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.