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.

Monday, March 9, 2015

My heart hurts

I used to have so much to say.

Triplets, Preemies, NICUs, Cranial Bands, Cleft Lips, Cleft Palates….Yep, once upon a time this blog was a stepping stone for others walking our same path in life; a stepping stone for others facing the same challenges. It almost feels strange that the days of shelling out my "learned wisdom" about these topics have come and gone. It's like we've reached an age and a place in life where we're just….normal.

There's a lot of happy in that, I suppose. It IS sort of freeing not to be an 'expert' on these things anymore, because I HAVE actually forgotten how to efficiently fill 18 bottles a day or how the valves and pieces fit in Colton's Habermann Bottle. And I literally don't remember how often I washed their helmets. I don't. 

You might even say I've become complacent with this 'uneventful' life of mine.

Until tonight.

Tonight I was painfully reminded that our story is not over…and that my job as a mother will forever be a million times harder than teaching could ever be. 

I have 3 kids. They grew together, were born together, and are raised together. They are triplets and there's a lot of 'sameness' that goes with that.

But the reality is that one is different. (Yes, my intellectual self knows and appreciates that  they are ALL different, but one feels it a little more than the others.) He feels it in ways they can't yet comprehend. And I would literally take back every insecurity and every flaw I've ever had about myself (and there are a lot) to take this away from my Colton.

We were just sitting around the dinner table having homemade banana splits, partaking in our usual line of "how was your day" questioning. It begins with whoever thinks to ask first; tonight that was Ethan.

"Hunter, how was your day?" 

"And what was your favorite part?" 

"And what was your worst part?"

She, in turn, asks Colton the same questions.

If we're keeping track, he had a good day. His favorite part was painting birdhouses and eating ice cream. And if I'm being honest, he had a hard time thinking of a worst part.

But before he moved on, he very abruptly lifted up his upper lip, exposing his top teeth. Ever so innocently, he asks, "Mom, do my teeth still look funny? Are they still crooked?"

Trying not to appear flustered, I very 'breezily' said, "Well let me see. Um, yep. They're still a little bit crooked, but they still look really good to me. Why?"

"Because 'B' {his best friend} makes fun of my teeth sometimes. He says they look funny."

And just like that- it happened. He realized he's different.

If I were a superhero, my powers would be remaining calm and collected when all I want to do is fall apart.

I shot a look at Brian basically pleading in silence for him to say something because I wasn't sure I could, without crying. I needed a second to compose myself.

"Hey bud, your teeth are a little bit different right now, but pretty soon, they'll be all fixed up. Don't you worry about what other people say about them, okay? Everybody's a little bit different from each other and what's important is that you know how special and handsome you are." 

This bit of saving advice gave me enough time to well away the tears and interject my own wisdom.

"Colton, here's the thing. You're actually kind of a superhero, you know. You're only 5 years old and you've already had 3 surgeries! (I'm including his ear tubes) What other kid can say that? 'B' can't say that! Nobody I know is as tough as you are. When you were born, you had a hole in the roof of your mouth and Dr. Hurst fixed you all up! He fixed your lip and your palate (brief intermission here to explain what his palate is) and pretty soon, he's going to fix your teeth too!"  {And breathe….}

"But why was I born with a hole in my mouth?" (Said in a tone that showed more concern with the why HIM part than the hole in the mouth part.)

Again. time felt as if it had slowed almost to a stop. His eyes and his little self were waiting for an answer. And I wasn't sure I had a good one.

"Buddy, I don't know why. Maybe because God knew you were tough enough and brave enough to  handle it. 

Not entirely sure he was convinced, he at least allowed Brian and I to sprinkle our hopeless bits of wisdom upon him and the other two. We went back and forth with all the things you're supposed to say when your kids are feeling hurt; all the things you tell kids about tolerance and acceptance and treating everyone with kindness even when they look different. We talked about how Hunter's eyes didn't work so well and she needed to have glasses, etc.

And in case you're wondering what his demeanor was this whole time, you could almost say he was  unphased. And yet, he was thinking about it. He thinks about it. Something in that moment made him ask about it.

But just like that, the game moved on.

Colton looked over at me and asked, "Mom, how was your day?" 

I smiled and said, "It was a good day." 

"What was your favorite part?" he asked next.  "Um, watching you play outside and having ice cream with you."

And I knew it was coming…..

"And what was your worst part?" he asked.

{what to say, what to say…}

"Right now." I said. "Hearing that you feel a little sad about your teeth hurts my heart." 

The game continued until everyone had had a turn and almost as abruptly as it began, they were asking to be excused from the table. I've never been so eager to let them leave. Brian sent them upstairs to get ready for bed and I just sat, my back to everyone.

And I cried. Silent,  guilty, hopeless tears. And Brian knew. He sat down beside me and said all the things you're supposed to say when your wife falls apart.

I can never shake the guilt that he's a triplet and yet, he's the only one who has to deal with this crap. I can never shake the guilt that perhaps something I did or didn't do during the pregnancy caused his cleft lip and palate. I can never shake the guilt that I can be there for him forever and I can fuddle my words left and right when he needs a pep talk, but I can never take it away. I can't take away the surgeries and the pain that are yet to come.

Amidst my sobs, Brian so eloquently reminded me that maybe I was looking at it from the wrong perspective; he reminded me that Colton is going to lead the way, that he's going to shape someone else. He's going to teach someone about tolerance; and through it all he'll have his brother and sister to have his back. Maybe THAT's why he's a triplet.

Sometimes I like it when he's right.


My wish as your mother is that you will realize the strength you have. That you will be courageous enough to stand tall when you're feeling down or when you're feeling different. My hope is that you will continue to rise above it and that you'll be able to see the handsome young man we all see. That you will find comfort in knowing that you're never alone. You are my hero. And you have been for almost 6 years now. I love you bud.

Now THIS is love. 

[Side note- I wanted to add to this story that neither Colton nor any of us are upset with his friend, nor do I think his friend even meant it harshly. I am pretty confident the whole conversation was spurred more by a 5 year old's curiosity than intent to be mean. Kids are just honest. Sometimes too much. ]  :) 


CMSavage6 said...

Beautiful post. I feel the same way when I look at my daughter. I wonder why her. But she's beautiful and awesome and it's a part of who she is. It makes her much more special than just being one of four. He's handsome and wonderful, this just makes him more unique.

Try Vermont First said...


You are a super hero Mom! What a hard day! Your explanation provided much comfort to him, no doubt!

PS: He is soooo cute!

Hierstein Clan said...

Ami, you and your husband are amazing ! I only hope to have half your parenting wisdom. Now i need to find a tissue.

Hierstein Clan said...

Ami, you and your husband are amazing ! I only hope to have half your parenting wisdom. Now i need to find a tissue.

Anonymous said...

Triplet mom here. Thank you for this blog. Mine are at 3 months. Yours are precious and Colton is so handsome! You're amazing!

Courtney said...

Oh, Ami. My heart hurts right along with yours. Colton is such a sweet soul and that's because of yours and Brian's influences. Sending you love from Louisiana!

Susan said...

Only special people can deal with that sort of thing so well!

Sadia said...

What a sweet boy you have, and what a great mom you are! One of my identical twins was born with a cleft (frontonasal, not palatal) and she hasn't had any surgery. She has a great attitude about it, and it came, I believe, from conversations exactly like that ones you're having. Good job, mama!

Sasha said...

I needed to read this today. My 6 yr old son has epilepsy and he often asks "why me, mummy? Why did God make me with epilepsy?" I struggle to answer and just seek time to pull it together. xx

Cutie Chen said...

Thanks for your sharing

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