Wednesday, November 21, 2007
sleep

10 weeks old

We are sleeping much better. For the last two weeks, the babies have been pretty much going to sleep at 8 pm, waking up around 2 am for a feeding, and then sleeping again until 7 am. We have switched our shifts to whole nights. Tonight is my night to feed them, but tomorrow night I will sleep the whole night. A full night sleep is an incredible thing. The babies are only 10 weeks old (and only 5 weeks adjusted) so I think we are doing really well. Better than I expected.

When our little trio came home from the hospital, they were on a three hour schedule. They were pretty much eating at 9, 12, 3, and 6 around the clock. Once we moved to shifts, that meant that I fed the babies at 8:30 or 9 (which was difficult because that is my older girls' bedtime) and hopefully they were asleep by 10 or so. Then, I would feed them at 12 (changing and feeding takes about 45 minutes to an hour) and then hopefully I would get another hour or so of sleep. When they woke up for their 3 am feeding, I would wake up David and go to sleep until 8 while he handled the 3 and 6 am feedings.

Some nights were just ridiculous in between feedings. One baby (usually one of the boys) would leak through their outfit, then another baby would poop, and then another baby would spit up all over. It would have been funny if I hadn't been so tired. They seemed to at least take turns with that kind of stuff, but sometimes they'd all be going at once and it seemed like the only thing to do was just cry along with the babies (except. no. I still had to do what I had to do). I had plenty of days and nights where I felt like I had just hit a wall and I couldn't keep going. But, of course, there weren't a lot of other options, so I did. Luckily, my mom was here during that time and I was able to have her help during the day (although I remember thinking to myself many times that if I was that overwhelmed when she was helping us, how bad was it going to be when she was gone - but thankfully things have been less overwhelming and it's mainly due to getting better sleep and the fact that each of these little guys are really very mellow).

Before the babies were born, everything we read about triplets said to put them on the same schedule. If one baby woke up, wake them all up. If one baby was changed, change them all. We did this in the beginning, but after reading the first part (I haven't had time to read the rest) of Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child, I decided that we were just putting them all on the worst baby's schedule and training them to continue to wake up every three hours. So, we let them sleep (especially at night). For awhile this meant that we had staggered feedings and we might get no sleep on our feeding shift. But, the upside was that we often only had one baby awake and we could hold the baby (instead of propping all three babies' bottles) and just focus on that baby which was a lot less hectic. We also tried to get the babies on a four hour schedule during the day to at least have a four hour schedule at night. If a baby was obviously hungry, we would feed them, but we tried to push their feedings farther apart a little every day. And before very long (by about 6 weeks - I think it took about a week of letting the babies wake on their own) they were down to two feedings at night (about 1 am and 4 am).

On Halloween, I was home alone with the babies and they all three freaked out on me. Three crying babies is pretty overwhelming, so I decided just to change each of them, swaddle them, give them a bottle and put them to bed (even though it had only been two hours since their last feeding). Amazingly, they were all asleep by 7:30. Having them all asleep before I wanted to go to sleep was just great. Even more amazing, they slept until their regular 1 am feeding. The Healthy Sleep Habits book I read said that putting the babies to bed earlier would help them sleep better, but I'd been a little reluctant to put it to the test until they were a little older (although that had definitely been the case with Lillie compared to Grace - Lillie was sleeping through the night by 3 weeks old and did much better on an earlier bedtime, but we had kind of accidentally found that out and I just thought she was a better sleeper).

I decided to keep trying the earlier bedtime and it has worked wonderfully. By 8 weeks (the day after my 8 week blog entry, because I almost blogged the next day when they had slept 7 hours between feedings!) they were only waking up once a night. And just to have that 8 pm bedtime has been incredible. I have time to just relax and hang out with the big girls and when it's time to go to bed I can just go to sleep.

And now I get a full night's sleep every other night. Getting that sleep makes such a difference in how I cope with the babies during the day. When I'm rested I feel like I can handle almost anything (and when I'm not, even little things can just bring me down).

It's 3 am and I'm waiting for Jack to wake up. I'm tempted to wake up him so that I can feed him so that I can go back to sleep, but I'm hoping that letting them sleep for as long as they want to will help the babies eventually sleep through the night.

I think it's time for me to at least close my eyes and get some rest, but I think it's important to take the time to record this stuff before I forget it. I feel so lucky to have these three new people in our lives and to get to help them and see them grow and love them. My family is my life and it's a fabulous life. I would never have chosen to have triplets and if I could I would have had these three just one at a time, but from the first day I couldn't imagine not having each of them. They are all so sweet and so loved. And, while we have to parent them differently because they came all at the same time (and I have definitely mourned that loss) they are all loved as deeply and as surely as any baby could be.

A good friend of mine emailed me that her daughter wants to have four babies all at the same time because she wishes that she was the same age as her brothers and sister. I wrote, "She might want to think about having babies just two at a time - then there's one for each hand and one for each parent. A little more convenient than being totally outnumbered." She wrote back "May being totally outnumbered bring out surprising strengths in you". At the time I thought that that was a nice thought, but easier to say than to live. But, the more I think about it, the sweeter it is.

It really is time to close my eyes now. Good night.
posted by lochan | link
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Sunday, November 11, 2007
birth story


I had been having a lot of contractions on Saturday and Sunday but I hadn't been counting them. Sunday I took a nap and when I woke up around 2 pm I decided to start keeping track. They were coming pretty regularly every five minutes. After an hour, I told David and he started timing them. They kept coming regularly and around 4 or so we started to talk about calling the doctor. We knew if we called they would tell us to come in to get checked. And we knew if we came in they would do a C-section. I was 35 weeks and 1 day and every doctor in the practice (except my own) was pushing me to just schedule the C-section for 35 weeks. But, the contractions weren't stopping and they were getting a little harder, so we called.

They told me not to eat or drink anything and come in. I had forgotten to give myself a heparin injection that morning, so that was good. We made arrangements for the girls and packed a bag and headed to the hospital around 7 pm.

They put me on a monitor - the contractions were still coming every 2-4 minutes. I was in early active labor. I hadn't progressed very far and part of me wished I had just stayed home because I really wanted those babies to be as healthy as possible, but I knew to go back home would be stupid and frankly the idea of getting back in the car was exhausting.

We waited around and phoned our family and then around 10 pm they took me down to the delivery room. David waited outside while they numbed me up. Soon after, I started to feel like I couldn't catch my breath and I had to vomit. Once I did, I felt much better and felt like I could breathe again.

David came in and they checked to see that the anesthesia had worked. It had and they opened me up. I tried not to think about what was happening (as far as the surgery). At 10:23 pm, the doctor pulled out Britta. We don't have photos or video of our other births and hadn't intended to take photos this time. Sometimes getting the shot can get in the way of actually just being in the moment. But, David did have his camera in his pocket and the doctor insisted he take a picture before he would pull out the next baby. At 10:24, Drake was out and at 10:25, Jack was here.

They showed the babies to me over the drape and I just remember thinking how round their little heads were. Britta was taken to another room because they weren't equipped for three babies in the room.

I started to feel nauseated again and threw up again. They took me to a recovery room (and I threw up again in the elevator - the girls asked me about it later and at first I had no idea what they were talking about until I remembered that I was on a gurney and threw up into a little basin). In the recovery room we called our parents and other family and waited for the sensation to come back into my legs. While we were waiting they brought Jack to me to nurse. He didn't get the idea, but I was glad to get a good look at his little face and just to hold him.

They brought me up to my room where I tried to sleep but didn't have much luck because the nurses' came in to check my vital signs every hour. The babies had all spent the night in the regular nursery. The next day I got to see Drake and Britta, but Jack was sent to the NICU because his blood sugar level was 40 and they like it to be above 40.

The girls came that afternoon to see the babies and were wonderful with them from the start. They held them and fed them and were just so natural and comfortable with them. I didn't see Jack that day because I was feeling pretty terrible and could hardly get out of bed. The next day I went and when I held him I remember thinking about well I will get to know this little boy. Because I wasn't able to hold him or see him as much as the others, it was comforting to remind myself how well I would be able to get to know him.

The next three days are a bit of a blur. I was surprised that my appetite wasn't back. It seems that my problem wasn't so much that my stomach was squished by the babies, but more that being anemic had suppressed my appetite. I forced myself to eat some, but it just seemed like work. When I got home from the hospital I had lost 30 pounds of the 50 I had gained. By my two week check up, I had lost 45 pounds and by my six week check up and I was seven pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. I had pictured myself with 50 pounds to lose and no time to exercise, so I'm glad to not have that on my plate (har har), but I wouldn't recommend the triplet diet.

The first few days I didn't know if nursing was going to work, because I wasn't even trying with Jack (he had an IV in his head and was attached to so many wires and it just seemed hard) and the other babies weren't really getting it. Drake was the first to latch on well and with the help of the lactation consultant, I got both Britta and Drake nursing some by the second day. Pumping was definitely more frustrating than I thought it would be, but I just decided to do it every three hours while I was in the hospital and see if things got better. They did. By the time we left the hospital, Britta and Drake were nursing pretty well and I was pumping 4-5 ounces for Jack every time I pumped. I also finally tried nursing Jack, and he got the hang of it almost right away. Since Jack came home I have stopped pumping (I just couldn't seem to find the time and I felt I just needed to let something go) and the nursing has gone really smoothly. It is just supplementary, but I'm so glad that I didn't give up on the first day when I was so tired and overwhelmed by the thought.

The five days that Jack was in the NICU were tough.Finding the time to go and leaving the other babies at home was hard and then leaving Jack was hard. The whole pregnancy we had tried to prepare ourselves for the fact that all three of our babies would likely be in the NICU, but you just can't prepare yourself. We only had one and he never had any serious concerns and it was still tough.

Once I was home I was still very sore (but things were a little better every day) and for some reason my back was just incredibly sore. I would catch myself in the mirror every day just hunched over and I had a hard time just standing up straight (I still have some back pain and still catch myself hunching over, but not like those first weeks). In spite all of that, I was glad to just be able to stand and walk and do things that I couldn't do when I was on bedrest. I did things I had been itching to do for months like clean out the junk drawer and clip my toenails.

The toughest time I had since the babies were born was October 16th (I remember because it was two days before my shower). The night before I had had such intense back pain I was literally writhing and crying on the couch. I had another painful episode that morning and also suspected I had a UTI (I did) and I went to the doctor. He gave me a prescription for antibiotics and basically told me there wasn't anything he could do for my back. The antibiotics made me incredibly nauseated and I was miserable. I felt like throwing up, my back was outrageously painful, and on top of that I had a fever and chills from the UTI. My mom and David were great and let me nap all day and I got a new prescription that made me feel less nauseated. That night I was still feeling miserable and David took the whole shift that night and I got to sleep for 12 hours. It was amazing. To let me sleep that long was one of the best gifts David has ever given me.

Babies are waking up, so I will leave things there for now.
posted by lochan | link
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9 weeks

The babies were only 20 days old in this picture, and they look so much tinier than are today.

The babies are doing great. They are exhausting at times, but we have been getting babysitters almost once a week and the break is really good for all of us. David and I took them to Target just to do it yesterday. It went fine, but we were both a little on edge the whole time. I think we need to just do it to get used to it, though.

They are going to bed by 7:30 or 8 every night, which is a great mental break. They are down to one feeding a night (although Jack had two feedings last night) which makes for a little more sleep at night. We're going to put them in their own room sometime this next week. The more sleep we get, the easier it is to deal with the babies during the day.

It seems like there should be more to say, but it's just the same thing every day. Juggling three babies and finding time to be with the older girls, get our work done, get dinner on, and just all the other things that we need to do is just a little harder to do.

The babies are getting bigger and chubbier all the time. They are wonderful and sweet. Caring for three babies is tricky, but I feel like we are figuring it out. I know how quickly they change and grow in the first year and I am looking forward to all of it.
posted by lochan | link
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Sunday, November 04, 2007
8 weeks

This photo was taken when the babies were six weeks old

All of the babies are asleep. I have a thousand things I should do, but I think an update would be nice. My mom was here for the first six and a half weeks, which was an absolute life-saver. We had four days on our own and then David's mom came and will leave tomorrow.

Having triplets is crazy. It's really intense and amazing and miraculous and hard. They are wonderful and all of the babies are pretty mellow, but the reality of taking care of three babies is tough. I expected it to be hard but actually living it is a whole different thing.

The hardest part is the sleep deprivation. At first we both got up with the babies in the night. After about two weeks of that, we were both just hardly able to function because we were so tired. We were getting only four or five hours of sleep a night and that was in one or two hour chunks. After one night where we probably slept for only an hour or so, David come up with the idea to sleep in shifts. David goes to bed around 8 or 9 pm and then gets up after I feed the babies around 3 am. Then, I go to sleep from 3 - 8 am. On the weekends I can sleep in longer. At first, those four to five hours blocks of sleep seemed amazing, but it didn't take long for it to feel like it still wasn't enough.

The good news is that the babies are sleeping better. They do cry it out some (with triplets, it isn't a matter of whether or not to let them cry it out, it's a matter of how much do you put yourself through to lessen their crying), but I think starting it this early will be better in the long run. I normally do whatever I can to keep them from crying too much during the day, but if they are fed, changed, and clearly tired at night, I will let them cry. They usually cry just a few minutes before they fall asleep. It's hard for me because I had the luxury of not letting my other two babies cry much at all, but we just couldn't survive without getting them on some sort of decent sleep schedule. Last night they were asleep by 8 pm and it was wonderful. We have decreased their feedings from three to two feedings a night and Britta and Drake have gone down to one a night the last few nights, so I'm feeling like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The girls are adjusting to the babies well. They really enjoy them and are very helpful with them, but they have had their moments where they have had a hard time with it. It's hard to deal with sleep deprived parents and the fact that any little thing we want to do becomes more complicated. We generally just do things in shifts because at this point taking the babies places is just too hard. The few times we have been out in public with them, we were absolutely a freak show. And, I know that I am going to get entirely sick of hearing that we have our hands full.

We have had a fun time getting to know each of the babies' personalities and taking care of them can also be a joy. It's not all sleep deprivation and crying and juggling which baby needs more care. It's also funny and sweet and great. I am trying to enjoy the babies now as they are and not wish this time away just because it's not easy and I think most of the time I am able to do that.

There's probably a better way to wrap this up, but I'm tired and should probably get to a few other things before the little sweeties wake up. The babies are wonderful, we are tired, and life is good.
posted by lochan | link
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Name: Laura

I have five kids including triplets. I'm too busy to blog, but I do anyway (uh, sometimes).

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