Many moms just rinse them and place them in a container in the fridge and wash them once daily. I prefer to wash them after each use, but that's just me. Having 3 sets allows me to toss them in the hot, soapy water after use and deal with washing them when the babies are napping.

Extra 8 oz Medela collection bottles (you could use a different brand too; anything with a standard opening fits on the Medela equipment). Glass is too heavy, though, but the glass bottles do fit if you've run out of clean collection bottles!

Hands-free pumping bra. You can buy one, or create one yourself by cutting holes in an old sports bra.