Dropping the Pacifier

We have been through many transitions in these almost 3 years of triplet parenthood. Some easier than others. The move from our room to their nursery wasn’t too bad. The move from rock-n-plays to their cribs was a little harder. The transition out of swaddles was a scary one. Switching from formula to milk and from bottles to sippy cups all turned out better than I had imagined. Starting pre-school was fairly smooth. Learning to eat baby food and then solid food was a mess but fun.

Learning to crawl and walk with all 3 was exhausting but exciting. Helping SLO learn to talk without comparing them or making them feel behind or different was a challenge but communication with them has been so incredibly helpful and makes for really cute stories. We tried the whole potty training thing, but well we still have a ways to go. I’m sure there will be a post on that in the future, but it’s still a work in progress – a messy work in progress. I cannot even think yet about transitioning from cribs to toddler beds with all 3 in the same room (#cribsforlife). Another transition, one that I had been fearing was…the dropping of the beloved pacifier.

Now Lucy girl never took to a paci. She shunned it and clung to a little, soft, lovie that she refers to as “Pink.” Thankfully it is the color pink, so she makes up for her lack of originality with accuracy – although she does have a blue one that she calls “two” but it is much inferior to “Pink” and not at all the point of this post haha…My boys, on the other hand, loved their pacifiers. Our pediatrician warned us at their 2 year well-check that we might need to start weening them off of the paci, but I was in no rush for that to happen. Having good and quiet sleepers is how I survive life with 3 toddlers, and the thought of taking away the one thing that helped them get to sleep and stay asleep…well it was terrifying. I couldn’t imagine the havoc that cold turkey would cause to my very active and loud boys, so I took a different approach. I went for the long con. I slowly started taking away the pacifier. 

Step ONE: Pacifiers stay at the house. This one we did fairly early on. I would keep a couple in the diaper bag for emergencies but encouraged school and the church nursery to only use them for emergencies.

Step TWO: Pacifiers stay in their bed. They could use them at nap or bedtime but that is it. We stayed at this step for several months. They were always excited for bed and nap because that meant that they could have a hit of the paci. They surprisingly didn’t fight this as much as I thought. I had to be VERY consistent with it though. I did not allow any exceptions. They each had about 3 in their bed so that they could find one at all times while sleeping. Sleep again is crucial for our sanity. Mostly I just watched their cues. I noticed that once they gained more language and vocabulary I was able to teach them other coping skills for being frustrated and scared. Honestly Daniel Tiger helped some with this too. He is so good at teaching them how to cope with emotions in a healthy way. We do a lot of deep breathing. I encourage them to take breaks when they start feeling fussy or agitated and make it a fun thing. They get to sit on the guest bed with pillows and books and even a flashlight to take a break away from the others. Then they come back ready to play again.

Sidenote: All that to say, if a pacifier helps your child feel safe and secure – I am not at all trying to convince you that should change. I am all for pacifiers and all for calm and emotionally secure toddlers. We all do what we think is best for our kids at the time. It’s so hard to know! I just thought I would try to see if I could convince them to find other ways besides the pacifier to calm down, and for the most part it worked.

Step THREE: We slowly started reducing the number of pacifiers in their beds. At one point I think that both O & S each had 5. But we reduced it to 3 in each bed. Then after a couple weeks, we reduced down to 2. Then after a couple weeks we reduced to just 1. We stayed there for a little while, and I didn’t even talk about where the others were disappearing to. I was sneaky.

Step FOUR: We slowly and intentionally started encouraging both boys to find a stuffed animal or blanket that they wanted to sleep with and encouraged that as a form of security so that they would not see the pacifier as their only form of security at nighttime. For Oliver it became a little puppy stuffed animal (which he named “Puppy”). For Shepherd it was a blanket that my mom made out of one of their old sleep sacs that he loved and a stuffed Pokemon Bulbasaur (“Car-Car” and “Bulba). Again, they are very original in their naming skills. Oh and Shepherd also had a Cocker Spaniel beanie baby that he called “Lion.” So that one is kind of original. 

Step FIVE: Taking away that final pacifier from their crib was a little harder. I couldn’t just sneak it away. First we focused on taking it away at nighttime but kept it at naptime. At night, it’s not as big of a deal if they take a while to fall asleep. I knew it was time when the boys started chewing on the pacifiers. I would wake up to find shredded pieces of the pacifier nub in their crib. A lot of people cut off the nub and say it broke, but my boys started doing that themselves. I randomly made a deal. I had no idea if it would work, but it DID! I told them that big boys fall asleep by reading books. I told them that if they wanted to be a big boy they could trade in their pacifier for a book! They could sleep with the book and read it as they fell asleep in bed. I hyped it up big time. Oliver right away was pumped and picked a book (not paper pages and nothing that could be ripped up easily), and surprisingly he did super well with it!! Shepherd took a little while longer, but that was ok with me. Every night and every day at nap for about a month I would ask, “Do you want to be a big boy and read to fall asleep??” And for a while Shepherd would say “No, I want paci.” BUT he would see that Oliver got to read cool books. When Shepherd chose pacifier, he did not get anything else in his bed. He had to choose. Eventually they picked book and never looked back. Shepherd probably lasted 2-3 weeks longer than Oliver at nighttime and then he slept with his pacifier at nap time for even several weeks after that. Eventually though they were just ready.

Again, this worked for us, but it may not work for you and that’s ok. We all just find the right thing and right way for you, your family, and your kids! I thought it might be helpful to share our story of dropping the pacifier.

Surviving the Sick Season with little kids

January-April has been filled with germs, snot, teething, ear infections, Hand Foot Mouth (Satan’s disease), sinus infections, pollen, eye infections…The list goes on. We have officially been through 5 bottles of tylenol, 5 bottles of motrin, about 8 bottles of nasal sinus rinse, been to the doctor more times then I can count, and we survived! Well as I write this, I just got back from the doctor and 4/6 ears on my triplets are infected again, so kind of survived. haha I will start off by saying that many of you have had it MUCH worse. My babies are overall very healthy babies, and I am beyond grateful so please don’t read this as me complaining. BUT it has been hard. By the end, we gave up on trying to keep the healthy baby (or babies) from getting the sickness and just started trying to infect them from day 1 so that we could have 3 sick babies at one time instead of a sick baby constantly. No matter how hard we tried to quarantine or keep pacifiers, toys, and cups separate, it’s just not possible. Everything goes into their mouths, so it’s just impossible to prevent the spreading of germs.  When Shepherd and Lucy got Hand Foot and Mouth (seriously it was the worst), Oliver was healthy for a day and a half, and we felt bad for a little bit knowing that it was just a matter of time until he succumbed to the terrible sores and fevers that is HFM. There is no way to quarantine him so we just started feeding him after S&L. We pretty much just sped up the inevitable. As sad as that sounds, I would suggest that to any Moms of Multiples out there. When one gets sick, let the others get sick quickly. Make them share spoons or pacifiers. They WILL get each other sick. It is so much easier to have one really hard week, then to have 3 pretty hard weeks. 

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Having sick babies was and is hard in ways that I did not expect. The hardest part of making it through this sick season has been taking care of myself. I started out this blog as a way to process all that God has done in our journey from miscarriage, to infertility, through IVF, and now as we raise our triplets. We have had many unique (or maybe not so unique) experiences, and I hope that we can provide resources to people going through similar circumstances. Throughout this entire journey I have been completely open and honest because Derek and I believe that healing comes through brokenness and that community is truly formed in vulnerability. So in that frame of mind I’m also going to share with you my weakness over the past few months and things that I have been doing to bring peace and healing to those areas.

I have always been a “do it myself” kind of independent person. I love exploring and run everywhere. I rarely do things slowly and am pretty clumsy because I just start moving and end up running into something. I love to be outdoors. I thrive on sunshine, good company, and stretching my muscles. I love to help others and to lead others and talk to others. I am a 2 “The Helper” on the Enneagram Test but tend toward an 8 “The Challenger” in times of stress. Lately, my 8 self has been strong. I have been stressed and anxious. I have had panic attacks. I have been controlling. I have not been eating healthy things. I have not been drinking water. I have been pouring every ounce of me into the kids and some into Derek and friends and mentoring but not much into me. I have spent days and weeks trapped inside on sick weeks with no space to move, fresh air, or people to talk to. The thing about panic attacks is that you stop thinking logically. When I am in a good place, I know that this is a season and that sickness doesn’t last forever. I know deep down that I am doing a good job and that I am not alone. I know logically that the kids will be fine (maybe even better off) if I do an ok job at parenting instead of a “perfect” job. I know that it’s ok to stress. But when I am in the middle of a panic attack, nothing makes sense. I start out by stressing about something that is not a huge deal. Then I get stressed about feeling stressed, and mad at myself for not keeping it together. Then I feel guilty about not keeping it together, which makes me stress more. So I feel guilty about being stressed and then I stress about feeling more guilty. The stress about being stressed is the worst. If the kids are around, then I can pull myself out of the stress cycle quicker, but if I’m alone or just with Derek my mind goes haywire. I get so stressed that I can’t eat, and I forget to drink water, and I just started to snowball. 

In that insane period of about 6 weeks when I didn’t know what day it was or what time of day at any given moment, I had to give up my desire for independence and embrace the beauty community. Derek and I are incredibly blessed with a village that would bring us food or come hold sick babies even if it meant they might get sick. My mom came for an unplanned visit to help clean and let me eat and do laundry. We had people send texts and grubhub (it’s one of our new favorite ways to bless people – food delivered right to your door – There are so many options to choose from!). When you aren’t sure how to help someone struggling regardless of the thing causing the stress, food always helps! Even now that the kids have been healthy for a little while and life has calmed down, I have people offering to bring food, and it is always a huge blessing! We also had people providing wisdom left and right and seriously, even though I felt isolated and trapped, I never was. So many people loved us well. But, I still felt like I was just surviving. 

Finally during Spring Break (first week of April), Derek was home all week and the kids were healthy for an entire week which hadn’t happened since the beginning of January. Together we started brainstorming ways to get me back to my – just stressing a normal amount – self. I needed margin. I needed the kids to start napping. I needed to dream about possibilities of using my brain again. I needed to reach out to all of the women that mentor me and help me process. I needed to have time that was just for me regularly. I needed time to eat and drink water. So, I joined a gym. Not just a gym, but a gym with childcare! Some days, I barely work out and enjoy just sitting in the sauna or in a comfy chair or at the cafe. Some seasons are just seasons of survival. It’s part of life. Sometimes life is just hard and exhausting. When you can take a breath or even before you get there, make sure that you find ways to really take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself looks different for everyone! Some people need to work in the yard, plant flowers, get their hands dirty. Some people need to carve out time each day to sit in the quiet and read a book or listen to a podcast. For me, I needed to use my brain and get some exercise.  In addition to joining the gym, I started tutoring more. It sounds crazy that adding something to my plate made me stress less, but I have loved getting to use my math brain!!

Another thing that Derek and I have both always done is to spend quiet time in the morning. We are both morning people so we also usually get up early everyday. I give myself about an hour before the kids get up to eat, pray, stretch, get dressed and fix my hair. That simple act of getting ready calmly and without rushing actually does help. A lot! It’s often the only meal I eat in peace, and it’s the only meal that I get to eat all of. I usually have to share half of my meals with my 3 beautiful vultures. 

Another thing that I love doing to bring peace and wisdom into my life is that I ask a few women that I admire and love (some my age, some older and full of wisdom) to come hang out with me. I ask them questions about how they handled parenting situations. I listen to their stories and find camaraderie in knowing that I am not crazy or “the only one.” Mostly though I just hang out with them. Having people to mentor you is clutch! Shout out to all of you wonderful women that I admire and cherish (you know who you are!). Thanks for bringing joy and wisdom to my crazy swirly mind 🙂

I have also learned that when someone asks what they can do for me, I actually give them something tangible that they can do. I ask them to bring me food or to come play with kids or to come hold a screaming sick child for me. I have learned that most people who ask if they can do something genuinely want to help. Letting them isn’t easy. I am very independent. I hate not being able to do everything on my own. It physically pains me some days. But in letting others love me and love my kids I have gained so much more. I have also realized that it brings other people joy to help. For starters my babies are seriously cute, so who wouldn’t want to help. haha But for real, when you refuse to let people help, it takes away their ability to bless which isn’t good for you or for them. Letting others serve you is so hard sometimes. We always want to be the ones washing the feet, but sometimes my feet are just too tired, and I need to sit down and let other people in.

What works for me though, may not work for you. The bottom line, take time to figure out what brings you life and find a way to get that into your regular routine. If you don’t know what brings you life, then start searching. Taking care of yourself takes work. It takes time. It takes courage. Asking people to come into your life, your messy life or messy home, is hard. Sometimes it’s plain embarrassing, but it’s what brings life. Im learning to embrace my dependence. 

Top 3 Teething Toys and Top 5 all time Favorite Things That I Never Knew I Needed

A few more lists just for fun! Remember to click on the link in red to find out more info.

Top 3 Favorite Teething toys

#3 Sophie The Giraffe

These are expensive and I was very skeptical. BUT they are the perfect size, have lots of appendages for the kids to grab and hold, and is the perfect texture to chew.

#2 Banana Toothbrush

This was a surprisingly amazing toy. The bristles feel so good on their little gums and the shape makes it so easy to hold!

#1 Ice Rings

Some days these are the only things that help our babies calm down when their teeth hurt. If I go to the freezer for anything, Lucy immediately runs and tries to grab a teething ring before I can close it. They treat them like popsicles.

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Top 5 Favorite Things I Never Knew I Needed

#5 Things to make homemade baby food

I know that most people think it will take too long to make their own baby food, but if we can do it with triplets, so can you. We also bought some form the store so please don’t hear me say that you shouldn’t buy food if that’s what works for you. Just know that if you really want to make it, or need to save money, it is possible! We blended in our ninja blender and then halfway through we got a good immersion blender and it was amazing! We would pour the mixture in these freezer silicone molds. In the morning, we would pull out what we needed for that day and keep the rest frozen. I only made really easy and cheap things and bought the other flavors for variety. We saved a lot of money though by making the easy things. Sweet potatoes, carrots, bananas, avocados, and unsweetened applesauce. You can also throw in kale and spinach to any of those very easily. If you want more info let me know.

#4 Amazon Alexa and a good playlist

I never realized how much I would appreciate Alexa. She has become my friend. haha As a stay at home mom, I often only talk to Derek and Alexa on a given day. Derek and I made a bunch of different playlists on spotify and stations on pandora and changing up my music throughout the day always brightens my mood. The kids also look at the echo every time I say Alexa. I wonder if they think she is a real person? I love starting my morning each day with worship music and it is so easy to just tell Alexa to play any music my heart desires 🙂 She also gives me the news each morning and helps me stay connected to the outside world.

#3 Baby Cage

We call it a cage, others call it a play yard 🙂 It is so helpful not just so that I can walk away safely, but when the babies are all in one place it makes it so much easier to get them calm and entertained. I only use the Dupelo blocks and bristle blocks in this play yard so they aren’t all over the house. It keeps certain toys contained to one small area! It is also easy to take apart. I used a few of the pieces to block off my Christmas tree this year and the babies never got to the tree. I used a few of the pieces to block off the stairs and certain rooms when I want to contain them. I also plan on taking it outside this summer to put in the grass!

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#2 Baby Breeza

If you have just one baby, and especially if you breastfeed, then you probably won’t need this. BUT if you have multiples and/or you formula feed, this is a MUST!! I mean a COMPLETE game changer!! In our peak days, we were making 24 bottles a DAY. That is a LOT of bottles. This machine is a keriug for baby bottles. You put the formula powder I the top, water on the side, tell it what amount you want and it dispenses the perfectly mixed and perfectly warm bottle. Also, if you get one, we have tips on how to make it work even better!

#1 Wagon

We got our kids this wagon for Christmas, and it has been so much fun. If it’s too cold or rainy outside to go for a walk, they ask to just get in and be pushed around in the dining room. Some days I will just strap them in the wagon and we sit on the front porch. It’s great because they can put all of their toys in it and play while we walk. The straps keep them locked in tight and safe. We are having a blast with this thing and the fun has just become. It will grow with them for a long time 🙂

Practical Things To Buy For Babies

Derek and I feel like we have a unique experience in reviewing toys and baby gear. Many families have 3 babies but having 3 at one time is rarer and means that we get to see exactly how durable an item is. Plus, if all 3 babies love a toy or item then it is definitely a winner. Furthermore, because there are 3 of them, we don’t have room at our house for toys or things that are bulky or aren’t very useful. I have had many people ask what items or toys our kids have liked so I spent the last couple weeks compiling a few lists. Today I’m posting my top 10 practical items in descending order and will post a top 10 toys, top 3 teething toys, and top 5 things that I never knew I needed – all within the next couple weeks. I also added the link to amazon for each item. Some of them have a couple links. Just click the name in red, and it will send you to Amazon so you can see or read up on the item. Don’t hesitate to ask questions!!

My top 10 favorite practical baby items

#10 Cabinet locks

We needed cabinet locks on every single cabinet in our house since we have 3 little zombies roaming around at all times! These were so easy to install and required NO drilling or tools! We had to get a couple packs so we have multiple magnet keys. We keep them all over the kitchen so you don’t ever have to go far to get one.

#9 Baby Bathtub and Bathtub Kneeler

This tub is a little pricey but someone gifted it to us, and it was AMAZING! It tells the exact temperature of the water so we knew exactly how hot/cold to make the water without stressing. It fit perfectly in our sink and in the tub. It was soft and just really helpful. Once they switched to sitting up in the tub, I would suggest getting one of these pads to keep yours knees from breaking. It makes bathtub way more enjoyable for me.

#8 Take and Toss Sippy Cups

We have tried so many different sippy cups! They can get so expensive too. These are by far the best in my opinion! We love them. Plus, they are cheap! The kids figured out how to use them easily. If they break, it doesn’t matter because they are so cheap. They are so easy to wash, and can be used for milk or water. We also have straw (camelbak style) bottles for water, but you can’t really put milk in those. These little cheap plastic cups are so good for milk AND water. Oh and they don’t leak either! It’s amazing. They also make a straw take and toss cup if you like that better. The only downside of the straw ones is that the kids can pull the straw out which can be messy, and the straw ones are not spill proof.

#7 Dr. Brown Bottles

If you are bottle feeding, find a bottle that works for you and get enough to last one full day. For us that was 24 bottles at our peak. We are now only using one at night before bed! We have always run the dishwasher once a day to clean the bottles (no more, no less). We had a little tub of soapy water that sits in our sink to put dirty bottles to soak in during the day, and at night we put all bottles through the dishwasher. I had heard that Dr. Brown bottles have too many parts to clean, but if you get one of these dishwasher baskets it is not hard at all!

#6 Rock n Play

Our 3 babies had reflux and were preemies so a rock n play was a must. The incline helps them with reflux. The NICU doctors actually suggested it to help with reflux and our pediatrician said it was great too. Plus, since it surrounds the baby on 3 sides it simulates a womblike feeling of comfort. We had all 3 sleeping in our room until month 5 so they fit easily in the room right beside us. When a baby cried, I could just reach over and rock them back to sleep without picking them up. They slept in these until they could roll back to front. We liked the manual rocker so that we could rock them only when they needed it, but some people love the automatic rocker.

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#5 Little Sound Machine

This little sound machine is SO LOUD!! It’s amazing how loud it is. You can travel with it, attach it to the car seat, or just leave it plugged up in the nursery. A good sound machine is a must. When we had 3 sleeping babies in the room next to us it was perfect for blocking out their sleeping noises but let us hear their cries.

#4 Ergo Plus Double Snap and Go Stroller and then Double Umbrella Stroller

We have triplet strollers which are great and very handy but the easiest way to transport 3 babies is to use a double stroller and a baby carrier (when small enough). This was my favorite baby carrier. And this was my favorite stroller when the babies were in their newborn carseats. We had Chicco key fit 30 carseats that fit in this stroller perfectly. We used it to go on walks, even trails, and also pretty much anywhere else we went. Being pregnant with triplets did a number on my back so I needed a carrier with really good back support and this one does! I could put it on all by myself and felt very comfortable with it. When the babies outgrew their newborn carseats, we started using this umbrella stroller and it is fantastic. It has great pockets and folds up fairly small considering. It’s sturdy and durable and has great straps. We now either use a single umbrella stroller if Derek is with me or our wagon (which is in a different list!).

 

 

#3 SwaddleMe Swaddles and Zippadee Zips

Every baby likes different swaddles so experiment until you find one that works because swaddles are the bomb. They helped our babies sleep so MUCH better. There is a reflex called the Moro reflex that causes the baby to feel as if it is free falling. Now that babies have to sleep on their backs they will involuntarily spasm and their arms will reach out for Mom/Dad. When no one is there, this can be scary for them. The swaddle keeps their arms from flinging up when the moro reflex sets in, which helps them sleep better. It’s brilliant. The transition out of the swaddle was the most feared of all transitions in year 1 for us. The zippadee zip was our lifesaver in this transition. We first started having the kids sleep in the zippadee zips for naps and slowly transitioned at night once they were ready (but not too early!). Lucy actually still sleeps in one and it’s so warm and comforting to her. Sometimes when she’s really sleepy, she actually tries to crawl into it on her own.

#2 Frog Chairs

I honestly couldn’t decide which list this one should go in. It is a favorite practical item, a favorite toy, and a favorite thing that I didn’t know that I would need! As I was researching different swings and bouncy chairs for babies, this one caught my attention because it turns into a rocking chair once the baby gets bigger. I had no idea just how much we would use these chairs though! Our babies often took naps in them as tiny babies. Being in the living room with us helped them get used to sleeping in places with more light and some noise. Then, as our babies dealt with reflux they had to rest after eating so each baby sat in their frog chair for 15 minutes after every meal. Now at 14 months, they love to climb in them and rock and think they are such big kids with their own chair. They have held up great!

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#1 IKEA High Chairs

This $20 high chair is the best! It is durable, has a strap for safety, is super easy to clean, and does not take up much space! They are perfect for us! They are so easy to take apart and put together that we will often travel with one or two.

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