If you're new to our blog, and would like to start from the moment I learned I was having triplets, click HERE :)
Posts about Colton's Cleft Lip and Palate surgeries as well as the Triplets' Cranial Bands are along the sidebar.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tricks of the triplet trade...

Ok, our babies are now 4 weeks and 1 day old....and what have we learned so far? I thought I'd see if I could come up with at least 10 things I've learned....So let me share some of my new found knowledge about raising triplets. (Don't worry, this shouldn't take too long!)

1. Peeing and Pooping: When it's time for a diaper change, take cover. (And remember to cover important parts..)I can't count the number of times Brian and I have been peed and pooped on by our little pee and poop launchers.

2. Bottles: Make as many bottles up as you can at one time and keep them ready, and labeled in the fridge. This has been most helpful at midnight and 3 in the morning. Nobody wants to remember the recipe for fortifying breast milk that early! It's easier to just grab a bottle, heat and go!
3. Proximity: I'm sure this one goes for all babies, not just multiples. Keep things close by...diapers, wipes, blankets, extra clothes, snot suckers, etc. Especially if you live in a two story house, which we do. I'd go insane without our "downstairs" baby area.

4. Clutter: Ok, this one is probably the toughest for me. Clutter. I don't even like when Brian keeps 5 magazines on the coffee table. Now I have 2 swings, 2 bouncy seats, 3 boppy pillows, 1 boppy lounger and a partridge in pear tree...ALL in my living room. Ahh, deep breaths...But, accepting that this is our new life makes it OK.

5. Sleep: Ok, I realize how much I love sleep now, and yet I cannot force myself to take naps. Everyone offers to come over so I can nap and I simply can't. So if you offer and I turn you down, it's not that I don't trust you with my kids, I just don't nap unless I'm truly exhausted. Now Brian on the other hand will take you up in less than a full second. And he needs it. Because when he's tired, he's GRUMPY. And nobody likes a grumpy dad or husband.

6. Help: Ok I'm getting better at this one. A little bit. When people offer to help you, say YES. When they offer to bring you a meal, say YES. I think my mom has finally stopped asking me if I need help with anything. She knows full well I do and so she just does things for me without even really asking or if I say, "No, that's ok", she persists. And I'm glad. Like Nurse Lori, my mom has also been a lifesaver. It helps that she's been waiting to be a grandma for as long as I've been waiting to be a mom, so she's eager to do anything that involves babies. It ought to be said publicly how much I appreciate her. She is selfless. When Ethan and Hunter came home, it became far more difficult for Brian and I to get to the hospital during the day to visit Colton. So since we couldn't be there, my mom would go. Every day. For hours. She'd feed him, sing to him, read to him, etc. If you read the entries just before this one, you might recall my story about how Colton had to spend the night alone in his "isolation/procedure room". Well, I think my mom spent literally 7 or 8 hours there with him during the day so that he wouldn't feel so alone. And then, at night, she would come to our house and babysit Ethan and Hunter for a few hours so that we could go to the hospital, AND she does laundry or cleans the refrigerator, or puts photos in my photo albums while she's there! If she was tired or babied out, she certainly did not let on...because she knew how much it meant for me to be able to go see my baby. So mom, thank you for ALWAYS going out of your way for me. I know I can be darn stubborn, but you know how to break me! It has been so much fun watching you be a gramma. Our babies are lucky to have you and so are we.
7. Schedules: Create one. Stick to it. Brian is absolutely obsessive about this. :) Particularly where feedings are concerned. We eat at 12, 3, 6, 9, 12, 3, 6, 9, etc. So if you want to come over and visit, these are GREAT times to stop by! This is when we can really use the help!

8. Flexibility: On the other hand, if things don't go exactly as planned, (like maybe we feed babies at 3:40 instead of 3, accept that it's OK...)there are after all, 3 infants in our house and the sooner we accept that things are gonna be crazy, the easier it will be. And if all else fails, just call mom again. :)

9. Humor: Find humor in the things that immediately seem frustrating...3 babies in a screaming match at bedtime, spilled bottles, spit up on the brand new outfit, poop in the baby's hair, etc. These things will happen and there really IS humor in all of it. Accept it. Love it. Laugh at it.

10. Teamwork: Do not try to outdo one another. Be on the same team. Help eachother. Love eachother. Enjoy the babies together. This one is important and so far, Brian and I are doing extremely well in this department.

Hooray! I did it! Maybe in a few more weeks, I'll have learned 10 more things...stay tuned!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Our first trip to the Pediatrician!

As part of our discharge instructions from the NICU, we had to take the babies to their first Pediatrician appt. at Catalina Pediatrics, within the first two days of them being home. Sooooo....

First Mom dressed us up in some cute pants and onesies...

Then put us in our carseats...

Took very close pictures of our faces....(Hunter)

and Ethan...

Then we got to the office where we waited for our turn!

After no time at all, they called our names and we got to meet Dr. Auerbach who weighed us, checked our little limbs, and made sure we were growing OK! (Which we were! Little Hunter weighed in at 3 lbs. 12 oz. and Ethan was 5 lbs. 1 oz.)

This is Mom and Hunter

Dad and Ethan

The scale we got weighed on!

And yes, the moment you've likely all been waiting for...remember Brian's excitement about the dinosaur in the fish tank?!@# There he is!

A closeup of the T-Rex! I hope the babies liked him as much as their dad did!

Following our doctor's appt. we visited grampa and our two great aunties Kim and Valerie at the law firm!

Not Enough Thanks...

This is Lori....read on to find out why we LOVE her!

I realize this post will be sort of backward...I should have put it at the end after you read the other entries....so do me a favor, read it now and then read it again after the post where Colton comes home....it's worth it.

This process of trying to get pregnant the past 4 years has taught Brian and I a lot about ourselves. We found strength we never knew we had. We learned patience like we never knew possible. We realized that the end was never in our hands to begin with. There were reasons things happened the way they did. It just took a little time to understand and accept that.

Is it a miracle that I was able to carry three babies to 33 weeks? Some would say so! Is it a miracle that all three babies are healthy and happy? Perhaps...

But I now firmly believe that on this journey of ours, things happened for a reason. Certain people were put on our path for a reason. And I want to acknowledge one of those people. She might hate me for doing this publicly, but to our family, she is a reminder that good people truly do exist in this world. Her name is Lori D. (I'll at least leave her last name out of it!) I came to know her first through school. My sister Mary taught both of her sons for several years so I'd see her at school often.

It was not until I was in the final weeks of being pregnant that we realized Lori was a NICU nurse at UMC. I was so excited that someone I knew might be there to keep an eye on our babies. Little did I know how true that would be...

When our babies were finally born and sent to the NICU, they were assigned several nurses. Not long after, however, we were approached with the concept of "Primary Nursing" which basically meant that certain nurses signed up to always care for the Bunch Babies whenever they were on duty. This meant consistency for us, which we like! Well, Lori was the babies' first Primary Nurse.

As nurses go, she is top notch. There was never any doubt that when Lori was on duty, our babies were being well cared for. All their basic needs were being taken care of....diapers, meds, food pumps, etc. But she also genuinely seemed to like our babies....I know that Brian and I learned a TON from Lori about how to care for newborn babies...seriously, how to diaper them correctly, how to swaddle them, feed them, bathe them (as the picture below illustrates! and which could frankly become another blog in itself.) Let's just say, I almost Baptized Colton here in this picture. Thank God Lori was there! :)

Furthermore, because Colton has a cleft lip and palate, Lori knew he was going to need extra time learning how to eat from his bottle and she was always willing to help him really try, as opposed to simply taking the easy way out and putting his food into his NG tube.

But aside from the very technical nursing duties, which she would simply say, "is her job", Lori went above and beyond for us in other ways! Having babies in the NICU can be stressful and it can be sad to have to leave your kids behind every night. It was Lori who twice arranged for and allowed us to do "photo shoots" where we could actually put all three babies together. It seems like such a simple thing to do, but it meant the world to us. We were left with pictures that can only happen once in our babies' lifetime and we cherish those pictures now. (Especially the Easter Bunny ears.)

Not only did she arrange for US to take pictures of our babies, she also secretly took her own photos of our babies to make us an Easter gift. She bought a very cute Stuffed Easter Bunny, a basket, a photo album and even a cute dress for Hunter. She is the one who took those adorable photos of each baby snuggling the Easter Bunny! She made us a photo album, and even made handprints of each baby for us to have as keepsakes...

However, even more than any of that, Lori would become absolutely instrumental in our babies' lives...Colton, in particular. As most of you already know, or will know after you read the next 4 blogs, Ethan and Hunter came home when they were 3 weeks old. Colton did not. He was given the added challenge of learning to feed from a very tricky bottle on top of having a cleft lip and palate. It was because of this that he was not able to go home with his brother and sister.

Lori knew how difficult this was for us. Ok, me in particular. Wherever he got moved to in the NICU, she went to visit him. The day after he got moved down to the 3rd floor, we found her visiting Colton there and checking in on him...She even stayed 2 hours past the end of her night shift to be there to feed Colton at 9 the next morning, in case Brian and I were unable to make it. She genuinely wanted to make sure he was given yet another opportunity to prove that he could eat from a bottle. She knew that this was going to be his ticket home.

Well, Lori also knew that Brian and I had two other new babies at home now, making it even more difficult to spend as much time as we would have liked with Colton, helping him learn to eat. So where ever we could not be, Lori was there. The greatest testament to Lori's character came Sunday night. She asked if I would mind if she came to feed Colton on the 3rd floor for his midnight, 3 am, and 6 am feedings, in hopes that he'd then be able to go home Monday. So I of course, told her I'd be so touched if she did that. However, I thought she was WORKING Sunday night and was simply going to "run" down to the 3rd floor for a few minutes to feed him and then get back upstairs to the NICU.

So Sunday night came, and like we'd discussed, Brian and I were there to feed Mr. Colton at 9pm. Well, right at about 10:30, in walks Lori, bag in hand, and no scrubs on....No scrubs? Isn't she usually wearing scrubs when she works? The answer to that is yes. She does. But tonight, she wasn't working, like I thought. It was her day off and she had decided to come spend the night in Colton's room on a fold out chair recliner, so that she would be absolutely certain he got to feed with his bottle and that he ate enough to be considered for discharge the next day. Who does that?

She is a nurse. Taking care of babies is her job. Taking care of my baby on her day off is not her job. But she did it because she truly cares about Colton and knew how much I wanted him home for my birthday on Thursday. Lori, if you are reading this, you know there are not many people who would do that. You are my babies' guardian angel. Thank you for loving them and for caring for them. You really are a reminder that there are good people in this world. Before this, I would have thought you were simply a wonderful mother to two sons who happened to attend the school where I teach. But now I know you were put in our lives for a more important reason that would take us a few years to realize. Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.

**Thanks to Lori, Colton did in fact get to come home the next day....Now do you see why we love her??

Colton comes home!!

So when you have three babies and you've only been able to take 2 of them home, you cannot imagine the heartache and guilt you feel when you have to visit the third one at the hospital and then leave him behind each night. I'm choked up right now thinking about how absolutely devastating that was. I believe I cried more tears during this week than I have in a long time... Poor Brian was probably wondering whether or not Post Partum depression had finally set in. Though not really, because I know that leaving little Colton was as hard for him as it was for me. (I just show it more openly. And by openly, I mean, I sob like a baby.)

So needless to say, when we finally got the long awaited news that Colton could come home, we REJOICED!! We couldn't get him home fast enough! So Monday, April 20, 2009, at a whopping 4 weeks old, one week after his brother and sister, we brought Colton home! We have a very special thank you to give to one of Colton's nurses which I will do in a separate entry because yes, we are just that grateful for her and it deserves its own entry. She was instrumental in Colton's success...But for now, enjoy these pictures of Colton's homecoming!

This is dad packing up Colton's belongings from his big boy tub!

Colton getting ready to get strapped into his carseat!

"I'm ready Dad! Let's make a run for it!"

"Look at me! I'm going home!"

Mom and her little boy! I'm seriously ready to run with him right out to the car!

One last walk down the hallway of the Pediatrics floor...

Headed for the elevator!

Stopping to take a quick picture with Wilbur the Wildcat!

Mom, Dad and Baby Boy Colton!

Mom and Colton

Heading to the parking garage! Last time!!

Dad's strapping me into my carseat!

Of course, Mom wanted to sit in the back with her little guy!

FINALLY! They're all three together! In my house!!! OMG!

The littlest members of our family!

Waiting to come home too...

Ok, so by now you know that we brought Ethan and Hunter home. No doubt, a very exciting and happy day! Life with two babies at home has been nothing short of wonderful. Except that there was always a piece of my heart missing. And I'd find it every night on the 8th floor in the NICU. That's where our baby boy Colton was waiting for us...I don't know what it is...perhaps it's the cleft lip and palate that made me especially protective of Colton, I don't know. I just know that my night was complete only when I could go visit our little guy and snuggle him. After he'd eat, he'd lay his head on my chest and sleep for as long as we'd let him. Until the moment, when I just knew that we HAD to say goodbye...I'm sure you can imagine the heartache we felt having to look into his little eyes and explain to him that we'd come back for him in the morning, but that we had to leave him there, by himself for another night. I can honestly say, I cried more tears during the week Colton was at the hospital alone than I have in a very long time.

To top it off, there were lots of changes going on this week for him as well. Remember how we've often said we are creatures of habit? We like routine and we like knowing what to expect? Well, one night, after we'd taken the other babies home, we went to the hospital only to find that Colton had been moved out of his usual spot in the NICU and had been relocated to what is called a "Procedure Room." Now, there is nothing wrong with this room, except that in all honesty, it felt like a closet. (It was NOT in fact, a closet, it just felt like that because of the isolated-ness of it!) Apparently, many families really hope their baby gets assigned to this room because it is much quieter than the rest of the NICU. Unfortunately, I am NOT one of those families. The guilt I was feeling already, having to leave Colton behind was torture in itself. Then to have him moved to a room where he was literally alone was more than I could handle. We tried to make the best of it by reading to him and singing to him, but the reality was that the moment I walked out of the NICU, I could not stop crying. He's a triplet. He's never been alone, and I did not want him to be alone now. (In retrospect, I realize that this was much more a ME thing than a Colton thing...he probably didn't even realize he was alone. But psychologically, for me, he had been abandoned!) Luckily, thanks to Brian, the Super Dad, who kindly told the NICU staff that his wife was a complete wreck about where her little boy had been assigned, they found a new spot for him later the next day.

This is the night Colton spent in his isolated room. But to make the best of it, I decide to read to Colton...It's a story called Owl Babies about three little owls... Like a good kindergarten teacher, I make sure to show him all the illustrations...(Never mind that his eyes are closed....) :)
In another unfortunate twist, the second page of the story goes something like this...."Once upon a time there were three baby owls...who lived in tree with their mother. One day, they wake up and their Owl Mother was GONE!" (Ok...here come my tears! I can't even finish the story because I'm afraid that Colton sees me as the Owl mother who is gone when he wakes up!) Brian lovingly suggests maybe we read a different story.... :)

He does like the pictures though, and in case anyone was wondering, the Owl Mother DOES come home in the end! She was just out getting food! :) (Big surprise, I know.)

Brian and I were just loving Colton's fuzzy hair! We call him our Fozzy Bear, (From the Muppets) :)

Now these next pictures are important because as if moving to an isolated room wasn't confusing enough, Friday night, April 17th, Colton had to move yet again!! This time he got moved out of the NICU and down to the the Pediatrics Unit on the 3rd floor. He got to share a room with another NICU baby...the good news is that we were told Colton had to move there because he was stable and was getting ready to go home soon...we just didn't know HOW soon.

His biggest challenge was feeding. Because of his cleft palate, eating does not come as easy for Colton as it does for the other babies. He has to use a special bottle and nipple called the Habermann Nurser. Before he'd be allowed to go home, he had to be eating 80-100% of his food through the bottle, and NOT use his NG tube. (Nasogastric tube). Well between me, Brian, my mom, my sister, his loving NICU nurses, (remember this part, because I'm going to tell you a story about one of those nurses in a separate entry...but it's a very important piece of this story. ) So between all of us, we made it a point to have one of us at each of his feedings so that he could really get a good opportunity to practice using his special bottle. And it paid off....Colton took to it like a champion baby!! Eventually, after spending 3 nights in his room on the 3rd floor, we were hoping for the good news we'd been waiting to hear....

This is Mom and Colton after getting settled into his new room.

Technically, he wasn't alone...he had Tigger and Pooh to keep him company!

Here we are practicing eating with our Habermann Bottle!

Please look at how cute his fuzzy hair is!

Here's Daddy doing his CARES...(His diaper, cleaning his lips and eyes, his temperature, etc.)

To help Colton know that he wasn't alone, I taped pictures of our family to his crib. :)

Colton and his daddy

This is the sign that hung on my crib!

HOORAY! HOORAY! This was the day they decided that Colton was eating well enough from the bottle, that he no longer needed his NG tube! Look how sweet he is with no tubes!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Two-Thirds of the Bunch Babies come home!

Ok, so it finally happened...a week ago! Oops! Can you tell I've been busy?? Failure to blog! I respectfully admit I should be cited by the blog police for letting so much time go by without an update! Honestly, this date sort of snuck up on us and all of a sudden we had two babies at home! It went something like this....

Monday morning, April 13th, I went to the hospital like usual for the babies' 8:00, 8:30 and 9:00 feedings. Right around this time is when the doctors and nurse practitioners, etc. do their rounds. When they do this, they sit in the pod area where our babies are "stationed" and they discuss each babies' progress, weaknesses, plans of action, etc. So on this day, I'm listening in to hear about "The Bunches of Bunches" and suddenly one of the doctors turns to me and says, "You want to take Hunter home today?" Umm...YES!! That was quickly followed up with, "Do you want to take Ethan with her?" Again, Umm, YES! (And yes, I immediately teared up because I knew full good and well that I was not going to be able to take Colton home yet and that absolutely broke my heart.

You just can't imagine that feeling of knowing you have to leave your baby in a hospital while you take his brother and sister home to start making memories...talk about lump in the throat. But of course, it was a happy day and I had to try not to get caught up in my sadness and guilt about Colton so that we could celebrate Ethan and Hunter's homecoming.

I immediately call Brian at work and say, "We're bringing two babies home today! Can you leave work now?" And he does....we fill out all our paperwork we need to, get all our instructions from the nurse (Erika) about what to do when we get home, and make all the arrangements we need to at the hospital. Then Brian and I leave to go home, do some last minute straightening up, finishing putting batteries in swings and timers, etc. and then call the rest of the family so that they too can be a part of this big event!

Anyone who's ever had a baby knows that in order to leave the hospital, all babies must first pass their car seat test. Basically they put the baby in their carseat (not in the car), see if they fit, and then leave them in for at LEAST the amount of time it takes to get home. They monitor heartrates, etc. If they pass, then they may go home....Well, I'd like to share these pictures of our tiny little girl trying to pass her car seat test. (Which we had to re-do to make sure she actually passed.)

She is absolutely a little doll. Her car seat practically swallows her whole. All you see is buckle, with little arms and legs and a head sticking out! The good news is, after some "strategery", they both passed and were cleared to go home!

At a whopping 3 weeks old, and with Hunter weighing a mere 3 lbs. 8 oz. and Ethan weighing 4 lbs. 13 oz...our babies were coming home!

Could she be any smaller? Any cuter?
"Look at me! I'm a big girl now!"

Ethan in his carseat...practicing for his test!

Homecoming Day....Monday, April 13th, 2009

Ethan saying goodbye and see ya soon to his brother, Colton! (Yes, I'm crying again)

Here's dad packing up his baby girl into her carseat

"Where we goin daddy?"

Ethan is just along for the ride! He's completely chill!

Saying goodbye to some of our loving nurses...
Thank you for loving our babies, Erika!!

Thank you Jean! **Lori, Nadine, Carrie, Dawn, Laurel....we'll be back to get pictures of you! We cannot thank you enough for the love and dedication you gave our babies when we could not be there. We are eternally grateful. I know there are many more nurses we had in our 4 weeks and we appreciate each and every one of you for the job you do.

Almost ready...

Hunter and Ethan...going home!

Thank you to all the nurses and doctors at UMC NICU...you are all amazing and while it will be nice to have our babies home, we will actually miss you. You gave our babies the best start at life...we cannot thank you enough for that.

I can't say that I know what Brian is thinking, but I'm pretty sure I was thinking, "Oh my God, they are trusting us to take these babies home??"

One last trek for Ethan and Hunter down the 8th floor hallway!

Getting ready for our first elevator ride!

Getting on our first elevator!

This is Mommy waiting in the lobby for dad to pull the car around...apparently tiny babies in multiple packaging draws QUITE a crowd...

Please look at all these people...simply mesmerized with the fact that they are triplets!

And out the door, to the car!

There's "dad", "grampa daniels", "aunt mary" and "gramma daniels" taking the pictures!

**Please note the Blue Baby Bus in the back of my Durango, ready at a moment's notice!

In our first car!

You had to know I was going to sit in the back with them!

Finally, we're HOME! Piper is sniffing Hunter to see what this is all about!

Just chilling on the couch!

Early in the evening, dad holds one baby...

Later on he holds two babies!

So Congratulations and Welcome Home Hunter and Ethan...Colton, we're gonna bring you home soon, buddy!
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