Lately, after the babies go to bed, I am more than likely alone. Bo and Steve are usually at football and Mia and Wes are out playing in the neighborhood, soaking in the last bit of joy that summer has to offer their childhood. My favorite thing to do lately is to sit in my backyard. I watch the sun sink lower in the sky, feel the warmth of the air, listen to the squirrels chirp in the trees and I just sit. I could do it for hours. From the outside, it looks like a whole lot of nothing, but this is where I go to soul search.
I watched him from across the room. He was wearing his perfect, un-walked in, black converse. He basically wore them for decoration, but they also kept his ankles steady during physical therapy when he practiced putting weight on his feet. He leaned up with his hands against the large red exercise ball and proudly “stood” on his chemo, weak froggy legs. I was so incredibly proud and clapped and cheered for Hayes, recognizing that he was doing something harder than I have ever done myself. Reese and Heath walked into the playroom and clapped along with me, not knowing the reason for the show of excitement. Heath walked over to the exercise ball and slapped it with his little hands and Hayes laughed. He was participating in play time with his triplet brother and sister and we were all overjoyed. He was making up for lost time and I was so happy. I had dreamed of this forever.
I remember, I was quickly pulled down from that excitement when the physical therapist explained that Hayes wasn’t progressing as quickly as she would like to see. She told me that she thought Hayes was going to need a walker. She was hopeful that he would respond well to the challenge, but it broke my heart. She told me that within the next month or so, Hayes would need to be fitted for his walker. My sweet boy was cancer free so why did it feel like life wasn’t catching up to the news of normalcy? I decided I didn’t want to believe her and so I shut it away to the back of my mind.
Every so often, my mind would drift to the worry. What if Hayes never knew how to walk? What if he never ate food like all of the other kids? What if he never got to participate in regular childhood activities? Sometimes these worries would consume me to the point of tears. I would get so frustrated for him. I would always have to remind myself of the incredible blessing that Hayes had with built in best friends. Regardless of the circumstances of his physical abilities, Heath and Reese were always going to accept him and love him as he was. Reese was a built in little mom and Heath was a bulldog. He was going to be fine. He would always be protected.
Looking back on that anxiety, I realize how completely ridiculous those worries were. I would give anything to see him grow now. I realize that none of those physical setbacks mattered…he was here! Who cares if he was going to spend his childhood in a walker, or eat through a feeding tube? In hindsight, it obviously didn’t matter. But, it is easy to get hung up on those fears, the worries that those dreams we envision for our children won’t come to fruition. Stepping back and seeing the bigger picture, now I am able to appreciate that Hayes was enough exactly as he was.
It is a reminder to me that my job as a mother is to encourage my children and help them to realize that no matter what they accomplish in life, they are enough. My job is to teach them to be proudly aunthentic. They are my greatest gifts. I hope Hayes knows this. I hope he knows how proud I am of him, how lucky I am to be his mom. I hope he knows that every accomplishment he made in his short life was enough. He is and always will be the strongest person I know.
The 4th of July has once again come and gone. It has always been one of my favorite holidays. When I was little, I went to an elementary school that drove patriotism hard. Every day began with the class standing, with our hands over our heart and reciting the pledge of allegiance in unison in both English and French. I am not quite sure what speaking the pledge of allegiance in French has to do with being a proud American, but I can still recite it, nonetheless. “Je promet une allégeance au drapeau des États-Unis d’Amérique….” See, I am such a patriot. But, I digress. I have studied the beginnings of America and have read up on our founding fathers. I recognize the sacrifices that have been made for me and my children. My dad was a soldier in the Vietnam war. I really am proud to be an American, whole heartedly.
When Steve and I first got married, his hero was Pat Tillman. He was amazed that someone in the NFL would give up a million dollar contract in order to sacrifice and fight for our country. In this day and age, it is extremely uncommon to see someone forego fame and fortune in order to serve. So needless to say, Pat Tillman quickly became a hero to both of us. So much so for Steve that he wanted to name our first born Tillman. While I appreciated the meaning and hero behind the name, I just couldn’t jump on board with that idea. When we were pregnant with Wes, Steve once again tried to push for the name Tillman, and I shot it down again. Finally, when we were pregnant with the triplets, Steve convinced me it was time. So we agreed on the plan to give baby B, Heath, the middle name of Tillman. The problem I soon realized was that our sweet baby C needed a strong middle name as well.
Hayes needed a patriotic middle name to match his brother, so we brainstormed. But, nothing felt right. How can you top Tillman…one of Steve’s greatest heroes?! One night, near the end of my pregnancy, Steve took me on a date to the movie American Sniper. I cried through the entire thing. It was beautiful and powerful and the story of Chris Kyle truly moved me. As the credits rolled at the end, I remember so clearly, leaning over to Steve, wiping the tears from my cheek and whispering, “Hayes’ middle name needs to be Kyle.” It was like the stars had aligned and it all made sense. Both our boys would be named after men that were true heroes.
It is incredibly inspiring to me that Hayes was named after such a legend. So fitting. We obviously had no idea at the time that Hayes was going to change the world, but how perfect that one hero be named after another hero…both of their names etched in stone, forever. Hayes Kyle Tate, my own little 20 month legend.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
I got this extender for the handle so that my feet didn’t run into the little cart. I think it is worth it!
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!