Thursday, July 12, 2018

My Breastfeeding Journey

When I was pregnant with our triplets I naively thought I would be able to breastfeed them all. I know several triplet moms who have been able to do this, but their situations were different than mine since their babies were born at a later gestation, some had nursed their precious babies, and some had a lot of help from local family so they could spend time nursing and / or pumping. As hard as I tried, I simply could not get enough milk from pumping to feed our babies (I didn’t even have enough milk for one baby from pumping),
and although I tried to breastfeed in the NICU our babies were simply so tiny that it really didn’t work for them. I remember trying to nurse them all a little when they came home from the NICU, but I wasn’t sure that they were actually getting any milk and I simply didn’t have the time or energy to focus on it. I was quite upset that I wasn’t able to feed our triplets breast milk, but after two months of pumping I called it quits and it was truly the best decision for our family. It meant more time for me to spend with our babies since I wasn’t spending hours a day pumping, and quitting was a major stress relief.

Because of my previous experience, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to nurse Graham, but I REALLY wanted to give it my best effort. While I was pregnant I talked to many very supportive friends who were confident it wouldn’t be a problem for me since my circumstances would be so different this time around. I was glad for their optimism, but I wasn’t so sure it would happen. 

Graham was born on his due date and I had a successful VBAC. These were two things that I believed would help me be able to successfully breastfeed since our triplets were tiny preemies born via emergency C-section at 31 weeks. Mere minutes after he was born he was rooting and trying to nurse. Immediately, though, it was very painful. 

I worked with several lactation consultants while we were in the hospital and after we were discharged, but nothing really helped. I was determined to continue breastfeeding, but it was unbelievably painful. Graham’s latch was so bad that I was bleeding and I could hardly nurse with anyone around because of the pain. For a few days I resorted to doing a little pumping and bottle feeding, and I even supplemented with a few ounces of formula just to give myself some relief. It was very stressful for me since I so badly wanted breastfeeding to work and it seemed that I had enough milk to nourish Graham, but there was another issue this time and I just didn’t know what it was. 

I spent hours Googling solutions and trying to figure out what the issue was. I was suspicious of a tongue tie and a top lip tie, thanks to Dr. Google and a friend who had experienced this with one of her babies, so I took Graham to a dentist who was knowledgeable in this area when Graham was just a few weeks old. The dentist said that Graham had a minor top lip tie and it was up to us whether or not we got it revised.

Although I was fairly confident that Graham was getting enough milk, when he was two weeks old he started having severe reflux and vomiting massive amounts about 1-2 times a day. Our triplets spit up often, but there was something about the way that Graham spit up (force and volume) that told me it was different. Because of this, I took him to the pediatrician and I was told to cut dairy and soy out of my diet to see if it helped. When I posted about this on FB a friend added me to a couple of breastfeeding for allergies and intolerances group, and that is when I really started to learn about food issues that babies can have.

Although cutting dairy and soy seemed to help, it wasn't a complete fix. I learned that a lip tie could cause vomiting because he could be swallowing air, so we decided to go ahead and have the dentist fix Graham’s lip tie when he was 4 weeks old. I felt terrible about having it done since it was “optional,” but I was hopeful that this would fix his latch and his vomiting.

Thankfully, the procedure did seem to help his latch almost immediately. I could finally nurse in front of the other kids and hold a conversation while nursing, which is important when one is spending 6 hours a day nursing a newborn. I am glad we got the procedure done as it meant I could finally nurse without pain!

Unfortunately, though, the projectile vomiting persisted. My doula has recommended a kinesiologist who she had worked with when one of her babies had food intolerances, so I took Graham there. The kinesiologist did strength testing to determine that Graham also had a gluten intolerance. Although I was sad to hear that I would also have to cut gluten out of my diet in addition to dairy and soy, amazingly it did the trick! Within a few days Graham’s vomiting and other symptoms stopped completely. 

Although I wasn’t sure that all of these things were related to food intolerances at the time, in hindsight Graham had other symptoms in addition to vomiting. He had mucous and dark specks of blood in his stool, reflux, and a weird cough. All of these things completely went away when I cut dairy, soy, and gluten out of my diet.

The good news was that I was 100% breastfeeding Graham. It was literally a dream come true. But I never expected to have to alter my diet so drastically in order to do so. Thankfully everyone around me was very supportive of my determination to nurse Graham and many friends found foods I could eat when they had us over at their house, which was not expected but definitely appreciated. One might ask why I didn’t just give up and feed him formula since I had to eliminate so many things from my diet, and believe me when I say I thought about that too, but with these kind of food issues it’s hard to find a formula that works and the hypoallergenic formulas are very expensive. Plus, although I had to alter my diet, breastfeeding was simply more convenient for me than formula and I needed convenience since I was very busy with four kids 4 and under. I also can’t deny the fact that breast milk gives babies antibodies to help fight sicknesses, and since the older kids we’re in preschool and bringing home germs, nursing gave me peace of mind as a self proclaimed germaphobe. (I know there are many other supposed benefits to breastfeeding, but I believe our other three kids are very intelligent and thriving despite having very little breastmilk as babies.)

When Graham was about 9 months old I decided that I was tired of solely breastfeeding as I longed to be able to get away for awhile in the evening to climb or go out with Micah. We decided to try formula in a bottle, but he wouldn’t drink more than a tiny sip! This was both frustrating and funny as our other kids only ever drank from bottles. I didn’t want to waste my time pumping since I wasn’t sure he would drink that from a bottle either, so I accepted his rejection of the bottle and decided to keep nursing him.

I knew that Micah might go to a conference in Spain in July, and we decided that if he went I would go along. This meant that I needed to wean Graham before our trip, which was a little stressful. It took a couple of months to slowly cut out the nursing sessions and replace them with almond milk / water and solids. It worked well, though, and June 6 was the last time I nursed Graham. 

Weaning Graham was bittersweet as I would have continued to nurse him if we didn’t have an international trip planned. Graham is small (3rd percentile for height and weight) and it’s challenging to find foods that work for his diet that he will eat, so continuing to nurse him would have been an easy solution to help him with his caloric intake. But at the same time, I am relieved that after eliminating dairy and soy in May 2017 and gluten in June 2017, I am now eating everything again as of July 2018! This makes my life so much easier, but now I feel guilty that I am eating foods that Graham can’t eat and he’s at an age where he is asking to eat what we eat. I pray that he outgrows his good allergies in the near future. 

I am so thankful that I was able to breastfeed Graham for 13.5 months. It was extremely challenging for the first few months due to the pain from his top lip tie and eliminating foods due to his allergies / intolerances, but the next 10 months after we figured it all out were honestly quite easy, especially once he was only eating 6 times in a 24 hour period. I would definitely do it all over again as I feel that breastfeeding is one of the most amazing things my body has done, and it created a special bond with Graham.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

5-Years-Old

Birthday morning

I think this past year has been the fastest year of my life. Adding Graham to our already busy family and working (very) part-time has made me feel like I'm constantly trying to catch up on things. There is always laundry and dishes to be done, food to be prepared, stacks of papers on my desk, and work for my job, plus Graham takes a lot of my time, so I find myself being "too busy" to play with the older kids, which makes me sad. I hope that during the next year I can find ways to be more intentional about playing with them as I feel like I blinked and a year went by. Today I truly felt like I was looking at 5-year-olds as it seems that they have grown up so much in the last year.

I thought we got a lot of comments when I went shopping with triplets, but adding Graham to the mix has made the comments even more frequent. Plus there are fewer comments about how adorable my kids are (since now they are kids and not little babies or toddlers) and many more comments about having my hands full. This was after a Costco trip.


Heights and Weights:

Alexis: 42" and 32.5 lbs (+2.5" and 2.5 lbs in the last year)
Jack: 41" and 30.5 lbs (+2.75" and 3.5 lbs in the last year)
Faith: 44" and 34.5 lbs (+3.25" and 4.5 lbs in the last year)

Faith continues to be the biggest and Jack the smallest, but I'm most surprised about the size difference between the girls. People comment all of the time about the height difference between them, and I'm a little perplexed since they are identical and so I thought they would be closer in size. Faith is definitely our best eater, so maybe Alexis will catch up eventually.

Outgoing: I have never thought of Micah or myself as being outgoing, but for some reason Alexis and Faith seem to love talking to adults, even if they have never met them before. Even Jack will jump in with the girls and run up to a random person with a dog (our kids think they have to pet every dog that walks down the street or that comes to a park). I've realized recently that most kids their age don't find it necessary to talk to every adult that see, and I'm not sure why our kids do this. For example, about a month ago we went camping at a climbing area and our kids spent a lot of time at the neighboring campsites chatting with the other climbers, all of which were adults, and playing with their dogs. Normally this would seem strange, but since we were at a climbing area and the climbing community is very friendly it was fine, but at the same time I found it interesting that the kids would seek out the attention of these people they didn't really know. Is this a triplet thing since they are used to getting a lot of attention when we are out in public? Or just part of their personality? It's impossible to know, but I'm curious to see if this continues as they get older and if they are actually extroverts even though Micah and I are both introverts.

Preschool: This was their second year of preschool and overall it seemed to go well. They went to school on M, W, and F from 9-1, so they had to eat lunch at school which was new this year. I got used to packing their lunches, although I have to admit that all they really wanted was crackers & cheese and fruit (usually applesauce since it was easy for me to throw into their lunch boxes). When it came down to it, I just wanted to pack them something they would eat, and I knew that they would be home soon after lunch so that they could eat more at home. They learned so much this year (all of their letters and some of the sounds, counting to 30, and other things like patterns) and all three branched out a bit and played with different kids at school instead of just sticking to themselves. I was so glad this happened as I worry that it will be hard for them to make friends so they always rely on each other. They had great teachers who they all miss now that school is out for the year.

This was their last turn as the "Star Student" for their class and bring in show n tell, and they actually shared the role since it was their turn to bring in their birthday treat for their class (they did it early since they have a summer birthday). 


Faith's art as evolved so much in the last year. She spent a lot of time on this picture, which is of her and me. She would work on it a little bit and then come back to do more work. The only part she didn't do was the clouds, but she did carefully color them in.

Jack loves to draw intricate drawings like this. According to him this is his "plans." He spends a lot of time working on the little details in his pictures.

Alexis' art has also become more detailed, but she doesn't seem to enjoy spending the time on her art like her siblings do. This is her picture of the two of us.

I am constantly being asked how to spell words and phrases. One day Micah was taking care of the kids while I was out running errands and I came home to this birthday wish list (Jewelry, Purse, Skye Helicopter).

Pre-Readers: I am constantly answering the question, "What does that say?" as now that they understand that letters form words they are curious. Signs, random things around the house, speech balloons in books, etc. No one is reading yet, but I'm guessing it will click soon when we really start teaching them.

Kindergarten: Speaking of teaching them, I am excited to have the opportunity to homeschool them part-time next year. We enrolled them in a private school that has class on Monday and Wednesday from 8:00-3:30 and then the teachers send the parents lessons for the home instruction portion, which I will be doing with the kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays for about 3-4 hours each day. We didn't feel ready to send them to full day public school kindergarten for a variety of reasons, and this school seems like a great fit for our family. I know the homeschool portion will have it's challenges, but I'm excited to be involved in their learning. (This was a huge shift from my blog post in December when I said the kids would wait another year to start kindergarten as I spoke with their preschool teachers in January and they truly felt the kids were kindergarten ready. After we thought about it more and watched their interactions with other kids, we felt they were ready as well.)

We are setting up this corner of our living room for our home school days

Constant Companions: Alexis, Jack, and Faith still play together almost all of the time. It’s a battle to get them to play alone, so most of the time we don’t force it. We plan to separate them in school next year to foster more independence from one another (but don’t tell them that yet as we know they will worry about being separated all summer if we tell them now). Like most siblings, they get on each other’s nerves and bicker, but about 75% of the time they have a great time playing together. There are conflicts that result in biting, hitting, or pushing, but I guess that’s normal for siblings as I remember that kind of behavior with my brothers.


Bath time

Being silly

Giving their animals a ride

Tricycles are fun for backyard games



Looking at a book together

The girls thought this was fun, but Jack was actually screaming ;)

Climbing up the slide

"Washing" the windows with Graham watching from the inside

Independence: I try to have the kids do as much as they can for themselves, and I also ask them to help me with other tasks such as getting a box of tissues from the upstairs closet or helping me with Graham's diaper changes since he likes to roll over and crawl away. When they want a snack I tell them to grab their own plate / bowl and utensil and get the snack themselves if they can reach it. I also try to have them bring everything to the counter and throw away wrappers. They pick out their own clothes and PJs almost 100% of the time, which means they wear some crazy outfits and many days the girls choose to wear the same thing. Even when they bathe or shower they pretty much do everything themselves. There are still some things that we help them with, but this summer we are going to push for even more independence since they are going to elementary school in the fall!

Favorite toys: Up until a couple of months ago I would say their cars and trucks were their favorite toys, but I recently moved the cars up to the loft and now they hardly play with them. Lately they don’t seem to need a specific toy for their games as they are into pretending they are dogs and other various pretend play games. For the dog game they like to use their large cardboard blocks to make beds and their magnet tiles to create beds for their baby dogs and such. 



Playing "ballet school"

Future ballerina?

Playing "bug guy" (aka Pest Control)

They built beds for themselves out of the cardboard blocks

Dr. Jack Howard

Music: For awhile we thought Jack would be playing an instrument by now since he was so drawn to music as a toddler, but he isn't as passionate about that anymore. All three kids enjoy listening to music (they have a little CD player with kid CD's that they like to play) and dancing together.Climbing: All three kids seem to enjoy climbing, but we still haven’t been taking them to the gym as regularly as we would like as we can only take 1-2 kids at a time (for safety and our own enjoyment) and it’s hard to find the time to do that. But we have been on a couple of family climbing and camping trips this past spring, which have been fun. The kids want to climb, so hopefully we can find a way to do this more in the next year. Right now Faith is the most daring when it comes to climbing.


At the Enchanted Tower where we camped for a weekend

Pedal Bikes:
We gave the kids two wheel pedal bikes without training wheels for Christmas and they knew how to ride them almost instantly. Balance bikes are definitely the way to go since they gained confidence gliding on two wheels. They also had tricycles so they knew how to pedal. They simply put those two skills together and took off and no one has taken any big falls! 



Riding bikes at the park

Big Sibs: All three are great big siblings to Graham, and they get so excited when he learns new things and when he plays with them. Jack seems the most eager to play with him, and I think he is really looking forward to when Graham is a little older and he can actually play games with him. The girls get mad when Graham ruins a game they are playing by messing something up they've built / created, but they have learned that they can just bring their toys to the other side of the gate where he can’t bother him. The only problem is that he doesn’t really like being left out like that! 



Graham is starting to play alongside the big kids a little more

At the park

Our four babes in a box


Sleep Troubles: I remember having the hardest time falling asleep at night when I was a kid, so I was always surprised when our kids went to bed without any issues. Well now that has changed. Almost every single night we will tuck the kids in, and then a little while later the girls will say they are having trouble going to sleep. Half of the issue with them is that they share a room so they end up playing, and sometimes fighting, which obviously makes it hard to sleep. But the other issue seems to be that they really aren't that tired. We had been putting them to bed between 7 and 7:30, but recently we have moved it back to 8:00 in hopes that they will fall asleep faster. Those nights that they have trouble falling asleep they are up until 9 or even 10! I also need to make sure they are getting plenty of time outside this summer as that really seems to help them fall asleep faster. A few times a week someone will wake me up because they had a bad dream or they woke up and can't fall asleep, and once in a great while someone will need to go potty and they don't want to go alone at night. All three kids get up between 6:30 and 7:00 in the morning. 

Alexis:





  • Still loves her stuffed Snoopy and 'Baby Husk' (beanie baby Husky).
  • I am trying to teach her not to give in to Faith's demands as Alexis tends to let Faith be in charge.
  • Still loves books and she even took one to school to read to her class for her last show n tell of the year. She can't actually read, but she has the book memorized and it's so cute to hear her recite it.
  • Last year she was terrified of dogs, but not anymore! Now she enjoys petting dogs.
  • Thinks dresses are for church only, so she'll put one on for church and then change into play clothes immediately when she gets home. I guess I can't blame her since I do the same, but sometimes I wish the girls would wear their girly clothes more often.
  • Micah and his dad took the kids skiing several times this past winter and Alexis learned to ski independently!

Jack:





  • Likes his beanie baby tigers when he feels upset.
  • Had his two front teeth pulled as they were becoming infected after falling on them several times. He will probably be toothless for years.
  • Still the pickiest eater, but he seems to eat more at times (like right now) which are probably growth spurts.
  • He loves talking about all the 'boy' things like super heroes, bad guys, guns, swords, bears, lions, tigers, Spider-Man, Star Wars, mountains, woods, ATVs, Jeeps....definitely has an innate sense of adventure.
  • He is the pickiest when it comes to clothes and he will only wants to wear certain pants and shirts. 
  • Like Alexis, he also learned to ski independently this past winter and he is probably the best at it right now.


Faith:





  • She still loves her stuffed Husky.
  • Faith is a dog lover and she insists on petting every dog she sees. I am not a dog person, so I find this obsession a bit annoying since I have to talk about the dogs with their owners and pretend to enjoy petting them. This has become a bit of a problem in public since not everyone wants a child running up to their dog, and Faith has also run out of sight trying to follow someone with a dog. She simply doesn't have stranger danger even though I've repeatedly talked to her about it. 
  • She worries about doing things wrong. For example, that she might hit someone when driving when she's older and that she might spell stuff wrong in kindergarten. I think she gets this from me as I used to worry about things that were out of my control or really far off in the future as well (okay, I still do that, but I try to talk myself out of these fears as I know it doesn't help anything). 
  • Like Alexis, she thinks dresses are for church only.
  • Faith decided she didn't want to learn how to ski this year after trying it a few times, but right now she is the strongest swimmer in their swim lessons. It's interesting how they all are good at different things.


They still get so excited to spend time with their grandparents

With Daddy on the trampoline

1-on-1 time is still rare, but Faith and I went to Trader Joe's after a doctor appointment and she got to use the little cart for the first time ever (I rarely take the kids to TJ's and having three of those carts would not be fun for me). She was so proud to unload her groceries and be my helper.

We are always thankful for Grammy's help when she comes down

Mother's Day

Headed to the YMCA to use the pool. These kids love to swim!


Sunday, June 3, 2018

Family Photos

We had family photos taken last weekend by Linda (Lovingly Captured Photography), who I met through the New Mexico Parents of Multiples Club. The girls stayed up ridiculously late the night before our photos, so I wasn't sure if it would go well, but since Linda has three kids of her own, including a set of twins, she knew she had to move quickly to capture the kids at their best. All of the kids were very cooperative at the beginning of the photos, but by the end of the hour they were done. Linda did an amazing job, though, and there are so many that I love from the entire photo session! Here are some of my absolute favorites...