Saturday, December 26, 2009

I have not lost all brain cells yet...

As a result of having triplets and a preschooler and therefore little time to blog, I will give you a bullet-point update while pumping.

- The Refluxers seem to be doing better with their Prevacid! A Christmas miracle!

- I am in serious need of a diet overhaul. Apparently, sleep deprivation makes me want CARBS and nothing else, and the weight loss has stopped, leaving me with 8-ish pounds that I would like to be free of. The extra skin? We'll have to see if that ever goes away.

- As a result of above epiphany, I am going try to watch what I shove in my mouth as I walk by the kitchen while holding a baby, and get out for more walks up hill. Although I love to run, the size, sensitivity and weight of the ginormous breasts will prohibit it for a while. I am trying to squeeze in (A pun! Am not totally brain dead!) lunges and squats while holding babies. A frequently tries to imitate my lunging and only then do I realize how silly I must look to her.

- A wonderful Christmas we had! My mom and I, frequently called Martha Stewart-types, learned a hard lesson: we cannot do everything for the holidays that we usually do. I forgot to help A put out cookies for Santa, we were all wrapping gifts at midnight on Christmas eve, and I did not get to watch "Love Actually" which is a huge tragedy. What we learned? We have to let go. My house is no longer spotless and well-decorated (unless you count piles of burp-rags and pacifiers on the tables as decor) and it does NOT matter. What matters is happy and content children- four of them, not whether or not we made the marinara for the lasagna from scratch.

- The nursing/pumping adventures continue! I am working hard to keep up with my little eaters... and am constantly amazed at how much milk my body can make, and how variable my pumping output is. Frustrated post about the pump and its quirks to follow. The babies are all latching on better and taking more at each "session" but still need a bit more after sometimes. The times where they nurse themselves milk-drunk and are content are more frequent, which is awesome. I am also nursing two in a row (tandem is a three ring circus still) and having some success with that. I cannot believe how hard this is, the nursing followed by pumping followed by bottling. It sucks (Another pun!) all the time I'd have with them and their sister, but is so necessary to get where we want to be. Listening to their contented nursing sounds while they snuggle next to my skin is the most wonderful sound.

- Lastly, we are a spectacle! And neighborhood celebrities. It is rather amusing to watch cars slow down and stare at this (not liking the way my behind is looking these days! Must resist cookies.):

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Four Stockings

Last Christmas, all I wanted was another stocking hanging over our fireplace, another child in our family. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine there would be three new little stockings gracing our mantle. I am so full of love and gratitude that I tear up whenever I see these stockings. They represent a desire fulfilled after years of heartbreak.

This year was full! Full of delayed cycles, surgery, OHSS, bed rest and high protein intake, more surgery, hospital stays for me and the boys and finally, a home full of healthy children. I cannot believe how much our family has changed this year:

- I became infertile without IVF after my fallopian tubes were removed
- I carried triplets and became a mother of four
- My amazing mom moved in, making our home even more loving

What changed for you this year, the good or the bad?

Wishing each of you many more wonderful changes in 2010, and promising more posts. :)

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It should be called "Ass-id Reflux"

... because Gastroesophageal Refulx (GER) is an asshole and it makes my babies scream. Two of them, anyway.

About ten days ago, we noticed that Seal and Elephant (Babies A and C) were having a very hard time eating. At first, we thought it was just when they were nursing, but then we realized it was nursing or bottle feeding. It has never shown up in our Lion, baby B, who had NEC in the NICU, who was the "sick" one. He slurps down bottles, nurses like a champ and falls promptly back to sleep.

For the two experiencing the pain of reflux, it goes something like this:

Baby acts HUNGRY and roots around, opening mouth for a nipple of some sort. Is placed at the breast or given a bottle of breast milk, and latches on happily. Then, after a few swallows, Baby's eyes open wide and they begin to cry. Then, they make the saddest face ever and scream at the top of their lungs while arching their backs stiffly. Often, they are inconsolable, and we pace the house, holding them upright while they try to root around on our arm for some food. When we try the bottle or breast again, the whole thing usually starts over, but sometimes they've had enough of a break that they can keep eating. Sometimes, they exhaust themselves crying and fall asleep in our arms, only to wake up hungry again in an hour or so.

I talked with our pediatrician last week and she saw the babies to ensure there was not something else going on and put them on Zantac, the first line of defense of babies with reflux. (I should add that preemies are at a high risk for it, and that it often does not show up until the sixth week of life or so.) She said we'd give it a week and if it was not dramatically improved, talk about other options. Well, it got worse. The poor guys spent at least every other feeding crying so hard, while we did all the things we could to comfort them: feed them upright, give them little bits and breaks in between, hold them up after eating for about 30 minutes or more. Please keep in mind that it is usually two adults trying to manage this along with another baby and a three-year-old who would like some attention, thank you very much.

Our daughter, A, has already had a really hard time since the babies life-altering arrival (sibling post forthcoming), and she does not tolerate their crying well. Honestly, it is LOUD and stressful, and frustrating for adults, so I can only imagine how it makes her feel. When it first started, she used to ignore it, since it was for short periods, but now it can go on for an hour or more, and she often lets out the most highly pitched screams ever heard. Just in case we forgot about her, which we did not. Let's just say she is watching a lot of "Super Why" and "Sesame Street" right about now.

Yesterday, we decided to move on to Prevacid, the "big guns" in baby reflux, and hope it makes a difference. Their first dose was this morning, so we shall see if it helps. The pharmacist said we could see results in as little as a day. Their pain is so obvious, and I know that caring for one baby with reflux is challenging, without any other children or multiples in the house. I have cried with them many times.

Yet another reason why reflux is an asshole is it makes them unable to nurse when they are having a hard feeding. I have held them up in some crazy positions, which can help sometimes, but usually, I end up pacing the house with my breast hanging out, "shooshing" and trying to get them to latch on to me, a bottle, anything. The contrast between the two Reflux-y ones and Lion is that he never cries when he eats, nurses like a professional nurser, and is soothed by food. The other two are made worse by eating, which is the ultimate comfort and nourishment one gives a baby.

It is emotionally tiring to see our sweet boys suffering, and I am hoping with all hope they get some relief soon. All I want for Christmas is Reflux-Free Babies.*

*And three extra hours in each day, and exclusive nursers, and my body back. Just in case anyone has Santa's ear...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Look Who's Blogging

Hi! Remember me? I used to have endless hours laying on the couch with no one but my Bloggy friends and Wi-Fi to keep me company, and nothing to do but update my blog with frequent worries and musings. Not so with three precious newborns and a darling yet wildly jealous preschooler; the times, they are a-changing.

What do I do all day, you ask? Aside from the bit of sleeping, snacking and trying to spend some time with our daughter, I am doing two things:

... nursing (here is my view)

... and pumping.

This amazing contraption has given my babies an abundance of breast milk and allows me to pump in less time than if I didn't have a hospital grade model. I LOVE IT but sometimes, I wish the babies could take all they need without the seven times daily pumping sessions.

Without the unwavering support of my mom and husband, I would NOT be able to nurse and pump as much as I am. As of now, I make more than enough milk for the babies and have to freeze some each day, which is an awesome feeling. It takes about 30-45 minutes to work with one of the babies at each feeding and pumping is usually a 20-30 minute operation. Without my mom who does ALL the laundry and bottle washing and fixing, this would not be doable. Without my husband's commitment to breastfeeding, this would not be possible and I am very thankful to both of them. If I was alone all day or even most of the day, I would have thrown in the towel, I think. So the wonderful thing is I pump often and make a lot of milk for my boys.

The whiny, grass-is-greener thing: I wish they were ready to nurse exclusively, eat until they were full whenever they were hungry, and be able to tandem nurse. This is an unrealistic goal for many triplets at this age because despite their birth date being 6 weeks ago, they are 1 day old, adjusted, and have about the maturity of a baby born YESTERDAY. It is hard to not to rush the process and to trust that one day they will all be more efficient nursers.

I met with an amazing nurse lactation consultant from our NICU and she was incredibly encouraging. She gave me some wonderful tips on how to soothe the frantic baby who won't latch on, how to ensure they all get enough practice, but mostly, she cheered me on for the efforts and time invested and reassured me that in a few months, we should be where we want. Not only is it easier for me, but it should allow me to nurse two at once while one is given a bottle of breast milk, making it easier on the other adult here and certainly easier on my daughter. Also, less bottles to fill and wash and prepare, and less pumping for me! One of the most frustrating things is I have to go off to pump after a feeding, which is when the babies are most likely to be awake and extra cute.

As for my recovery, I was given the "green light" to exercise and the other things they "ok" at your six week visit today. I am thrilled that I can start Pilates and cardio (although these boobs preclude running!) because this body is flabby. Although I've only got 8-ish pounds to lose, the abs are stretched, the behind is saggy and I can't wait to feel some sore muscles after a good workout again. The effects of triplet pregnancy and months of bed rest need to be counteracted ASAP. I know the extra skin that is residing in my midsection needs a bit of time, but those transverse abdominal muscles better watch out- I am determined to flatten something out, and goodness knows, it will not be my breasts anytime soon.

My daughter and I brought a big box of homemade cookies and nuts that my mom and I have been working on to the nurses and doctors at our MFM clinic. We were met with lots of hugs and showed off pictures of the little guys. I spent so many weeks there, getting to know the sonographers and nurses, Dr. P and a few others, and it was bittersweet to say goodbye to them. We were all a bit teary, and we promised to bring the boys in when it is not 20 degrees in Seattle.

I remember feeling the same sadness about the graduation visit from the fertility clinic, but even more intensely because I know I will never be pregnant again. Just typing that makes me pause and swallow a lump in my throat. One would think that after a pregnancy like that, I'd be thrilled, and I am, mostly, but the feeling of my children moving inside me is one of the most magical and I will mourn the fact that I won't feel it again. Four children makes our family perfectly complete, but it is strange to know with certainty that we are finished having children since we have spent the last two years trying to bring one into the world safely. To switch from the trying-to-get pregnant mindset and the trying-to-stay-pregnant mindset to the no-more-children one is a shock to my heart, and requires some adjustment.

The boys! My love for each of them separately and the three of them together is more than I could have imagined. Their personalities are so fun to observe and without one of them, something would truly be missing. I am so thankful they are all safely here, growing and thriving.

As of last night (yes, I rented a scale):

Seal: 7 pounds, 6 ounces (CHUNK!)
Lion: 6 pounds, 7 ounces (my daughter's birth weight)
Elephant: 7 pounds, 3 ounces

Their growth is amazing everyone- all those cookies I am still eating are going to good use, I suppose. (That is what I tell myself at night when I have another biscotti.)

I promise another post within the week. What should I write about next? My mind is mush and I need prompting and direction!

1. The hardest part: my daughter with her broken heart and demon-like behavior
2. The boys' personalities and quirks
3. What our days and nights are like

I am getting good at typing/scrolling/reading while pumping, so I will try VERY hard!