Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Weather Advisory for Sussex County




So we had a big morning out. It was our biweekly eye doctor appointment. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves getting everybody fed, changed, dressed, eye drops in, and out the door nearly on time. Getting from the car to the eye doctor's office is, honest to God, a complete scene but we made it before our scheduled appointment time. There is not one person that doesn't see the triple decker stroller and at the very least do a double take. Usually the reactions are so animated -- a lot of "God Bless You"s, lots of personal questions. It's like we have a thousand new best friends. Watching little kids' expressions is priceless. They just don't know what to make of us. We are nothing short of a spectacle. But the eye appointments went well, and all three are looking good. The doctor thinks maybe only one more visit in two weeks, two at the most. We even saw some NICU friends there so that was a treat. As we left, were feeling like it was too easy, and then we step outside and there's a little snow. Really -- this is happening on Oct. 28 -- snow. As we started our trek home, there was more than a little snow and then suddenly we're having near white-out conditions and all the traffic has stopped. I'm pretty sure nobody forecasted this weather advisory. We're sitting watching the guy next to us spinning his wheels desperate to get a little traction but going nowhere fast, when we start to hear little noises from our three perfect children. Oh, great, I'm thinking, we're not moving at all; there are spin outs to the left and the right and an Exxon truck that is putting cones between its tires so it won't roll backwards, hit something and explode! And, of course, because I am a new Mom who doesn't know exactly what to put in the diaper bag, I do not have enough formula to feed all three should we get stranded for hours. Please don't start screaming in unison. I've decided that next time I leave the house, I think we'll bring our SARS masks... you know, just in case. Lucky for us, nobody starved and, alas, we made it home. It is much scarier driving in a storm with three precious pieces of cargo in the back. Every little skid makes your heart skip a beat. But now everybody has been fed, burped and tucked in exhausted from the whole ordeal.


Braddock has another orthopedic appointment tomorrow for a new set of casts. I am hoping for a little less adventure.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pictures


Griffin sleeps


Our stroller. I just like the lighting in this picture. Braddock is in the front, then Griff, and then Julia


Braddock gets ready for his bath



Julia after bath





Julia doesn't look too happy but really she loves her bath.
The days are running into each other for us right now. It's more like a series of 24-hour shifts where we're on duty every three hours. We are very tired but it's a happy tired. These babies are so much fun. As I type this Griffin is laying next to me (just like in the picture since I just took it with my cell phone) Julia is having some tummy time and Braddock is sleeping on Bill's chest. It's so quiet. They'll start squeaking in maybe 20 minutes because their bellies will alert them that it is time for the 9:00 pm feeding. They are like clockwork. I set my alarm for every three hours but I find I don't really need it. If anything, they are 15 minutes early. We've filled all the bottles for the next 24 hours, bathed everybody, put the vitamins and iron in their bottles for the next two feedings... So we're ready to feed one more time and try to sleep for a couple hours ourselves. We have a busy week full of doctors appointments and nurse visits. The appointments mess up the schedule which freaks me out. I like the schedule because I know exactly what to do and when to do it. Throw an outing into the mix and I'm all worried about how to get back to the schedule. Crazy, right?
We'll let you know how it goes this week. We also took lots of pictures that we have to transfer to the computer so we can share them.
More soon, I swear.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Peaceful Easy Babies

video

There's not much quite like watching your babies sleep. This is Braddock (left) Griffin (middle) and Julia (right) where they are sleeping these days instead of their crib. The cribs haven't quite worked out yet due to the whole reflux issue we've got going on. Griffin is wrapped in a pink blanket if you've wondered about that. That is really Julia's favorite blanket but what can you do? He might be upset with that someday and then I'll just go into my speech about my hospital bed rest, my loathing of the bedpan, etc....of course, the story will become more of a stretch every time I tell it. I can just hear myself now. "Griffin, you have to understand, I was in the hospital five hours from our house on bed rest for my entire pregnancy."

We changed 28 diapers today and fed 24 bottles. I was thrown up on and peed on more than once. Not three years ago, I was in a fancy suit at work riding in an elevator with Barack Obama. If on that day someone told me then that soon I'd be the mother of triplets reveling in the diapers, the bottles and the spit-up, well, come on, who'd believe that? But it is true; I, so far, am delighted to be a Mother of three diapers, vomit, bottles and all.

Griffin had his first pediatrician's appointment today, and he, too, according to the doctor is perfect. Bill took him and I stayed home with Julia and Braddock. No reason to cause a scene today.

We are not sleeping very much to be sure, but we take one middle of the night feeding and let the other sleep which is working out well for now. Bath time is between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. and it is everybody's favorite time of day. We are bathing them right in the sink for now in the pink basin from the hospital. Yes, we do have a baby bathtub, but this is how they taught me at the NICU, and I'm hesitant to stray from the protocol. Speaking of the NICU, I have scrubs now. Bill thinks this is hilarious. I admired the cool scrubs the nurses wore, so I googled them and now I have three pair. Of course, I had to get there because I can be impulsive from time to time and one pair just didn't seem like enough. I don't think I'm a nurse so don't panic. I just really like the comfort of them, and if I'm being honest, most of my clothes aren't exactly fitting me right now. That isn't due to the pregnancy weight I still have to lose as much as it is probably now a direct result of the fattening comfort foods that are lining the shelves of the cabinets and I'm stuffing into my mouth after every feeding as some kind of reward. But that's another story. Back to my scrubs...I can't say enough about the comfort and versatility of today's scrubs. They aren't just blue and green these days either. I might go to nursing school next just to get more use out of them. Who knows with me.

All right, I must shut my eyes for an hour before my hungry hippos eat again.

Monday, October 20, 2008

And so it begins




Our First Family Photo -- 68 days after we became a family.
This is us just before leaving the NICU. Our friends now (nurses to begin with) were taking this shot. We were so happy to be leaving, but I felt some sadness, too, because I'm going to miss all the wonderful people I've met there. We were so well cared for but as one nurse said, "You've been here long enough. It's time to go home now." It sure is and it was such a happy drive.












Bill, Margie, Finn, and all three little bears in their gliders. We received one glider at my shower and we quickly learned that it was invaluable, so we snatched up two more.











This is the first time either of us has held all three at once. It was too difficult in the NICU with all the wires and whatnot. Finn - who has been a wonderful big sibling - wanted some face time, too. Poor guy is missing his old life right about now.






This is just before we loaded up the stroller to leave the NICU.


As for what comes next, I'll miss my dear friend sleep. We've had a tumultuous relationship at times. I've always wished I was a great sleeper - I wish that now for my children - but with an eye mask and earplugs I've learned to sleep well in recent years. Now the earplugs for sure are a thing of the past. They tell me I need to listen for crying in the middle of the night. We survived our first night and things went relatively well. Griffin didn't sleep much but that's really been the case with all three on their first night in a brand new environment sans the alarms and commotion of the NICU. I did the 3 a.m. feeding all by myself. It's funny because Griffin is just one more but the jump from two to three seemed more like a leap really - a BIG leap. Griffin uses a special bottle that helps him to pace himself. It takes longer to feed him. So what used to be a 30-minute feed took well over an hour last night. Not such a big deal, I'm thinking, until I realize that by the time I fall asleep, I need to wake up for the 6 a.m. As Griffin eats better, this will get a lot easier, and, of course, we'll become more efficient. Efficiency is the key to triplets or at least that is what I'm told.

We've already confused Braddock and Griffin in the middle of the night. I can't believe we could do that since Braddock has casts up to his hips and weighs a bit more and wasn't even wearing the same outfit, but after they are swaddled, it is very hard to tell who's who. The wonder of identical twins hasn't really sunk in yet because they haven't been together much. I always wanted an identical twin; however, being that I'm an attention-loving creature, I think God knew I wasn't cut out to share the spotlight. Anyway, I'm excited to learn all about the special bond the boys will have. I'm not sure when it is age appropriate to sit them down and explain that since they have the same DNA if one commits a crime, the other could end up on trial. Probably not until they are at least five years old or so...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Griffin comes home

and FINALLY we'll be a complete family! We got the word yesterday that he is as ready as he'll ever be and so we will pack up Braddock and Julia in their fancy stroller with one empty seat and journey to the NICU for the last time. We'll fill that seat and start a new, exciting -albeit challenging- chapter in our family's story. Pictures and updates to come later but I couldn't wait to share the news.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Braddock and the big white casts


Our little Braddock is covered in plaster casts. It was harder for me to watch than for him to endure, I'm sure, but he REALLY didn't like it. He was born with something similar to club feet because of the way he was positioned in the womb. The orthopedic specialist said the physical therapy hadn't fixed the problem so this was the next step. He will get a new cast every week for 4-12 weeks depending on how his feet respond. Since we've been home, he has been relaxed and sleepy so it doesn't appear to be bothering him too much.




We did great getting to the doctor's office. This time I used a Moby Wrap (http://www.mobywrap.com/) which I highly recommend for anyone needing to carry twins. (thanks to Gina for telling me about it -- she should be paid for the plug) It was really quite easy. They both fit nicely in the wrap and then my hands were free. And as an added bonus, they were close to me so I could shield them from anyone thinking it's okay to touch the babies. Of course, the big casts made it a little difficult to get Braddock back in his spot on the way out but we managed. We were still quite a scene, but today everyone just thought they were twins which made for less attention. Why go into the whole story, right?


Griffin has done incredibly well on his feeds, so we could be looking at his homecoming for early next week. That would be so wonderful. We'll keep our fingers crossed....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Braddock and Julia


Aunt Colleen took these nice pictures of Julia and Braddock on Saturday. We're all doing just fine here. Today was a very big day because we had our first outing without any help. We had to go to the pediatric opthamologist for eye exams for Julia and Braddock. Griffin has his exam today in the NICU. So there I was driving and pulling over three times on the trip to give the eye drops they needed to dilate the pupils before our visit. Luckily the weather was great today so that was one less hurdle. I got the triple decker stroller out of the car and loaded them in. Navigating through the crowded parking lot with lots of traffic wasn't fun since this stroller is the size of a small car, but we made it inside safely. Check one. Next obstacle... the elevator. Well, the stroller technically fits on the elevator but it fits horizontally, not vertically, so it took about a 40-point turn and the help of friendly elevator-mates to get us in there. We rode safely up to the third floor. Check two. Now to get into the doctor's office. Again, all sorts of maneuvering to get inside but we did that safely. Check three. Now all I had to do was sign-in, easy enough. Not really because Dr. Morgan's patients sign in in another room that I can't fit a stroller into. Just excellent. So I leave the GINORMOUS stroller taking up half the waiting room and take Braddock and Julia in their infant carriers to the other room where we sign in. Check four. And then we wait and wait and wait until we've long since missed our noon feed. Our appointment was at 11:30. I assumed that I wouldn't need to bring the bottles with me since we had to be done by 12:30 at the latest, right? WRONG. We didn't leave until after 1:00. The exam itself was so upsetting to witness as they screamed so loud while the doctor probed around the eyes for a couple minutes. These kids are tough as nails. The good news is that their eyes both look to be normal. Preemies are quite susceptible to eyesight problems so they need these exams every two weeks until they get to 42 weeks. We have two more to go.

Anyway, we made it through and then we somehow got safely back down the elevator and into the car. At this point, we went across the street to the hospital to see Griffin for a little while and to feed Braddock and Julia. Griffin took Braddock's hand in the crib while I changed Braddock. It was so sweet to see.

Now we're home and all worn out. The funniest part about the whole day is that we are a total scene. Everyone wants to know why I have a triple stroller and only two babies and everyone wanted to look at them and give me some bit of advice on how to handle triplets. Not one of them actually has triplets but I'll keep their advice in mind. So what should be a quick in and out is not ever going to be the case. Back at the NICU Julia and Braddock were like rock stars. All their nurses and doctors and parents we've befriended couldn't get over how big they are and how great they look. Griffin is also big and looking great. His feeding is almost up to par so he isn't too much longer there, and thank God because we miss him.

So that's it from Camp DiMasi. We repeat this little dance on Thursday when we go to the orthopedic specialist for Braddock. I'm sure to be a pro by then.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sleep....who needs it?

So I know you're wondering how it is going for us with two at home. The simple answer is: It is going just fine. We're tired for sure but they are really good babies so we haven't a thing to complain about. Well, we'll complain that Griffin isn't home yet and we miss him so much. He is doing well but just not taking his feeds awake and alert every three hours, and he has to be doing that to come home. They tell us it suddenly just clicks and he'll be off and running. I hate that I can't see him more, but as it is unfolding, feeding and caring for Julia and Braddock is really a full-time job. Who knew? But they are great eaters and great sleepers for now. When they both scream at the same time, it gets a little hairy but I'm figuring it out. With each day, the idea of all three seems more doable. I think that is why the NICU staggers their homecomings, just to give us a little confidence. There's plenty of time to be overwhelmed. They don't want us starting out that way. Pretty good system I'd say.

We had our first pediatrician visit yesterday and the doctor proclaimed, "They are perfect!" So nice to hear especially after all that they went through. They are huge, too. Julia was 5 lbs 3 oz and Braddock was 5 lbs 7 ozs. At this rate, they'll be ready for college very soon.

Bill have been so great with the nighttime feedings. I don't know how he gets up and goes to work. It is so hard for Dads who have their fabulous new little chickens and have to go right back to work stuck without them all day long. Bill's long commute seems much longer on his way home because he can't get to his babies fast enough. When they are two years old and totally out of control, he may just take the long way -- like through Pennsylvania -- but for now, it is really too long. I should add that he isn't complaining at all. These are just my observations.

We've had Jack and Gail here (aka Gram and Papi - as in Big Papi - we'll see if that catches on. Since we live in NJ, I suspect they may call him Grandpa Jeter, but I will come to terms with that with therapy at a much later date) and they've learned all about changing, feeding, swaddling and they are doing great. Marge (aka Granny) will be here next weekend to do the same. We're crossing our fingers that Griffin will be here by then, too.

I haven't been taking enough video or pictures because my hands just seem to always be full. We'll have to work on that this weekend and get something posted.

More soon...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Our NICU journey through pictures


This video was a surprise at my shower. Erin O'Connell (who I used to babysit and who is now in college but that doesn't make me feel old at all) and her Mom, Bonnie, made this for us after Bill, unbeknownst to be, sent our pictures to them. I was very emotional when I saw it because it was the first time since I went on bedrest that I allowed myself to stop and realize how far we'd come. Now that I've been up all night with Braddock, who can't stop crying, I might cry again realizing how far we have to go... Ha. Ha. Ha. I think the poor little man misses his brother.

Well, enjoy the lovely video. I can't thank Erin and Bonnie enough for making it. It means so much to us.

Off to work which thankfully is right next to my bedroom because I haven't got the energy to go much further this morning. The bonus about being up for the feedings is that I have seen the Red Sox games that I would probably have been sleeping through otherwise. I never thought I'd say this in my life but those Tampa Bay Rays are going to be tough.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Two bugs in a blanket...One to go

video

So now there are two DiMasi children all tucked away in their crib (they each have their own but for the time being, they are together in one) and so far so good. Talk to us tomorrow morning. It was really hard to leave Griffin there by himself today. The doctors reassured us that he won't be too far behind. They were talking about a week or a week and a half (best case scenario) so we're really hoping for that. There's something so unnatural about leaving your child behind. I know rationally that this is what is needed medically and that we're not at all leaving him behind, but I still hated walking out the door without him. Of course, Bill will be there tomorrow to be with him but it will be a struggle for me to get there and still keep Julia and Braddock fed and cared for.

Turns out Braddock is our little cry baby. I say this with only love in my heart. He likes to make it known when he is the slightest bit unhappy. He squawks and squawks at the littlest thing. We're laughing about it now. We don't even wonder who is making noise when we hear it because we know it is him. Our day and a half alone with Julia was a breeze. She does the preemie groan a lot but beyond that, she is very agreeable. We feed her every three hours and she seems happy with that.

I have lots more to add but I need to get some sleep so I will work on another post very soon.

Bill was sent this essay from a former coworker of his and as after reading it, we realized that no matter how overwhelmed we might feel or how exhausted, one day we'll be old and gray and wishing we could be back here.

"An essay from a Mom By Anna Quindlen, Newsweek Columnist and Author

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow, but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, twotaller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the samebooks I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education -all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories.

What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations - what they taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all. Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2. When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent, this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goesto college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the 'Remember-When-Mom-Did' Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language - mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed.The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover.The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, "What did you get wrong?" (She insisted I include that here.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted Iinclude that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking? But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less. Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A look at all three

video

This is all three before we unhooked Julia from her monitors. One last look at all three DiMasi babies at their very first address. I should mention Julia's weight today is 4 lbs 11 ounces. Braddock is just over 5 lbs and Griffin is the same as Julia. From where we started, these kids are HUGE! Another tidbit of great news is that Griffin has had all breathing tubes taken out of his nose. He has them nearby in case he needs them but so far so good. He doesn't want to be left behind for too long, so he's been working really hard. I hate the idea of leaving him there by himself without being able to be there all day every day like I have been. Luckily he has so great nurses who adore him. This way I know he's being held and getting love when I am home with his sister and brother. It will be our happiest day to take him home to be with all of us, and at the same time, we'll miss all the incredible nurses, doctors and therapists who've been there with us every step of the way. But we're not thinking about that yet. I'm always getting ahead of myself. One day at a time.

And then there were two

video

This is Julia's exit from the NICU. I will no longer be allowed to videotape important moments because I miss all the good stuff. But here is a short video of Her Daddy carrying her home. I cried, of course! We've been home almost five hours and we're doing just fine. We miss the boys and can't wait to see them tomorrow. Finn is so fascinated by his baby sister. He's calm near her. Every time she makes a peep, he wants to make sure we're paying attention to her. Wait until her sees there are more of them. We expect a long night ahead and many more to follow, but we're just about the happiest two people could ever be. It's been a LONG road to get here and we're going to try to savor every moment.

the NICU according to Gina

Since I'm freaking out about bringing Julia home and running around like a chicken with it's head cut off getting ready, I have a post written for me from my friend Gina, who came to visit us on Tuesday. She knew I'd be busy this week, so lucky for me, she wrote my post:

"Yesterday I had a chance to go and see Nicci and the DiMasi 3 at the hospital. I have been following their progress on this blog but was excited to finally meet them in person. When I first arrived Nicci and Julia were meeting with the lactation consultant. Julia was wide awake laying in her portable bassinet, checking everything out. What a precious little girl! Of course the minute Nicci picked her up she fell sound asleep and the "nursing dance" began. They took off her clothes and started tickling her to get her to wake up. When she finally woke up, she spent more time pursing her lips together than actually trying to latch on. A little lady who knows what she wants and what she doesn't want, my kind of girl! Nicci was so patient with her and kept trying to coax her to open up. If she was frustrated, she didn't let it show. Well, little Miss DiMasi got her way and had a bottle for lunch. Then we were on our way to the NICU to meet her adorable brothers. "A surprise was in store for us when we got there, Griffin was wide awake and ready to eat. Nicci got Julia settled and sat down and tried nursing him. He was so curious about what was happening and started rooting around and trying to get something to eat. His nurse was so excited about his reaction to this new environment. She told us that his "playing around" was exactly what she wanted him to do--Way to go Griffin! Braddock was a sleepy, sleepy boy and stayed snuggled up next to his sister. All of that growing is hard work. "It was just wonderful to see Nicci in full mom mode. She handled those babies like a pro. She was calm and confident, not that I expected any less. As the afternoon went on, I got some snuggle time with Julia and Braddock while Griffin hung out with his mom. As I was getting ready to leave, a doctor came over to confirm that Julia was most likely going home on Friday (Nicci and Bill already knew this and have been preparing the nursery for her) AND Braddock would be following on Monday or Tuesday. Whoa...big news! He said Griffin would probably be going home closer to the due date (October 31). Sounds like things will be in full swing for the holidays. Congratulations Nicci and Bill on three beautiful babies!"