Friday Faves: Triplet Baby Survival Guide

Two years ago yesterday we brought our babies home from the NICU.  It is stirring up all kinds of emotions for me.  As you may notice, I call my babies “babies” still. Honestly, I hate to admit it, but they actually are toddlers and a stage of my life that I love is quickly coming to a close! Mothering babies is honestly a joy to me. I could have 100 babies and it wouldn’t be enough. I had just finished up delivering my Triplets and my OBGYN asked me if I wanted my tubes tied while I was laying on the surgical table still open from the c-section. I of course said “Yes” because what woman in her right mind has babies 4, 5 & 6, all at once mind you, and doesn’t feel satisfied.  

I remember the babies were in the NICU and I mourned, literally cried over being done having babies. I HAD 3 BABIES!!! Well, I still feel that I want more and now birthing babies is impossible. Ugh!! I seriously probably have issues! Addicted to having babies has got to be an actual issue that I have.  

I digress though, it is time to start getting rid of baby items and I have been able to reflect on the items that seriously saved us during infancy with the triplets. The things that I am telling you about were life changing. We could not have made it through the chaos that is triplets without each of these. And in most cases, 3 of each of these!

First off, my babies all had acid reflux. I had three angry and uncomfortable babies. I am telling you now, if you are expecting a baby, you NEED the rock n play in your life. Your baby will be the happiest baby in the neighborhood. We had all three babies sleeping through the night by 3 months and I owe it all to the Fisher Price Auto Rock-N-Play. I am willing to give mothering credit where it is due and it is not due to me. No questions asked, Hands Down!

Fisher Price Auto Rock-N-Play

Next, when you have multiples, as it turns out, feeding them is kind of hard. I only have 2 boobs so one baby was always angry during feeding time. After about a month I realized that I couldn’t nurse 3 babies. I felt guilty, but I just physically could not grow a third boob! So I pumped while the babies took bottles filled with my milk. The beautiful discovery was boppy pillows. I would lay my babies on their sides, put a bottle in their mouths and have it propped in. GAME. CHANGER! Get one now!

Boppy Pillow

And on that same note, like I said, I would pump while I fed my babies.  Because I needed my hands while I pumped, I got hands free pumping bras, aka sexy, I am leaking milk out of my boobs, bra.  Great for a night out on the town also!  Because pumping and feeding babies took so long, this is the only way I could do it.  

Hands Free Pumping Bra

The next thing is Aden and Anais swaddling blankets. These are THE best and I can say that because I am definitely a swaddling expert. Not kidding. I could get a doctorate in swaddling, for sure. I remember when Bo was a baby and I swaddled him literally until he was 11 months old. He was a giant baby so when I swaddled him he looked like a yardstick. I joked that when he went to college his roommate was going to have to swaddle him before bed. He slept so much better when he was swaddled so I dreaded the day he was done.

Aden and Anais Swaddling Blankets

So have you seen these frightening little things? They are from Sweden and they are pretty awesome. So bear with me, they sound frightening because you actually suck the snot out of their noses, but it never goes into your mouth. It just sucks it into this little storage bottle! Gross I know. It really is, but you know how frustrating it is when your baby can’t breathe?! This saves you!

Snot Sucker

Next items were for when the babies were a little older. If you have ever seen a triplet stroller, you know how annoying they are. Wide and heavy and SO expensive! $1000 expensive. I could not justify such a huge expense for something that was going to be used for such a short amount of time. We already had a double stroller and after researching endlessly I found this amazing contraption that hooks onto the back of most strollers. You can turn a single stroller into a double and a double stroller into a triple. It is amazing. Plus it has a seatbelt so that your little humans can’t escape! So so worth it, I am telling you!

Universal Attachable Stroller Seat

I got this extender for the handle so that my feet didn’t run into the little cart. I think it is worth it!

Stroller Handle Extender

Last recommendation I have is the Snuza baby monitor.  When the triplets were first born they spent 45 days in the NICU.  They were hooked up to monitors the whole time so when it was time to bring them home I was scared to death to not have those monitors to rely on.  To ease my mind I bought 3 of these.  They monitor movement and breathing and an alarm will sound if for some reason they aren’t ok.  They are pricy but so worth it!  Steve at first thought I was being crazy, but I am sure looking back he is on board!

Snuza Baby Movement Monitor

5 Minutes to Becoming a Happier Mom

Lately life has been insanely busy. I take the babies to swimming lessons, Mia to dance, Bo to baseball, Wes to preschool. As I am sure so many of you can relate, I feel like I live in my car. Some times I feel like I am just surviving, waiting for the day to come to an end so that I can just sit and watch TV with Steve. That sounds awful putting it down into words, but it is true, life is sometimes just about rushing place to place and enduring. Enduring is kind of an unpassionate way to live life! I guess what I am getting at is that for those that wake up each morning slightly dreading the day ahead with exhaustion, I want you to know I have had those days sometimes too. Motherhood is hard and losing a child and having to stay on top of my motherly duties is even harder.

At the SisterUp event with Rachel Coleman from Baby Signing Times 

This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at a workshop for women, Sister Up. There were women from so many different industries sharing advice and collaborating on how to run a successful business. I was incredibly inspired and have been thinking about how I can apply some things I learned there into my personal life. If being a mom is a job, why can’t it be a successful business? One woman’s advice stuck out to me so much! Lyn Christianson of Soul Salt gave insight into her daily routine. She explained that every day, right when she wakes up, before she looks at her phone, she lays in bed listing off things she is grateful for for about 1 minute. Then she meditates for 2 minutes and “centers herself” and breathes. Then, before she gets out of bed, she plans her day for 2 minutes and sets goals for the day. A total of 5 minutes of “me time” before her feet even touch the floor. 

 I have never done anything like this before. I am so complacent with my way of doing things that I never have really given back to myself in such a simple way. She promised that if we implement our own version of this, it will change our outlooks on our business. It got me thinking that maybe I need to apply this to my mornings, to my business as a mom. I don’t wake up everyday to be medeocre and with how I have been lately, I feel like I needed to let go of some of the complacency!  Bring back some of the “me” from when Hayes was here. When every day was the most magical, miracle of a day.

I imagine that if the first thing I think about in the morning is something I am grateful for, I can’t help but feel a little lighter as I head into my day.  I say I am grateful for things, but really thinking about it…I don’t do that often.  If I change the way I am looking at tasks, maybe they will feel less  like I am just going through the motions.  I have said it before, but I need to say it again, I would have given anything to be home with my kids running them to activities last year.  To have a normal boring life and now that it is here, I sometimes forget how grateful I am for it. I am sure most of that has to do with not having Hayes with me as a constant reminder of that gratitude, but I need to honor him with how I live, how I mother.

So here is how it will work, first, when you are still in bed you think about everything you are grateful for.  It can be as simple as saying you are grateful for the sleep you just had.  It doesn’t have to be huge, but being grateful for small things will help you live a life filled with more appreciation.  Then, you set the timer on your phone for 2 minutes and begin meditating.  Lyn explained that she sits on her bed in cross legged position, sits erect but also relaxes her body and deep breathes. She said she clears her mind by focusing on her breathing.  When the timer goes off she opens her eyes and plans her day in her head.  She sets her intentions, goals and what she hopes to accomplish during the day for maybe a minute or two.  I have set yearly and rarely monthly goals but a daily goal?  I haven’t ever done that.  I am excited to live more purposefully during my day.

So, starting today, I am changing. I am going to test it out. If you want to do it with me, let’s start. Every morning, if it means locking myself away from the kids in the bathroom to breathe and be grateful for 5 minutes, it is worth it.  Let’s see how much we can improve our outlooks on our business, our mothering and our lives. If it means waking up 5 minutes earlier, I can do that. There is always room for improvement especially when it comes to happiness.  And I want to be that mom for my kids. Let’s stop being mediocre!  Who is with me?

It Brought Me to My Knees

I remember the day we got the call. It was a busy Monday evening and I was making dinner. Steve had just walked in the door from work and the kids were doing homework. It was a typical crisp, fall evening. My phone rang and on the caller I.D. it said Primary Childrens Oncology. My heart dropped. To be honest, it always did when that name popped up on the caller I.D., but Hayes had just had an MRI and a permanent shunt placed. He had been vomiting a lot so I was worried they were going to have us check Hayes back into the hospital and have him observed. I didn’t want to go back.  I hesitantly answered the phone and there on the other end was the all too familiar voice of Hayes’ oncologist, Dr. Bruggars. The kids were loudly playing in the kitchen behind me and I heard the doctor ask if I had a second to talk. I told her that I was listening and she continued on with our conversation. She asked me how Hayes was doing and I downplayed his vomiting. I selfishly didn’t want her to have us come in because I knew it couldn’t be that big of a deal. Thanksgiving was 3 days away and I wanted our family together for the holidays.  

I remember so clearly, she told me, that they have been looking over Hayes’ MRI and the information she had to tell me couldn’t wait. She explained that Hayes’ cancer had returned. I immediately dropped to my knees. Never in my life have I collapsed in fear, but in this moment I dropped to my knees, at the foot of my kitchen stove in complete horror. I listened as she continued and the tears began to flow. It was at that moment that Steve walked in and found me on the kitchen floor crying. He of course began panicking. The kids ran in to see me and I am sure the image of their mom shattered and collapsed on the floor will be an image that is seared in their memories forever. Steve asked me what was going on and I mouthed “it isn’t good” as I let out a moan of pain. Literally, pain, I felt actual pain in that moment that had taken me to my knees and I was trying not to throw up. Steve shuffled the kids out and returned to my side and rubbed my shaking body as I cried and listened.  He didn’t know the conversation I was having but he knew it was awful and he began to quietly cry next to me.

I vividly remember thinking, well, we did it once, we can do it again, we are fighters, but then she broke me down further. She said that the area that the tumor was located was in an area of the brain stem where surgery was not an option. She explained that she didn’t know how long Hayes had. Chemo was not an option and we could try radiation to buy some time. But that is all it was, buying time.  I remember her saying she was worried about him being uncomfortable and dehydrated and wanted me to have him admitted to get him on fluids and pain management meds. My hands were over my face and I writhed on the floor, angry and devastated in utter heart broken tears. She said they were getting a room ready for him in the cancer unit and to head up as soon as possible. I don’t think I said a word, but she definitely heard my crying moans in the background. She ended the conversation apologizing. She said she was heart broken too. 

The phone clicked off and I dropped it to the floor and let out all the wails I had held in during our one way conversation. Steve picked me up and sweetly told me we needed to talk in our room away from the kids so that they didn’t have to be scared. He carried me up the stairs and set me on the bed. The door closed and I began hyperventilating as I told him the news through shallow breaths and tears. I remember so clearly what I said. The first time I had ever said the words, “Hayes is dying.” For the first time ever I realized I didn’t have much time left with my boy. The week before we had been in Disneyland and now here we were, 7 days later, realizing that our perfect baby boy was quickly preparing to leave his earthly body and we just had to watch and wait. There was nothing we could do to fix it.  

I remember asking Steve, what was the point of this past year if all it did was lead us to this point, having to let go of our precious boy. I couldn’t bear it and anger rushed into my heart. I was angry at God because I had had so much faith that Hayes was going to get better, that he was going to live a long boring life. My faith seemed to make no difference in the outcome. I knew I could never forgive God for taking my boy.  

We packed our bags and through the tears made one of our last trips up to Primary Children’s hospital. Hayes was very uncomfortable and now that we realized it was serious, we were desperate to get him comfortable.  

We walked through the doors of the cancer unit and were welcomed by the familiar faces of all the nurses we loved. They had heard the news and they greeted us with tears and hugs. I am sure they had seen this so many times before but they made us feel special and I appreciated the love that they showed for Hayes. Hayes had left a mark even on the nurses that see these sick kids everyday.

They hooked him up to an IV and started the flow of morphine immediately. It was such a relief to see him sleep. All I cared about in that moment was giving him comfort. Our poor sweet boy.  

We turned off the lights to let him sleep and squished onto the teeny little pull out twin bed for parents. We held each other and cried. We cried and cried and hugged. I remember when we finally spoke and for the first time in a year of fighting, we shared our fears honestly. We realized that to protect each other, we had never been completely honest and had always just reassured each other that Hayes was going to be ok. When deep down, my biggest fear during all of it was that if we lost Hayes I would lose Hayes and Steve. I never worried that I would lose Steve physically, like Hayes, but I was scared to death that Steve was never going to be ok again. That I would never see him smile again. If we were going to lose Hayes, I needed Steve. I couldn’t do it alone.

I remember Steve telling me, “You know what the point of all of this was. The point was that we got the best year of our lives. It was a gift. It was a gift from Heavenly Father. He did not forget us…he gave us the gift of Hayes!” In that moment the anger left me! I felt a rush of sweet gratitude. A gratitude I had never felt before. How lucky were we? Some people live a lifetime and never have the chance to meet, let alone love, a warrior like Hayes. He was our son and a part of us! Forever!! We were heading into complete devastation still, but it didn’t take away the fact that he was a gift! Hayes was a gift to the world!  Our family was going to be ok, with Hayes watching over us from heaven.

For those that question our motives in life and question how we can possibly be ok after such a heartbreaking loss, this is why. Hayes is our reason for everything. He continues to be a gift and we will continue to share him with the world.  He is our motivation and at those moments I ask myself why, he is there patting my back and telling me to keep going.  This is all for him. He wants us to change the world of childhood cancer and I refuse to stop until that happens.

Free HOPE Printable

Hope Printable (Right Click or hold finger over image and save)

Yesterday on Instagram I posted about the beautiful neckalaces that I got for Mia and me.  When @madebymarywithlove asked me what word I wanted printed on our necklaces, I said, without hesitation, HOPE.  Hope has gotten us through this past year.  It is something I pray I have instilled in my daughter! There is always a silver lining and that is the glimmer of hope that we have shared as a family. She can do hard things…I know because I have seen it firsthand. With hope, she can accomplish the impossible. #motherhood #madebymarywithlove #motherdaughter #hope #mbmmamalove

Friday Faves: Mom Life Festival Styles

It’s Friday!  Are you ready for my shallow post for the week? No need to bring out the tissues! Just break out the wallet cause I found you some dresses that I am currently obsessed with and a few I have already added to my wardrobe! They are the perfect mix of stylish and mom. I am a big believer that you don’t have to spend a lot to look good. To be honest, I rarely spend over $35 on an outfit because in my opinion, it is probably only going to be in style for a couple of seasons, so no guilt if it is out of style next year! So here is my stylish and affordable post. Win win! Read More

Part 2: Teen Love To Triplets

Junior High began and I was as awkward as ever.  I had gone to a private school for elementary school so when 7th grade came around, every elementary school kid made the leap to Churchill Jr. High and I felt extra isolated because I only knew my 2 neighbor friends, Summer and Amanda.  On top of that, I tried my hardest to fit in wardrobe wise, but my mom had an extremely deep rooted belief that I shouldn’t conform to social norms, so she never bought me the name brand “in” clothes.  I remember in 7th grade, Calvin Klein CK graphic t-shirts were the must have shirts.  I begged for one!  All the pretty and popular girls were wearing them and I knew if I wanted to “get noticed” I had to have a CK shirt.  Christmas rolled around and on Christmas morning I had my dreams met!  There in my pile of presents was my long awaited shirt, but my mom had gotten what was on sale, a giant men’s gray CK shirt.  Like, night gown sized!  That wasn’t stopping me.  I threw it on after Christmas break, tucked it into my jeans as it awkwardly overflowed over my waistband and I headed to school.  I couldn’t wait for all the friends and boys to come rolling in.  Needless to say, that didn’t happen!  The shirt didn’t help me with the fact that I was still incredibly shy. Read More

Hayes’ Hope

Before we discovered Hayes’ brain tumor, Hayes had about a month of deteriorating strength.  I could tell that our baby was in pain, even when he slept, I would watch him.  He would let out a little moan every once and a while and would put his teeny hand on his head.  In hind sight, he was probably having horrible headaches, but I didn’t recognize it.  I remember Steve and I were desperate to see him smile again.

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Friday Faves: Easter Edition

FullSizeRender 20
 One of my favorite days of the year is coming up this Sunday! I love Easter!  I feel like all of my posts lately have been so heavy, it is slightly refreshing to not dig deep and just do a shallow post…to not cry while I type!  Friday’s seem to be the perfect day for those.  A kick off to the happiness of the weekend!

Learning To Trust

As parents, there is one thing we all most likely have in common, there is nothing we wouldn’t do for our children. So when you have a child that is severely sick, having to trust in others expertise is incredibly frightening. You pray with everything you can muster that the medical professionals are making the best decisions for your child and you rely on them as best you can.

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The Hidden Warriors Of Cancer

The question I get asked often is, “What about your other kids?  How did they do through treatment and you being gone?”  Siblings of children with cancer are the forgotten heroes of the disease.  Starting in January of 2016 all the way through November, my kids were without a mom for almost 150 days due to overnight hospital stays with Hayes.  And on top of that, when both of their parents were around, the kids had to see constant worry on our faces and often times, tears from the supposed “rocks” of the family.   I could see that they often felt like they had to be strong for us.  What a frightening journey for them.

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