Making Memories Part Two

 

IMG_1396Jack’s Christmas present from me was a trip to the Big Apple Circus. Just the two of us. I was nervous about how this might go…Jack has never exactly said, “You know what I REALLY want to do? Go to the circus!” But as luck would have it, one of the first things we saw after making our way across town on the bus was a cat. A real, live cat. Just hanging out on the sidewalk. With his owner. And a litter box. Only in New York, people. We hadn’t even made it to lunch yet when we happened upon this “moonieeeees!” as Jack affectionately called the cat. This was not the cat’s name. This is just what Jack has come to call all felines at this point. It would be very hard to explain via blog why or how Jack refers to them this way, but if you’ve spent any time with him over the past five years, you will know Jack loves cats (all species!) something fierce, and he can hardly contain his excitement when we find one in a book, let alone real life. You will also know that although he knows the word, “cat,” and he understands which animal “cat” refers to, he has never referred to them as such, and his strange pseudonym for the feline family is derived from the name of our former pet cat, Milo.

Enough about cats. I don’t even have a picture of this cat. I do know, however, that if you ask Jack about his favorite part of the circus, you will undoubtedly hear about the cat on the sidewalk before you hear about the trapeze artists or trampolinists.

After the random cat interaction on the sidewalk, we found a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria. Another NYC specialty.

I know it isn’t very glamorous, but one-on-one lunches are their own rare treat in this family, and everyone likes pizza, so pizza it is. Or was.

Once we got to the circus, we secured popcorn, a light-up souvenir, and our seats.

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How cool that the ringmaster is a woman, right?

First up were the horses.

IMG_1370I used to go to the Big Apple Circus almost every year as a child. A lot has changed since then, but I was just as mesmerized by the incredible feats of human strength and courage today as I was back then. From the trapeze artists to the trampolinists to the couple who literally balance on each other’s heads, the circus performers were pretty incredible to watch. There was a free standing ladder act, horizontal juggling, and a dog driving a car. I was partial to the acrobatics (particularly the aerial straps). Jack was a fan of the trampolines, the horizontal juggling, and the popcorn. And the sidewalk cat, of course.  Oh, and the the dog driving the car. Because honestly, who ISN’T a fan of that?

This is the husband-and-wife team known as “Duo Fusion” whose skill is called “Acro Balance” for obvious reasons. This woman is wearing HEELS while her husband balances on her back like that.

The team of trampoliners were a big hit. They use that wall in between to jump off of and onto, to walk up and over, and to flip onto.

It was hard to capture just how cool this was on camera because they were constantly in motion. But this was the only act about which Jack said, “I wonder if I could do that one day. That would be cool.”

And finally, the dog driving a car. It’s probably easier to teach a dog how to drive a motorized toy car than to learn how to fly through the air from one trapeze to another, but Jack was right, this was pretty great.

For me, the best part of these outings is getting to spend time with my favorite little people one-on-one. From the walk to the bus stop to the ride across the park to lunch at a pizza shop and an afternoon at the circus…all of those little moments add up to one really special afternoon that I know I will cherish for a long time. Long after we’ve forgotten what our favorite act was. Long after the souvenir has been broken or lost. I’ll remember how Jack ran around me in circles at the bus stop on the way home. How he laughed so hard while he ran that he suddenly had to pee. AGAIN. How we played the animal game on the bus ride (to distract him from his bladder) and how we both got stuck on the letter “n.” (Narwhal, duh). How he wouldn’t stop talking about that cat on the sidewalk. (And how I tried to explain the situation of the woman who appeared to be living there with him). How he couldn’t wait to tell Henry and Sophie what he’d seen. I’ll remember how we got to sit and eat pizza without anyone interrupting to tell “their version” of the story or to fill in the details they thought we’d forgotten. And how I held Jack’s hand as we walked without having to worry (or being reminded LOUDLY) that someone else was feeling left out. Life with triplets is pretty amazing. But an afternoon with just one of my kids? That’s priceless.

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It Wasn’t Perfect, But It Was Pretty Darn Cute.

The negotiations started weeks ago. One of our children needed ZERO encouragement to don a pretty outfit and perform in front of family and friends (I’ll let you decide which one). One of our children was pretty adamant about NOT participating in the wedding festivities. And one of our children fell somewhere in the middle: willing to fulfill his duties as flower boy, sort of excited about the outfit, but not quite as enthusiastic as the first.

Two participatory flower children would be a step up from the last family wedding they played a part in, but really, we were aiming for three. Their traditional Vietnamese wedding outfits (ao dais) has been custom made, and considering the flower child holdout was the godchild of the groom, getting him (or her) down the aisle felt like a high priority.

The negotiation went something like this:

Me: What if I gave you some Hershey kisses if you do your job at the wedding?

Child: 500 Hershey kisses!

Me: That’s too many.

Child: 100!

Me: How about 20?

Child: Woah. Ok! Twenty’s a lot!”

The math teacher in me cringed a bit at her offspring’s poor number sense, but the mother in me was thrilled to be emerging victorious (if bribing your child with twenty Hershey kisses can be considered a victory) from this negotiation.

The rehearsal did not go very well. Despite the promise of a score of Hershey kisses, two-thirds of our crew followed through with their flower child obligations, and one barely made it down the aisle with a lot of (literal) hand-holding from Mom. This was not the plan.

Considerations for alternative scenarios commenced immediately, and we spent the next twenty-two hours preparing ourselves for Plan B: three flower children and one Mom or Plan C: two flower children.

And then, at 1:30pm yesterday, without any mention of Hershey kisses, our holdout asked to suit up. Nevermind that it was a little too early to get dressed. Nevermind that there was a pretty big chance the ao dai would get wrinkled or stained before the ceremony. This kid wanted to get in his wedding outfit, and we were not going to stop him.

Two and a half hours later, they did what they had been asked to do. Quite literally. They threw the petals on the walkway (our efforts to distinguish between “throwing” and “sprinkling” came a bit late in the game) and went (RAN) to find Daddy at the end of the aisle. And while there may have been some Hershey kisses involved (only five!), those were really just a reward for a job well done.

I am so proud of my three little people for being so brave and for doing their job so well (which included sitting quietly–if not inconspicuously–throughout the ceremony). It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty darn cute.

And what a special, special day it was celebrating Uncle Andrew and Aunt Evelynn. We are so glad they got to be a part of it.

Smash Cakes

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Last Saturday, we celebrated the trips’ first birthday.

Jack was pretty excited about the prospect of a party.

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Sophie could barely contain her excitement.

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Even Henry cracked a smile.

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Just kidding, Henry! We know you smile all the time. Especially when Dad is around!

We had fifteen adults, four one-year-olds (okay, 75% of those were ours, but still…), one two-and-a-half-year-old, and one three-month-old in our apartment. Scratch that. In our living room/kitchen. It was packed!

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See?

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Of course Sophie wanted to make sure she didn’t miss out on any of the action.

Question: How many people can you fit in our baby jail?

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Answer: A LOT!

Of course we took advantage of having so many family members in one place, and with Henry, Jack, and Sophie dressed up in their birthday best, we had to try for some family photos!

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Nonno, Grammie, and the trio!

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Cousins! And Emi 🙂

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Sophie Ann and Lily Ann meet face-to-face for the first time. I have no doubt that these little ladies will hold their own up against the boys!

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I guess it’s a lot to ask to have all FIVE of us looking at the camera!2015-04-04 12.47.19

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SMASH CAKES!

If you’re new to first birthday bashes (or if it’s been a while since you celebrated one), you may not know about the “smash cake” tradition. I’m not sure where or when it started, but the idea is that your little bumpkin gets a cake of his or her own to explore, eat, play with…SMASH!

It is probably no surprise to any of you who know us, but it is now confirmed. Henry, Jack, AND Sophie like sugar.

     All in all, it was a smashing success! Pun intended.

The Choo Choo Wagon in action…watch out, world! 

   

Reflections, Part 1: Jack, Henry, and Sophie Are (almost) Born

As you probably know, we are coming up on a HUGE milestone. Henry, Jack, and Sophie will be ONE in less than a week. I anticipate that I will be reminiscing an awful lot in the next few days, and I’m not sure I’ll have time to blog about it all, but I’m going to start now to see how much ground I can cover. There is a lot to say about this past year!

The Blogging Begins…

I didn’t actually start this blog until a few days after the triplets were born. It never occurred to me to blog about my triplet pregnancy (although I spent hours pouring over other triplet mommas’ blogs as I prepared to welcome these three little people into the world). In fact, it never occurred to me to blog at all. It wasn’t until I was talking to a friend about how difficult it was being home without our trio, and she suggested I blog about it. So you can all thank Emily for sending me down the road into bloggerhood. I know I do!

In the days after the babies were born, it was still too hard to talk about the days leading up to their delivery. Many of you know a good deal about my journey to motherhood because you are close friends and family. But in case there is anyone out there reading (like I was) as a triplet mom-to-be, or anyone who, like me, had a somewhat traumatic start to motherhood, or anyone whose birth story simply didn’t go according to plan, I am going to share the story of how Jack, Henry, and Sophie arrived.

Their Birth Story

Exactly one year ago today, at about this time, I was 27 weeks and 1 day pregnant with Henry Samson, Jack Waldron, and Sophie Ann. And yes, we already had their names picked out. I had read every twin/triplet/pregnancy/baby book I could find. We had moved into a new apartment, closer to work, twice as big, and replete with an elevator. AND a dishwasher. Walls were painted, boxes were unpacked, and the nursery was ready — three cribs, a changing table, nursing chair(s), and a closet full of baby clothes and blankets in an array of blues, greens, and pinks. I had just spent two weeks on spring break, and I was at work that morning getting my classroom and lessons ready for the following Monday. I went to Destination Maternity to get a few more items to help my ever-enlarging belly make it through the spring. We were ready. Except that we weren’t expecting these babies for another six or seven weeks. And you know what we hadn’t done? Packed a hospital bag.

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March 28, 2014

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Our empty nursery. Ready for three.

 

To be perfectly honest, I still think back to those last few days in March with an enormous mix of emotions, and often, guilt, regret, and sadness are at the top of the list. I know, I know, we have SO much to be thankful for. It all turned out pretty perfectly, and we have three healthy, happy, almost-one-year-olds at home with us now. I think it is hard to explain why I feel this way to someone who didn’t have a preemie (or three), but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe all first time mothers feel this way. But I still wonder–quite often–if I did something wrong. As a mother-to-be, we know our most important job is to keep our baby (or babies) healthy and growing until the day they are ready to meet the world. Well, Henry, Jack, and Sophie might just have had a different time table than the rest of us, but doctors can tell you that at 27 weeks and 1 day, babies are generally NOT ready to meet the world. Given the wonders of modern medicine, 80% of those 27-weekers survive (or so we were told on the night of March 28, 2014), but they aren’t supposed to be here that early. And before you say, “Oh, but triplets always come early!” know this: the average triplet pregnancy is 32 weeks long. So, a year later, I still wonder what might have happened if. If I could have kept these babies cooking a bit longer. If maybe I had just taken a cab instead of walking to the bus stop, they wouldn’t have been born so early. If I had spent the day with my feet up instead of lesson planning and maternity clothes shopping. If, if, if. Futile, I know. Irrelevant, I know. And with any luck, there will come a day not long from now when I stop wondering (or caring) whether things could have gone differently. But before I delve into the story of how Henry, Jack, and Sophie made their grand entrance, you should know, that April 2, 2014 is a difficult (and amazing) day to remember.

March 28, 2014

While Will and I were settling in for the evening, I felt a twinge I hadn’t felt before. It wasn’t terribly painful, and it didn’t last long. But then I felt another one. And another one. Approximately three minutes apart. We called MFM (our high risk doctors) and they advised that we come to the hospital to have things checked out. Will and I remarked to each other that we hadn’t packed a hospital bag yet, but we reassured each other that we’d probably be coming home shortly. And I can’t speak for Will, but I know I really believed that. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but three days earlier, my fetal fibronectin test had been negative. That meant only a 1% chance I’d deliver within two weeks. I had math on my side!

I was pretty quickly admitted to the hospital that night, hooked up to FOUR monitors (one for each baby, and one to monitor my contractions–yes, they turned out to be contractions, but I’m guessing you already figured that out), and the waiting began. I’ll try to focus on only the important details:

  1. I was having contractions pretty close together, and they were apparently pretty big contractions, but at the start, they weren’t terribly painful. Will and I watched them on a screen next to my hospital bed.
  2. A Neonatologist came in to talk to us about what it would look like if I had the babies that night. Suddenly it started to feel like we might be needing that hospital bag. That’s when she gave us the “survival rate: 80%.” She said that’s what everyone wants to know. I did NOT want to know that.
  3. I started steroid shots in an effort to rapidly develop the babies’ lungs which were are not fully developed until 28 weeks.
  4. They tried to manage my contractions with magnesium.
  5. The contractions got increasingly painful.
  6. I had to keep four monitors strapped to my stomach (three of which had to keep being repositioned so they could monitor the heart beats of the three moving babies in my belly) continuously.
  7. I was in the hospital until Monday, March 31, when they discharged me.
  8. My doctor was at a conference in Vegas.

When I was discharged, I was told I should take the rest of the week off and then could go back to work. I was told that nothing had changed. I was told I would continue feeling contractions because my body believed (rightfully so) that it was 40 weeks pregnant with one baby. And I was told I would not be having these babies any time soon. I believed everything they said, was THRILLED to be home and showered, and in my own bed. Except I couldn’t sleep.

March 31, 2014

The contractions continued, getting more intense and closer together as the night progressed. I was told this might happen. At 11:50 pm, I started logging them, and in the meantime, I did everything I could to get comfortable. This went on (and I never did get comfortable) until 3:30am.

April 1, 2014

By 3:30 am, I was certain I was going to have the babies. Even after the initial hospital stay, I think this was the first time I really felt like I might actually be having these babies, and I started to panic. “It’s too early,” I told Will. “They’re too little. They’re not ready.” Will was EXTREMELY calm. Those of you who know Will, know he is patient, cool, calm, and collected 95% of the time. Those of you who REALLY know Will know that he gets pretty flustered when things don’t go according to plan (he is a perpetual planner). And this was definitely NOT the plan. Will has since admitted that he felt as panicked as I, but thank goodness he had his game face on. Back to the hospital we went.

The important details:

  1. They didn’t ever admit me.
  2. I spent 11 hours in triage.
  3. I was again hooked up to four monitors, continuously, and every time I, or the babies moved, they had to be repositioned.
  4. I continued to have contractions all day. They were definitely painful this time.
  5. I was again told “nothing has changed,” and “you’re going to have contractions, but you’re not having these babies.”
  6. I was told I couldn’t leave until I saw my doctor.
  7. My doctor was still in Vegas.
  8. I saw another doctor, except actually, I just saw the ultrasound tech. Everything measured the same as it had the day before, so the doctor said he didn’t need to see me.
  9. I was sent home and told, “Unless something feels REALLY different, know that these are just contractions.”
  10. I stopped logging contractions at 7:30pm. I’d been having 3-5 per hour.

April 2, 2014

I started logging contractions at home again, starting at 12:17am. By 12:38, I had logged six. 12:17, 12:25, 12:27, 12:32 “not as bad,” 12:34 “ditto,” 12:38 “painful,” 12:46 “pretty painful,” and so it went on. I again tried everything I could to get comfortable. Will and I tried to sleep. I tried to let Will sleep. The doctors had convinced me that I wasn’t having these babies.

Around 2am, I called MFM again. I said something to the effect of, “I’ve been there and sent home twice. I’m still having contractions. They are painful and pretty close together. But I don’t want to come back if you’re just going to send me home again.” You can probably guess what the on-call doctor said to me. It was something along the lines of, “I can’t tell you over the phone that you’re not having the babies. You should probably come back.”

I didn’t tell Will. I thought, “I can tough it out. Nothing’s changed.” By 3am, I simply could not bear the pain any longer. I woke Will, and then thought, “Wait. Maybe I can still tough this out.” By 3:30, I knew I could not tough it out. If it wasn’t labor, fine. But I needed something to manage the contractions. Or help me sleep. Or both. We got in a cab again. Our doorman must have thought we were completely nutso by this point. I called my mom to see if she could meet me at the hospital since Will really needed to go to work.

“So, we’re actually going to deliver…”

I was admitted this time (thank goodness!), and to be honest, I don’t remember much. I remember being monitored. I remember having contractions the whole time, and I remember hearing them say that they weren’t really responding to the medication. I was given something to help me sleep, and I did so intermittently. I remember being told nothing had changed. And then I remember 4:30pm, when the on-call doctor came back in and said, “We’re going to check one last time, and then, I assume nothing has changed and we’ll send you home.” The rest of the conversation went something like this:

Doctor: So, we’re actually going to deliver. Where’s your husband?

Me: He’s at work. (Because YOU kept telling me I wasn’t having these babies!)

Doctor: We have some time. How far away is work?

Me: Twenty-five blocks.

Doctor: He should get in a cab.

And he did. And I was immediately prepped for a c-section, and by 5:15, Will and I were in the OR, getting ready to meet Jack, Henry, and Sophie. Along with a bazillion doctors.

At 5:34, Jack was born. At 5:35, Henry was born. At 5:36, Sophie was born. I got a “kiss” from Jack, and said a quick hello to Henry and Sophie. Shortly thereafter our 2 pound bundles were whisked away to the NICU.

No Room at the Inn

I was still in recovery when the neonatologist came in and said, “The good news is, all three babies are doing great. The bad news is, we don’t have room for them here. Our NICU is full.” So, the plan was already made. They were going to transport our teeny tiny loves from 98th and Fifth to 16th and Second. One at a time. In an ambulance. There wasn’t much to say, other than, “Ok.” So I’m pretty sure that’s all I said. “Ok.”

And so Will and I got ready to divide and conquer. He went to Beth Israel with the babies, and I stayed at Mt. Sinai. His mom met him downtown, and mine stayed with me uptown. We’ve had a lot of practice dividing and conquering in the year since, and I imagine there will be many more opportunities for us to further develop that dynamic in the years to come. None quite as emotional as that first night, I hope, but whatever the rest of our lives bring, I feel pretty confident that we can tackle it together. Even if the children do outnumber us :).

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