Sunday, April 30, 2006

Back in the game ...

I think it's interesting that now the "side effects" of my medication have worn off ... I don't feel quite so bad anymore. I'm not nearly 100% - not by a long shot - but I'm rethinking the cemetery plot I was ready to purchase on Friday night. Charlie has been such a champ doing the lion share of work around the house while I've been curled up in a ball, so when he woke up this morning, the first thing I told him was that nothing would make me happier than if he'd go out and play his Sunday morning game of tennis "with the guys". He's been with the kids - nonstop - since Wednesday night. He really needed some time away. I could tell he wasn't easily convinced that I'd be OK on my own. As he headed out the door - he gave me one last look back and said "Are you sure you're feeling up to this?"

Of course I am, silly. These are MY babies.

It was about 8:20 and the babies were just starting to stir after their 13+ hour slumber. (I'll leave for a separate posting the crazy sleep schedule that has developed in the past few weeks). I went in to greet the trio and started to get everyone dressed for the day. I've done this hundreds of times on my own ... no problem. William was finished first - I strap him in to his highchair, gave him a handful of Cheerios ... and went to get the girls dressed. Because the nursery is immediately off the kitchen, I can easily pop my head around the corner from the changing table and watch what is going on in the "feeding zone".

I finished up with Elizabeth and put her in the highchair next to William just as he finished hoovering his handful of Cheerios. I gave both of them a scoop of Cheerios and went to get Carolyn ready. As I was finishing up with Carolyn, I heard William start to fuss. I looked around the corner and noticed his Cheerios were gone. I brought Carolyn in to the kitchen, strapped her in to the highchair and topped everyone in the feeding zone off with more Cheerios.

I stood there for a moment and thought about what I wanted to make for breakfast. Charlie had made banana pancakes yesterday. I recall they had homemade waffles on Friday. A vegetable omelet on Thursday. Scrambled eggs might be a good choice for breakfast this morning, they're fast and easy. Just my speed for my first day back in the game. In the short amount of time it took me to decide that scrambled eggs were on the menu - all the Cheerios were gone and the babies were hollering for more. I divvied out more Cheerios, all around.

I made my way from the highchairs to the refrigerator to pull out eggs, milk, cheese. I started to mix the ingredients together ... and the hollering starts again. I turn around and look at the kids and the Cheerios have been shoved off their trays and are all across the floor. Apparently, they've had enough Cheerios. I patiently tell them "OK guys ... wait just a second ... I'm getting your eggs ready. This will just be a minute. Hang on." Do you think they understood me? Or if they did ... do you think they decided they could wait? If you answered "YES" to these questions you haven't spent much time around an 18-month old lately. In unison, their hands started banging their trays and they were yelling at me.

I grabbed some fruit out of the refrigerator ... diced up 1/4 of a pineapple and put that in front of them. I no sooner turned around to check on my eggs and the pineapple was gone. I turned the heat down to low on my eggs and grabbed three kiwis ... chopped them up and put those before them. I turned back to my eggs, added milk and cheese and heard crying again. I look back and the kiwis are gone. GONE. Where the heck is all the fruit??

I sliced up some english muffins and stuck them in the toaster ... and went back to my eggs. The babies meanwhile were hollering at me. I was starting to feel flustered ... why was I so ill prepared for breakfast this morning?? How hard could it be?? I was frantically searching the recesses of my mind for how I use to handle this. I don't remember all the crying before. In fact, I remember breakfast was a wonderfully orchestrated event and I was the graceful conductor. Now, I'm running around the kitchen trying to figure out what I can give these kids to stop the screaming long enough to get my eggs cooked.

I hand them spoons - which they whack on their trays while they holler at me. I turn the heat way down on the eggs and pull out some Yo Baby yogurt. We love Yo Baby. I load each babies' spoon up with some yogurt - - and after working my way down the line - - run back and stir my eggs. Around and around the kitchen I went ... load spoon up for William, Elizabeth, Carolyn ... run back and stir eggs ... load spoon up for William, Elizabeth, Carolyn ... run back and stir eggs. After six laps around the kitchen, the Yo Baby is gone. I think I've put too much milk in the eggs. They still look like they've got a ways to go.

In the midst of this - the toaster goes off. I pull out the english muffins, smear them with butter and jam ... and hand out pieces, cut tiny to hopefully keep them happily occupied while I can finish cooking breakfast. It dawns on me that I'd forgotten to give them milk. Maybe that's why they are so upset? I pour milk in to the sippy cups and hand them out. They take one sip and flip them to the floor.

I go back to my eggs which are starting to burn. I scoop them out in a bowl ... let them cool off for a moment, and dish them out. Their tummy quota must have been met because my beautiful eggs are thrown off the highchair trays and on to the floor.

My hat is off to Charlie. Not only did he manage to make them banana pancakes - that they ATE - with nary a peep ... he also managed to whip them up a strawberry banana milkshake yesterday ... and fed it to all three at once, with their own separate straws out of the same cup. I've only been out of commission for 4 days, and yet I can't manage to prepare breakfast with out them spontaneously combusting before my very eyes.

I'm back in the game ... but I'm sorely out of practice.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

My new applesauce diet

After feeling so utterly miserable on Thursday, I made an appointment to see my doctor, again yesterday. Although he didn't do a throat culture, he told me it "looked like" I had strep. He also said it "looked like" a bilateral ear infection ... and for sure, a bad sinus infection - which may have come about from my pink eye. He gave me a prescription for augmentin which is a powerful antibiotic, and a prescription for entrex - a decongestant that far exceeds the ability of a typical over-the-counter, variety. My mantra that I'd been chanting since Thursday went from "Ow, Ow, Ow, Ow" to "Yay, Yay, Yay, Yay." I was so excited ... these pills were my CURE. I would kick this bug in it's buggy arse and according to my doctor - I should be back to normal in 48 to 72 hours.

Although Friday is typically Charlie's day "at the office", he took the day off to be home with the kids while I went to the doctor and continued my recuperation. I had scheduled a playdate for Friday afternoon with my friend, Debbie and her 16-month old triplet boys, earlier in the week. With all that had transpired over the past few days, I decided a playdate probably wasn't in the cards for me. I asked Charlie if he wouldn't mind calling and canceling the playdate and this is how his conversation went "Hi Debbie. Unfortunately, Jen just isn't feeling up to going out. She's in bed recovering from her sinusitis, strep, and a double ear infection." There was a pause and then I heard him say excitedly "That sounds great! What time?!" He came in to tell me that he and Debbie were going for a walk around the neighborhood with the 6 babies. While most men would shudder at the thought of spending time with another mom and their kids ... not Charlie. He attended his first playdate a few months back and the Mom's were so impressed that he showed up at with arms full of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, that he had made himself. This guy never ceases to amaze me.

While Charlie made plans to spend the afternoon out with the kids, I took my medication, climbed in bed and waited for the healing to begin. While I was waiting, I thought I'd skim the inserts the pharmacist put in the bag with my prescriptions. I hesitated when I got to possible side effects, on not just one, but both of my prescriptions. "Abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting." That didn't sound too good. Surely I wouldn't suffer those side effects. Right? WRONG. I had all the side effects ... within 2 hours of taking the medication, in alphabetical order. As I was laying on the bathroom floor, clutching my pillow and begging God to take me to Heaven ... I pondered if it was possible for my situation to be any worse than it was. And then it dawned on me ... it COULD be worse. Thankfully, Charlie and the babies had dodged this hellacious bullet and for that, I was enormously grateful. Because we live a minimum of 6 hours from the closest relative ... the thought of Charlie and I both being so violently sick ... with three babies to care for ... is positively frightening.

Charlie returned from his walk and began preparing dinner. All I could hear from my cool spot on the bathroom floor was crying, punctuated by laughter. Crying, laughter. Crying, laughter. That's odd. I wobbled out to the kitchen to inspect the situation and was greeted by three babies, their faces covered in something that didn't look familiar. They smiled when they saw me, and then started crying again. Charlie was working his way down-the-line with a bowl full of ... chocolate pudding. Who ever was next in line to receive a spoonful of pudding, would laugh. When it wasn't their turn, they'd cry. And so it went. Laughter, crying. Laughter, crying. Laughter, crying. Apparently, our kids love chocolate pudding. I was instantly reminded of Bill Cosby and what happens when father's are responsible for feeding their kids dinner. I started to laugh. And then cry. And then I rushed back to my cool spot.

While Charlie fed, cleaned and put the babies to bed, I was struck again and again by the side effects from my medication. By this point, I placed a call to the after hours physician and was firmly told that I needed to go to the hospital. They were concerned that with my symptoms, I was going to rapidly dehydrate. I briefly considered my options. It was 10 PM on a Friday night. I wasn't feeling up to driving myself to the hospital, so, we'd either need to pack the kids up and take them with us (not a good choice), or, call a neighbor and have them come over and stay at the house until we returned, at some unknown time - probably in the wee hours of the morning. That wasn't a good choice either. Although I've never considered the after hours physician to be "too conservative" when I've had to call about our children, I thought they might be over-reacting in my case. I sipped two tablespoons of Ginger Ale, savored a few ice chips and went to bed.

When I woke up this morning, I decided that the side effects from the medication are FAR worse than the ailments I was trying to treat. Everything has been discontinued and I will contact my doctor on Monday to see if I can get put on something, else. In the meantime, I'm enjoying a diet of applesauce. And, I was happily surprised to discover that for the first time in two years, I am 5 pounds less than my pre-pregnancy weight. If there is a silver lining to any of this ... that would have to be it.

Friday, April 28, 2006

i am a prune

Well, I guess this bug I picked up last week has decided it isn't quite finished with me yet. Today, for the first time in the 6-months that I've been back to work, I called my boss and told him that I was questioning my decision to return to work at all. I think he was surprised by my tone. This is not like me. I really love my job. But, I'm also not thinking rationally. I know that in my current 'state' I shouldn't make any rash decisions.

My fever came back while I was at the office, with vengeance. A sore throat rivaling the pain I had when my tonsils were removed at the age of 10, hit me this afternoon. Cough drops, numbing sprays and ibuprofen have done nothing to dull the agony that comes with a simple act like swallowing. To top it off, my teeth felt like they were going to pop out of my mouth from the sinus pressure. I kept trying to "clear my ears" like I do when I'm descending in a plane and all I could hear was this awful popping without any relief. I was at the brink of despair. The pile of work I had set out to accomplish while "at the office" just stared at me while I sat there feeling miserable. As if my pink eye wasn't bad enough, now I'm certain I've got strep and a sinus infection to boot. Another doctor visit tomorrow will hopefully give me some answers. (The good news in all this is that I remain the only sick person in our house. But I can't help but think am I the only one on the planet that is having such a tough time with bugs this year?! My immune system is obviously toast!)

I called Charlie in tears. I was so distraught over this sickly being I have morphed in to. It's like sick is just part of who I am and I can't get over it no matter how hard I try. Vitamins - nothing. Well balanced diet - nothing. Lots of fluids - nothing. Sick is in my core. For what seems like the better part of this year, I've been sick. I'm really sick of complaining about being sick ... and I want nothing more than to shake these bugs, get back to some normalcy ... and enjoy SPRING.

I haven't been able to go to the gym because 5 minutes on the ellipse machine would put me in a coma. In reality, I probably don't need the gym. I do squats bending down and picking up babies all day and it dawned on me yesterday that I have my own track and field right here at home. I've become so efficient at jumping over the numerous baby gates we have set up around the house (sometimes with babies in both arms - on my way to rescue a third one about to do something horrific), that I could easily land a spot on the 2008 Olympic hurdling team. My form is impeccable. I am a sprinter, too. I never would have guessed that I could move so fast ... but when the babies maneuvered their way around our baby latches and got a hold of our glass recycling - I traveled from the dining room to the playroom (whilst clearing 3 baby gates en route) at warp speed.

After blubbering on about how dirty rotten awful I felt and how I'd never be well again, Charlie told me to come home. Ok then. I started to log off my laptop computer when all of a sudden - I got the ominous "blue screen" and an error message popped up ... something about a file being corrupted and the system is aborting. Oh, oh. I called our computer help desk and they told me that I had what they like to call "Instant Computer Death" of "ICD". Great. Now, I felt violently nauseous, too. They said that I shouldn't fret because they could send me a loaner computer while mine is repaired, if it is repairable at all.


They gave me a ticket number and said my best bet at repairing this suddenly worthless piece of plastic that may or may not still contain everything of any importance pertaining to my job, was to drive to Los Angeles, and see if they could fix it at the most local computer support center my company has to offer. Instead, I came home. I wasn't up for a 3-hour car ride. One way. In traffic. In the rain.

I walked in to the house and was greeted by three babies and their dad - playing a gleeful game of chase around the center island in the kitchen. They were having a wonderful time and looked so happy. It brightened my spirits immensely to see them, but Charlie took one look at me and waved me off to go take a hot bath. Surely that will make me feel better. At 5:45 PM I climbed in to the tub ... I climbed back out at 9:30 PM... almost 4 hours later. For the first time ... ever (?) ... I missed putting the kids to bed, while I was home. After my marathon soak session ... I don't really feel much better but I do feel squeaky clean. In a prune kind of way.

When I got out of the tub, I pulled my laptop out of my brief case and thought I'd try one more time to log on. The God's of Good Fortune must have decided I was in serious need of a break ... because within seconds, my desktop popped up and my computer was fully functional, again. (This is the image that greeted me on my desktop ... I just love this photo ... three babies and two swings. What's a mom to do?)

I called the computer help desk to let them know what happened - my computer had healed itself - and my repair ticket could be closed. They told me it was a miracle.

Now, maybe some of that miraculous healing will rub off on me, too.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

My quest (for today) is over!

Good news on so many fronts...

First off ... THANK YOU SO MUCH to all the kind people that went searching for "bunny" on Elizabeth's behalf. I obviously am challenged when it comes to finding something on the internet because I dedicated a lot of effort to this quest. I cannot believe how many stuffed animal bunnies there are. Some of the websites that I found would have 10+ pages dedicated to stuffed bunnies. And yet none of them were our "bunny". It probably would have helped if I'd known "bunny" went by the name of "Squeakles." I haven't been able to read his name tag for close to a year, so my attempts were futile. All of my searches included the key words: "Baby Boyds, Bunny, Pink, Squeak." From all of the hugely helpful responses to my post last night - and my girlfriend Lorie - who called me from work this morning to tell me that she found "bunny" in Europe ... I am letting out a huge sigh of relief. "Bunny" has indeed been sighted and I am buying enough to add a few extras in Elizabeth's crib ... and last us a few years - should something ever happen to the original "bunny". Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Second off ... I had picked up yet another nasty bug while I was in Palm Springs last week, which landed me in bed all weekend with a temperature of 102. After my learnings last month when I was sick ... I was not going to delay going to the doctor. I dragged myself there yesterday and he told me that in addition to the third case of the flu I've apparently picked up this year, I have conjunctivitis (aka: pink eye) in both eyes. Fabulous. The good news in all this is I feel better today. The even better news is that the stringent efforts I have made to wash my hands and cover them in Purell before touching the babies ... is paying off. THANKFULLY, there is no sign that any one in this household (other than me) will be afflicted by this virus. I can see a trend though ... I go on a business trip => I get sick. I called my boss this morning and told him I'm literally "bugging" out of the other two meetings I have scheduled for this year.

Third off ... our washing machine has been fixed. For the barget basement price of $206.34. Considering the cost of the washer, brand new was $367.00 - I had a bit of sticker shock. I looked back through our paperwork and determined that because the 1-year extended warranty would have cost us $100.00 - I figured we'd take our chances that something wasn't going to go wrong. Why pay 1/3 of the total cost to insure it for a year? I don't regret our decision to forego the warranty ... even though this repair did cost us $100.00 beyond what it would of had we'd had it. Oh well. If we had bought the warranty - chances are, it never would have broken down in the first place. Isn't that how that typically works?

Anyway. The repairman showed up at our house this morning at 8:15. He followed me in to the kitchen, where I was in the midst of feeding the kids breakfast. Elizabeth was in the process of rubbing jelly all through her hair - William was smearing maple syrup on his shirt - and Carolyn was wearing her bowl of oatmeal on her head, upside down - of course. Just a typical day. The repairman just shook his head and told me that he had an 18-month old at home, who was no neater of an eater than our three. That was good to know. I was afraid I was failing our kids in the manner department.

Within two minutes, the repairman had made a diagnosis. Our water pump broke. Apparently, there is a little gap between a washing machine tub and the "innards" of the appliance. He said that often what happens is that a small item will get pushed up and through that "gap" and get trapped in the water pump. I gave him a puzzled look and asked "Small item?" He told me "Yep ... like a baby sock. You wouldn't happen to be missing any baby socks - - would you?" AH HA! I showed him a basket of 10 baby socks that had lost their mate. I don't know where I thought these baby socks had scampered off to ... but I figured eventually they'd show up. He informed me that the chances were great those baby socks had been gobbled up by the water pump and what are ultimately, contributed to the water pumps demise.

The repairman gave me a valuable tid-bit of advice, which I feel compelled to share. Wash all of your small items (i.e. baby socks and baby wash cloths) in a mesh laundry bag. He told me that the NUMBER ONE part that breaks in a washing machine (in a home with small children) is the water pump, for the exact reason our water pump failed us. I really liked this guy ... not only did he fix the water pump in less than 5 minutes (making me question a possible career move to that of an appliance repair person) - but he gave me a brand new mesh laundry bag to prevent another baby sock from being consumed by our water pump.

There you have it. My day is off to a good start - and it's not even noon. My quest(s) for today have been met. I've found "bunny" with the help of my friends near and far ... I'm on the mend (hopefully this time it sticks) ... and I have a fully functional washing machine. Now, I just have to go wash the 8 piles of laundry (and one jelly covered "bunny") that have accumulated since Sunday. This will be fun, our kids LOVE helping with the laundry. They are absolute pros at pulling everything out of the basket, putting as many of the clothes on their head and around their shoulders as they can muster, and then climbing in the basket, on top of one another. The best part is they get to enjoy a ride around the room (courtesy of yours truly) and we work cooperatively together as a team folding each item. OK ... who am I kidding? It takes me five times as long to fold one basket of laundry ... but it is well worth the extra effort!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Have YOU seen this "bunny"?

No luck ... I'm at a loss. I can't seem to locate a replica of Elizabeth's "bunny" anywhere on the internet. I'm at the point of sending out a mass letter to all of the generous people who bought gifts when the babies were born and asking who it was that sent these little stuffed animals to us in the first place. I feel bad that I can't remember where "bunny" came from, exactly ... but I know he was a gift, from someplace on the east coast. If the person who bought him can remember - maybe they can go back to the store and see if there are any more left. Do I sound desperate? I am. I've never considered the possibility "there is no more bunny". Yep, we've got the back-up lamb and bear ... but like I said, there's nothing just like "bunny". Good Heavens. If something were to ever happen to this stuffed animal ... I shudder just thinking of it.

I'm attaching a series of photos illustrating our beloved "bunny" and I'm sending out a plea for help. If anyone has seen a bunny that looks like this "bunny" (made by Baby Boyds) please let me know where I can find it. I will be forever grateful.

Here's "bunny" laying around with some jelly on his ear. He needs to be washed, big time. The reason he hasn't been washed can be found in my "other news" section, below.

"Bunny" from the back ... he's got a white tail. Cute little guy, huh?

IN OTHER NEWS ... our 17-month old washing machine broke down on us today. Actually, it was Sunday. As I was heading out the door for our morning walk ... my eye caught the reflection of a pool of water on the laundry room floor. Water that is on the floor of your house that you didn't put there and/or have no knowledge of where that water originated from ... that's never a good thing. Especially when that pool of water is emanating from beneath your most VALUED appliance. A brief inspection by Charlie revealed that there are a bunch of electronic parts underneath the washer, and when he tipped it on end ... buckets of water gushed out. It's busted for sure.

This washer, which we purchased just before the babies came home from the hospital, has been the most well used and loved appliance in our home ... for the past year and a half. We show this washer just how much we love it ... by loading it with clothes, bibs, pajamas and towels, on average - 2 times a day. Over the course of a week, that's 14 loads of laundry. Over the course of 17-months that's almost 1,000 loads. Surely the "life" of a washer is better than 1,000 loads of laundry. Right?

Charlie was on the phone with a customer service representative last night ... and again this morning. This proved to be a very difficult task to accomplish right after breakfast with three energy charged babies chasing each other around the house. Every time the automated system would prompt "What do you need service for?" one of the babies would inevitably squeal - which would result in the automated system responding "I'm sorry, I did not understand your response." After the fifth or so time of this happening, I could see that Charlie was getting frustrated. And rightly so ... I absolutely abhor those automated systems. Why you can't just press "0" and talk to someone live ... oh, I won't go in to that. (I could though, believe me.)

I started to run interference with the kids so that Charlie could make his phone call from our back room, undisturbed. At one point he came out and rolled his eyes and questioned aloud the title "customer service" because the people on the phone were completely unsympathetic when he had to repeat again and again "No, we didn't get the extended warranty" (I'll take the blame 100% for that. I always think those extended warranties are a rip off. The times that we've bought them ... we NEVER needed them). After seeing his aggravated face ... I asked him if he'd played the "Triplet Card". Of course not!

See, Charlie had insisted that he make this phone call to the "customer service center" because he suspected that if I got on the phone ... I'd get heated in a matter of seconds that our 17-month old washing machine had completely crapped out on us when we needed it most (translation - every day we need that thing). That was the old me. The new me, doesn't get heated anymore. Rather, I pull the "Triplet Card" out right away. Here's how my conversation undoubtedly would have gone ...

"Hi, I'm calling about my Whirlpool washing machine. We purchased this appliance in November of 2004, at the same time our newborn TRIPLETS (pause, wait for gasp of "TRIPLETS?!?!") were coming home from the hospital. We really depend on the durability of this product because with three brand new babies ... gosh, we knew we'd be doing a lot of laundry. (Laughter and small banter ensues ... usually there are a flurry of questions ... "how old are they now, how much did they weigh, all girls - all boys or a mix, do you have any help, what are their names???" ). This appliance has been a wonderful addition to our family ... but as I was washing the BABIES clothes, I noticed that it sprung a leak."

Usually by this point, the customer service reprentative is ready to come out to our house and fix the appliance themself. It doesn't matter if they are in Oklahoma and I'm in California. They'll be on the next plane. And look out if it's a grandmother ... MY broken appliance is now THEIR broken appliance and they will make it their own personal mission to get that thing fixed before the day is done.

Charlie didn't pull the "Triplet Card" out until the conversation was wrapping up. Unfortunately, it was a bit late in the game, since all the information had been entered and a service request submitted. The good news is - we have a repairman coming out to the house first thing tomorrow. With any luck, they'll be able to fix the washer and we can do the 8+ loads of laundry (and one jelly-covered bunny) that has piled up. If that doesn't happen ... I'll have to decide which is the lesser of evils: putting our kids to bed in dirty pajamas, or ... taking them all shopping? After briefly (less than 2 seconds) considering washing the clothes in the bathtub, I've decided that's not an option.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Power of a Lovey

I didn't know what a "lovey" was until recently. Actually, I knew what it was I just didn't know it went by that name. What I've learned is that a "lovey" refers to an item that is preferred above all others in a child's world. They LOVE it.
I had a security blanket when I was growing up ... which today ... would be referred to as a "lovey". Same thing.

I remembered the feeling of security I got from my blanket - so I thought that if our kids gravitated toward any particular object ... I wouldn't object ... provided it wasn't something alive, or something that they could choke on.

When the babies were little, I kept a few items in their cribs to spruce 'em up. Each baby had a small stuffed animal. Each baby had a large chenille blanket with their name embroidered on it. Each baby had a smaller chenille blanket (12 inch x 12 inch) that I had knit for them when I was on bedrest.

By the time the babies were 6-months old, William had latched on to the knitted blanket that I had made; Elizabeth had latched on to her stuffed animal ("bunny"); and Carolyn had latched on to the larger chenille blanket. It worked out really well for us because I happened to have THREE of each item (there was one in all three cribs) ... so there was always a back-up, in case one was temporarily missing - or in the wash. In addition, because they weren't all drawn to the same object - we wouldn't have fighting amongst the three. It's almost as if in the wee tiny infant stage ... they let each other know "Hey ... you guys ... dibs on that thing, right there." I wouldn't be surprised. Their, what I consider to be "telepathic" communication skills have always impressed me.

William and Carolyn have a peculiar way of shoving their "blankies" in their mouth. Fortunately, each baby is equally attached to the items that were in the other two cribs, so I can interchange them without any disturbance. I mention this because since they like to chew on their blankets - they tend to get pretty odiferous. To the point that we've dubbed William and Carolyn's blankets "hali" (pronounced hal-lee) for halitosis.

William is just as attached to the pink and white blankets that I knit for the girls, as he is to his blue and green blanket that I knit for him. Likewise, Carolyn is perfectly content with her green blanket; William's blue, or Elizabeth's pink blanket. Elizabeth will be content with William's blue "bear" or Carolyn's white "lamb", but in this case only ... there is none as great as her beloved "bunny". We've noticed the only time that she sucks her thumb is when "bunny" is in hand.

I didn't realize just how powerful the bond to the lovey was until a few months ago. We were out for a walk on the beach and everything was going great. Until ... it got to be around nap time. We had planned the walk so that the babies would snooze in their stroller ... and when they woke up, we'd be back at the car and ready to feed them lunch. Elizabeth started crying. A little cry at first. It escalated in to screaming ... tears streaming down her face, little body thrashing about in her stroller, in complete hysterics. I picked her up to see if I could console her. That wasn't going to do it. She wasn't too hot nor too cold. I tried offering her a bottle and she spit it back at me. I started to get worried and put her down on a beach blanket to make sure that she didn't have a dirty diaper - - and/or - - wasn't being attacked by some indigenous deadly southern California insect (I've heard of that happening before). Her diaper was clean and there was no trace of teeth/fang marks. Phew. Sigh of relief. Back in the stroller she goes ... where the conniption fit continues.

I'm usually pretty level headed, but I started to panic. I asked Charlie to RUN (not walk) back to the car and come meet me. He had William with him in the single stroller and had run a marathon less than a year before. I'd start running back with the girls in the double jogger and we'd rush down to Children's Hospital. My maternal siren was going off ... it was something serious, I just knew it. Maybe it was her appendix. Charlie and I have both had a ruptured appendix so it wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Charlie raced back and got the car ... I was hot on his heels. I got the girls out of the stroller and in to their carseats while Charlie loaded our equipment. When I strapped Elizabeth in to her carseat, she grabbed a hold of "bunny" who had been left behind in the car. Her thumb went in her mouth ... she rubbed "bunny" against her cheek and gave me a smile through her tears. A happy, contented smile. I couldn't believe it. Within 30 seconds of being reunited with her "bunny", she was fast asleep. Charlie hadn't even finished loading the strollers when I looked at him through the back window and shrugged "Well, I guess it wasn't her appendix, afterall."

Our "take-away" from this experience is that we never go ANYWHERE without a lovey. On a more recent outing to the mall, we temporarily lost "bunny" and had to re-trace our steps before finding him, perched by a nice passerby on a wall where he'd be visible and out of foot traffic. Since then, these little objects are literally tethered to our carseats, stroller, Kelty backpack ... or if we're away from the house and they'll be any walking involved, we tether them to the babies themselves.

All three babies are extremely attached to their loveys. Yet, only Elizabeth will wake up - from a sound sleep in the middle of the night and literally SCREAM until she either finds "bunny" in her crib ... or, as is usually the case ... Mom and Dad fly out of bed thinking the house is on fire ... and go find "bunny" for her (case in point 2 AM and again at 4 AM ... this morning). More and more, we can count on at least one wake-up call from Elizabeth in the middle of the night to find "bunny" who is only 6-inches away.

Across the board I can see that the bond to these loveys are growing stronger and stronger. The babies insist that they sit in their highchairs with their loveys and will scream blue bloody murder when I take them away because otherwise they will be smothered in marinara sauce or jelly. They are wonderful things, these lovey's. They calm a fussy baby down like nothing else. All it takes is us saying "Where's (insert name here)?" and the babies will take off like hounds through the house searching for their lovey. If I find the lovey before they do ... their little eyes light up and they have to cover their mouths with their hands ... the excitement is so great. It really is adorable.

But ... it's not adorable between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM. Infact, it's the most "anti-adorable" thing I can think of. We've tried letting Elizabeth cry-it-out and have even gone so far as to leave a night light on so that she can locate "bunny" on her own. Although this works fine during day time naps, it doesn't work well at night. Actually - it might, but we can only tolerate about 3 minutes of crying ... before one of us has to run to the nursery ... reunite Elizabeth with "bunny" and get back - as quickly as possible - to bed and our coveted sleep. At this point, the only thing left to do - is to contact Baby Boyds and purchase enough "bunny(s)" to fill the crib to the brim. If anyone has a better idea ... please let me know. Otherwise, I'm placing an order for 50 extra "bunny(s)" at midnight, tomorrow.

I'd never have guessed the bond to a lovey could be so great. You know ... it's funny. With the attachment that she has to her lovey ... one might think Elizabeth would have liked the Easter "Bunny" better than she did.

Edited to read: God help us. I've spent the past hour on the internet looking for a replica of Elizabeth's "bunny" and I can't find one, anywhere. Nothing comes remotely close. What if they discontinued making "bunny"?? Is that possible??! I've always felt somewhat safe knowing that worse case scenario ... I could buy another one, or two, or three ... or fifty. And now it looks like our Baby Boyds "bunny" has gone extinct. How will we make bread?!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

What is it with holiday mascots?

We took the kids to visit the Easter Bunny last weekend. Unfortunately, they didn't like him any better than they liked Santa Claus. I would have posted the pictures sooner, but they just arrived in the mail today.

Here's the setting:

Our community recreation center, full of happy kids painting easter eggs and eating chocolate candy. Everyone is happy to see the mascot of Easter make his appearance. That is everyone except our kids. We brought the babies up to sit on the Easter Bunny's lap. Carolyn went first and she immediately started to screech. Not scream ... screech. There's a difference of about 200 decibels. Elizabeth was next ... she was screeching before we even got her on the Easter Bunny's lap. William was going to stand between his legs ... but he had such a death grip on me, he wouldn't let go.

The happy bustle in the room stopped. There was no noise, except for the three screeching kids with the Easter Bunny. Everyone in the room was looking at us with their mouths gaping, probably wondering what kind of monster parents would inflict this kind of torture on their children. What they don't realize is just how priceless these pictures are. Charlie and I had no choice but to remain in the photo ... the kids wouldn't let us go.

Here's the first photo - What I think is interesting is that it didn't matter whether William was looking right at the Bunny or not ... he was screeching.

Here's the second photo - still screeching.

This was our Christmas photo with Santa. Notice any similarity? If we could only see the face behind the Easter Bunny's mask ... I'm sure it would closely resemble that of Jolly Old Saint Nick.

What's the next big holiday? Hmmm ... I wonder if we can get a picture with Uncle Sam?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Birthday Reflections

Today is my 35th birthday. Birthdays are always a time of reflection for me. What have I done with my life – what more do I want to do with my life. What can I do to be a better person, in body and soul.

After so many years, as a couple, going through infertility treatments, I always knew that “35” was an important age for a woman. Once you reach this numerical milestone, you are considered “advanced maternal age” and that means, according to the medical community, the chances of conception decrease dramatically because apparently, a woman’s eggs start to poach at 35. If you do achieve pregnancy, it is automatically characterized as higher risk, because of the mother’s age. They have linked a decrease in pregnancy rates, and an increase in birth defects (including Down Syndrome) to mother’s of “advanced maternal age”. I don't know what the future holds for us. We feel so thoroughly blessed with the family that we have - and neither of us feel the need to go through IVF, again. Having said that, we would be thrilled if we were blessed with another child. Or children. Yet, now that I am of “advanced maternal age” for the first time ever, I can clearly see that my “window of opportunity" for child bearing is closing. It's an odd sensation.

As I was reflecting on my past birthdays … a few things come to mind. First and foremost is how dramatically life has changed for me in the past few years. Three years ago, Charlie and I were convinced that we were never going to get pregnant; we were never going to have children. We’d tried just about everything under the sun and had been met with disappointment on too many occasions to count. I’d had a pretty significant health scare, earlier in the year, when a series of lumps that showed up along my neck, grew larger with time, and ultimately, required a biopsy to rule out cancer. My surgery was on St. Patrick’s Day and I had a lot of luck from the Irish, when we learned that I had an infection in my lymph nodes. It was not life threatening and I’d be fine, with time. Within a month of my surgery ... and still reeling from the "what-ifs" ... we let out a big sigh of relief, threw caution to the wind and sold our perfectly reliable 4-door sedan that would’ve been terrific for transporting children. We had bought this car because we'd thought we would have kids soon. We lived in Southern California where the weather was sunny 360 days a year and here we were driving around in a car that was intended for the children, carseats and strollers, we were never going to have. It was down right depressing.

It was like I was hit by a freight train ... I had an overwhelming need to change our lives, dramatically. Up until that point, I had never been on e-bay to buy anything. Yet here I was, at an online auction, with the winning bid for a bright red 330ci BMW convertible. I wound up not getting the car, because the “reserve” wasn’t met and someone contacted the seller and purchased it before I had time to respond. It was a bummer for me - but it was also hugely exciting that I just WENT for it. Charlie, in an amazing twist of fate, located the same exact car in Southern California, about 3 hours from our house. I was at a business meeting in Orange County, and he took the train up to surprise me, for my birthday. We spent the better half of my 32nd birthday at a car dealership in Huntington Beach purchasing our bright red convertible. It was and still is, my dream car. Could we easily afford it? No. But, it was a fun purchase and after my health scare – we were reminded that life is short and you never know what can happen. We both realized that we need to live for today. For the first time in a long time ... we were feeling good about our future. We were on top of the world and coming to terms with the fact that maybe, we weren’t going to have our own biological children. We had personalized plates made up for our car, “2B Sunny.” It was a play on words … about the weather and about our attitude.

A year later, on my 33rd birthday, we had our very first ultrasound and saw what we thought, were twins. When my doctor told Charlie to “Hang on a minute … look … there’s your bonus!” Charlie almost collapsed on the floor. We thought for sure he’d made a mistake and counted one of the twins twice … but alas, there were three babies, due to be born in December. We wasted little time selling our bright red convertible and replacing it with a 7-passenger van. Looking back, I have no regrets over selling the 4-door sedan. We would have had to get a new car anyway with the addition of our triplets. There is no way that car would have held all 5 of us ... and our gear. The convertible sure was fun, while it lasted - and I’m convinced the purchase of that car was instrumental to us finally achieving a pregnancy. It was almost as if we let our guard down ... we tempted the God's of fate, when our primary mode of transportation was a sports car.

Last year, on my 34th birthday, Charlie and I spent the day with our 6-month old “miracle” babies at a beautiful park in San Diego. I never would have believed that our lives could be so full of the joy that can only come with children. As I sat holding my babies - all three at once - I realized that my birthday wish for the past 10 years, had finally come true.

I’m still at a business meeting in Palm Springs and I think this has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. My co-workers threw me and one of my colleagues (whose birthday was on the 18th) an impromptu party last night. The setting was spectacular. We were on an outdoor patio overlooking a pool, surrounded by the most gorgeous desert landscape. As the sun set over the mountains, people in white coats served us wine from trays. Listening to my 20+ coworkers belt out Happy Birthday, I realized how blessed I am. At this point in time, I have an abundance of health, happiness, laughter and love filling my life, each and every day. I don't have much sleep or *me* time - but - I will at some point.

And so, I’m 35. I’m at an "advanced maternal age" but all is good in my world on this day. Borrowing from Van Morrison I'll agree that "If you live the life you love ... you get the blessings from above." Thanks, Mom.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

*V* is for VICTORY!

The bottles are gone. Just like that ... we're done with them. Operation Bottle Wean (OBW) has been a success.

I'm quite surprised at how easy it was. Here we were fully geared up for nights on end of crying, and three babies that were completely unable to funtion without their bottles. Well, that didn't happen at all. We've gone four full days now, without any kind of bottle ... and they are doing fine. How 'bout that?

They definitely aren't taking in as much milk as they were when they had their bottles ... we've gone from about 24 oz a day per baby ... to about 2 oz a day per baby, if we're lucky. But, they are getting adequate hydration from other sources, because we've got loads of wet diapers (that's always a good sign).

It didn't seem to matter whether I heated up the sippy cup with milk in it, or not, they weren't taking it. So, I'm saving myself the 45 seconds and giving it to them cold. For the first two days of OBW, no one was budging on the sippy cup with milk. They'd stack their food on top of the cups - or try to stick things in the opening. Then, they'd take a little taste, realize it was milk - and fling it across the room. Elizabeth finally buckled last night and started to drink the milk from her cup. When the other two saw her - they decided to try it, too. (Mind you, Charlie and I trying to show the babies how "good" milk tasted from a sippy cup didn't sway them in the least bit.) After taking a few swigs - William handed his cup to Elizabeth and I could just see him thinking "Well, here - you can have mine if you like it so much." Carolyn tried a few swigs and then eventually ... all three cups wound up on the floor. But, it was a start.

We're still putting them to bed with sippy cups of ice water (which they seem to like) and we are going to only give them milk twice a day for now, until they start drinking it better from the cup. Our game plan is to give them milk in the morning when they first wake up - - and again at night, with dinner. I figure that because they consume the most fluids during these two mealtimes, we stand the best chance at getting them to drink milk then.

Other than that ... we're trying to pump dairy in to them by feeding whole fat cottage cheese, yogurt, assorted cheese ... and last night - for the first time, ice cream. I can honestly say - the babies got more excited about eating mint chocolate chip, than I've ever seen them get excited about a bottle. The apple didn't fall far from that tree.

I'm still at a loss regarding what I'll do if someone wakes up in the middle of the night. Before OBW, it was a no-brainer what to do with a baby at 3 AM. You'd get them a warm bottle of milk (or, I'd nurse). Now, I'm imagining what it will take for me to pacify a hungry baby in the early hours of the morning. Diet be damned, I suppose that from this point on ... we should always keep the freezer stocked full of ice cream. (It's for the children, of course.)

I have a business meeting that will take me away to a resort in Palm Springs this week. I was really apprehensive about leaving the babies and Charlie, until my co-worker sent me a link to the place we'll be staying. It is absolutely magnificent. A luxury hotel and spa, situated on a golf course and surrounded by beautiful mountains. Even though I don't leave until tomorrow - I finished packing yesterday.

Charlie's sister will be flying in to visit this week and it is great that he will have another set of hands to help while I'm away. The last time that she saw the babies, was before they were walking. Or throwing sippy cups. Or climbing on the furniture. Or climbing out of their cribs. She is in for a big surprise. She will be crazy busy, but I know she'll have a good time. As challenging as a week long "vacation" with 3-18 month olds will be, the development in their personalities and abilities each and every day, is amazing to witness.

I'll only be gone for 2 nights but I know that I'm going to miss the chaos and I'll definitely miss their beautiful, bright little faces. That reminds me, while I'm sleeping peacefully in my king sized pillow-top bed with 5,000-thread count sheets ... the absolute last thing I want is a phone call at 3 AM from Charlie wondering how to appease a hungry baby. I need to make sure that we have a sufficient supply of mint chocolate chip on hand before I go...

Friday, April 14, 2006

18-months ago today ...

... our magnificent trio made their appearance in to the world. It's unbelievable a year and a half has already passed since that incredible day in October of 2004. I'm sprinkling some of our favorite photos since the babies arrival through this posting. No rhyme or reason, just a handful of the million pictures that bring a smile to our face and make us realize how far we've come on this amazing trip ... of parenthood!

I'll kick this off with how things are going on OBW (Operation Bottle Wean). It has been a tad bit rocky. The babies had only one bottle yesterday - at night just before they went to bed. That was officially our "Last Bottle". William and Carolyn both sucked down about 14 oz ... 1 8-oz bottle, filled up (almost) twice. Elizabeth, always the peanut, took about 12 oz.

This morning, I packed up all of their bottles and nipples in a bag, and moved them out to the garage. I figured this was a good thing to do because the babies know that their bottles reside in a basket on our counter and now when they look - - they're gone. Besides, it means that if I do start to crack ... I'll have to go out in to the garage, sort through a bunch of stuff ... find the bottles ... find the nipples ... and then WASH everything. I don't like to be inconvenienced, so I thought the harder I make if for myself - the better. (Note: I didn't throw the bottles away, because ... well, you never know. If circumstances were just right [or wrong], I might snap like a twig and I'd be in really bad shape if I had to run to the store and buy all new bottles. Does this mean that I don't have much confidence in myself? Probably!)

I put the babies to bed with a sippy cup filled with ice water last night and again, tonight. They were quite fussy and I attributed that to the fact they hadn't consumed much fluid during the day. At first I was apprehensive putting them to bed with a drink, but I figured - it's water ... and if they get thirsty, they have it right there. Besides, in an instant they went from being very upset to being very happy ... and that's all that matters. Everyone polished off their sippy cups before they fell asleep and William had a diaper breakthrough at 10 PM. As I was changing his diaper and putting him in dry pajamas - I felt a renewed sense of confidence. Maybe they weren't completely parched after the first day of OBW ... perhaps they could survive without bottles. Hmmmm.....

There was a lot of fussing going on today and I think that there were two primary reasons for this. First and foremost, the weather was dismal and rainy and we weren't able to go outside and play. Considering we have a brand new sand box and slide in the backyard that is clearly visible from the playroom - seeing what you want and can't have typically creates crankiness in any normal human being. Adding to the fact that we're in the midst of OBW ... that didn't help our spirits, either.

Tonight we gave the kids dinner with their milk in a sippy cup. They didn't even bother trying it - the cups were flung straight to the floor. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE was either crying ... or on the verge of tears. Mom and Dad included. It was rotten awful. I was ready to run out and grab the bottles from the garage ... but I kept hearing our pediatrician's words "It's not going to get any easier, the longer you wait!"


Double UGH.

Triple UGH.

But, and this is the fascinating part ... we put them to bed ... and there was NO crying. None at all, whatsoever. They did have their sippy cups - so that probably helped ... but Charlie and I both looked at each other and said ... "So, that's IT?! Does this mean we're weaned?!" I guess so! Although I'm still not sure if and when their milk consumption is going to go back to the staggering levels it was while they were on bottles. (Doesn't it figure that we just bought another 8 gallons, and they've barely had a cup across all three of them today?? I'll need to find some good recipes that call for Vitamin D Whole Milk ... before everything expires on April 27th!)

Another interesting thing about today (other than OBW), was that I finally agreed with Charlie that having someone come to help clean the house might not be a bad idea. I use to be able to clean the house, no problem, in 3-4 hours. Now ... it takes me about 2 days to accomplish the same task. I don't know if it's because we've acquired a lot of stuff since we've had triplets ... or if it's because the kids are hot on my tail pulling out everything I just put away and creating havoc as I go. It's probably a little bit of both.

Needless to say, I finally came to my senses and could see the benefit in having some one come in and lend a hand. (Relinquishing control over our housekeeping has always been a tough pill for me to swallow. What can I say - I enjoy cleaning!) At 9 AM this morning, two women arrived on our doorstep, mop and cleaning supplies in hand. They surveyed our baby war-zone and split up ... one took on the kitchen, the other tackled the rest of the house. The woman in the kitchen spent THREE hours cleaning. THREE HOURS. She scrubbed the floors, the cupboards, the countertops, the oven, the stove tops ... everything. I was in awe. Not even on a good day, would I have cleaned the oven and I certainly wouldn't have spent THREE hours in one room. I'm not a slob by any stretch of the imagination ... but THREE HOURS cleaning our little kitchen. I was impressed.

The downside was that the babies didn't nap too well while the cleaning crew was here (which didn't help the overall fussiness we had going on). They loved having the distraction of two new people in the house. Although I tried putting the kids down for a nap, it was largely unsuccessful. I stuck all three in their cribs (with their sippy cups) and had to go back in a minimum of 15 times to put all the stuff that they'd thrown out of their cribs, back in. I've decided it's a lot harder to let your kids cry-it-out when you have a house full of strangers than when you're alone. I think they know that, too.

After what felt like my umpteenth time going in to the nursery, I jumped on the computer to check my e-mail and heard one of the women say "Well, hello little one ... where did you come from?" I turned around and there was William smiling at me.

WHAT THE... ????

I hadn't heard any crying - not a boom, not a crash, not even a little thump. And here he was walking out of the nursery with a big smile on his face as if to say "Surprise!" Good Gawd. I honestly started to have hot flashes this afternoon thinking about the fact that our baby now knows how to escape from his crib. This is going to seriously interfere with ... EVERYTHING. The crib was always my safe spot. I knew that when I put them there - they'd STAY there. And now ... I figure it's just a matter of time before William teaches his sisters how he did his Houdini move.

When I told Charlie tonight that William knows how to climb out of his crib, he looked at me with absolute terror and said "Oh my God, what are we going to DO?!" I told him that we could convert the cribs to toddler beds so that we wouldn't risk them falling out and getting hurt and he said "No, no, that won't work. Isn't there something we can do to keep them IN?!!" I suppose we could look in to crib tents. Although, come to think of it ... the person that suggested the crib tent as a "great" device ... is the same one that suggested the "safety" harness.

Here we are, still reeling from weaning - - and we get flung this NEW zinger that we've got a crib escape artist on our hands. Geez. It's always something...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Operation "Bottle Wean" has begun ...

In reality, bottle weaning began the first time I ever offered the babies a sippy cup, which we did for the first time in ... July. They still do take bottles - a total of four - throughout the day. But at this point in time, they flat out refuse milk from any device other than a bottle ... or a boob. Since they've been weaned from breastfeeding for the past few months, that means the only milk they are getting is from their bottle. The thought of taking the bottles away from the babies has haunted me, for several months and is something I have been dreading. Which is why as the 18-month anniversary of their birth looms ever closer ... I am scrambling at getting this weaning accomplished ... per our pediatrician's strict orders.

I did some soul searching last night on our bottle dilemma. I tried to figure out why it was so difficult for me to even comprehend taking the babies bottles away from them. Like I said yesterday, we have tried. But, because I wasn't in to it 100% ... I didn't stand a chance. I always believed - "Ah, they don't have to really be off them until they are 18-months old. I've still got time. Plenty-o time." That time is now and I, probably more than my babies, are mourning the loss of the bottle.

This is what I figured out during my self psycho-analysis last night. I just cannot believe that we are already at a point in our babies lives when they ... according to our pediatrician and literature on the subject ... truly aren't *suppose* to be on bottles anymore. Like it or not, that peg in my reality board has been put in place. It dawned on me this morning that it was two years ago today, that I found out our third round of IVF had worked and I was pregnant ... we were finally going to have a baby. (I didn't find out for a few more weeks that there was actually a daycare on board.)

Nonetheless, it's hard to believe that these babies we've longed for - for so long ... are infact, toddlers. Little kids. I don't just ask myself, constantly, "What happened to the 3-pound newborns that I gave birth to?" I take it one step further and ask "What happened to my 8-cell embryos?!" I am in awe at how fast time goes and the little people our multi-celled embryos have grown in to. The bottle has always been a symbol of *baby* to me and although it sounds crazy, getting rid of the bottle ... well ... it hurts. Today it's the bottle. Tomorrow it will be transitioning out of a crib. The next day it will be potty training. And then ... kindergarten. Oh, my heart aches.

But, I know it's one of those things that has to be done. I've received some very good feedback from people on WHY it is important to wean a baby from the bottle by 18-months of age. And using that information, along with the response my pediatrician gave me when I called him this morning to ask "Are you absolutely SURE they have to be off the bottle by 18 months?" we've decided that now is the time to start the weaning. For anyone interested in what my pediatrician and other knowledgeable experts in the field (aka: parents of babies about the same age as ours) had to say ...

1) Children using bottles are more likely to develop tooth decay. Even with proper brushing.

2) Children who drink from a bottle may have improper dental development.

3) Children who depend on bottle feedings may not consume enough solid foods to meet their nutrient needs. I was under the false assumption that they still needed to be taking 24 oz of milk a day. Actually, it's only about 16 oz of milk ... which is a big difference!

4) Children who are not weaned from the bottle may not develop appropriate feeding skills.

Considering that William is so attached to his bottle and derives the majority of his nutrition from said bottle ... that was enough for me. Additionally, we are starting to get in to the warmer months and I'd rather have this weaning behind us, then have to worry about them becoming dehydrated during the summer if they are still *holding out* for the bottle once or twice a day.

So, with some divine inspiration from above - - and in the spirit of holy week ... we have begun "Operation Bottle Wean." We literally passed over our first bottle on this first day of "Passover". My goal is that our babies will be completely weaned from the bottle by Friday, April 14th ... the day they turn 18-months old. I think the longer we wait and the more we draw it out, the harder it will be - for everyone involved. I am coinciding the Last Bottle with the "Last Supper" that Jesus shared with his disciples ... tomorrow evening. I am already anticipating that "Good Friday" isn't going to be too *good* of a Friday at our house ... but I could be wrong. If all goes according to plan, our babies will be receiving all of their fluids from a sippy cup by this weekend. If not, then a bottle may *reappear* with the Easter bunny ... on the "Third Day".

To kick it off right, I went out this afternoon and bought a few more Nuby sippy cups at Walmart. I think that we stand our best chance using this brand ... as one of my fellow triplet mom's pointed out, the *spout* is the most closely similar to a bottle in texture (silicone). We've had pretty good luck with this brand in the past - but of course that was for juice and water - so hopefully, given no other choice for their milk ... the babies will embrace the Nuby for that, too. We'll be mixing it up throughout the day with both Nuby silicone spouts and Nuby straw cups. I also plan to heat the sippy cups up, so that they aren't having to adjust to the cup ... and cold milk ... all at once. Today, we gave the babies their morning bottle. We did sippy cups at lunch and snack, with a bottle at dinner. I tried not to make a big deal out of it. I gave them the sippy cup with their meal, and whatever they didn't finish, was poured out (I can see our milk consumption is going to go WAY down for the next few weeks until they adjust). Here are some photos from our first day of "Operation Bottle Wean" ...

This was lunch today ... the first sippy cup with milk. It only took a few moments before both Carolyn and Elizabeth lifted their sippy cups up high above their head - and threw them at me.

Our afternoon snack was a little better. All three babies held on to their sippy cups for a few minutes ... and I think I actually saw them take a sip at one point or another. Elizabeth was the first to throw her cup down, and so it went.




I was having a hard time finding one of the sippy cups from earlier in the day during a clean-up ... and then noticed that the babies had placed it inside their Corn Popper ride on toy. Maybe they are trying to hide it from me ...???

Suffice to say ... we're not off to the best start. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day. Please send positive, embracing sippy cup thoughts our way.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bottle Battle ... Sippy Cup Saga

We're in a pickle.

According to all the "books" our babies are suppose to be off bottles by the time they are 12-months old. According to our pediatrician ... it's OK if they stay on them past their 1-year birthday ... just so long as they are off them by the time they are 18-months old.

Guess What? We'll be 18-months old in ... 3 days ... and I'd have better luck getting our kids potty trained then I would getting them weaned from the bottle in 72 short hours. I am BLOWING it big time when it comes to meeting this critical *deadline*.

Why ... it seems like just yesterday, our babies were first learning to drink from a bottle, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Although I think that the babies are definitely attached to their bottles, I can't help but think that maybe I am also attached to my babies - being attached to those bottles. Once the bottles are gone ... it's one more peg on the reality board that my babies are growing up.

It wasn't until they were two weeks old (33 weeks old, gestational age) that they ever made their first attempt at a bottle. Up until that point, all of their nutrition had been received via a gavage tube (a line that went down their nose in to their tummy for feeding). The first two photos I've posted - are Charlie feeding William his very first bottle at 2 weeks of age. I can't believe what a little guy he was ... or how fast the time has gone!

Feeding our babies was such a scary time in the beginning. Because they were born 9 weeks premature, we had to monitor their oxygen levels when they would take a bottle. Sometimes, they'd forget to breathe, their oxygen levels would drop and monitors would start going off all around us. Of course, this would send us in to a major panic. One time in particular, Carolyn turned a frightful purple and we had nurses running over and administering oxygen. Since that time, the babies have come a long way. They became pros at bottles ... they became pros at breastfeeding ... they got the hang of the Podee (hands-free) feeding system ... and then, were able to hold their bottles, all by themselves. We went from giving the babies 6 cc's at a feeding to over 10 oz (300 cc's) at a pop.

Bottles. They have been such a fundamental part of our existence for the past year and a half. We had to always make sure we had clean bottles and nipples available. That there was a sufficient supply of expressed breastmilk or formula on hand ... and that, of course, we never left the house without having a surplus of bottles and supplies with us. Once we discovered the Podee system - our lives were transformed. We could feed all three babies at once and whenever, wherever ... in their stroller, bouncy chairs, bumbo chairs. To this day - I still believe that our Podee bottles were one of the most critical pieces of baby equipment our first year. Now, we are at the point of getting rid of the bottles altogether - and well, it's a battle. For them - and for us.

It's not to say that we haven't tried to wean the babies from a bottle. We have. We've tried really, really hard. We've gone through every different brand of sippy cup on the market. We've tried the ones with and without handles ... nuby cups, straw cups, cups with flip lids and little cups covered in animals and bright colors.

Sure, the babies love their sippy cups ... for juice and water. Put milk in that same sippy cup and quickly take cover - - because they will fling that cup right back at you with enough force to put out an eye. They have a look on their face that clearly says "Hey FOOL ... what are you trying to pull?! Milk belongs in a bottle. Now make it right or we're going to SCREAM!!!"

I weaned the girls from breastfeeding about 2 months ago. William was weaned from nursing back in October. The weaning from breastfeeding was a lot easier for them, then I expected ... and it was much harder for me, then I expected. (I'll save my emotional and physical trauma of weaning from bf'ing for another post.)

This past weekend, we had a BBQ and invited some friends over. They brought their 12-month old baby girl and I was astonished when they told me that she had been "off the bottle" for the past 2 months. When I asked how they accomplished this amazing feat ... they told me that "she just didn't want it anymore." HUH?!

Our kids LOVE their bottle. Especially William. I'm convinced that his body composition is 98% Vitamin D Whole Milk. The girls are pretty good eaters - - they'll try everything that we put in front of them. William on the other hand, and the majority of the time - - will either barely pick - - or not touch, any of the food that I put on his tray. He will hold out, very patiently, for his warm bottle that he knows is coming soon. Unless of course it is a snail, dead earthworm or crayon ... he isn't too nuts over solid foods.

After everyone was fully weaned from breastfeeding is when we first attempted to introduce milk from a sippy cup. We decided one morning that today would be the day to ditch the bottle, cold turkey. Since we are taking 4 bottles a day ... we decided to start with the morning bottle. Milk that is normally heated up and given in a bottle - - was put in a sippy cup, cold. When they refused the cup ... we tried again at lunch. Again we had a VETO from all three babies. During the afternoon "snack" we tried a third time. By this point - we had 3 kids that were on the verge of hysteria because they hadn't had their warm milk in a bottle.

As we were rounding the bedtime hour ... and tried with sippy cups one last time ... all three babies cracked simultaneously. It was an awful sight. I felt so terrible, so cruel and wrought with guilt. I transferred all the sippy cups to bottles ... heated them up nice and warm ... and gave them to the babies. It was a beautiful sight. They love their bottles. They love me. All is good in the world. Charlie looked at me with a scowl ... how are we suppose to do this?!?

When that first attempt failed so miserably ... we decided that we'd let them keep their bottles for a little bit longer. Maybe they were mourning the loss of the breast - - so to throw weaning the bottle, too ... was overload.

So, we tried weaning again this past week. It didn't go any better then the first time we tried. After 30 minutes of crying, I cracked. Everyone had warm milk in a bottle and happiness was restored. I know the argument for getting the babies off a bottle. I think it has to do with their teeth.

Now here comes my desperate plea of rationalization ....

We don't put our kids to bed with bottles. They get four bottles a day, with milk.

We brush their teeth at night before they go to sleep.

We have their first dentist appointment scheduled for next month, and the dentist, I'm sure - will tell us that we are doing a good job with their dental hygiene. At THIS age.

If we start dropping bottles ... I am not very optimistic that they are going to get the milk requirement (24 oz a day) that they need via their sippy cup.

I wish somebody could tell me, why I can't keep my babies on bottles until they are old enough for me to reason with them. I can't help but wonder if this whole thing of getting rid of the bottle by such-and-such date ... isn't just some crazy American thing because we are trying to get our kids to grow up faster than they should. Or need to. For Pete's Sake ... they're only ONE! Could you take a bottle away from this child??? If you answered yes ... would you please do it for me? I really don't have the heart. At this rate, I'll be loading them on the school bus for 1st grade with a lunch box and ... bottle.

(***Edited: if you came to this site from a search on the internet - we were ultimately successful with weaning. To learn how we transitioned our babies from bottles to sippy cups in less than 3 days, check the April 2006 archives.***)