Sunday, March 30, 2008

Oatmeal and Beer

There is so much I could say about breast feeding triplets. It has been and continues to be a wonderful yet challenging experience. If I could make one thing about triplet motherhood easier it would without a doubt be this. I very much envy the mother who can exclaim, "Oh, she seems hungry" and plop the baby on for a nice feeding and bonding session without any worries. Despite its challenges though, I have not once thought of giving up.

There are lots of things people claim will help with milk production. I have tried some herbal supplements. I couldn't really tell a difference. I am very committed to the "whole grains" theory of milk production: I have a bowl of oatmeal and a beer everyday (not together, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. Depending on how the day goes indicates which I have in the morning). I have not seen how this makes a great impact on my supply but it makes a great impact on my enjoyment of the day, so I stay very committed to these whole grains.

The only thing that makes a substantial impact on my production is middle of the night pumping. For the first three months I pumped after every middle of the night feed. Since we dropped that feed, somewhere between three and four months of age, I have set my alarm and gotten up at two a.m. to pump for thirty minutes. When the babies got colds this last time I got pretty tired. We had two weeks of someone being up for varying lengths of time throughout the night. I got worn down and dropped a few of the nighttime pumping sessions. Unfortunately this habit quickly took hold. I haven't gotten up to pump in the middle of the night for two weeks now and my milk production has taken a big hit. It is hard to know how big of a hit because I have been breastfeeding Lucia a lot more lately. But I can tell the production is off substantially. For the past three nights I have told myself I would start back, but so far I have gotten up at two o'clock to check the babies and then gone back to bed. We'll see if tonight is my start back.

We took Mazie off breast milk when she turned four months old. She was having horrible gas pains much too often. All three babies were getting one-third to one-half breast milk in every feed. We had already switched Mazie's formula to a soy formula with Lucia and Elliott. When that did not seem to help, we switched her alone to a pre-digested/broken-down formula (yes it smells horrible. think elementary school lunch room where a kid has just gotten sick and the janitor has just spread that saw dust over the pile) and that helped. Still, she would have these episodes of complete inconsolable torment. They were almost as painful for H and I because there was nothing we could do to ease her pain. They got unbearable for me once we began to suspect that it was the breast milk causing her such strife. I had already gone off dairy six weeks earlier and that did not help her, though it did help the bit of trouble Lucia was having. Mazie's episodes were getting so bad and we were at a loss. At four months we stopped all breast milk and she has not had an episode since.

We were so happy with this improvement, but as time has gone by I have become increasingly uncomfortable with Mazie not receiving any breast milk. I want to see if her system has developed enough now that she is five months adjusted age to handle digesting the breast milk. I have decided to stay off of dairy and also eliminate all soy products from my diet. Then, Monday we will try giving her a little bit. I will probably start with about a half an ounce once a day, and we will evaluate after a week.

So, tomorrow I am going to try Mazie back on the breast milk. I very much want this to work, but I don't want to be so invested that I don't pay attention to her. Ultimately I want to do what is best for her. I know that it isn't worth it for her to be on breast milk if it torments her digestive system. The main piece of advice my mom has given me since I've become a mother is to trust my instincts when it comes to my babies. My gut tells me that she would benefit from being back on breast milk.

The photo is of Mazie with her Tia Karen at Grandma's 90th birthday celebration.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

No Noise is Good Noise

Our two weeks in the NICU really were a cakewalk compared to a lot of people's experiences. I can't state enough how grateful we are that things went so well for us on our journey to Tripletville. The babies did well in the NICU, and H and I benefited from our time there in that we were able to learn from the nurses and we were able to become comfortable and confident with our babies in a supported setting.

I do have memories from those two weeks of feeling very overwhelmed at times. Once was when the babies first started having apneic episodes. We had been told for so long how great everything was, how long I had carried them, how big they were for triplets. I had been scared for so long--since the ultrasound that showed us three heartbeats. I was starting to believe what all the nurses and doctors were saying. And what they were saying was true. It just didn't negate us having any issues.

An experience I won't forget is one day when the babies were about four of five days old. It was around noon. We were still in the main NICU in the last pod. I had been holding Lucia and talking and singing with her for probably 20 or 30 minutes. I was well accustomed to watching their heart rate and respiration monitors. The nurses were teaching me to not only look at the monitors but the entire picture of what was going on. Lucia and I were having a wonderful visit when her respiration rate began dropping, signaling her monitor to alarm. When I looked down at my baby she was blue around the mouth. Normally I'm a very "I don't want to bother you" kind of communicator, but I quickly summons our nurse to end her phone call and come help me. She very kindly praised me for cuing into my baby and explained that Lucia was just being overstimulated and needed to rest. Amber, the nurse, quickly wrapped Lucia up tight in her blanket and put her back in her isolet and her respiration rate immediately began to rise into the normal range.

While this experience scared me, it also made me protective of our babies, ensuring that when they came home they would have a calm and serene environment. The first month or so we always spoke and sang quietly in the nursery. If we had loud visitors we would purposefully lower the volume of our voices to hint that they didn't have to speak so loudly. Playing classical music in the nursery is something I have always wanted to do, but we did not start this until they were about five months old.

I was reminded of this experience last night when I was skimming through cyberspace during my nighttime pumping session. The New York Times had an article about lighting and sound systems for NICUs developed by the father of a preemie who was a car mechanic by trade. The author explains why premature babies do not handle light and sound well. The article also ends with a tenet that can also be applied to all of life and not just the NICU: don't fuss with what you can't control; tinker with what you can control.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mazie: Carrot-Covered

I have decided to get all the dairy and soy out of my system before trying Mazie back on the breast milk. So in the meantime, I thought she might enjoy some carrots. I let her eat with Elliott and Lucia on Thursday. She definitely liked the carrots better than the rice.

Where you can find it

Clearly I am not putting Elliott down for his naps soon enough. This photo is from yesterday and shows him napping in his bouncer. Today he did the same thing. But today while sleeping, he twitched and roused enough to start bouncing again--with his eyes closed and his head still down.

Aimee means Loved

We had a surprise visitor this week. Our most wonderful friend Aimee came for a visit with her beautiful mother Molly. We got to know Aimee and Alyson in Atlanta before we all traipsed off to make homes elsewhere. She went to Chicago to work with their Episcopal diocese. Aimee and her mom even brought a delicious supper with them. They were able to meet the babies, and then after the little ones went off to bed we got to spend some time in conversation catching up. Aimee is a good friend who we do not see enough. Fortunately we will get to spend a week at the beach with her in June.

Photo is of Aimee and Mazie.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sweet Feet

My mom's best friend when I was little was Sandy. They are still good friends. Sandy used to call all of us youngsters Sugarfoot. If she and I were to have lunch today, I bet she would call me Sugarfoot at least once. In her honor I sometimes call my babies Sugarfoot. Below are their sweet little feet.

Lucia has pretty, perfectly proportioned feet. She loves to hold them and kiss them. Taking off her socks is presently her favorite hobby.

I call Elliott "Mr. Fat Feet;" we even have a song about them. He will hang on to his feet, but not as much as the girls.

Mazie has got some long old feet, especially for such a little girl. They are long and narrow, and she loves them as much as Lucia loves hers.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Vegetables between the toes

Well, today we started carrots. I am trying to stay positive about this new experience of solids. Hhmmm, what do I enjoy about it? Their funny faces. Watching them enjoy the tastes and textures. Seeing them reach for the spoon. I enjoyed making their squash (which we have not eaten yet). What do I not enjoy? The answer to that question is probably evident in the photo.

They did a good job today. Lucia really took to the carrots, lunging at the spoon when I approached her with it. Elliott did fine too, although I feel he did not love the carrots with quite the same abandon as Lu did.

As I was telling my sister how I wasn't really enjoying the solids experience, she tried to comfort me. "It gets easier..." she said. Then, after pausing a few seconds, "...after about three months." Great. I'll be another year older by the time this gets easier.

I know, I know. You are right. Just enjoy this time. And I will. Just as soon as I bring the garden hose in and hose down my family room.

[We are not giving Mazie solids for a while in an effort to get her back on breast milk. I'll post about that later. So for now it is just Lucia and Elliott partaking in the solids.]

Our Spring Chick

Since Mazie didn't get to be part of the carrots post, I thought I would post about her emerging hairdo. Her hair is coming in. All over her head. Barring about four hairs which are about two inches long, her hair is all about a quarter of an inch long. She looks like she's covered in that good ole Georgia peach fuzz. It is just as soft and not nearly as itchy. (If you've ever ridden in the back of a station wagon from Georgia to a home far away with crates of peaches all around you, then you know just how tremendously itchy peaches are.)

Mazie is our little Spring Chick. Just in time for all the blooming going on around here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


We had a nice Easter Sunday with the babies today. The weather was so beautiful. The azaleas and dogwood are blooming; the trees are leafing out. The sky was the prettiest of blues. The Easter Bunny decided he would wait and visit them next year when they could really enjoy the experience. We took the babies to church. I took them on a walk. We had a good day together. Here are some photos from our day. We hope your day was beautiful as well.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

This Week's Doings

The babies are still dealing with colds they seem to have found in Georgia. The babies are feeling about the same except the past two nights it has been cruddy Lucia waking me up several times during the middle of the night rather than Mazie. Mazie sounded a lot better throughout the night last night and was therefore able to stay asleep.

Other than this illness, I feel we have settled back into life on the pond. We donned our sun hats Tia Karen gave us and spent some time outside Thursday. I laid out a sheet and brought out toys and boppy pillows. The day was sunny and a little breezy. We played (more specifically, whined and fussed) outside for a solid twelve minutes. Not too shabby for a first time. Lucia is the photo up top, kicking back and enjoying the sun. The photo below is from the twelve minute mark.
Wednesday Lucia and Mazie smiled at one another for the first time. On Thursday H held Elliott down and put his face close to Lucia's; she reached out with both arms and hugged him.

They are doing just fine with the rice cereal. It is me who hates it. Well, I don't really hate it, maybe severely dislike is more accurate. I must admit I skipped solids on Wednesday and Thursday. I just didn't have the energy; I made the excuse that they weren't feeling well. Yesterday and today we have been back in the Bumbo saddles again.

I promise I won't be one of those annoying mothers who thinks her children do no wrong, but I am finding that so much of what is not successful at this juncture is user error. The rice cereal is an example of this. Today I fed Mazie. She did awful. So messy. Hardly ate any. Then I moved to Elliott. He was a mess as well. It was all over the place. Lastly, I tried Lucia. She did a great job. She kept most of the food in her mouth. She swallowed a good portion of it. I was thinking she was such the star. She even finished her bowl of rice. So, I thought I'd feed her some cereal that Elliott didn't eat. She did awful with it--too thin. She handled it just like Mazie and Elliott had. It seems food consistency really does play the largest role in our dining experience.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sick and Tired

We are sick again. Elliott seems to be ignoring it for the most part, but Mazie and Lucia are partaking in the crud. Lucia is about as sick as she was two weeks ago, not too bad, but definitely dealing with nasal and respiratory issues. Mazie is a sick one. I am not sure how a child so small can manufacture so much mucus. She has lots of drainage and does not feel so good, especially when she is lying down. She is waking up several times a night having problems breathing--this difficulty is in her nose and head, not in her chest, thankfully.

We are hoping that this is a quick bout in another round with colds. We also hope you are happy and healthy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Debriefing the Trip

I would like to begin by apologizing to the couple in Room 103 of the Springhill Suites outside of Atlanta Friday night. The babies aren't usually so poorly mannered; they were just adjusting to their new environment. I know it sounded like we were torturing them, but we were indeed trying to comfort them. I hope wherever you stayed Saturday night (maybe it was just in a different hotel room further down the hall) you were able to get to sleep earlier.

The following ramblings are just my ruminations about the trip for me to refer to in the future. Feel free to read quickly/skip. Summary: Overall the trip went well.

Well, we survived our first out-of-town experience. It was definitely not a flawless trip, but overall it went well. Both H and I feel better about traveling with the babies now that we have this trip behind us. The travel time was significantly slower with triplets than when the two of us used to travel. It took us eight hours to get home where it used to take us five--and they are still in diapers.

When my sister's husband Jon went to help H unload the vehicle he said, "This is crazy," referring to all the stuff we had. It was crazy. It took me three days to pack, and I'm still not unpacked, for a 48 hour trip. But, the only thing we brought that we did not use was a small bag of books. Now there were some things that we didn't use all of--like diapers and wipes. I brought too many of those, but who wants to run out of those things?

The two things I want to work on for our next trip are the mobile feedings and the napping. We need a better system of mixing up bottles for the on-the-road feeds. We need something quick and ready. But we have issues to deal with like the babies not liking cold bottles and mixed formula needing to be cold. We have tried those bottle warmers you plug into the cigarette lighter (do we still call them cigarette lighters or are the cell phone charger outlets now?), but they don't work too well.

The other issue we have to deal with is napping. We were very quick to throw naps out the window when they didn't fit into the schedule for the day. This made for several meltdowns. Also, sometimes our babies need to settle themselves down and I was reluctant to do this with others around. I guess it is the fear of them thinking I am not a good mother or that I am not doing it right. Those are just my issues to work out.

The babies had several meltdowns, always in regard to sleep. We had three pack-n-plays. Elliott slept in his both nights. Mazie didn't sleep in hers either night. Lucia slept in hers most of the second night. I think she would have slept in hers the first night too had she not rolled over and banged her head into the wall. Kids sleeping in the bed with parents is something I am not in favor of, but my strong feelings went right out the window when I knew two weary travelers were trying to rest about five feet away from us with only a thin wall separating us.

Also on our trip we took the babies out to eat for the first time. Their Tia Karen got to be with us for the thrilling experience. We went to the fine dining establishment of Panera Bread. Everyone except the babies got coffee and bagels. How did this experience differ from a trip to Panera Bread sans triplets? For one, we got to spend our 20 minutes there talking to a grandmother (with jet black hair, clad in tight black leggings and a tube top. she goes by mimi, not granny) about our babies and her grandbabies. I enjoyed talking to her; she was sweet and fun. Another occurrence "dining out" with triplets is that I did not eat my bagel until we left Panera and were in the car headed to my Grandma's house. Several other people asked us brief questions and one group of ladies sitting near us talked about people they knew who had twins and Jon and Kate Plus Eight.

We have begun talking about where we might go for our next trip. One thing we are learning is the more you do it (whatever it is), the smoother it goes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Elliott & Rice

"Hhhmmmm, I am not sure about all this."

"It sure is runny."

"It keeps running down my chin."

"Don't take the spoon away."

"Give me that spoon. I'll do it myself."

"You don't do it fast enough. Just turn it up."

"Much better. The big gulp of rice cereal."

"That was delicious."

Our son is ready for solids. He lapped it up in a big way today. He finished his little bowl and then moved on to Mazie's. He was a little unsure, but loved the experience.

Lucia & Rice

"So, hey, where's this rice everybody's been talking about for a month now?"
"Oh, here it comes. I am excited."

"Hey wait. What am I supposed to do with this mess?"

"This tastes horrible."
"You can have it back."
Lucia did very well today eating her solids. She was a trooper. I don't think the experience really thrilled her, but I think she'd like to try again...which we will do tomorrow.

Mazie & Rice

Today we began feeding the babies solids. Rice cereal to be specific. Wow. What a mess. We fed them in their bumbo seats. I had wanted to feed them outside, but H thought the additional element of the outdoors might be too much for them, and she is probably right. So, we laid down a towel and set up bumbo shop with their three ramekins of watery rice cereal and three plastic spoons.

Mazie was not too into it. She didn't last long. After about five minutes I had to move her to a swing. She did consume a bit of cereal but did not seem to enjoy the experience.

"Where's the butter and brown sugar?"

"I doubt you would have liked it either."

A few more photos

This is one of my favorite photos from the weekend. H took it of Grandma and Lucia playing "This little piggy...." Lucia is named for my Grandma: Elizabeth Lucia. I had really been looking forward to getting a picture of the two of them and this one is perfect. This photo is the first in a series of three "This Little Piggy" pictures.

This is a picture of my sister and me with our babies, along with my mom and her sister, Anita, and Grandma. Anita has always been very special to me. I have a lot of great memories of time with her as a child: going to the creek, going out in the woods and picking blackberries and coming in and making blackberry pie, sliding down her bright blue carpeted stairs. The baby order for the next two photos is MELA.

Here are the four generations. This weekend was the first time for mom to be with all four of her grandbabies. She had a wonderful time having us all together. It was a short but sweet trip.

Avery Time

We got a few precious hours with Avery and her parents. The babies interacted with her. Avery and Elliott definitely spent some time examining one another. Mostly the four played on the blanket next to one another. Avery is beautiful with the prettiest big brown eyes you've ever seen. Our babies were envious of her ability to sit up unassisted and of her lush head of hair. We look forward to when we can all be together again.

Avery and Lucia:Avery and Elliott:

Happy Birthday to Grandma

The party for my grandma was wonderful. About 200 people came by to wish her a happy 90th birthday. The food was delicious. Lots of people wrote sweet letters and memories to be displayed for the event. The flowers and decorations were pretty. She looked beautiful, as always. It was nice to visit with family and friends we had not seen in a while.

For grandma's cake, Molly and Anita painted 90 little terra cotta pots and put little candles in them. Then the cake stands were large painted terra cotta pots. After we sang to her, everyone helped her blow out her candles.

Here is my family and my sister's family with Grandma. Behind us is a long table filled with photographs, memories, poems, and lots of other memorabilia to celebrate Grandma's life. The baby order is their birth order, ALEM.
This photo is of Mazie, Lucia, and Elliott with their cousin JaMari. He is only two months old and he weighs almost as much as Lucia. They had a good time hanging out together. This is our first time meeting him. He is very easy going and sweet.

Mazie and Lucia in their party attire, sans footwear.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Plea to Saint Christopher

This weekend will be a big one for the five of us: We are going away for the weekend. I am rather nervous about how things will go, but, also, I am excited to see how things go. There is a joke (although it isn't very funny) in the world of multiples that trips are not called vacations, but relocations. Trust me, we are not relocating so we can rest or get a change in scenery. The reason we are relocating is to help celebrate my grandma's 90th birthday. I can't think of a better reason to get us out of town.

So, how do we go about this relocation? I have been collecting boxes for a while now. I am packing in boxes so they can be loaded into the car without much loss of space. We have also made a rule that if it doesn't fit into the "school bus" that we purchased to tote these youngin's around in, then we aren't bringing it. (An antiquated es-car-go capsule that attaches to the top of the car and a metal deer rack that attached to the hitch in the back were two options we considered.)

The weekend is supposed to be warm. We may have a little rain today for our travels, but after today it is supposed to be sunny and in the 70s all weekend. My grandma has not seen the babies yet so we are very excited for her to finally meet them. Our other thrill for the weekend is getting to see Karen, Jon, and Avery. We have not seen them since the babies were three and a half weeks old and Avery was twelve weeks old. Now they are six and nine months. We are so looking forward to some short but quality time with them.

I am sure we will learn a lot this weekend about travel with three six month olds. We hope y'all have an enjoyable weekend.

The photo is of H and my grandma at our Atlanta shower last July waiting for brunch at Pastries-a-Go-Go.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We've got the big head

Yesterday we went to the pediatrician for our six month check-up. Everything seems to be going well. The babies are reaching their milestones. They are all staying on their growth curves. Before our nine month visit with the pediatrician in June, we will be seeing the orthopedist and optometrist just to check to make sure their hip clicks have resolved themselves and that their eyes are developing properly.

Here are their weights and lengths. The numbers in parentheses are what percentile they are in for the 34 weeks gestation growth curve. All three of the babies' heads are in the 95 percentile.

14 # 1 oz (75%)
25 1/2 inches (90%)

15 # 10 oz (90%)
25 3/4 inches (95%)

12 # 5 oz (between 25% & 50%)
24 inches (75%)

I have been a little concerned about Mazie's weight. I had a feeling she was not gaining at the same rate as the other two babies. I did, though, think she would be weighing closer to 13 pounds. Our doctor said that Mazie has consistently stayed on her particular growth curve so there is no need for worry. Mazie will probably always be "a little smaller" than the other two. "Like 'Four feet, eight inches' smaller?" I asked. "Probably not," she responded. We'll hope she gets her height from my dad's side of the family, so that her version of smaller will be reaching 5'7" instead of 5'10". Either way we will love her just the same.

Oh, and we got two more teeth yesterday: Elliott's first and Lucia's second.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Of geniuses and toofers

Mazie has a Fisher Price Rainforest mobile that has four butons: Rainforest sounds, Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. That third button, the red one, is Beethoven. Yesterday during their afternoon nap I was in our bedroom which adjoins their nursery. I heard "Ode to Joy" playing. I knew that I had a Bach CD in their player so I couldn't imagine where this lovely Beethoven piece was coming from. It is one of my very favorites, so at first I thought it was just playing in my head. But then I paid attention and decided I was definitely hearing Beethoven. About this time the music stopped. I walked into the nursery and this is what I saw. Mazie Bell in full control of her beloved mobile. She clearly had to push the red button to turn on the Beethoven serenade, and, to erase any doubt she thought I might have had about her abilities, she pushed the same button to make the music stop.

Before you email me imploring me to go ahead and get her tested for the gifted and talented program, know also she loves to sleep in the far corner of her crib. On more than one occasion she has woken herself (and me) up because when she tries to turn her head over she bangs her head into the base of her mobile. She will do this repeatedly until I pull her out into the middle of the crib. (Also, truth be known, I think she is using her head to hit the buttons on her mobile and not her hands. I can't be sure, but her forehead was right at the level of the red Beethoven button. This is still a feat for a six month old, but perhaps not as impressive as if she were using her pointer finger to make her selections. Please don't tell her Mama Bee, we'll let her believe the child really is a prodigy.)

Our other important event of the day is a pretty little tooth poking through the surface of our first born's pink, swollen, and tender gums. That's right. This first is not Elliott's to be had. Lovely Lu has sprung a tooth, bottom left. She also has one just below the surface next to it. Elliott also has one that I can see, but not feel. So, it seems we are entering the world of the little tic-tac teeth babies, where teeth are a pristine white, lasting until coffee and Cotes du Rhone enter their lives. I have no pictures of teeth to share as Lucia will barely let me see the tooth myself.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

More Six Month Photos

Here we are in all our birthday glory. Thanks for checking in on us. All photos are LEM.
The attraction of the pretty candy dots:

They are six months--they can eat M&Ms now, right?