Monday, November 16, 2009

Flying by the seat of my yoga pants

I cannot believe it has been so long since I've posted, but seriously... I am sort of busy around here. Life is wonderful and amazing with four children in our home! All of our boys are so very healthy and happy, and our three-year old is adjusting to the new life. My husband, mom and I are all getting used to sleep deprivation and wander around like cheerful zombies.

People have asked questions about life since our triplets' birth and I thought it might make a nice and organized blog post, since my mind is a bit mushy lately. A thoughtful narrative post will follow, most likely some time around the new year.

How is the Lion?

Our little Lion! He is an amazing boy whose body is healed, who astounded his doctor's with "the mildest case of NEC" they've seen. He managed to quickly recover, thanks to the highly skilled staff at the NICU. His seven days "NPO" (without anything by mouth) were brutal. Although he was getting IV nutrition, he cried often and his tummy was audibly rumbly. My mom, husband, mother-in-law or I always stayed the night with him while he healed. We never wanted him to feel empty and hungry and not have one of us there. While the Seal and Elephant were home (4 days before Lion), life was crazy! We only had two adults to do all the newborn preemie care and feedings and care for our daughter, while one of us was at the hospital. Thankfully, Lion was only a bit behind his brothers and after he was allowed to eat, he caught up so very quickly to them! Since he's been home, he eats like a champ with his brothers and is getting much better at nursing. He usually latches on and falls asleep, though, and requires foot-tickling and such to stay awake.

I know I will always watch him more carefully, paying special attention to his cries and behavior. I examine each diaper for traces of blood- I have no doubt this habit will go on for months. I promised him when he was in the hospital that he'd always have dessert first- he earned it during his days of being hungry. We could not be more grateful knowing that many babies are not so lucky and have major ramifications from this awful disease whose cause we know little about. Our Lion was a lucky boy, and we are so glad his body fought the infection with so much strength.

How big are the boys?

Lion is about 4 pounds, 14 ounces, Seal is 5 pounds, and Elephant is living up to his name at 5 pounds, one ounce! They've all had their first "well child" visit and their pediatrician is very pleased with each of their growth.

What is your day like?

Pull up a chair and grab a latte- this may exhaust you.

5 AM: Feed babies! My mom and I usually do this one together while my husband sleeps. It is a "super bottle" feeding where the breast milk is fortified with a preemie powder for lots of extra calories.

6 AM: Pump. I always have to wash one of my two sets of pumping parts after this. Our daughter usually wakes up in this hour, too.

7 AM: Make bottles for the day, do some sort of household chores. My mom is always on top of this, too.

8 AM: Feed babies! This time, we add vitamins and iron to a bottle of breast milk and I nurse one of the three. Depending on who is nursing, we have to give them a bit more breast milk in a bottle.

9 AM: Pump. Play with our daughter if she is not at school.

11 AM: Feed babies! A super bottle again, and I nurse one.

12 PM: Pump. Household stuff or play with A.

2 PM: Lunch for the people in the house over a month old, if we are lucky. Usually a handful of trail mix or veggies and hummus. (In fact, I just found a cashew in my bra.) We tend to graze when we feel like we might pass out.

5 PM: Feed babies! Again, a fortified bottle for two and I nurse one.

6 PM: Pump.

6:30 PM: Dinner. If we have time. We always feed A, though, so don't worry.

8 PM: Feed babies! More vitamins and iron and I nurse one.

9 PM: Pump.

10 PM: Go to bed.

11 PM: My husband and my mom do this one while I sleep unless A wakes up (as she has been) or I am needed.

2 AM: Feed babies!

3 AM: Pump.

5 AM: Return to beginning and repeat!

This is infinitely easier when we have an extra adult (besides my mom and I) so when my husband is home, it is much better, and my wonderful mother-in-law was here for a week, but for the most part, we will be on our own. My sister-in-law will be here for five days later in the week and that is the end of our "planned" helpers. Then we will be at the mercy of our friends and family who will come help feed, hold a baby, play with A or fold laundry.

How goes breastfeeding?

It is a wonderful joy to feed my babies from my body. When A was an infant, I struggled to get her to latch on, and used a nipple shield for a couple months, then nursed her for 15 months. I loved every nursing session with her and do not think I ever felt closer to her. The initial frustration of trying to get her to latch on, stay awake and eat enough so that she was not hungry again 90 minutes later felt like it would never get better. Slowly, her latch improved and she was able to eat more quickly with less fuss.

In the hospital, I was able to nurse the boys for a maximum of 3o minutes, and they were weighed before and after each feeding. Sometimes they got their whole feed, sometimes only a few CC's. Through all of it, I have pumped every three hours, around the clock, telling my body to make enough milk for three. So far, I am able to keep up with what they need, as long as I drink insane amounts of water and take Fenugreek to boost the supply a bit. It is not my favorite pastime, pumping, but I am figuring out the tricks and am usually able to pump 5-6 ounces per session, for about 40-50 ounces per day.

Trying to give each boy a good chance to nurse and help them "learn" to latch on, stay awake and take in enough are similar problems to how my daughter's nursing began. However, then I had ONE baby to teach and work with and I would put her to the breast about every 2 hours during the day. She had many more chances in 24 hours than her brothers do. I try to nurse one baby at almost each feeding (the nights I don't) and then sometimes they need a bottle of breast milk to finish. Seal could just nurse, I am convinced. He latches on without the shield and does a great job of getting my milk to let down. Lion, who does not latch well, is the most efficient eater and is usually done very quickly. Little Elephant has the hardest time latching on and gets frustrated. I just keep working with him until he is latched, but he is often wiped out after all the efforts and doesn't get much milk since he passes out quickly.

Ultimately, my goal is to nurse two at once at each feeding while the third one gets breast milk in a bottle (or formula if necessary) and right now that feels so very far away. I know it's ambitious to expect a preemie to "get it" so quickly, so I try to take heart in what both my pediatrician and lactation consultant said: That (a) they will be much stronger nursers by their due date and (b) the most important thing is to give each practice while maintaining my pumping schedule. I just expected it to come more quickly and for it to be easier to get them off of so many bottles. A very small concern compared to what can happen with preterm triplets, but it is something that is a very important goal for me. The always-wise Dr. Sears says in his “Premature Baby” book that to teach preemies to breastfeed, you need the two P's: Patience and Perseverance. I think he is right once again.

Here are a couple of pictures of our trio, settling in at home.

Snuggled in their Boppies; second favorite only to being held.

Thirty toes!


  1. 30 toes! :))) so adorable :) you're one cool mama, I tell you! and your determination with breastfeeding is great! it's great that you had the time to 'learn' some tricks with your daughter, at least now you know what feels right and what doesn't. You'll be tandem feeding the boys in no time, I'm sure :) thanks for the update, and the photos!!!!

  2. Wow, you sound like you have it all under control! It is amazing to see the 3 of them lying on the sofa next to each other... sooo happy for you and your beautiful family.

    Tandem feeding is going to be fun (I remember the good ol' days) - very impressive how well you are doing already with the BF.

    Hope you still have some time for a quiet cuddle with A. Take care and enjoy!

  3. Honey, *I* can believe it has been so long since you posted. With that insane schedule I don't know how you managed to write this post too. Thanks for the glimpse into your everyday life. Thinking of you, hope the breastfeeding goes easier soon, enjoying the reflection of contentment from your post.

  4. Glad you're all doing so well! I've missed you,

    I have two bossy pumping suggestions for you, since that is a topic I think far too much about right now.

    1. You do have a hands-free pumping bra, don't you? Right now I am eating and reading blogs while pumping. We spend too many precious hours pumping not to multi-task.

    2. Get more pumping kits. I have more than a day's worth of kits, which means that even if the dishwasher doesn't get run, I never have to wash them by hand and I never have to postpone pumping because I'm out of kits. Your time is worth far more money than the extra parts will cost.

    I also recommend one-handed foods. I've been eating a lot of granola bars and frozen waffles lately. Corn dogs, smoothies, soup from a coffee mug...

  5. you're doing amazingly well! these days are just plain brutal, and for me, that was without an older child and breastfeeding. but man, looking at those sweet little chicken legs makes me almost miss those days. but not really. cherish these days when you can hold all three at once (even if only for pictures.)

  6. Hi! First of all I want to say CONGRATS!!! Having triplets is AMAZING!!! I say this because I am a mommy to triplets! :) My triplets are almost 6 weeks old and they are still in the NICU and will be there for a while. They were born at 24 weeks!!! I have strong little fighters! One of my daughters got NEC her 10th day of life. It was the most HORRIBLE experience I have EVER gone through. She was only I pound 6 ounces and NEC almost took her from me. They took her into the OR and removed 7cm of her intestines because they were necrotic. Her recovery was terrible and after 4 weeks she is finally tolerating a little bit of breast milk (only 2 ccs). You are so blessed that your little lion only had a mild case... NEC is the #1 reason of death in the NICU and our babies fought it!!!! :) Give thanks to God every day, because your Lion is a miracle!!!

    Congrats again! And I look forward to continue to read your blogs and see how your life as triplets mom plus one goes! Good luck and God bless!


  7. What a treat to wake up and see that you'd updated your blog!!! Oh how I have missed you (even though I get to "see" you on FB and if I'm lucky, via text). What an unbelievable schedule you all keep. I am in awe. And I would like your mother to adopt me and the twins after they arrive!!! I am so happy everyone is so healthy and getting stronger. I'm also relieved to hear that Miss A is still her sassy self and not feeling the brunt of three newborn babies too much. Oh and also that she still gets dinner. Big points to all.

    I have to tell you I sustained myself on trail mix and hummus after Piglet arrived too though now one seems so EASY in comparison to what you are handling and what i've got coming!

    Love to all...

  8. You are doing an amazing job!

    I breastfed my son for the first 6 months and I am hoping with this baby I can make it to a year. You have definately given me some encouragement!


  9. WOW! That is quite a schedule! I remain in awe of what an amazing mom you are. I'm thrilled that everyone is doing so well!!! Your four kiddos are lucky to have you (and vice versa, of course). I imagine that it will continue to get easier as they approach their due date, hopefully you'll be getting a little more sleep very soon!

  10. So Sweet! Glad things are going okay. Life gets easier with each day that goes by. Sounds like you are doing great!

  11. I am so very, very happy for you!!! Thanks so much for the update!!!


  12. You're damn busy - but thanks for the long post. I've been waiting to hear how you all are doing.
    I absolutely love that photo of the scrawny little preemie legs and tiny bottoms in their onesies. You're a lucky woman!

  13. Yay Carrie! You have amazed me since day one of your pregnancy and continue to today. I am truly in awe...
    I love the pics!! 30 toes - WOW!
    You are a machine :)

  14. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the pictures. LOVE THEM. Your schedule tires me out just reading it. I am so glad that you have your mother there to help. You are AMAZING for handling everything with such grace and confidence. Your boys (and A) are SO lucky to have you. Can't wait to read more of your journey!

  15. Wonderful update! Hooray hooray! Your schedule sounds great (though exhausting!). Hang in there! The first months are just crazy and exhausting (and that was only with twins), but I think it was easier having had another child -- the learning curve (with breastfeeding and all sorts of other things) was certainly less.

    You go with the breastfeeding! Sounds like you are doing great despite the challenges of preemies AND multiples. I had a similar nursing experience with my eldest and found all that I had learned came in handy with my twins. Yours are still SO young and little -- once they are stronger nursers I'm sure you will be able to tandem feed if you want. I found tandem feeding a wonderful experience & we are still doing it today. You'll get there!

  16. Oh my goodness! I am tired just reading your daily schedule. I am thrilled that everyone's home and growing, and am just in awe of all that you are doing!

  17. Wow! Sounds nutty, but absolutely blissful at the same time. Thanks for sharing your sweet little guys with us.

  18. You are an AMAZING woman!

    I'm SO glad to hear that everyone is doing well, albeit sleep deprived!

    Love the toes!! :)

  19. Awwwweee, they look so wonderful! Look at those skinny little chubbs, HA HA!

    FYI: I've privitized my blog. If you'd like to follow along, please feel free to email me and I'll send you an invite so you can read it.

  20. Carrie, you are amazing! It's wonderful to read that Lion continues to do well, his brothers are strong, and that A is adjusting.

    I took such comfort in reading your post about BFing and pumping. It's hard, and I'm only beginning to fight the same battles.

    So far, the pumping is going well and the girls are getting breast milk by bottle. None of the girls are BFing, although we have tried to practice. It always ends with the girls screaming at the top of their lungs and my nerves being frazzled.

    They are used to the bottle now because I had shingles and couldn't BF. I suspect we have an uphill battle ahead and I don't know if I have either the patience or the perseverance...

    You and your family are in my thoughts daily as I know there are very few people who are living our particular flavor of new MoMmyness.

  21. stopping by from Lani's!!You sound like an amazing lady and Mommy!! I remeber those first months and I just had two!! you are rockin' it!!

  22. it sounds like things are going great! nursing is such a gift. Maya loves to nurse but Bobby prefers his breastmilk in a bottle. oh well... such is life! at least i can feed them. which speak of the devil, it is time!!!

  23. Just had to tell you... I have 2 boppy pillows that I got ages ago before the twins were born. I started using the Brest Friend pillow in the hospital so the boppies never came out of their package and just hung out behind the rocker in Colby's room. When I saw your picture of the triplets I got the idea to finally pull out a boppy to see if Colby would like to sleep on it (because anything by Mom or Dad's arms just wasn't good enough) and he LOVES it!! I totally owe it to you!!! :)

  24. You are SUPERWOMAN!!! I'm so impressed;) You made me LOL when you said you graze right when you are about to pass out:) I don't know how you do it honey!! I'm so happy for you. Enjoy every minute of those crazy days!!

  25. Your schedule brings back many memories. My triplets are 3 and except for the sleep deprivation, I do miss those days of babies! Enjoy every minute!!

  26. Love the photos! You are doing great! :) Thanks for taking the time to post in your busy and hectic schedule!

  27. Been around two weeks since you last posted... you are probably super busy... hoping everything is going well and you are enjoying this special holiday season!

  28. Hey, thinking of you! Hope all is well with all your sweet little ones. I am sure it is CRAZY as well. Hang in there!