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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El Roi – The God who sees me

I’ve said it before, but I will say it again – Derek Wilson is amazing. I am sitting alone at starbucks on a Saturday morning getting ready for a women’s conference at church while he takes the kids most of the weekend. AND for my birthday, I’m getting another Saturday off duty too!!! He sure loves me and loves our kids. Last night at the conference the question that kept hitting me in the face is “What is your biggest fear?” And the answer that kept running around in my head was “Am I seen? Am I known?” Which seems silly considering most days all SLO want to see is me. They want to see me and touch me and tug on me and have me hold them and yell at me and laugh at me.

All.

Day.

Long.

It’s cute and sweet and they love me so much, but man I am touched out. Beyond that though is this fear that the “me” that I used to be has been forgotten and buried beneath a heavy layer of spit up, then another layer of poop, and then some snot and baby food piled on top. I feel like I may never be “me” again. Or is this the new me? If it is, I’m actually pretty good at it with the help of our amazing village. In fact Derek and I have been compiling a list of weird skills that we have acquired as a triplet parent:
I can pour off exactly 10ml of a bottle every time.

I know exactly how much is left in a bottle in the dark.

I can pull up exactly the right dose of medicine (1.6ml zantac, 1.875ml of motrin, and 3.75ml of tylenol, 5ml of amoxicillin) in one quick pull without looking.

I can remove 3 babies from any room in one try. Let me tell you that this is much harder than it sounds. You have to take the first baby fairly far away and put them in a safe place. Then the second baby can’t go as far because baby #1 will be crawling back to said room and will make it if you take baby #2 to where you left baby #1. Then you have to sprint back and place baby #3 just right outside the door and quickly pull it closed. I have this down to a science.

I know how to ultra baby proof a house and can tell you exactly what SLO will get into upon entering any house that is not ours.

During nap time I can hear the first faint cry and know who it is and if I should go get them or let them figure it out.

I can hold baby #1 while changing a dirty diaper on baby #2 with baby #3 pulling my hair.

I can rock one baby to sleep while feeding 2 others a snack.

I can bottle feed 3 babies at one time.

I can make dinner with 3 babies screaming and pulling on me.

I can change a diaper in the dark at lightning speed.

I can change crib sheets and one baby’s pajamas in the dark without waking up the other 2 babies.

I can split a banana into thirds without a knife. It’s actually pretty amazing and totally not messy.

I can open a door and pull a triplet stroller through it. (Automatic doors should be a thing. Everywhere. Or at least at the doctor’s office.)

I have so many schedules and numbers memorized in my head to keep up with who is taking what and eating what and doing what at any given time.

I can mediate a fight between 3 babies that don’t know how to communicate yet.

I can get 3 babies dressed – 3 shirts, 3 pairs of pants, 6 socks, 6 shoes, 3 coats and load them all in the car in record timing all by myself.

The list goes on…

Being a mom in general requires skills. I mean mad skills. Being a triplet mom well it’s taken a lot of me. And I like this version of me. I really do. I adore my kids, and I love my life. I love that I get to stay at home (see last post). I love that I’m not just surviving but really living and enjoying life even though it’s crazy. BUT I miss me. I will forever wear the badge of Shepherd, Lucy, and Oliver’s mom with pride. I will shout from a mountain top that I go with them because I am so stinking honored and proud and excited to be their mom. But is that me now? Is that all that I am? When I was teaching, day in and day out, a lot of people saw me. In a lot of ways I got immediate appreciation. I of course had some haters, but overall I felt very validated as a teacher.  Now here I am in motherhood, one of the most under-appreciated jobs. My kids do not tell me how great of a job I did changing that 8th dirty diaper of the day. I don’t get told how impressive it was that I only lost my cool once today while three 1 year olds screamed hysterically for hours on end. Sometimes they really do appreciate me with the cutest smiles and hugs – it’s the best. BUT that is rare.

So I was sitting at this conference pondering how I can be seen and known again, and it hit me!!! God sees me. He always sees me. And He KNOWS me. There is a story in Genesis 16 about a woman named Hagar. She was an Egyptian slave of Abram and Sarai (before they were Abraham and Sarah). God had promised Abram that he would be the father of many nations, but Sarai couldn’t get pregnant. She was struggling with infertility (I feel you girl.) So they both decided to take matters into their own hands and use their slave, Hagar, to start this massive new generation. This sounds weird but it wasn’t that weird back in the day. Picture a creepier, more awkward version of fertility clinics. So faithful Hagar does as she is told and gets pregnant with Ishmael. But of course Sarai gets jealous and sends her away and Abram mistreats her and flat out forgets about her especially after Isaac is born. Hagar is forgotten. She was faithful and then just thrown out with the trash. She is a mother that no one saw and no one knew. So one day she is praying to God (verse 13) and He answers. He heard her and knew her. This is the only place in the Bible where God is called El Roi (the God who sees me). Hagar said,  “You are the God who sees me, I have now seen the One who sees me.” God is El Roi. He sees me. This is huge!! God sees me. Even on the days when I feel most alone and most overwhelmed, God sees me. On the days when all I want to do is walk to the mailbox, God sees me. On the days where my body physically aches from holding babies and cleaning. God sees me. On the days when life is just hard, God sees me.

I have always struggled with an approval addiction. I desperately want people to like me. Here is the thing though, If I truly believe that God is who He says He is, then why am I spending all of this time wondering if people see me, when I should be spending time helping others see and know HIM! This has to be a daily, no hourly, prayer. So today, this morning, I pray, God, El Roi, the God who sees me, be the breathe in my lungs. Use me to make your name known.

Thoughts on being a stay at home mom

I have never had just one baby so I don’t know what it’s like to be a stay at home mom with just one child but life with 3 babies is very busy yet monotonous at the same time. I absolutely love that I am able to stay home this year and know 100% that this was the right decision for our family. I love that I get to see the their firsts (roll, crawl, walk, etc.),  and I love that I get so many sweet snuggles and get to know these little ones so well. I know what makes them smile and which toy is their favorite today (it changes everyday). I know the last time they pooped which is sometimes a rarity in our house. I know which foods they are currently liking, and I know exactly how much of their bottles (or lack of bottle as we transition to sippy cups) they take at each feed. I know their schedule so well that I could do it in my sleep, and some days I do. I love that I get to see their different little personalities come alive during the day. I know that Oliver will smile for pretty much anything and wants to be around people. I know that Shepherd may be the smartest because he is usually the first to learn every new thing, but he is also the most sensitive and needs to be held and calmed down the most. I know exactly how to calm each baby down. I know that Lucy is so independent but also needs special attention. She is so calm and quiet that she is often last and could be easily looked over if I give the boys all the attention that they demand each day so I have to be super intentional to give Lucy cuddles and kisses just because. If I wait till she asks for them, she may never get them but she secretly longs for them. I know that I have to watch out for the boys because Lucy will tackle them out of love, but sometimes it really hurts them. So I have to make sure the boys are safe and that Lucy knows it’s ok to play but not to push. I know each of their cries and usually what the cries mean. I know Oliver’s bored cry, Shepherd’s scared cry, and Lucy’s fix this cry. I know all of their hungry cries and their sleepy cries. I know things about them that Derek doesn’t simply because I spend so much more time with them. I know that if I had one baby then it would be easier to see the details in the shorter spans of time with just 1, but with 3, I love that in my full days with them I get to take my time learning about each one individually. If I had 1 baby, then those different cries and personality traits could be heard/seen in the evenings or mornings or weekends, but with 3 babies, that’s at least 9 different cries! I love that I know these details. I love that they sleep and eat amazingly well in a large part because I am at home with them and keep them on this super specific schedule that day care may not be able to do since keeping 3 kids on the exact same schedule is tricky. Feeding 3 babies at once is not usually on a day care workers resume. haha I know which order they need to eat and be put to sleep to make sure that the schedule is smooth and easy for the day. I love that they haven’t been sick much in this first year (knock on wood) because they aren’t exposed to as many germs. The list goes on…

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BUT man I miss working. I miss adult interaction. I miss using my math brain and teacher skills. I miss how every day is so different in teaching and every class is different. I miss the immediate gratification of knowing I just taught a really good lesson. I miss getting to eat lunch with my teacher friends, or really just getting to eat lunch. I miss teaching with Derek. I miss the retreat and school trips. I miss stretching my brain and writing a really good test ( I know…nerd alert). I miss being asked for advice and getting to know my students beyond just how they are at math. I miss talking to them about Jesus and life. I have wanted to be a mom since I was little, but I have also wanted to be a math teacher since 8th grade. I never changed my major or changed my mind. I have seriously always wanted to teach high school math. Teaching to me was a passion and calling and something that brings me a lot of purpose. Being a mom also gives me purpose and joy, but I feel like I had one of my arms cut off. Or maybe part of my brain. I know a lot of it is the lack of sleep talking, and I know that I do still have opportunities to stretch my brain. With three babies though, I am very busy all day moving them from one thing to the next. We rotate like stations to different areas of the house about every 15-30 minutes. We read books in the chair, play with dolls by the rocking chair, race cars around the kitchen island, look out the doggy door, play by the wagon and front window, play in their pretend kitchen, play in the cage with blocks, play with magnets on the fridge, etc. Then about every couple hours we go to the high chairs to eat. And now just once a day they go to their cribs for naps. I am constantly making sure that when they all 3 crawl (or walk) in different directions that they don’t hurt themselves. haha It is a wonderful circus, and I really do enjoy it. It’s not that its hard. In fact, it’s really not bad which people find hard to believe. The hardest part is that I literally do the same thing over and over again and the monotony makes my brain feel like its rotting away some days. I do things to help myself like listening to the news and reading intellectual books. I make Derek have discussions with me at night about anything we can thing of. I text and call former students and love that I still have a ministry with them and get to stay really connected with their lives. But I usually get to do these things in quick 5 minute bursts in between wiping spit up and changing a poopy diaper.

Maybe it’s the lack of nap time lately speaking. I had to wake up at 5am to write this, because in the last few days once they get up I’m on duty until Derek gets home from work. Nonstop. I’m lucky if I get to pee kind of nonstop. Staying at home is hard. It’s a sacrifice, and I am so thankful that I can financially do this. I really am incredibly blessed to watch my babies grow. After infertility we didn’t know if we would ever have babies in our house and we probably won’t ever have them in our house again. So I am soaking up the baby stage but staying at home all day everyday is really harder than I thought it would be. I really do miss my classroom, ministry, math, the creativity of teaching, and good deep intellectually stimulating conversations.

That said, its also really hard on Derek to not be at home. He is constantly sad about missing something and just misses the kids. He asks for videos and pictures all day because he leaves right as they are waking up and comes home right as they are winding down for the night and not near as happy and playful. He misses a lot. Just like I feel as though I am missing an arm because I am not teaching, Derek feels like he is constantly missing an arm because he isn’t with the kids all day. I know that if I was teaching right now that I would feel the same way. Having multiple passions and loving your job makes this whole parenting thing even more tricky. It’s hard to want to be in 2 places at the same time. It brings up a lot of feelings of guilt and makes it hard to be present. I feel guilty that I don’t find all of my fulfillment in this wonderful world of babies that I have longed for and fought for over the past few years. Derek feels guilty that he is missing so many things with the kids. And if we switched rolls we would still feel guilty.

Learning to deal with the guilt and pressure to make the most out of this season that I find myself in is hard, but rewarding. I’m finding peace in things like my morning cup of tea before the babies get up and our evenings together just me and Derek when the kids go to sleep. I find rest in the short breaks in the day when no one is crying and one or all 3 of the babies come and crawl into my lap for a snuggle. I find joy in watching all 3 learn to play together and interact with me. I find comfort in how well adjusted they have become and the way they love me and others. I find intellectual stimulation in this blog and in talking to former students and friends. Thank you for reading this and for being a support to me this year. This blog has provided a wonderful outlet for me to process my emotions but also to just use my brain. I’m grateful when readers ask me questions or further the discussion because it really does bring some adult intellectual interaction to my day that I so desperately need.

So, today on Ash Wednesday, as I look into this season of Lent and what it means to sacrifice and to be left wanting and waiting for more to come. I am reminded that life and motherhood and staying at home and going to work and just the sacrifices that life demands, well they are all worth it. But it takes intentionality to really believe that truth. It takes discipline and more sacrifice to find the time to sit with Jesus and be still so that He can lavish His truth over you. I invite you to walk through this season of Lent with me. Maybe it’s time to give up a luxury to find time to process guilt and feelings of inadequacy. Maybe it’s time to find fulfillment and purpose in something bigger than even family and work. I know this is true for me. Every morning this week I have written out this phrase: “I am safe. I am loved. May your presence go with me and give me rest.” I pray the same over you today. May you find safety and love not in the fulfillment of work or family but in knowing that Jesus will give you rest.

A day in the life…

I have people all the time ask about our schedule and “how we do it.” First of all, everyone and every baby is different. So what works for us, may not work for you. My babies were born at 32+5, each weighing very close to 4pounds. They were in the NICU for 5 weeks. I pumped breastmilk while they were in the NICU but stopped and switched to only formula (similac sensitive) when they came home. This is what worked for US but again, please don’t read this as me saying that our way is better. I know that our situation is unique. Dealing with preemies and triplets is obviously different then a singleton, BUT we have had 3 babies sleeping through the night since they were 3 months old and would love to share our schedule in case it is helpful for others. If you are trying to get your baby to sleep through the night and it isn’t going well, I always encourage people to stick to a schedule! We do follow Baby Wise/Mom’s on Call – eat, play, sleep method, but adjusted it to what worked for us. As a statistics teacher with 3 babies, I am loving all of the experiments and problem solving that I have gotten to do. I am big on isolating variables and only changing one thing at a time so that I don’t have as many confounding variables. haha You laugh, but it’s true.

Since our babies were in the NICU, the hospital already had the babies on a 3 hour schedule but they were all slightly different so we adjusted to the middle schedule and got all 3 aligned pretty quickly when they came home. Originally all 3 slept in rock n plays in our room and had to be woken every 3 hours to feed even in the night.

Here is our schedule for months 1-5:

8am – wake, diaper, bottle, “play”, sleep

11am –  wake, diaper, bottle, “play”, sleep

2pm, 5pm, 8pm,11pm, 2am, 5am,…repeat

Throughout these first 5 months, we were slowly able to drop the nighttime feeds. After 2-3 months, we were able to let them have one 4 hour stretch at night, then a 5 hour, etc. (we followed the pediatrician to know when this was allowed). Around 3 – 4 months we had dropped all but 1 nighttime feed (around 4am) and the babies were sleeping from 8pm-4am. We would diaper and feed at 4am and straight back to bed till 8am.

We would wake up the babies if it was feeding time and they were still asleep. This seems crazy to some people, but it really helped them and eventually they would wake up right on the hour and still do to this day. Before we fed, we changed all 3 diapers, then fed each a bottle, then “played” as long as possible and back to sleep. Repeat.

If and when they wake up before the next feed, we would rock, hold, use a pacifier to get them to wait. This is sometimes hard but once they get used to the schedule it is so great. At night, after we fed them, they would immediately go back to sleep in the rock n play. Sometimes we would go 2.5 hours at night if they were losing their minds and we were tired. Haha

Play time during these months included tummy time, laying on their back on a baby play mat, or just holding them and talking to them.

Nap time took place in the living room in these little fisher price infant to toddler rocking chairs that I love. I would wrap them in a swaddle blanket with their arms swaddled up. We used different swaddles for nap and nighttime. At night we used the velcro, straight jacket ones! The light in the living room from the windows and the different swaddle helped them start to differentiate between naps and nighttime sleep. We did not use a sound machine or stay silent during nap time either. They got used to napping with noise and each other’s cries and still do really well with that. Because of this, they can now nap around noises and they are not woken up by each other. Even while I write this, Oliver is in the nursery “talking” very loudly while the other 2 are sound asleep.

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Feeding was either done by multiple people all at one time or I would prop them around 3 months. Then I eventually fed the boys at the same time and then Lucy right afterward once Lucy stopped being a fan of propping.

Again if they wake up before the next feeding time, we just let them rest, put in a pacifier, rock them, but it is clearly NOT play time and we do not feed them early.

At 5 months we moved the rock n plays downstairs, moved their bedtimes to 7pm, and dropped the 4am feed. We did these changes one at a time and waited a few days to make sure each change didn’t mess them up before changing something else. Again, I have to isolate the variables 🙂 At 5.5 months we moved them to cribs. We also started having them nap in cribs at this point.

Here is our 3 hour schedule for months 5-7:

7am – diaper change, bottle, play

8am –  oatmeal cereal+veggie/fruit, play

8:30/9 – when they start getting fussy, I put them in a zippadee zip and lay them down in their crib for a nap. If they wake up early, I lay them with a pacifier in their rocker in the living room without talking to them or interacting. They just lay and relax or fuss a little until the next feed.

10am – diaper, bottle, play

11:30/12 – nap

1pm – diaper, bottle, play

2:30/3 – nap

4pm -diaper, bottle, play

5pm – feed oatmeal cereal+fruit/veggie, play

NO NAP

Bath

7pm – diaper, zippadee zip, bottle, straight down to sleep in cribs

IMG_2556This is a picture of their zippadee zips.

If they cried in the night, we would try to let them self soothe, but would often need to soothe by picking them up, bouncing a couple times, and put them back down with a pacifier. Derek and I worked out a system since he had trouble going back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night. I would usually go down if a baby cried between 9pm- 3am and Derek would go if it was from 7pm-9pm or 3am-7am. No nighttime feeds anymore though! Also, sweet Derek has always brought the monitor downstairs for at least an hour in the mornings so that I can completely zone out. haha

They started oatmeal cereal around month 4. Then, we did veggie/fruit puree around month 5. In these months, the puree and oatmeal feeds were not for nutrition but just teaching them how to eat. We didn’t worry about how much they got but just had fun trying different flavors (one at a time of course…keep those confounding variables to a minimum. haha) We first put purees before the bottle but then they wanted less of their bottle. Our pediatrician reminded us that until 12 months, the bottle is their main source of nutrition, so we switched and put the bottle an hour before purees and that was a great order for us. By month 7 they were baby food eating pros and able to stay awake for longer periods of time. Around month 7 we decided to drop a nap and switch to a 4 hour schedule.

Here is our 4 hour schedule for months 7-12:

7am – wake up, diaper, bottle, play

8am – breakfast (from 7m- 10m we still did purees but slowly weaned them into finger foods until they wanted less and less purees).  After bottle and after feeding we play.

9:30am – nap – Each baby gets wrapped in a zippadee zip. Each baby sleeps in a separate room for naps. It is mostly easier on me so that when one wakes up, I can go get that one without waking up the others.

11am – diaper, bottle, play

12pm – lunch (puree or finger food or both)

1:30pm – nap

3pm – diaper, bottle, play

4:30pm – dinner (puree or finger food or both)

6/6:30 – bath

7pm – bed – For a while we had to put them to sleep at 6:30pm because they just couldn’t make it to 7pm. They were still in their zippadee zips until about 10m when the boys really wanted to be able to pick up their pacifiers better. Starting around month 7, we only go into their room at night if they are sick, teething, or hysterical. We RARELY pick them up though. We pat them or make sure they have a pacifier, but picking up is a last ditch effort and very rarely done. This was our own version of Cry It Out. We let them cry for 5-10 minutes on their own without going in to pat them. Usually in those 5-10minutes they figure it out. If the pat did not help then we give them about 15 minutes before going in again to pat.

We are now debating dropping our morning nap and that will of course change the schedule again. I think the teacher in me loves the “lesson planning.” It does sometimes feel like as soon as we get completely used to a schedule, it’s time to switch it up and do something new, but at least that keeps us from getting bored. Also, I really do try to rest when they rest. I’m not a big napper, but am a big fan of rest (see my last post). Sometimes that means that the clothes stay unfolded or the kitchen stays dirty, but a healthy mom is always better than a clean kitchen. My prayer for those of you knee deep in middle of the night feeds, no sleep, endless diaper changes, spit up everywhere, and not knowing which way is up: May the God of peace make your eyes to see the sweet baby smiles and not just the mess around you. May He fill you with strength when you can barely open your eyes so that you are able to be fully present in this moment. May He remind you that those little fingers that grab a hold of your finger will soon grow and that spit up does wash out. May He fill you with wisdom to know when to take a break and let friends and family help. May He surround you with a community that loves you as you love your little one(s). And may you find rest, sweet rest in the midst of the beautiful chaos.

Feeding Triplets and Finding Rest

A lot of people ask me about breastfeeding and feeding in general with triplets. I’m sure you have noticed, but Derek and I are super open about our experience so those questions really don’t bother me. While I was pregnant I knew all along that the possibility of me breastfeeding very long was slim. I wanted to try, but bottom line was that I wanted to do what was best for the babies and was open to whatever feeding method that may be. Since they were born almost 8 weeks early, they did not know how to suck. I started pumping immediately after they were born. Pumping around the clock with your babies in intensive care far away from you is miserable, but it also gave me purpose and made me feel close to my babies at the same time. I tried breastfeeding during the first week and kept trying each time I was allowed to see the babies (once or twice a day) but it was really hard for them. Latching was just not a skill that they were capable of as preemies. Some moms of preemies are lucky and their babies figure out latching quickly but that wasn’t the case for me. I still kept pumping and my babies had my breastmilk the entire 5 weeks that they were in the NICU. Also, it took a few weeks for SLO to even learn how to take a bottle. I had always thought that to leave the NICU a baby had to be 5 pounds. Turns out that graduating from the NICU has nothing to do with size. The 4 things that a baby has to accomplish before leaving the hospital is breathing on their own without their heart rate dropping for 5 days straight, maintaining temperature, maintaining and consistently gaining weight, AND they had to be able to drink 16 bottles in a row (only bottles for 2 straight days). At the beginning, this seemed impossible. We would celebrate when one of them would drink 10ml out of  a bottle (30ml is 1oz). Since our goal was for them to be able to drink a bottle, it felt weird to encourage them to do anything but that.

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The biggest hurdle in breastfeeding though was this terrible thing called mastitis. I had to go through a lot of physical pain in carrying and birthing triplets, but seriously nothing compares to the pain of mastitis. It destroyed me. Because I was only pumping and making enough milk for 3 babies, my body just could not handle it. Mastitis is a really painful infection that causes shakes and fevers and aches. After week 3 of mastitis, I decided that my body was trying to tell me it had had enough. So, I started weaning myself off of pumping. It was the same time that the babies were coming home. Less time pumping, meant more time holding and snuggling babies. I have so much respect for mom’s of multiples that breastfeed, pump, or both!! Seriously, you guys are CHAMPS!! For me, the best decision was moving to formula. Each mom and family has to figure out what is best for them, and I seriously understand and respect moms that sacrifice their bodies and free time to breastfeed and the moms like me that decide to formula feed. Mom shaming and mom guilt is so real, but really we are all just doing our best to take care of our babies and ourselves and just keep doing you!

Derek and I loved getting to tag team with bottles. It was so much fun getting to fully share the feeding task. We had our system in the middle of the night where he would go make bottles and I would change diapers and we would each feed one of the boys and whoever finished first got Lucy. It was always a race. I also love that we got to invite family and friends to join in too. Our parents got to be feeding experts, and I got to watch all kinds of friends that I love feed my tiny babies. There was (and is) always a baby to share.

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It was a sad and wonderful day at the same time when the babies learned how to hold their own bottles. I genuinely loved feeding three babies. When I was on my own, I would feed both boys at the same time while calm Lucy played at my feet. Then I would feed Lucy while the boys rested. Feeding time was really calming and created sweet bonding time for me. Even the middle of the night feeds bring such sweet memories. I loved sitting with Derek (or my mom) in the dark holding babies. We had dreamed of that exact thing for so long, and I love that bottle feeding really allowed Derek and I to be equal partners. We had to be a true team. And together, we learned how to rest with our babies in the midst of the crazy. We would go from all 3 crying and the mad rush of changing 3 diapers and making bottles (side note: the Baby Breeza is the best invention maybe ever, yes ever) to silence while the babies ate. It was so peaceful. We still feed them a bottle before bed and hold all three in the dark to bottle feed. It is often the most peaceful time of my day. I love sitting there with all 5 of us quietly just resting.

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Every year I have a theme verse or verses that cover something that I want to embody or learn that year. This year, my verse is Exodus 33:14: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” I like to get the full context so I have started in Exodus 1 and have been re-reading about Moses and the journey of the Israelites out of slavery and into the wilderness. This is a weird time for the Israelites. They have been slaves for centuries and are now trying to figure out their new identity in freedom. They have not entered the Promised Land and aren’t technically even wandering aimlessly through the wilderness yet. They are just trying to heal and catch their breath after the plagues and the Red Sea. In that time of waiting, God begins to teach and shape the Israelites. He gives them the 10 commandments and really lays out laws and rules of living in harmony with one another. He teaches them about how to communicate with Him and how to obey and respect Him. He teaches them how to remember and celebrate, to dance and to mourn. He teaches them about art and how to build the Ark of the Covenant, the Table, the Lampstand, and the Tabernacle. He teaches some of them how to be priests and how to properly be in the presence of God. He teaches them about sacrifices and incense and altars and so much more. BUT as I have been reading, I am amazed that one of the very first things that God teaches the Israelites as they leave slavery in Egypt and begin a new life is to REST. First God provides water, manna, and quail. He takes care of their physical needs, and then He commands them to take a day off. Not just one time, but one day a week, every week! Exodus 16:23, “ This is what the Lord has said: ‘Tomorrow is a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord.’” This is where the Sabbath begins. In order for them to truly love God and others, they need to learn how to take a break and just dwell with the Lord and one another.  If you find yourself in a season of wandering or waiting, let God teach you how to rest. Infertility did that for Derek and I. I wasn’t allowed to work out as much, and just really had to be still a lot. So I rested. Now, life with triplets is insane but for us, it is a Promised Land. It is a place that we had longed for and journeyed long and far and we arrived at the most beautiful promise fulfilled. But when we forget that essential piece of rest, we forget that this is the Promised Land. We forget that God is with us and that His presence will be with us through all of the new challenges. In the verses after Exodus 33:14, Moses asks God to let him see His Glory. God responds to Moses, “Stand on the rock, and when my glory passes by, I will put you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.” As we begin year 2 with SLO, my prayer is that God’s presence will go with us and that he will again give us rest. I pray that He covers us with His hand and that we learn more and more about the ever present glory of the Lord.

The NICU life

After that first week, progress kind of slowed down for a little while. The first week was very encouraging but by week 2, we started to really feel the roller coaster of the NICU. Having one baby or child in the hospital for an extended period of time is hard, but having three, at the same time, it’s hard to explain. In the same day, one baby gets good news and another gets really hard news. I couldn’t just sit in one room watching them sleep because they were all in different rooms. You have to wash up and go through this whole process each time you change rooms so that you don’t pass infections, and I could only see them every 3 hours because of the schedule the NICU had them on. It is extremely draining to say the least. Plus, I was also still in a lot of pain from the c-section. They essentially sliced my entire abdomen open, and then I needed to be able to walk from the car to the NICU, walk from room to room, and stand at the babies’ isolettes for a few hours each day. I quickly realized that in order to heal, I could not be at the hospital all day, even though I wanted to. Derek also realized that his paternity leave would be better spent when they came home so we got into a routine of him going down early in the morning before school and me going down for about 3-5 hours each day. Again remember in that 3 hours, I only got to see each baby one time for about 5-10 minutes each since they need to spend most of the day sleeping and growing. We got so tired of people telling us how nice it must be to be getting so much sleep while they were in the hospital. First of all, what we wanted more than anything was to be up all night with our babies because that would mean they were healthy and at home with us. Secondly, I had to pump every 3 hours even all through the night, so I was still waking up, but instead of getting sweet baby snuggles, I had to sit in an empty nursery listening to a machine each night. It was terrible. Pumping gave me something to do though in the hours I spent away from our babies. I got to feel like I was doing something to help them, since I couldn’t really do much. It’s hard knowing that these nurses and doctors are taking care of your babies instead of you. But again, we had prepared ourselves for this happening the whole pregnancy, its just hard to really know what it looks like until you are there.

So, Derek went back to school, and my mom thankfully stayed in Atlanta to drive me to and from the hospital each day to see the babies and get our report. Lucy quickly became the rock star and was breathing like a champ and got her pic line out in the 2nd week. A pic line is a permanent IV because the babies needed so much extra fluid and the babies try to pull out the temporary ones. The pic line goes in their foot so they can’t reach their little hands down there. Fun fact: preemies often have a foot phobia later in life because they have so many IV’s and needle pricks and tests done on their feet. To prevent this phobia, we had to give them little foot massages each day!

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Oliver had a lot of trouble breathing in week 2 and had many scares where he would just stop breathing. Their lungs just weren’t developed, and it took time for them to figure out how to breathe. Their little bodies would just forget that it was supposed to be breathing. It was a regular occurrence to either be holding one of the boys or to watch them in their isolette or to get a phone call at home that one of the babies had stopped breathing (usually one of the boys). Derek and I both had one of them turn blue in our hands and listened to all of the alarms and stats plummet. We quickly had to learn to not panic but to do special holds and pats to try and get them to remember to breathe again. Each time that alarm started beeping telling us that the breathing was too low, my heart would drop.

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The two things I remember most about the NICU was that I had to ask to hold and or touch my babies each time, and the alarms. The alarms never stop. I would hear them in my sleep. They make my blood pressure rise just thinking about them. I seriously just got anxious typing this. They were constantly going off. Each baby had a wire measuring temperature, a wire measuring blood pressure, a wire measuring breathes per minute, a wire measuring heartrate, and a wire measuring their oxygen level. There was a range that each of these had to stay in and anytime a baby dropped below or went above this range, the monitor would beep. It was a loud constant beep. I learned after a couple weeks that some of the alarms were not a big deal, but others were very serious, so as soon as one goes off, you rush to spot which baby it is and which alarm and if it is a serious one. So for a while, I was constantly panicking.

We got to bring our own clothes and blankets for the babies which made us feel a little more a part of taking care of them. It may sound weird, but they let us do their laundry, and I loved getting to bring it home with me each day. We even let Turbo (our dog) sniff the clothes each time we brought it home so that she could get used to their scent. It made us all feel like a part of them was at home with us.

Now almost a year later, it’s easy to forget the time that we spent in the NICU. It feels like so long ago. One of my themes for the year is going to be remembering and celebrating all that the Lord has carried us through. I’ll write more later about my theme verse, but for now as we are heading into SLO’s birthday week, I am celebrating all that we have overcome this year. We not only survived, but we really have enjoyed and been grateful for each day with these 3. The challenges are changing and are harder in some ways, but I have been reminded this week that God has more than proven that He will be with us in whatever may come next.

NICU week 1

The month of September was NICU awareness month. Seeing so many brave people share their NICU stories is what spurred me to start writing down our story and sharing our unique journey. Our babies spent 5 weeks in the Northside Hospital NICU (Lucy 34 days, Shepherd 35 days, and Oliver 36 days).  This is a significantly shorter time than many of my triplet mom friends, but even so it was crazy hard. Having 3 babies in the intensive care at the same time is exhausting. It is a roller coaster of emotion. The babies always took a couple steps forward and one step back. Even though Lucy started out on room air, she (along with both boys) were on a bubble CPAP breathing machine when they went into the NICU. Lungs are the last to develop so most preemies have trouble breathing. The first night in the hospital for me was spent resting and healing enough to be able to go see the babies. The first morning, they wheeled me up there, and I was so excited to finally get to see them. They let us go up their fairly early, but I was only able to hold Lucy and Oliver that day and only for a short period of time (less than 5 minutes). Derek was not able to hold any of them on the first day. They were all stable and doing well, but preemies need to spend most of the day growing and sleeping which means that we had to just let them stay in their isolettes and listen to what seemed like the hundreds of alarms beeping on their monitors. Since the babies were technically supposed to still be in the womb, the goal is for them to be in a womblike atmosphere – little holding and lots of growing.

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As hard as it was, we knew that we had it far better than many triplet parents and better than a lot of other preemie families. Our babies were little miracles and doing fantastic, so we were filled with peace knowing that they were safe. Every 3 hours we could go up and help with their diaper change and watch the feed take place and maybe give a hand hug (literally a hug with just your hand), but I mostly had to spend time during the day learning how to pump, taking my meds, and healing so that I could take care of these babies when they needed me. We didn’t get to hold our sweet Shepherd on the first day because the other babies in his room (all 3 started out in different NICU pods) were in very bad shape and the doctors were focused on them. We decided to rejoice in knowing that he was healthy, and we got to speak words of love over him. The next morning, we finally got to hold Shepherd, and Derek got a turn with Lucy and Oliver.

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Holding them entails a short 5-10 minute skin to skin kangaroo hold. It’s always an ordeal to hold them because there are seriously so many cords attached to them. Their little nervous systems hadn’t fully developed so you can’t stroke them at all. You can just gently hold them against you or hold your hand on their body (hand hugs). It’s a very surreal feeling to know that these tiny humans are yours, but you barely get to see them or hold them. Again though we knew that the best thing for them was for the doctors and nurses to take care of them while we got a few short moments each day. In between those quick 5-10 minute interactions, we would rest. All 3 babies switched to smaller CPAP tubing on day 2 which was a good sign. By day 3, we understood a little more of what was going on. We knew that our babies were healthy, but also needed time to grow. We knew that their lungs needed to grow, and their bodies needed to grow. This process is not easy and can often be very complicated. We knew that we would be going home without them. We knew that we needed to wrap our minds around this hospital being our second home for a while. We knew that the doctors and nurses were extremely capable and that we had to trust them. We knew that each moment we spent with these little ones was precious and that we couldn’t take them for granted. We knew that this would be a season and that it would pass, but at the same time it would seem like forever. Looking around in the NICU, we really did feel grateful that our babies were overall healthy. Again, this is often not the case with triplets (or preemies in general). On day 4, all 3 switched to a high flow nasal cannula for breathing which was fantastic. Our respiratory therapist was so special to us and made us feel so encouraged.

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On day 5, Lucy jumped straight to room air and the boys to level 2 high flow nasal cannulas. Lucy and Shepherd both got jaundice and had to be under the bilirubin lights which meant we got even less time to hold them, but Oliver pulled out his nasal cannula and we got to see his face for the first time and that was amazing. The oxygen tubes and cords had covered the majority of all of their faces which made it hard to really see what they looked like, which is very weird in itself to not know what your babies’ faces look like after almost a week of life.

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Going home without our babies was incredibly hard. I felt empty. After carrying them for 7 months and then having a scary birth, we had to be separated from them. We had tried to prepare ourselves for this moment and had known that it would most likely happen for most of our pregnancy, but it was still very hard. Our sweet friends had printed out pictures of the kids that are still sitting on our kitchen table today. We got to come home to beautiful pictures of our babies since the car seats were empty. It’s hard to explain the range of emotions in that one short week. I went from terrified about them being born too early, filled with joy knowing that they were ok, anxious to see them and hold them, questions upon questions about all the wires and lung development and possibilities of things that could go wrong, encouraging news, lonely nights without them, and then sadness about coming home even though we knew they were being well taken care of. Waking up the first morning at home without them was very strange, but I was thankful that it was a Saturday and that Derek could come with me to the hospital that day. When we got there, Lucy and Shepherd were off the jaundice lights which was exciting. Oliver was able to move to room air and Shepherd wouldn’t be too far behind. We got to change diapers and spend a couple minutes with each one. In 3 hours, we got to spend about 5 minutes holding each child. We stayed for a few minutes longer, but by then I was exhausted and needed to rest. Going home was always hard, but at the same time, I knew that it was what they needed and that this wasn’t about what I wanted or what I needed but about what was best for them.

Just as being a parent is not about me, I’m still slowly processing what a selfless prayer life looks like. Sometimes the best thing for my kids is for me to take care of myself. In prayer, I think that means that even though prayer isn’t about me, it’s ok to tell God about my problems and want him to be a part of them. The selfless part comes into play though when I stay in that place of only wanting what’s best for me. It’s good for me to to take care of myself and do things that bring me life. It’s good to talk to God about the things that break and burden my heart and the things that bring me joy. BUT if that is my focus in motherhood or my focus in my prayer life then neither will be very fulfilling or very fun honestly. As a recovering people pleaser and perfectionist, life is all about balance. Finding the right balance is often really really hard! The first step in both of these is changing my language and focus. After praying with prayer beads for a while, I have been reminded that the beginning and end of prayer is thankfulness and praise. As I lay in bed at night or just as I’m praying in my head throughout the day, I am intentional with the things that I am grateful for. This is especially important on the hard days. Lately I have been mindful as I read Facebook posts of the language that is used when people (sometimes including myself) want to convey that God is doing great things in their lives. The most common is “God answered my prayers” or “I am blessed.” These are both true statements, so it’s not a bad thing to say BUT we rarely use them in hard times. What is subtly implied as one writes about God answering a prayer when a healing or positive change takes place, is that if those things hadn’t taken place then God didn’t answer the prayer. Or that I am not blessed if God doesn’t respond with that YES I mentioned in my post a few weeks ago. Some new language that both Derek and I try to focus on in prayer and just in life is that we are grateful in the good and the bad. And instead of saying that God answered our prayer, we just simply say that God is good. All the time. God is good. It is true that we are very blessed, but even if we didn’t feel blessed, we will always be able to say that we are grateful and that God is good. Finding language that fits the good and the bad has really helped my prayer life. I got so tired during infertility of not being able to say, “God answered my prayer” that I just stopped praying. If today you are in that place of longing and waiting, know that even now, God is good. There is hope and life in Jesus in that balance of taking care of self and taking care of others.

Our Triplet Birth Story

The week leading up to the babies being born was physically painful. I could barely move. One night I had pretty bad contractions but they were irregular and eventually stopped so we ended up not going in to the hospital, although we probably should have. Then, a couple of days later, I barely moved to the left while sitting down to make room for Turbo, and I pulled a muscle and it hurt really bad. Turbo (our dog) sat with me everyday and some nights when I was sick and hurting.

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I had to go in every other day that week to get heartbeats checked with this crazy machine. I had to sit super still and they had to place monitors on each baby and get consistent heartbeats from each one for 20 min. It was almost impossible. If I moved a muscle or breathed too hard, or if the baby moved at all, the monitor would get off and we would have to start over. I was so uncomfortable and sweaty. Haha It was a mess.

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But they still thought everything looked good, and that I was on track to make it to 35 weeks (full term for triplets). The babies had other ideas though. The night before the babies came, I couldn’t sleep again (I got very little sleep those last couple weeks), so I went downstairs to lay on the couch and tried to read or get comfortable. Contractions started again but they were still irregular. Throughout the night, they got worse and closer together. Finally in the middle of the night, I went to wake up Derek. We decided to call the on-call doctor this time and have it checked out. We drove to the hospital with our bags packed but hoping that we still had a couple of weeks to wait. We called our parents and told them not to come yet, and that it was probably false contractions again. We got to the hospital around 4am. They got us settled and put me on magnesium to slow the contractions. They also went ahead and gave me a steroid shot which helps with the babies’ lung development. Ideally you get this shot 48 hours to a week before giving birth. Derek called school around 5am and told them that he would be coming in late, but would probably still be there. And we waited. The contractions never stopped. They just kept progressing. They wheeled me down to my MFM and she confirmed that it was probably time to take them out. I had started to dilate so we couldn’t wait much longer. I was so scared because I wanted the steroid shot to be in my system longer, but if we waited, then Oliver would have tried to come out on his own and it is extremely dangerous to have a vaginal birth with triplets. Plus, the other 2 babies were breached. I was also scared of them being so small and just not ready to be in the outside world yet. I had no idea if they were ready. Ready or not, they gave me an epidural and got me all good and numb. I remember minutes before they wheeled me into the operating room, Derek stood me up and said, “We will not bring these babies into the world in fear. We are rejoicing, and we are happy. This is a moment that we have been waiting for, there is no room for fear.” I love that man. He was so right, and he helped me stay calm throughout the whole process. First they pulled out Oliver at 2:01pm. He weighed 4 pounds and 1 ounce. I was awake, but I had a sheet between me and the doctors working. Derek later told me that Oliver came out with the cord wrapped twice around his neck. His Apgar score was much lower than they wanted. Derek saw Oliver grey and not breathing but thankfully didn’t tell me until much later. His Apgar score started out at a 5 (this is not good). After about 5 minutes he was only a 6 (which is still not good), but by 10 minutes he was up to a 9 (this is much better). Then they yanked Shepherd out so hard by his feet that he had this dark black bruise on his whole foot for the next week. He also came out at 2:01pm, and he weighed 3 pounds and 15 ounces. The doctor said later that it was the worst bruise that he had ever seen on a baby. Shepherd’s Apgar started out as a 4 but quickly jumped to a 9 after 5 minutes. Then came Lucy, last but not least. She was born at 2:02pm and weighed 4 pounds and 1/2 an ounce. She was on room air from the start and had an Apgar of an 8 to begin with and was up to a 9 after 5 minutes. Lucy was the first to cry, and only one to cry in the delivery room. Thankfully, I couldn’t see much, but Derek was terrified the whole time. The boys were grey and not crying. After 10 minutes though, they were able to wrap all 3 up real tight with oxygen and bring them over for a picture one at a time. Then began the longest hour of my life. Derek got to go up to the NICU with the babies, and I was wheeled to a recovery room where I sat by myself not knowing how the babies were doing. No one could come back there except Derek, and I wanted him to be with the babies. So I sat. I sat and I prayed. Each year I pick a theme verse to memorize and repeat throughout the year. And this year my string of verses is Mary’s song. I sat in that recovery room and repeated over and over to myself:

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Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her! 

And Mary said:

“My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

These verses got me through that hour. I found comfort in knowing that God was watching over me and my babies. I rejoiced in God in that moment and chose not to fear, but oh how I rejoiced even more when Derek came back to report that all 3 were doing well up in the NICU. I could not go see them until I was able to sit in a wheel chair. So together we went to another recovery room where family could join us and we rested and slept until we could see our babies again and hold them for the first time. It’s a weird feeling knowing that these extensions of yourself are no longer inside you but you can’t see them or hold them. You just have to wait and take care of yourself and be thankful for the amazing doctors and nurses that are helping them breathe. We had to learn quickly to really trust and be thankful for people helping us with our babies from the very beginning. It has never been just us. It really takes a village, and the nurses and doctors in the NICU were a part of our village. By God’s spirit alone we had so much peace. Next week I’ll start sharing about our NICU experiences. I still can’t believe how healthy our babies are. We are truly lucky and never take for granted the fact that SLO are here and well. That was a big prayer that God answered YES to.

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Triplet Pregnancy reflections

Looking back I wish that I had taken more pictures of me, massive me, pregnant. I was trying to find a picture the other day that showed just how massive I was, but honestly I didn’t take many. Infertility took such a toll on me emotionally that I didn’t really want pictures of me pregnant. I had spent the last couple of years aching every time I saw a picture of a pregnant woman. I was really mindful about posting pregnant pictures because it hurt knowing that I was pregnant but so many others still weren’t. I also don’t know how to fully explain the dangers and risks involved while carrying 3 babies. Each week was hard, and each week brought new risks and questions. Derek especially carried a lot of this uncertainty. I tried not to think about what could go wrong and to stay as calm as possible. I stayed off of google and refused to look up “what if” stories. The TV show “This is Us” became a big hit, but we had to stay far away from it because the reality of something going wrong with 1 or all 3 of our babies was so real. I had dreams about something happening to them and even dreamt about the 3rd blastocyst splitting into a 4th.

Derek felt really isolated because he didn’t want to stress me out, and he couldn’t talk about the real possibilities of losing one baby (or all) to many people. While for most couples doctors’ visits are fun and exciting, for us each time we went we were sick to our stomachs wondering what might possibly happen. Now don’t get me wrong, we rejoiced and were thankful everyday for our blessing of 3 babies, but we were also all to familiar with the pain of knowing that sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to go. Infertility and my ectopic pregnancy and a failed IVF created this predisposition that something could and probably would go wrong at any moment. For this same reason, we decided not to do a maternity photo shoot. We didn’t do a gender reveal. We didn’t post monthly bump pictures. When we did post our birth announcement, it was with carefully chosen words that spoke about the pain of infertility. We were just so nervous and broken. Thankfully we had a wonderful community and support through this experience. We had so many people speaking and praying truth and hope when we were unable to. I really think though that Derek was skipped over a lot with how much of a weight he had to carry. I got asked how I was doing regularly, but Derek rarely got asked. I got to feel the reassurance of the babies moving because I was carrying them, so I felt confident that we were doing everything we could physically do to take care of them. Derek just had to watch. He watched and worried and encouraged. He fed me so much food!! But it was really hard on him to watch me in pain and know that there was little to nothing that he could do. Thankfully, everything that could have gone right did. We are very lucky. Yes, God had his hand all over this pregnancy, but He also has his hand on the many babies that are born too early and in the lives of those that lose their little ones.

Now looking back, I’m realizing that in those months of scary pregnancy, in those months of so many unknowns, in the months of feeling alone, I was still very angry at God for our infertility (even though I was pregnant). Ok, real truth, Im still angry at God sometimes. I am angry at God for what we went through with infertility and also angry that even when we did get pregnant it was different and hard and terrifying the whole time. I was and am afraid to pray because I didn’t see how it would help. I figured whatever was going to happen, was just going to happen, so why ask God to fix it.

After processing, I have realized that it’s not prayer in general that I’m struggling with. I still love thanksgiving and praise in prayer. Even in the darkest days, I did have things to prayerfully be thankful for. I understand and find purpose in meditative prayer and centering prayer. I think prayer is good when seeking forgiveness and confession. I even see the beauty in praying for gifts of the spirit to come more fully (give me peace and kindness, etc). The place that I am struggling is in intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is when I ask God to heal, fix, save, change, take away, etc. Often when asking people for prayer requests, this is the type of prayer that is being used. Heal my sick Grandma. Help me to get this job. Take away this pain that I am suffering through. Heal a relationship. These are all forms of intercessory prayer. I know now that I had believed the purpose of this type of prayer to be straightforward – God do these things for me. I wanted Him to take away my pain. That was the point. But if that is the point of intercessory prayer then at some point in your life, if it hasn’t happened already, God will say No and the pain will remain. The person will die or you will still lose the job. So if the point of intercessory prayer is for God to fix things, then He isn’t doing a very good job. I know that God is good and keeps His promises so He must not promise to do what we ask. There must be a different and better purpose. These verses messed me up. Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose.” Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

But here’s the deal…I was not getting the desires of my heart met. Whatever I was asking for in prayer, wasn’t mine. Things did not look like they were being worked for good. And yes there is an argument to be made for the fact that my beautiful triplets are here and amazing and healthy, and I love them so much, BUT what about the thousands of children dying in Africa from diarrhea because they don’t have clean water? What about the family that is homeless after countless efforts to find shelter and a job? What about the refugees that are dying every day as they are doing everything in their power to find safety? What about the triplets that I see everyday on my Facebook group that lose one or all of them or even just have major complications? I could go on and on. As a white American these verses seem to mean, pray and you will get what you want because most of the time, we get what we want. But if you look beyond yourself and look into the pain of someone that is suffering, someone that is doing everything “right” but the situation is not working for good, you have to question. Is there more to intercessory prayer than a genie granting wishes? What do these verses really mean?

Now don’t get me wrong, I do think that sometimes God says YES and he does fix, heal, save, and change. God is so powerful and we should rejoice when healing comes! But if that is our only goal in intercessory prayer than we are missing something HUGE. We are missing the main point. The point is not for God to give us what we want, but for him to know our hearts and for us to know his. As Shepherd, Lucy, and Oliver grow up, I hope that they tell me about the bully at school. I hope that they tell me about the huge chemistry test that they are scared about and the teacher that makes them nervous. I hope that they share their fears. I hope that they tell me when they struggle with lust or with self worth. I hope that they ask me to take care of them when they get hurt. I hope that they call me when they are in uncomfortable situations. I hope that they ask me to be a part of their problems. BUT I won’t be able to fix or heal or change everything, and I don’t want to. I hope that they learn that my job is not to bulldoze away their problems. My job is not to make all of their pain disappear. But I still want them to tell me. I still want them to lay their head on my shoulder, to cry, and to share their deepest fears, even if I can’t make them go away. Because in sharing, in voicing the pain and the fear, there is comfort. I know that there is a difference between me as a mom and God the Father. God has the power to fix anything while I do not, but the question still remains, should He? A lot of this falls into the topic of theodicy which is a whole other post that either Derek or I will write sometime. My conclusion today though is that the beauty of prayer is not in the answer but in the conversation. Sometimes I will jump up in action when my kids ask me to do something, but other times I will just sit and listen and talk with them and hold them. One of those is not greater than the other. The desire of my heart cannot be for God to take away my pain. The desire of my heart should be for God to sit with me in the highs and lows and let me rest on his shoulder. My burden is heavy, and I’m ready to find rest for my soul.

I strongly believe that my babies are not healthy because I deserve it or did something right, but it is a beautiful part of this crazy wonderful story. I am very thankful for all the people that carried Derek and I through those 32 weeks and 5 days. I am the most thankful for Derek who went above and beyond to help me feel comfortable and loved and at peace every step of the way. God is good. All the time.

sidenote: I did take a few pictures of my belly because both my mom and Derek’s mom begged us for them which I am now thankful for.

A Triplet Pregnancy

The next few weeks after finding out that we were pregnant with triplets were crazy. I had to tell my administration at the school where my husband and I have both taught for the last several years that I was pregnant with triplets. They were amazing in their response. They immediately helped me figure out my teaching schedule so that I had fewer responsibilities, less stress, less standing, and made it possible for me to be able to teach as long as possible and then step out and allow other teachers to take my spot. This allowed me the freedom to leave whenever I needed to, but relieved me of the stress involved in sub plans. Then, I had to find an MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine) or perinatologist and a new OBGYN. I wanted to find both near the best NICU since most triplets are born very early and usually need some time in the hospital after they are born to finish growing. Both Derek and I knew there is a lot that can go wrong with triplets, and with so much outside of our control we wanted to make sure we controlled everything that we could. Thankfully, Atlanta has one of the best NICU hospitals around – Northside. After finding my new doctors, I had to drive down there regularly for ultrasounds. Most “normal” pregnancies have about 2 ultrasounds. We had more than I can count. I just tried to count, and it was too confusing. haha It’s probably around 20 times. I went to my OB about every 6 weeks and had to have an ultrasound each time there but just to check heartbeats. It’s hard to check a heartbeat without an ultrasound when there are 3 babies. If you just listen with a stethoscope it would sound like a very unorganized drum line. They had to make sure that they were correctly hearing all 3. Besides checking for heart rate and just asking me questions, the OB appointments were pretty easy. I went to the MFM about once a month and even more often the further along I got. Each of those appointments were pretty intense. We adored our doctor. She was fantastic. She explained everything and was calm and genuinely enjoyed when we came in. Plus, she is brilliant and really good at her job. At each of these appointments they would go over the risks in the near future. The possibility of losing one or all 3 of these babies was very real. In the MFM appointments, I had trouble breathing because of the high risk involved. Even more common than losing the babies is the possibility of one or all of the being born with extreme complications. So, while the ultrasound tech measured the babies, I literally held my breath, praying that everything was ok. They would measure each baby (arms, legs, head, stomach, etc), they would check the fluid in each sac, and measure my cervix. This usually took about 2-3 hours. They would check everything on baby A (Oliver), then everything on baby B (Shepherd), and then baby C (Lucy). Finally after they finished with Lucy, I could breathe. Thankfully Derek came to almost every one of them with me and held my hand the whole time (even though holding my hand put him at an awkward angle to see the screen). The biggest fear at the beginning was that the boys wouldn’t share nutrients. Twin to Twin transfusion is a really scary thing among babies that share a placenta like our boys. If one takes too much, than it leaves the other baby too small and they would have to go in and do a procedure to try and cut some of the chord and a whole lot of other scary things that I don’t even understand. They had to check my cervix and the fluid in the sac because early labor is extremely common when pregnant with multiples. The longest that I was allowed to go was a little over 35 weeks (40 weeks is “normal” for singletons). The risk after 35 weeks is the placenta detaching because everything gets too heavy. And let’s be real, there is no way that I am giving birth to three 7-8 pound babies. Each week was a milestone though. Making it to 24 weeks was the first big milestone. At 24 weeks the babies are considered viable with about a 50/50 chance of survival. Every week past that was less time that we would have to spend in the NICU. I am on a triplet Facebook page with hundreds of other triplet moms that gave birth this year. I am learning more and more that our babies are an exception. More often than not, triplets are born early, born with major physical complications, have developmental delays, spend many months in the NICU, and more. I ended up making it to 32 weeks and 5 days. Towards the end it was really hard to walk. I was nauseous the entire pregnancy, but thankfully there is a medicine now that is very safe with pregnant women and it was a GAME changer! Diclegis for the win. haha I took it every day until I gave birth. I also took about 10 vitamins and prenatal supplements. I needed a lot of extra ones because, well I had a couple extra babies. I also took a low dose aspirin everyday to help reduce my chance of pre-term labor. I even had to have my progesterone shot in my hip until I was 10 weeks pregnant. Most days I was taking around 10-15 pills. I tried to stay off of my feet as much as possible. I was thankfully able to teach the entire fall semester (until about 28 weeks), but taught everyday from a chair. By the end I was so big and unable to bend over. If I dropped my marker or a pen, I had to get a student to come up and get it for me. It was pretty entertaining. I couldn’t exercise because of the obvious difficulty moving, but more importantly because I couldn’t afford to use any of my calories. One of the few things I could do to keep the babies healthy and to prevent pre-term labor was to gain a whole lot of weight and drink a whole lot of water. This is difficult when most things made me nauseous. Derek would make me drink these terrible protein shakes everyday. He would mix ice cream, peanut butter, instant breakfast, protein powder (the organic nasty kind) and milk. It sounds tasty and may have been if I didn’t want to puke. This was my morning snack by the way. He made me eat breakfast, my protein shake, peanut butter crackers (with like 3 Tablespoons of peanut butter on each one), lunch, dinner, ice cream for dessert. It would be any other person’s dream, but I had morning sickness times 3 the entire pregnancy. Eating that many calories when all I wanted to do was throw up was actually incredibly difficult. Those protein shakes were the worst and the best though. They really did help me gain weight. I gained a total of 60 pounds throughout the pregnancy. And I lost 40 pounds the moment the babies were born!! I had always looked forward to the actual pregnancy part, but having 3 was painful and stressful and scary. However, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat for these 3 beautiful babies. Sometimes Derek and I look at them and can’t believe that I carried them at the same time and that they are ours.

Another fun fact about the pregnancy is that I knew which baby was which the whole time. Baby A was always Oliver and he was head down on the left as low as possible. By the end, he had wedged his head into my pelvis and made me have to pee about every hour. Baby B was Shepherd (except his name was Samuel for a while in my belly) and he was on the left side like Oliver, but he was always a little higher. He was my kicker. He was always an ounce or 2 smaller (not much though! Thankfully they shared nutrients really well!), but he was the one that by far kicked me the most. He also was the only one that got hiccups. Lucy, Baby C, had the whole right side to herself. Even so, she would try to move as far away from the boys as possible. She would try to put her head under my rib cage. It was tight in there. I loved that Derek and I could place our hands on my belly at night and pray for each one specifically though. It was a hard and wonderful 32 weeks and 5 days.