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Archive for July, 2008

The average number of teeth per baby is now:  4.

Sam has sprouted 2 more teeth!  He HAD been waking up in the middle of the night a bit more than usual (which is to say, he used to sleep through the night, and then, mysteriously, he wasn’t sleeping through the night anymore), but I guess with everything else going on we hadn’t put 2 and 2 together and calculated the likelihood of getting 4… 

And today we noticed that he has six, count ’em, SIX teeth!  Two on the bottom, and FOUR on the top!   

This might explain why he keeps chewing on me (ouch!), but hopefully that will end soon…

Update!  Abby now has six teeth also!  So now the average number of teeth per baby is, um, this math is a little harder, hang on… carry the two, subtract one, divide by three…4.666666666667!  Hey, um, how do you have two thirds of a tooth?  Ellie, bless her, is a total slacker with two teeth.  🙂  This may explain why Abby’s been chewing on everything in sight and a bit on the cranky side…

Update Again!  Ellie is cutting a third tooth as of 7/17/07 at 7:46am!  Without a single complaint!  (I told you she’s my good one!)  So now the math is a lot easier and we have an average of 5 teeth per baby!  Holy shmoly, things are about to get interesting around here!

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If you're looking for the exciting adventures of Chez Perky, J, and the Triplets… please head over to the real home of Chez Perky

Thanks!

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Last Wednesday, we rushed home from work, fed the babies an hour early, changed them into PJs and … packed them up and took them off to the NICU.  Weird, I know, but not to worry, they weren’t sick.  We were there for a "NICU Social" for current NICU parents and NICU "Graduates".  We were invited back by the new NICU Social Worker, and though I’d debated whether it was wise to go to an event from 5:30-7:30pm (the babies’ bedtime is 6:30/7pmish), we decided that it was worth a try. 

The babies did really, really well.  We arrived early and went up to the NICU to show the babies off and they got oogled at before we went down to the conference room where the social was being held.  There were a lot of families there, including about 5 current NICU families and maybe a dozen NICU "Graduate" families.  We were the only triplets, there were a set of twins, and the rest were singletons.  I think the gestational ages ranged from 25 weeks to 35 weeks.  The graduates ranged from a couple months old to 3 years old, so we were by no means the youngest ones there. 

There were a lot of NICU nurses that came down to spend some time with all the yummy babies, and they were so impressed with the triplets  and how well they’re doing.  The babies spent their time crawling all over the tables and showing off all their tricks.  When Sam got fussy, I nursed him and Seth held the girls who both fell asleep in his lap.  If I hadn’t been nursing Sam at the time, I would have taken a picture, because it was truly precious.

All in all, it was a wonderful opportunity to talk to some current NICU parents and tell that that there IS life on the other side, to talk to a set of new twin parents and let them know that life DOES get easier, and to show off our beautiful, thriving, and healthy babies.  I’m so proud of how far we’ve come.  We also got an opportunity to make suggestions for future outreach opportunities, for how the NICU staff can approach parents in the future to better serve them, and also to volunteer for planning committees for outreach programs in the future.  I was so pleased to be at this event.  The nurse educator who was there now knows that I’m on the board of the local Parents of Multiples Club and that she can direct any twin/triplet/quad parents in the NICU to me for support/help/questions, and she knows that I want to be involved with additional outreach projects in the future.  All in all, it was a good night.

But the next day… I got a call.

My nanny called me and said, "I think Abby has chicken pox."

"What?  Wait, Wha!!?"
"I think Abby has Chicken Pox"
"Chicken Pox?"
"Yes, I think she has Chicken Pox."

Now, you may not remember, but this is decidedly not good.  Because I am not immune to chicken pox.  I have had chicken pox twice, I have had the chicken pox vaccine twice, I am still not immune to chicken pox.  How do I know?   Because Ye Old Fertility Clinic drew a Varicella Titer as part of my Infectious Disease bloodwork way back before dinosaurs walked the earth and made me sign a big gigantic waiver in order to proceed with treatment.  I promised never to sue them if I got pregnant and ended up with chicken pox while pregnant.  I figured the odds of getting pregnant were pretty slim and the odds of getting chicken pox were pretty slim, so the odds of both happening at once were really tiny, so I was pretty safe in signing that waiver.  As it turned out, I did get pregnant (twice, though as we know, one of those times didn’t work out), but nevertheless, I did not get chicken pox, so my bet still paid off in the end.

I.  Freaked.  Out. 

Not only was I worried for me, but I was worried about all the babies we’d exposed the night before and the parents of babies in the NICU and…  Oh boy.  I know I couldn’t have known, but sheesh, this was decidedly NOT GOOD.

I rushed home, took a look, and breathed a sigh of relief.   Though my beautiful baby girl was clearly unhappy, running a fever, and out of sorts, she did NOT have chicken pox!  She very definitely had Hand Foot Mouth Disease!  And I knew *just* where it had come from.  A week and a half earlier, we had visited Jess, Jon and their Five Little Monkeys, and the next day, Jess told me that she was really sorry, but her five little monkeys had the coxsackie virus!  Whoops!  We thought we were in the clear, since none of our kiddos had turned up with it by then, but I guess not.  A pediatrician friend of mine down the street came up to confirm the diagnosis and after she did, I called my pediatrician just to let him know and make sure that he didn’t want to see it for himself.  He gave me the run down, told me to expect 2-4 days of misery, and told me to treat the symptoms (e.g. fever) as best I could, but otherwise said to hang in there as the others got it, whcih they likely would. 

Poor Abby had a fever all the way until Sunday!  Poor baby!  😦  But, fortunately, none of the other babies managed to get her virus.  Amazing!  I did have to talk to the NICU social worker to give her a heads up about the virus, but at least I didn’t have to tell her that there was a chicken pox scare… that would have been MUCH worse!  But life is good again, and everyone is healthy.    Hooray.   

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Baby M is out of surgery.  Surgery went "very well."  That’s all I know, but that news is as good as any news I could ask for.

Triplet B is doing better.  She does not appear to have aspirated at all and is stable.  Seth visited her and her parents this afternoon and they’re doing okay.  They expect to be in the hospital through Sunday, just as a precaution, but for now, all is well.

Here’s more specific information on Triplet B (hereafter known as Brooke, since it’s now public information):  http://www.clagetttriplets.com/clagett_triplets/2008/07/a-scary-night.html

Bailey got a blood infection from her infected central line.  She’s on antibiotics and starting to feel better.  Hopefully this, too, shall pass.

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Despair

I don’t know how to write this post.  I always dream that I’m an eloquent writer, but in my heart I know that I lack the words to adequately articulate my true thoughts and meaning when it matters the most.  I hope you’ll understand that my mere words here cannot possibly express the heartache that I’m feeling today.  This has not been a good week for babies.  I have three stories to tell you.

Miracle Baby
I’ve written before about a friend of mine, though I’ve never used her name.  After a struggle with infertility, in January she had a beautiful baby girl, Bailey.  Bailey was born at 28 weeks gestation, at a mere 460 grams.  That is less than 1 pound (480 grams = 1 pound).  Bailey is a miracle baby.  She is the first baby ever to survive under 1 pound at the hospital she was born at.  She is a miracle to have come into her mother’s life after a struggle with infertility.  Shortly after being born, Bailey developed a blood clot and had to have part of one arm amputated below the elbow.  But she was doing okay.  She was weaned from her ventilator, she was gaining weight.  She needed to be 4 1/2 pounds to go home, I think.  But she ended up back on her ventilator, though she continued to grow.  Last week, she had a trach put in, in hopes that she would be able to go home with the trach eventually.  She is 5 1/2 months old and she’s never called anyplace other than the NICU "home."

Yesterday, Bailey wrote the following in her CaringBridge blog:

Mommy FINALLY
got to hold me yesterday for the first time since May. However the
celebration was short lived. I took a turn for the worse and had to go
up on all of my settings last night.

Today
I was really sick and the Dr. told my mommy he didn’t think I was going
to survive because my body is growing but my lungs are not. My lungs
are damaged from being so premature and from being on the vent for so
long. My heart is having to work so hard to circulate blood thru the
tiny vessels in my severly scarred lungs. The Dr. said he didn’t know
how much more my heart could take.

Mommy
told me that Doctors do NOT know everything and that I am a child of
God. God has a plan for me that even the Doctors cannot predict and
with the help of all of my family and friends God will protect me and
heal me in ways this place has never seen.

This is simply a "rough patch" for me so please..EVERYONE stand by me, keep the Faith and travel  this road with me.

I am heartbroken, but still hopeful for Bailey.  She is already a miracle baby.  What’s one more miracle?

Baby M
My friend J was a tremendous source of support to me through my struggle with infertility.  She was the ONLY person in my community who I told about my blog and who I gave the gory details of our fertility treatment to.  While I’m very open about the fact that we sought treatment, I don’t talk about the specifics with many people in my community.  J is special.  She had some difficulty getting pregnant with her first child, but finally got pregnant after her HSG, before having to move on to actual treatment.  N is her beautiful daughter, now 1 1/2 years old.  J told me she was pregnant while I was still struggling to get pregnant the first time, with such sensitivity and caring – in a way that no one else has ever managed before.  I really appreciated it.  I was overjoyed for J when I found out she was expecting #2. 

I was heartbroken for J when she found out 2 months ago that her baby had a serious heart defect which would require multiple heart surgeries to treat, and would affect the baby for the duration of his or her life.  The baby was missing the right ventricle of the heart.  While this is better than missing the left ventricle, it is still not a good thing.  J and her husband knew that their baby would need at least two surgeries (at 4-6 months and later, I think around 18 months), but were hoping to avoid the first surgery that not all babies need, immediately after birth. 

J was overjoyed when her daughter, M, was born two weeks ago and didn’t need the first surgery.  The first hurdle was cleared.  So long as her oxygen level didn’t dip too low, they were told, they could treat Baby M like any other normal baby, just with more doctors’ appointments.  Thank G-d. 

Unfortunately, this week, M’s oxygen levels were dipping into the 50’s and 60’s and she was readmitted to the hospital.  Although the doctors have attempted to treat her with medication to
stabilize her oxygen levels, it was decided yesterday that M would have
surgery this afternoon. The surgery will entail putting in a shunt
to assist with the flow of blood to her lungs. The surgery takes about
an hour and a half, not including all the prep and close time.
(somewhere around a total of 4 hours). M will go into the Cardiac
Intensive Care Unit, with the average hospital stay being approximately 2
weeks.

Unfortunately, that won’t be the end of J’s nightmare; as M will come home needing more monitoring, medications, and follow up care.   She’ll still need two more surgeries and a lot more care.  I cannot imagine how incredibly difficult this is on everyone involved.

Triplet B
Last month, a new-found friend of mine delivered her triplets at the hospital Seth works at.  I packed up my preemie clothes for her and sent them in with Seth.  I talked with her about feeding schedules and pumping and NICU survival tips.  I squealed at the idea of visiting her beautiful girls.  I can’t wait to meet them, really, but I’ve been waiting until some of the hubbub dissipates, because I remember what those early days were like and I wish some people had waited until I was really READY way back when. 

Today, I called to talk to my friend and her mother answered the phone.  Recognizing who I was, she told me that E was not home.  In fact, E was back at the hospital with Triplet B.  Poor B stopped breathing last night due to what they believe may be severe reflux.  The small local hospital transferred B back to the big hospital where B was delivered and they’ve seen the episodes occur again as well.  Severe reflux is, of course treatable.  Unfortunately, according to E’s mother, it seems they think they may also be seeing some seizure activity as well.  I didn’t get as many details on this, because at this point, E called in on the other line, so I didn’t get to finish talking.  I’ll check in later.

This is not a good week for babies, and I’m just terribly heartbroken. I’m sure each one of these babies could use your extra thoughts and prayers today.  I wish my  words were more powerful, more adequate, more eloquent.  But as insufficient as they are, I hope they convey how important these three little lives are.  These babies deserve the world.

NOTE:  Except for Bailey, I’m not posting anyone’s names because I wasn’t given permission to do so.  I’m sorry if this obscures the readability, but the stories are important, all the same.

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Anna asked the following question:

I don’t understand why you have to quit nursing…I know several people that have continued to nurse during pregnancy…..

In order for me to get pregnant, I will have to return to Ye Old Fertility Clinic.  In fact, as I’ve stated quite clearly in my posts, I will be pursuing IVF (with single embryo transfers!).  Before the fertility clinic will even start testing to pursue a new cycle, I must have stopped breastfeeding. 

Yes, fertile myrtles breastfeed during pregnancy.  People who get pregnant while nursing without Assisted Reproductive Technology continue to nurse while pregnant.  It’s not for lack of trying that I’m not pregnant right now, but you know what? I’m not a fertile myrtle.  As I’ve said before, it took five years, twenty thousand dollars worth of treatment, a late miscarriage, and a vast error in judgment on my doctors’ parts to get my triplets.  I have no guarantees that I will EVER get pregnant (and stay that way) again.  And I don’t know how long it will take if I am able to achieve pregnancy again.  Waiting is an option, but for how long?  And at what cost? 

So yeah, I could nurse while I’m pregnant.  If, you know, I could GET PREGNANT.  You know, if only that tiny little detail weren’t so darned difficult for me.

Edit: Anna, sorry for jumping all up and down you.  It’s not the question I have a problem with.  It’s the tone you take with your questions… in my blog and elsewhere.   You might consider that next time.  Thank you for your comments on this post; they’ve helped give me a little more perspective.

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Nursing

My babies are nine and a half months old.  Do you know what that means?  It means they are rapidly approaching a year.  How is that even remotely possible?  How did this happen?   With the rapid approach of their first birthday, and the dramatic changes in their eating patterns recently (much more solid food, much less milk intake), I’ve been sadly collecting my thoughts about … (*gulp*) weaning.  Ohmygosh.  Just typing that word makes my eyes brim up with tears.  I never thought I’d be this attached to breastfeeding – particularly with triplets.  While I’ve grown a little tired of my pump (Maggie Moo),   I’m not sure I can imagine the day I actually decide to put her away for good (until the next time?).  In fact, the very thought of it, though I have thought of it, makes me physically ill. 

Nevertheless, the time is coming and will be here sooner than I know it.    There are some things that I’ll definitely miss.

Sam, no matter how frantic he is beforehand, will snuggle right in and calm down immediately once he finds exactly the right position.  Lately, though, he’s taken to wanting to nurse in the MOST awkward positions:  his most preferred position is to be kneeling in front of me, which isn’t comfortable for me AT ALL; if he can’t kneel, he wants to lay on his stomach facing me… I don’t know if you can QUITE imagine how awkward a position this is, but trust me, it’s awkward.  Still, once he’s settled, he snuggles and snoozes and eats to his heart’s content; he’s so lovable, it’s hard to deny him this simple pleasure, even if it IS very uncomfortable for me.   Lately, at night, he’s fallen asleep nursing, and I know they say never to nurse a baby to sleep, but it’s so yummy, and I don’t care what "they" say, it works for us.

Ellie, despite all her problems in the beginning, is no longer failing to thrive.  She’s a champion nurser and so much calmer than her brother.  While Sam will frantically and voraciously climb toward me, Ellie patiently waits for me to be ready, but then eats like it’s her last meal ever!  She holds my thumb with her little hand while she’s nursing and doesn’t let go and she crosses her little feet down  on my other side and it’s so adorable.  When she’s done, she’s so drowsy and calm and beautiful I sometimes just stare at her until I realize how much else I have to do, but I never feel like I’m wasting time staring at my precious baby.  This is time I earned, after all.  This is time I begged for.  If I don’t enjoy it now, time may slip away and I’ll miss it all together.

While I rarely nurse them together anymore – they’re too big and unwieldy and seem to prefer the individual attention anyway – the times when I do it I realize that it truly is something I should do occasionally, because they are so precious together.  They each eat at their own pace, with their own style, but together they form one unit, as their hands find each other in the middle.  When they grow tired of holding hands, sometimes Ellie will place her hand on Sam’s head and just hold it there; if she moves it, he starts to fuss and doesn’t calm down until either her hand is replaced or their hands find each other in the middle again.    The same thing happens if I nurse one on one side and bottle feed Abby on the other side, if I lay her down football-style on the side of my lap.  It’s a thing of beauty, really, to see them so attached to each other.

Even Abby, though she doesn’t nurse, gives me reason to pause.  She still shows a true preference for my milk versus formula, which gives me the strength to keep pumping, even on the days when I can’t figure out how to fit it in.  I find the time, because I know little Abigail loves my milk and drinks it happily, while fussing if given formula.  While I’m sorry that I ever had to do any supplementing at all, I know that I did the best that I could.  Abby almost never gets any formula anymore, because her preference gave me the strength to re-double efforts to pump and pump often, no matter what.  Sam and Ellie do still get supplemented some, but far less than they used to, particularly since their volume of milk intake is going down now that they’re eating three pretty sizable solid food meals per day. 

All of these things make it very hard for me to even consider weaning a possibility.  I so want to just let them dictate to me when they’re done.  But I admit, it’s getting harder, and with everything going on with the J-man it’s even harder still.  So, my guess is that I’ll be shelving Maggie Moo in late September, and slowly (oh so slowly) moving Ellie and Sam to a point where they don’t nurse at all after that.  I’m sure I will sob and sob when the time comes.

I’ll miss the time I have with my babies.  I’ll miss the closeness and the snuggliness I have with my babies.  I’ll miss knowing that my body isn’t, for once, betraying me, but rather, finally doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing.  I’ll miss being able to directly nurture my babies – Oh I know I’ll still nurture them in a myriad of other ways, but it’s different, and you know it, too.  I’ll miss knowing that I can, in an instant, fix all the world’s ills at least in my son’s universe, just by moving my shirt up and letting him snack.  I’ll miss being their favorite.  I’ll miss watching them snooze on my lap in a milk coma.  I’ll miss all that and more.

Still, there are things I won’t miss…

Have you ever heard of Raynaud’s Phenomenon?  It’s something I’ve dealt with all my life, but I never actually thought much about it.  Until, you know, I gave birth.  Did you know Raynaud’s Syndrome can affect you while breastfeeding, too?  Ouch.  I won’t miss that.  Seriously, it bears saying again:  Ouch.

I won’t miss the constant battles with thrush that we had for the first six months.

I won’t miss the several bouts of mastitis that I had.

I won’t miss that mysterious pain that I had several times that no one ever managed to explain (though I didn’t mind seeing the young, hot OB/GYN to help diagnose…or fail to diagnose… the problem).

I won’t miss being bitten, or scratched, though I know that the babies don’t intend to hurt me.

But I’ll still miss it.  And I’ll still be so sad when we move on to a new chapter of our relationship.  I cannot believe that they are old enough for me to even consider that word.  That evil W word.  And if I didn’t so desperately want another baby to share my love with, I might not even be willing to consider that horrible word, but I know that everything I do in my life is a choice, and a matter of balancing options.  You take some bad with all good, and for me, nursing has been a world of good.

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Fiji?

Okay, I think it’s seriously cool that I have a reader in Fiji.  FIJI! 

I don’t know WHY I think that’s any cooler than the fact that I have readers in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Spain, Italy, Great Britain, France, Florida, California, Minnesota, Texas, or Norway, but I do think it’s nifty.  Hey, why don’t I have any readers in South America?

Actually, I also think it’s cool that I have a reader in Saskatchewan.  In fact, the reader in Saskatchewan got me thinking…  She’s 760km from her nearest IVF clinic, so should IUIs not work for her and should she need a referral to the IVF clinic, can you imagine that commute?  It makes me very grateful for the many advantages I have for living in a major metropolitan area, where I have at least five relatively major fertility clinics within a reasonable driving distance (some more convenient than others) and many other "minor" independent clinics.  If I extended my radius to 760km… I’m not sure I could count that high.  So, thank you, dear reader, for reminding me of my many blessings.  And best of luck to you on your next cycle.  I’m thinking of you and I hope you don’t mind me disclosing any of these details for all to read, however anonymously I did so. 

I think I’d like to visit Fiji some day.  I’d visit Australia if it weren’t for the giant spiders.  *shiver*  Does Fiji have giant spiders?  If so, I can’t go there.  Maybe New Zealand.  I like sheep.  Are there spiders in New Zealand?  I would think not.  Sheep are too warm and fuzzy to associate with spiders, don’t you think?

Come to think of it, I’m not much of a beach person, so why would I want to go to Fiji?  Maybe New Zealand is better.   Still, doesn’t Fiji sound relaxing?  I think I need to relax.

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Still Posting

I'm still posting at my new blog, so if you're wondering where I am… I'm over there, and you're missing all the fun. Email me for the new URL!

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