It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Family Time:

For the trips’ first Christmas, we made a pre-Christmas visit to Nana and Grumples’ in Long Island, where we saw Baba (great-grandma), Bumbie (great-aunt), Courtney (first cousin once removed), and a few other friends.

Will had to work in the city, so we made plans to FaceTime Monday night.

IMG_4988

FaceTiming with three nearly nine-month- (six-month?) olds is a bit of a logistical challenge. It sure is entertaining, though! Sophie clearly missed her dad.

IMG_4979IMG_4982

At Nana and Grumples’ the trips also tried out their booster seats. Who said feeding three babies at once was hard?

On Christmas Eve Day, we said goodbye to Nana and Grumples (who were gearing up to go meet their newest grandchild, arriving any moment now in D.C.!) and piled back in the van. It was off to Connecticut to see Grammie and Nonno. The trips are in the midst of their “stranger anxiety” phase, which made these two trips to see the grandparents a little bit difficult at first. Nothing like your grandchild wailing in your face to say, “I missed you! Thanks for having us!” But in both instances, Henry, Jack, and Sophie quickly adapted and remembered, “Oh, right. I DO know you! And I love you!” Soon enough they were rolling about on the floor in Norfolk too.

IMG_5091IMG_5098

Celebrations:

This Christmas was a bit different than Christmases past. For one, we were all operating around the babies’ schedule. That meant everyone had to be up and ready for stockings before 8am, breakfast had to be made and eaten during their morning nap, and we needed to finish up under the tree in time for their 1pm nap. All went off without a hitch! How grateful we are to have such obliging aunts, uncles, and grandparents! Parents of multiples will be particularly impressed that we managed to stay on schedule despite the joyous chaos of Christmas celebrations. Our nanny will surely appreciate this as well!

Photo Shoots:

First, in our Christmas jammies

Then, all dressed up in our holiday best!

And with the help of Aunt Lizzie, Grammie, and Nonno, a (nearly) full group shot with a self-timer. I think we are all looking at the camera. Success!

DSC_0173

Gifts:

For better or for worse, Christmas is a season of giving, and Henry, Jack, and Sophie are lucky to have many thoughtful and generous friends and family. To be honest, Henry, Jack, and Sophie (and by proxy, their grateful parents) have been blessed with an outpouring of gifts since the news of their impending arrival went public a year ago. Countless meals delivered to our doorstep; free rides to and from the hospital for the two plus months the babies spent there; piles of clothes, diapers, and bibs; high chairs, cribs, strollers, swings, and a number of other baby depositories and paraphernalia; free babysitting while Will and I went off to a movie, Christmas shopping, an Anniversary dinner; the list goes on and on. I am not sure I can ever thank all of those people enough, but I do hope that this blog and periodic visits with Henry, Jack, and Sophie, bring a bit of joy to the lives of those generous souls if ever my thank yous have fallen short.

This Christmas, it was all about TOYS. It seems appropriate, both given the spirit of the holiday and the fact that on the cusp of their nine month birthday, these babies are really starting to PLAY. It will never cease to amaze me when they “find something” or “figure out” how something works. At this age (6 months adjusted), cause-and-effect toys are the most developmentally appropriate–anything that lights up, pops up, or makes noise when you touch it is bound to be a hit. Anything they can put in their mouths was also at the top of their list, along with books. Those they can “read” themselves, and those that will be read to them!

Here’s a snapshot of all the fun they’ve been having. Of course, the wrapping was just as exciting as what was inside, so we spent much of Christmas day pulling paper out of the the trips’ mouths. Nevertheless, these toys will last a long time, and the way they were attacking that wrapping paper, its days were surely numbered!

Henry, Jack, and Sophie received so many wonderful gifts, it would take too long to write about them all here, and I am certain you would grow bored (if you are not already)! But I will take a moment to venture off on a brief tangent about famous triplets. Bear with me. I will circle back to Christmas, I promise.

Famous Triplets

In addition to their own celebrity status here at henryjackandsophie.com, the Strumolo triplets are not the only famous triplets around. There’s Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck, of course. Alvin, Theodore, and Simon Seville, and their Chipette counterparts, Brittany, Jeannette, and yes, Eleanor. The recent pandas in China. Chandler, Leslie, and Frank Jr. Jr. on “Friends.” But did you know that Babar had triplets?! Neither did we. In fact, I have yet to come across a person who DID remember that, despite the fact that we all read Babar as children. So how did we find out, you ask? Well, shortly after the trips’ six month birthday, their great-grandmother, Gee, presented them with this VERY special gift she found in London, featuring everybody’s favorite pachyderms!

IMG_4085

One, two, three cribs! Two blue and one pink! It is not widely known that Babar’s children are triplets, and in fact, a quick internet search of triplet characters does not reveal this trio anywhere. Still, if you can get your hands on a copy of Babar and his Children, you’ll find the birth story of their spontaneous triplet children, Pom, Alexander, and Flora. Babar and Celeste were surprised, to say the least! So how does this relate to Christmas? This long overdue mention of the very special print featuring Henry, Jack, and Sophie’s elephant counterparts? Well, as you’ll notice in the photos below, our trio received another special gift from Gee and Poppy this holiday: a 1940s lithograph print of Babar and Father Christmas, originally purchased by Henry, Jack, and Sophie’s great-great-grandmother and enjoyed by many generations of children over the last fifty years.

What a special first Christmas in so many ways. It’s true that Henry, Jack, and Sophie aren’t likely to remember it, but I know the rest of us surely will. And each year, when the chaos of the Christmas season starts to feel overwhelming, I hope we’ll remember this Christmas. Our first Christmas as a family. Because when you look past the rest of it (the holiday cards that never get sent on time; the hours spent packing, traveling, and unpacking again; the scrambling to find the perfect presents for everyone on your list; the racing around from one holiday party to the next) it’s really about family. The Christmas cookies don’t hurt either. Family and Christmas cookies. That’s why they call it the most wonderful time of the year.

The days are long, but the years are short.

At this time last year, Will and I were getting ready to reveal the news of Jack, Henry, and Sophie to his family. We had a clever plan worked out, involving six baby socks and five grown ups’ stockings. The FaceBook message followed shortly thereafter. IMG_2024 We were fourteen weeks into the pregnancy, and we’d been hiding it from pretty much everyone the entire time. Hiding a pregnancy is never fun, but hiding a triplet pregnancy is downright challenging. I was three times as tired, three times as nauseated, and yes, even at that early stage, three times as big as your average mama-to-be. If you looked closely, you might have noticed that I was already wearing maternity clothes.

Here I am shopping for maternity clothes only 9.5 weeks in. The goal was to hide the emerging baby bump at work. Needless to say, I did not purchase this dress. As cute as it was, it certainly didn’t accomplish the task at hand.

 

For ten weeks prior, we had met with countless doctors, listened to all of the risks and potential complications, read one sad story after the next, and heard all the reasons why we shouldn’t continue on with this “high-risk” triplet pregnancy. In fact, the moment the doctor revealed I was pregnant with triplets, he mentioned a “reduction.” All in the same breath. We never expected triplets. We were given a 20% chance of any pregnancy at all. The odds of triplets such as ours (after transferring two embryos via IVF) were, according to our doctor, 1 in 1000. IMG_0734But as of December 24, 2013, Will and I knew we were having triplets, we knew all the risks, and we were committed to doing everything we could to bring three babies (with their names already picked out!) into the world safely.

The next few months passed quickly and without complication. Fast forward to March 25th, and at 27 weeks in, I was getting ready to return to work after spring break, the results of the most recent FFN test reading negative, giving me a 99% chance I would NOT give birth in the next two weeks. The goal was to make it to 34 weeks, and I had all of my upcoming appointments scheduled. Three days later, on March 28th, the babies had different plans. I felt a few twinges, we ended up in the hospital, and that night, the neonatologist came in and said if I were to deliver then, these little babies would have an 80% chance of survival. For a lot of things, 80% sounds pretty good. When it is coupled with a 20% chance that your children will not survive, 80% does NOT sound good. Still, the most recent tests said there was only a 1% chance I would be delivering before my 30th birthday rolled around on April 15, and I was sent home to wait it out. On Wednesday, April 2, I was back in the hospital (my third visit now), and at 4pm, they were getting ready to send me home to continue waiting. “Nothing’s changed,” they assured me. Until they realized things had changed. By 4:15pm, I was being prepped for a c-section, and by 5:34pm, Jack Waldron Strumolo had arrived. He was followed one minute later by his best buddy and younger brother, Henry Samson Strumolo, and one minute after that, Sophie Ann Strumolo arrived on the scene.

For their two month stint in the NICU, our trio continued to defy all odds. We kept hearing how well they were doing “for 28-weekers” and “for triplets.” When your babies are hooked up to all sorts of monitors, being fed through a teeny tiny feeding tube, and don’t yet know how to breath on their own or regulate their own body temperature, it’s hard to wrap your head around the doctors’ claims that they’re doing “really well.” When you have to wait five days before you can hold your baby, it feels like forever. But as any NICU parent knows, these things are all par for the course for preemies. In fact, each day I am grateful for what an “uneventful” pregnancy, delivery, and NICU stay we Strumolos had. Many parents of preemies wait much longer to hold their babies. And some never even get the chance. The risks of a multiple birth are real, and I sometimes wonder why we lucked into such an “easy” one. No surgeries. No lingering health issues (except perhaps for reflux, but what’s a little vomit when you’re snuggling with your trio?).

Still, each day that Will and I trekked back and forth to the Beth Israel NICU (four round trips in total) felt like an eternity. 65 LONG days later on June 7, we brought all three babies home. At the same time. Again defying the odds.

Today, Henry, Jack, and Sophie are working on sitting up and crawling. They are laughing and smiling, babbling to themselves and each other, and reaching out their arms with an excited grin on their faces when Will and I get home from work. They are nearly nine months old. It is hard to believe that a year ago today, we were just starting to spread the news of the impending arrival of these tiny creatures. A year ago today, when we imagined what next year’s Christmas would be like, I am not sure we could have possibly anticipated the joy these three little people would bring to our lives every day just by being here. The days in the NICU felt long. And sometimes, when the day starts at 5am, includes a 10-hour workday, an hour with the babies before bed, and then hours more of household chores, the days still feel long. But the years are short.

I realize this isn’t really a Christmas post. With any luck, I’ll find time later today or tomorrow to chronicle our holiday adventures. But with every (long) day that passes, I grow more and more grateful for our new life with Henry, Jack, and Sophie. It is a bit of a miracle (if you can really have a “bit of a miracle,”) that they are here at all, and I sometimes wish, just for a moment, that time would slow down so that we could soak up every minute of their little lives.

IMG_5143

Merry Christmas!

8 Months!

DSC_0059For their 8-month birthday, Henry, Jack, and Sophie got a new play area. Who needs a dining nook anyway?

DSC_0122

They also got some new toys:

IMG_4300

Henry holding court while Jack and Sophie look on.

IMG_4359

Rockin’ out in the “Step ‘N Play.”

IMG_4399

Sophie and Jack exploring their new play mat in their new play area.

Henry

DSC_0240

Stats:

Height: 25 inches

Weight: 14 lbs, 14.1 oz

Head Circumference: 46 cm

Clothing Size: Believe it or not, but he’s still squeezing into his 3-month  clothes and wearing 0-3 months in pants (he comes by those short legs naturally)! We are making the move to 3-6 month clothes slowly…sometimes simply because the smaller onesies’ neck holes won’t fit over his adorable head!

Milestones Reached: rolling, rolling, rolling. Every which way. He is reaching for things and grabbing, moving towards things with a purpose and pulling things in to play with.

This little man is all over the place! He treats his crib like a playpen, rolling all around and bumping into the edges like a pinball. He loves his exersaucer and his crinkly book. We’re working on sharing.

IMG_4432IMG_4436

Preferred Sleeping Position: On his belly, rump in the air, pressed up against the edge of his crib where is brother sleeps.

Favorite Past Time: Eating. I pity the man or woman who pulls the bottle out of his mouth to burp him. And when that woman is me, I do it really quickly.

Feeding: This hungry monkey will eat until you force him to stop. And then he will cry. And then he will spit up. Until it’s time to feed again. 7.5 oz of milk seems to be his magic number right now. And he will eat ANY solid food we put in front of his face. Or in front of his brother or sister’s face. Last week he got fancy and had chicken, quinoa, vegetable soup (Thanks, Anna!) and slurped it all up!

Sophie: 

IMG_4281

Stats:

Height: 22.8 inches

Weight: 13 lbs, 1 oz

Head Circumference: 40 cm

Clothing Size: This little lady is still rocking her 0-3 month clothes.

Milestones Reached: Pivoting 360 degrees on her belly.

Sophie is everywhere. Twirling around in circles, rolling over and over. Don’t turn away, because she’ll likely roll out the door. Case in point:

IMG_4406

What?

I’m still not sure how she got there.

She is on the verge of crawling and eager to sit, so stay tuned!

Favorite past time? Posing for the camera.

She also loves to read!

IMG_4411IMG_4412

I swear this wasn’t posed.

Jack

DSC_0162

Stats:

Height: 24 inches

Weight: 14 lbs, 1 oz

Head Circumference: 44 cm

Clothing Size: Same as his silly brother. 0-3 month pants for those short legs, 3 months for his growing belly, and 3-6 months for his big, beautiful head.

Milestones Reached: Rolling, reaching, toes in his mouth! He loves to chew those toes!

   DSC_0072

Love this happy, snuggly, mellow little man! He loves to sit in my lap to read, and when the witching hour strikes, Jack can often be counted on to keep his cool.

Preferred Sleeping Position: Also on his belly, pressed up against the edge where HIS brother sleeps. Except when Henry’s screaming. Then Jack migrates to the other side of the crib to keep his distance. Can’t say I blame him!

Favorite Past Time: Playing in his exersaucer.

Feeding: Jack can throw it back with the best of us.

 IMG_1823 We’re pretty sure that’s not how the handles are supposed to be used. He’s also a big fan of the big-boy chair and his spoon!

IMG_1825

Other things we did this month

Received Synagis shots:

IMG_4260

Played Hide-and-Seek

 IMG_1827

Reunited with our friend David from the NICU!

IMG_4512 IMG_4517

Of course Sophie immediately tried to snatch his toys. Way to make friends, Soph!

FORMED A BABY TRAIN!

IMG_1819 IMG_1821 IMG_1820

Worked on our Physical Therapy

DSC_0064

 Wore our pom-pom hats (that of course we have nearly outgrown before even wearing)!

 DSC_0249 DSC_0256

Had our first taste of peas:

IMG_4571

Sophie’s face pretty much sums it up.

And because I can’t resist, and I’m too tired to properly edit, more photos from the month. Enjoy!

DSC_0021

Sophie: “Save me from these silly boys!”

IMG_4240     

    IMG_4580