Sunday, February 28, 2010

On a roll!

Our little "middle" monkey is on a roll. This morning, Julia flipped herself from stomach to back. We didn't witness this incredible milestone, but I placed her on her stomach, changed her sister's diaper and when I returned, she was lying on her back with her head against the crib railing. So either she flipped herself over, or the aliens surreptitiously took her for a spin in their UFO.

**Edited on March 14 to add**
Our littlest pixie rolled over yesterday. She is one strong little peanut despite being way lighter than her sisters. She has struggled the most with reflux, and is lagging in weight, length and head circumference, but hit this milestone on her 3 month adjusted age "birthday." Not too shabby, my itty bitty baby. Emma is such a cutie - she's our very talkative, friendly, happy baby. Whenever she gets overtired or fed up with the reflux, she makes these babbling moaning sounds. Not crying, not grating on the soul, just a sad moan moan moan that sounds like "auwa auwa auwa." It melts my heart and makes we want to just rescue her and hold her tight.

We're still waiting for our beautiful firstborn chunky monkey to surprise us!

Sleep glorious sleep

Our little Ada slept 7 hours straight last night, from 11 to 7. Oh, the joy. She fusses and gives her colicky cry for a few hours before she goes to bed, but once she's asleep, it's bliss!

I'm feeling indescribably excited and hopeful about longer sleep cycles in our near future. These past few months have been wonderful, but the sleep deprivation is a doozy. It impairs my ability to function and steals the joy of interacting with them. Having my energy and zest back would be lovely.

Now if we can only get Ms Ada to repeat this feat - sans the 4 hours of crying that precedes the sleeping - and get the other two peanuts to follow suit, we'll be the happiest parents in the whole wide world. We're close. I can feel it.

It all began a few weeks ago when I noticed they weren't all that hungry when I was trying to feed them at night. They'd dreamfeed and each drink about half of their bottle, but weren't interested in more. I didn't force the issue, hoping they were starting to wean themselves of the 2 am feed and knowing that ultimately we'd want them to go without eating at night.

The next step was letting them go (sort of) "on demand" at night. Instead of waking the first one after 3 hours, we'd wait until one woke up and then feed them all. We noticed it was always Julia waking up first. It seemed Emma and Ada would sleep longer if we let them. Here's the rub, though. If you have triplets, you don't want to be up every single hour through the night feeding a baby, so it's a tricky scenario knowing when to let them go.

To figure out what kind of stretch each baby was capable of sleeping, I stayed up the first part of one night (11-2) and Dh the second part (2-5). Turns out, Emma and Julia could go 4 hours, and Ada 5 hours. Armed with this knowledge, we feed them all at 11 pm, then expect Julia and Emma to wake around 3 am. We let Ada sleep from 11 am until she wakes up, which was 4 am two nights ago, 5 am yesterday and 6 am today! She's definitely making huge progress. It will probably be another few weeks before Emma and Julia are able to go longer - they have some catching up to do weight-wise.

Here are a few tips I think have helped us:

- We've been actively waking them up at the same time every morning, regardless of what happens during the night.

- They're at the point now where they don't cry for food the minute they wake up, so it's starting to be possible to wake them simultaneously and get them situated in bouncy seats, boppy pillows, swings, etc. and then feed them one by one.

- We keep them on a 3-hour schedule during the day, and encourage them to eat as much as possible. Ultimately, we'll try to add in any ounces they "miss" during the night to their day feeds.

- I've noticed that they want to eat less in the morning (8-11 am), and then slowly eat more per feed as the day progresses. They are *hungry* when the sun goes down. Sometimes it feels like I'm feeding them all every 90 minutes from 5-9 pm, but I guess it's because they're gearing up to sleep through the night. Since they're struggling with reflux, eating large amounts at a time is still challenging for them.

- We dreamfeed them for all of their night feeds - from 8 pm to 8 am.

- The lights are kept very low at night (we can barely see!) This goes for the living room where we feed them, the bathroom where we change them, and their bedroom.

- We keep them snuggled in a blanket during their feed and "handle" them as little as possible. I hold them and burp them, but do a gentler version at night.

- We don't talk to them when it's "sleep" time. I whisper a few words when I pick them up and lay them down, but not in an excited tone of voice.

- We change diapers at 11 pm, but not during the wee hours of the night (unless there's a little stinker!) My dh has installed a small LED nightlight in the bathroom. It emits just enough light to change a diaper without waking them up.

- At night, we change diapers before feeding them. That way, they can fall asleep after the diaper change, during/after eating without being disturbed again. Works like a charm!

If you have more tips on how to get us a good night's sleep, please delurk to leave a comment.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Almost four months

The girls are doing beautifully. The joy and rewards have increased a million fold these past few weeks. They are now interacting with us on a consistent basis. They recognize us. I don't know why this surprises me so much, but they KNOW me.

I know they know me, and have known they would know me from the moment I fell pregnant, but it is different to see the recognition in their facial expressions. I never knew I had the power to make another human being light up the way they do when I walk in the room. It is humbling and joyful. It makes me feel like a mom, complete with that overwhelming sense of responsibility. Their vulnerability, and the expectation in their expressions, are simultaneously wonderful and terrifying.

These first few months with preemie triplets, who are all refluxing and colicky, have been much harder than I anticipated. The hardest part is not having the quality time with each of my children that I had dreamed about. Every snuggle with one means two others are missing out. I take turns to chat with each, to play with each, to feed and cuddle each of my babies, but it is always interrupted by another baby who is crying louder or needs me more. I relish the "stolen" moments when two are asleep and I can cuddle just one at a time. Of course, these moments also come at a cost, because we're trying to keep them on a schedule to save our sanity.

Much of our time is spent trying to feed them. They're growing nicely - to the tune of 12, 10 and 9 pounds each. Despite being in the midst of reflux hell, sleep deprivation, and the continuous "feed-cry-burp-cry-diaper-cry-sleep-cry" repeat cycle, the monotony is suddenly interspersed with these goofy, nose-creasing, gummy smiles that make my heart bounce. Their smiles are like booster shots of joy and energy for my depleted shell of a body. I continue to express more than 2 liters of milk a day (~66 oz) and although it's been exhausting to keep up the pumping schedule, I know this is what's best for them.

I laugh out loud with them dozens of times a day because they're so precious and they know it. They coo and make gargly baby noises, kick excitedly and slap at their dangling toys. We've even heard an audible giggle from Ada (Baby A). Our "firstborn" is the most high maintenance and demanding. Everything is high intensity with her. Her cries are blood curdling - like a smoke alarm you simply can't ignore - and her smiles are disarmingly sweet. She's my little firecracker, blazing through the night until 2 am when she finally collapses and then sleeps so soundly that I keep wanting to ask her, "Now was that really so hard, munchkin?" A few nights now, she has slept five hours straight. She's on the cusp of actually sleeping through the night, which fills me with tremendous hope.

Julia (Baby B) is the strongest physically. Although they are all holding their heads up, pushing up and turning their heads from side to side during tummy time, she is able to push herself up further and hold the position much longer than her sisters. She pushes herself up and then looks from side to side to see what's happening in the world. She is the most inquisitive baby and loves to spin the globe on her swing and play with the toys dangling from her bouncy seat. She often looks at me with this quizzical expression, as if she's asking me about what she's seeing. When I tell her about the world around her, she beams and coos. If my kids' personalities could be pinpointed on a pendulum, I'd say Ada is the one extreme, Emma the other, and Julia is somewhere in the middle.

Emma (Baby C) is such a relaxed, contented, quiet baby even though she struggles the most with reflux. She flashes her smile at me more frequently than her sisters and is always watching what we're up to. She is very observant. The smart money says she will check out how her sisters attempt new things and stumble their way through it and then she'll jump in and get it "right" the first time. She's my little pixie, but she amazes me with her strength.

They are all scooting around their cribs these days like little inchworms. Gone are the days that we could put them down in one crib for their short naps. It's hard to believe they're four months old this week.

Oh, the joy

I woke up this morning (yes, I get to sleep! sometimes!) to this thrilling news from Kate, tucked away in her award post. My heart is singing with joy for her and I just wanted to shout it from the rooftops.