Archive for January, 2010

Advice for parents of triplets, vol. 1

I thought it might be nice to usher in the era of 50,000+ hits here at Sax & Sons with something of at least slight substance. I am no expert on parenting, I just play one on this blog (and not really). But I do have 14+ months of triplet co-parenting under my belt, and I’m just the sort of person I might have wished to connect with, oh, say, fifteen months ago. I’ve been meaning to do a post of this sort for a while, and I might as well just do it – here it is.

I’ll number these because that’s how I generally roll, but the order is the order in which they occur to me.

1. Nothing is more important than getting your babies sleeping early in the game. Have them sleep in a crib from the moment you get them home, and try early on to establish regular naps and bedtime rituals. With Big Al, I continue to swear by Mark Weissbluth’s sleep books – but there are others too. Each day I believe a little bit more that a well rested child is a happy child (AND, potentially, has well rested parents).

2. Don’t panic.

3. Early on, everyone will tell you to ask for help; it’s a good idea. But ask for specific help. The best things are: food, laundry, cleaning up, and food.

4. Dads – you have to help, and help a LOT. Whether that help boils down to a 50/50 division of labor (probably rare), or some other ratio will depend upon your life and work situation, but if you had any illusion that you’re not really a diaper-changing sort of guy, drop it now.

5. Never skimp on diapers. Get the best (whatever you judge them to be), and change them often. I cannot imagine cloth diapers working out for any length of time.

6. No matter how often you change those diapers, diaper rash may crop up from time to time. Use Weleda diaper cream to cure it.

7. When you get to the stage where your kids are taking regular naps (and make sure you get there), clean up the play/kids area entirely after every nap. I’m a slob and my own workspace is generally a disaster, but adopting this methodology from Big A. has been extremely gratifying.

8. If you read other triplet blogs and maybe Triplet connection, you’ll come to expect people in public to make crude or repetitive comments. Our experience is that it’s not as bad as people say. You’ll hear “you’ve got your hands full” every time you go out though. Try not to get annoyed. Most people genuinely wish you well, and are amazed to be confronted by a triplet stroller, or three identical (or similar) looking babies. Try not to adopt a snobby or annoyed attitude about it. I was ready for people to be outright pigs, and that just hasn’t been the case.

9. It is ideal to have your three babies sleep on the same floor as you sleep and live. Apartment or ranch living is ideal early on. (Big apartment, though).

10. It is good to attempt to breast feed for as long as you can, but essential to be kind to yourself considering the reality of your situation. Hospital lactation consultants may make you feel morally bankrupt for even considering using formula, but you should know that many, many triplet families have to sooner or later. Some time or other you will be confronted with literature that makes you feel inadequate for not breast feeding. Just throw it away. [This is no diss on breast feeding, or the heroic mothers who manage to breast feed multiples for any length of time; just an acknowledgment that the pendulum has swung far in the direction of belittling and vilifying non-breast feeding mothers.]

11. Dr. Sears’ books, relevant and helpful as they may be for singleton parents, are probably not for you. [You don’t need to read about the serious damage a C-section does to the mother-baby bond, for instance; and it is impractical to imagine you’ll sleep in the same bed with your entire litter]

12. Just a theory: expose your kids to as wide a variety of foods as possible. Stick with your pediatrician’s advice about when to give what (no eggs till 9 months, no nuts or shellfish till 1 year, said ours), and avoid choking hazards, but help them to develop a broad palate. At 14+ months our boys eat everything under the sun – though most people assure us that won’t last.

13. At some point you may conclude that any kind of long distance traveling w/ triplets is hopeless. It is doable, but exacts such a cost in exhaustion and achyness that it becomes ideal to invite visitors to come to you instead.

14. If you ARE exclusively giving your babies breast milk for any length of time, pumping and bottle feeding enable dads to participate in the process. Moms need to be able to sleep or get out of the house once in a while.

15. When searching out a pediatrician, be sure to find an office who is willing to accommodate three babies at once, and be sure that you like the nursing staff, and that they return calls promptly. You will be calling the doctor two to three times as often as singleton parents.

16. Do the math and accept early on that it is simply impossible to respond to everyone’s cry immediately all the time. Do the best you can.

17. Dads – you may sometimes feel that your contribution to the endeavor of parenting is slighted by, say, strangers on the street. Invariably they will look toward your wife or partner and say, “how do you do it?” or give a knowing glance that you, in your paranoid way, may take to mean “obviously HE’S not worth much.” I have two comments on this. 1) No matter what you do, it won’t equal carrying three babies inside of you. Ever. Just remember that. 2) I think in general there’s been an odd backlash against active participation by dads in our society. Just about every parenting book you read takes it for granted that dads play a secondary and vastly diminished role in caregiving. Expect to see, and see often, headings like: “Dad can help too!” or “What can Dad do?” Basically, at every turn, fathers are encouraged to be less involved and less capable – it is simply assumed of them. You, though, are a triplet dad, and don’t get to play that role. Nor should you want to.

18. If your children are primarily healthy, don’t ever waste a moment feeling sorry for yourself. Your life with triplets will be radically different than your life without them was. The change is hard, but vastly more good than bad. Nobody signed up for triplets, but 14 months down the road, Alex and I cannot imagine life without all three of our boys. Each is unique, and brings us far more joy than frustration. Don’t allow yourself to become one of those parents who says to you, when they find out you have triplets, “sheesh, I thought one was bad enough.”

19. It is likely that your children will not be perfectly healthy in every way. Hopefully any health problems will be minor, as has fortunately been the case for us. Try to take each bump in the road as it comes, and seek the advice and counsel of those who have strived before you.

20. For sheer funniness, bathe them all together as soon as you can. For us it was about a year (as soon as you get rid of the plastic inflatable duck bathtub).

21. Cheerios are your friend.

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January 30, 2010 at 10:47 pm 11 comments

Pancake breakfast!

We may not seem like the church-going types, but when news that the Baptist Church down the block was throwing a pancake breakfast for the community, we thought it would be an ideal way for us to get out and about, meet some of the neighbors, maybe elicit some sympathy. As the picture shows, our boys had great trouble making friends, and basically sat glued to their boosters, noses in syrup. Well…actually it wasn’t quite so bad. We had a nice time – chatted up the pastor, who has an MFA in fine art, and paid our community membership dues, so that now we can attend the monthly meeting without a dark cloud of guilt hovering overhead.

We are back into our systems with mama on home soil. But we are working, and working hard. It is a great joy and privilege to usher these small triplicates into the community of sensible creatures, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t exact a toll. We are achy backs, tired eyes, aging knees and oil bills at times, but we are also carpet wrestles, 8 handed piano, chasing cats, flipping switches, so you more or less get what you pay for. There’s the Vanimal, pulling up the driveway with coffee and me loving wife. This moment, this one right now, feels deeply earned.

January 30, 2010 at 11:14 am Leave a comment

Identical*

Friends,

I am sorry for not writing. I know, though, what my excuses are worth.

I write today with news. Ever since the boys were first caught on ultrasound, the doctors told us “identical triplets.” The ultrasound technicians actually argued a bit about this, but every doctor who saw and scanned big A prenatally was in agreement.

But any regular peruser of the photos tacked up in this space will tell you, one of these boys is not like the others. Nonetheless, we read stories about identicals who don’t look (and, um, act or sound) identical, so we thought it could be possible in our case.

Well, I can now report that, no it isn’t. It isn’t possible. Bombshell here so make sure you’re sitting down. It. is. Official.

Pablo and Satchel, and Levi and Satchel, are dyzogotic.

Pablo and Levi are monozygotic.

We’ve got 2+1, so you see I wasn’t kidding in the header when I said “not your standard identical triplet blog.” We shelled out the big bucks to get some genetic closure, as it were. This 99.9% the law, (and 99.4% what we were expecting).

No time to philosophize about this now – but I thought I’d share the news.

(and p.s., big Mama made it home safely from her travels and we are all still alive and happy)

January 26, 2010 at 10:12 pm 9 comments

Suitors

The boys had a beautiful young visitor tonight, and they all were quite literally gaga. As you can see, they wasted no time getting into something a little more comfortable. Young Claire, escorted by her dad, local painter Jim H., made quite an impression on the lads, most particularly Pablo. As Claire balanced delicately on the Radio Flyer trike, Pablo grinned at her, contemplating just how to make his advance. Unexperienced if talented in the ways of love and war, and never one to boast subtlety as his great attribute, Pablito opted for the direct approach, a poke to the chest. It made me think a bit of the restaurant scene from Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Pablo was clearly Javier Bardem (he so totally is), but I’m not quite sure if Claire was Scarlett Johansson or Rebecca Hall. I guess only time will tell.

Several hundred miles to the south, Big Al had her opening tonight and I hear it was a smashing success. I am eager to hear about it in person from her when she returns tomorrow. We have survived two plus days, and will in all likelihood survive the little time we have left, but has left we four somewhat the worse for wear. I don’t know who will whoop the loudest when Alex traipses through that door tomorrow afternoon, but it’ll be a pretty scene any which way you shoot it.

I am off to a too-big bed, to enjoy too little sleep.

January 14, 2010 at 11:41 pm 1 comment

Moving Right Along

I’ve lived to tell another tale. I had actually rather a lovely morning, despite my sleep-deprived state, and then Jen and Jessica, one of the boys’ fabulous visiting therapists (they get some basic development therapy on account of being preemies), helped me pack the boys in the Vanimal and head out to the library. What a time we had! The boys are bibliophiles in the making (not to mention endlessly intrepid explorers).

Here too is a quick snapshot of our morning sippy cups. I had intended to write more, but I am pressed for time tonight! (hmm…funny thing!) Honestly, with pics like these, who cares what I say?

One last note – as it just seems awkward to post these domestic happy photos after the cataclysmic earthquake in Haiti that has caused and is causing so much grief, suffering, and loss of life. We at Sax and Sons are sending our best thoughts (and modest financial contribution) to the victims of this tragedy. Earlier today I texted “Haiti” to 90999, and a $10 donation, added to my phone bill, was (I hope) sent via the Red Cross to the troubled nation. I managed to do this while preparing food for the boys as they sat in their feeding table – it was that easy.

January 13, 2010 at 8:49 pm 4 comments

Half a day in the bank

Friends – against my better judgment I’ll take a moment to update you, lest you spend the entire night sitting on pins and needles wondering if I’ve survived. I have. So far it’s been bush league. Big Al and her entourage quit this place around 1:45, right as the boys hit the snooze button. Jen, our tireless Mary Poppins, was here from 1-6, making triplet-parenting essentially safe for the amateur hour. By the time she headed out, the boys were fed, sleepered and ready for the great night. We spent a while longer romping around in our little carpeted room, and then I marched them upstairs one at a time, changed their filters, and pushed go on the bedtime playlist. I think they were gone before I closed the door behind me.

My mistake in all this? Nothing until about 10pm, when I opted to have a 2-hour long video conference with some old buddies. It’s more like hanging out than you think.

Tomorrow is the test, so I’ll try to fill you in.

January 13, 2010 at 12:04 am 2 comments

D day approacheth

Here is Zeda with Satch at the piano, and Gram with the other two tricksters. They’ve driven up the coast from their New England to ours to give a little help, and then leave with the foundation of our home. We hardened northern men will prevail, though, even if it won’t be what you’d call pretty.

Earlier tonight, Zeda observed the boys climbing on their Radio Star toy tricycle, and made the following sage comment: “At some point, maybe at 18 months, 24?, two of these boys are going to realize that they if they pool their efforts together, they can accomplish something that no one of them can do by himself. When that happens, you’re in trouble.” (I took this as my cue to plunk out a little Thus Spoke Tharathustra on the piano, and we giggled at the notion of our own housebound monkeys having their 2001 moment in the all-too-near future.)

What we didn’t realize was that Satchel was not just idly playing with the trike. He had a mission. His small brain was computing and calculating, determining just how to utilize the machine as a walker and hike, gingerly, across the room. He then did this – numerous times in fact. And the accomplishment must be recognized as all the more significant because of the particular brand of “help” his eager (and perhaps slightly envious) brothers were on hand to offer.

Earlier in the day, mom shared some quality time alone with the boys. If you think she’s not bent into a pretzel inside over leaving the little men for 72+ hours, think again. She has never been away for more than a day, and this isn’t coming easy – and not just because she thinks I have a better than 50-50 chance to burn the house down before she returns. For our part – we to be left behind – we just don’t know what to expect. This enterprise of ours doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense without its CEO on premises. Like any second-tier official worth his weight in salt, I fancy I can run the concern just as sweetly as the top brass, just give me a chance. But between my fantastic imaginings and the cold hard truth lies an awful stretch of highway, and in sooth I know not what vision of glory or horror will greet my beloved Big Mama when her southerly travels are at an end.

No time like the future!

January 11, 2010 at 9:57 pm 1 comment

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