May 30, 2007

Babies, Babies Everywhere


Yesterday was back to work and business as usual, or at least as usual as life can be with triplets. The thing is, our babies are so good that it completely amazes me. I know, everyone thinks their kids are great, but that is not what I am saying. These guys rarely cry, they sleep through most nights, take good naps, eat well (except for Lukas sometimes) and are full of smiles. They never get sick of me making a "boop" noise and tapping them on the nose. They light up every time they see us. Yes, Having three babies is 3x feeding, 3x laundry, and 3x diapers, but other than that it is not that bad. We have days where we are exhausted and feel like the world is crashing down, but I think every parent has that. We do have the worry of potential shunt malfunction nagging the back of our consciousness, but if that happens we know the protocol.

We both think the key is a mellow household. We have always kept tried to keep our house calm and quiet. Floyd (our nut case Springer Spaniel) has always tried to buck that trend, but for the most part we keep things low key. I noticed recently that the babies are calmer when the tv is off and music is playing instead. We enjoy watching our t.v. shows and movies, but we have come to the conclusion that television is not good background noise. In fact, I think it stresses everyone out and creates anxiety. I thank God everyday for the way these babies are progressing and for giving us such even tempered children. I think after all we have been through, that it is a very nice gift.

The picture is of the triplets with our friends Brandon and Melissa's son Brett. It's crazy to think that he is technically only 2 months older than our babies. He looks like he's ready to start kindergarten compared to them. Up until Lukas got off of oxygen, we have been very conservative about allowing visitors, especially during an extended RSV season. Now that all of that is behind us, more people have been coming to visit. If you'd like to come see the trio, drop us an email or give us a call, we love having visitors.

May 25, 2007

Vacation


I have been on vacation since Wednesday afternoon and it has been wonderful. I have done nothing except hang out with my wife and babies the whole time, and I am loving every minute I am getting to spend with these guys. I am also realizing that my wife is truly a saint, as taking care of the triplets all day long is quite a chore.

Wednesday afternoon we piled everyone, including Floyd, into the car and headed to Gallup Park. It was the first time since the babies have been home that we have gone somewhere for non medical reasons. We really wish we could have joined everyone up in Cadillac this weekend, but we are not quite there yet. The babies have been absolute angels and still are sleeping through the night. In fact, we took a "family nap" today on our bed and we all slept for about an hour and a half. This evening our friends Steve and Jenny baby sat for about an hour while we snuck out to the corner restaurant for some Mexican food and a margarita. Our life is becoming normal and fun again. It seems like things have been scary since last October when we started making emergency trips to the hospital. It's so nice that those times are getting farther and farther behind us.

The triplets are really starting to turn into little people. Up until recently they have been these fragile little creatures that were not quite ready to be in the world yet and were trying to heal from the battle they had been through. Over the past few weeks, the medical equipment has disappeared, the smiles have become more frequent, and the babies have transformed into happy little children. There is still always a little worry in the back of our heads regarding Niklas and his shunt, but he looks so great and is so attentive that those worries are becoming less and less.

May 21, 2007

Happy 5 Month Birthday!


Today was huge. After 2 months, we said goodbye to Irena. We are so lucky to have the families we have, as we have had constant help since the babies came home. My mom is here to help with the transition until Wednesday, at which point we will be on our own. In a way, it will be somewhat nice to begin this new phase and have some alone time together as a family. On the other hand, it was very sad to see a grandma leave today. Both sets of grandparents have transformed our household while they were here. Here is a list of some of things they have done...
  • Nurtured 3 babies on oxygen
  • Cooked and brought us food
  • Walked our dog
  • Assembled cribs
  • Did our laundry
  • Hauled away dirty diapers and our trash
  • Helped us through surgeries
  • Filled our yard with trees and flowers
  • Planted our back lawn
  • Cut and chopped about 3 face cords of wood
  • Built a composter
  • Repaired countless things in the house
  • Let us sleep
  • Moved appliances
  • Bought many toys and presents

We cannot thank both sets of grandparents enough, and I don't think we could have better families. We couldn't have done this without them. They say that when you have kids you gain a greater appreciation for your parents, and that is definitely true.


In even bigger news, Lukas lost his oxygen today. For the first time, Greta and I are experiencing a life with our babies free from any medical equipment. In fact, the pulmonologist doesn't even want to see us anymore because the trio is doing so well. Today Gabbie weighed in at 13 lbs 6 oz., Niklas was 11 lbs 11 oz, and Lukas is up to 9 lbs 10 oz. That's almost 35 lbs. of baby (we started at under 8).


Since we were already at St. Joes, we decided to swing by the NICU to show off a little bit. Although I don't miss the hospital experience at all, I do miss the nurses and staff at the NICU. It must be such a rewarding experience for them to see the babies that they once cared for come back looking happy and healthy. I would never wish for the experience that we have had, but I wouldn't change anything either.


Walking around with triplets in a stroller is about the closest to a rock star that I have ever been. I have learned to push the stroller fast and walk with my head down. It's not that I don't want to talk to people and show off my babies, but every person on the street wants to talk. By the way, if you ever run into anyone on the street with multiples, please avoid saying "You've got your hands full". Greta and I both are really over hearing that one. There is nothing I enjoy more right now than having my hands full of babies. Nonetheless, I never get sick of showing them off.

May 17, 2007

An Electromagnetic Mystery



Yesterday I arrived home from work in our new car. We struck a deal to have our old car bought back from us due to all of the problems that we have had (mostly weird electrical problems). In fact, it even died one last time at the dealership. When I arrived home, Greta and Irena were already feeding the babies. Greta mentioned that Niklas's fontanelle looked a bit concave again, and was concerned that the shunt may be over draining. I called neurosurgery, explained the situation and they instructed us to bring him into the ER. I thought to myself how weird it was that a piece of equipment in my son's brain may be failing and we both were calm as can be. This is our life now, and we have become very used to it, but I am not really sure how to feel about that.

First, let me explain how this shunt works. Niklas has a device that feeds a tube through his skull and into his ventricles which are filled with cerebral fluid. Since Niklas does not reabsorb this fluid well, it builds up in his ventricles causing pressure. When this pressure reaches a certain threshold, a valve opens and allows the fluid to drain down a tube that goes down the side of his head, his neck, and finally into his abdomen. The threshold at which the valve opens is adjustable externally via a magnet. They first use a tool which is similar to a compass in order to see what the setting is. The lower the setting, the easier the valve opens. They place the gauge on the side of his head to take a reading. When this device was first installed, it was set at 0.5. When this setting proved to be too low, it was then moved to 1.5 which seemed to be perfect. The threshold is adjusted with a very powerful magnet. According to the doctors, normal household magnets, speakers, and other electronic devices should not jump the setting.

When we were finally seen by our doctor, he pulled out the gauge to check where the setting was in case it had moved. Much to our surprise, the setting jumped back to 1.0. We really have no idea how this could have happened and are both praying that we don't have another defective piece of equipment. I asked the doctor if it was possible to purchase the device that checks the setting (not the device that adjusts it, but just the one that tells where the shunt is set). He informed us that it probably wasn't possible to buy. This morning, I called the manufacturer of the shunt to verify this and found out some interesting information.

It turns out that the both the device that checks the setting and the device that adjusts it are classified by the FDA as medical devices and so they can not be sold to consumers. The man on the phone expressed his disagreement with this. Why on earth would there be a reason not to equip every patient or parent with this device so that they can check the setting of their shunt? Luckily we are 10 minutes from the hospital, but what if we were not? Seems like checking the setting would be a good thing to do before rushing off to the hospital. Doesn't it seem logical that someone with this condition would wake up, take a shower, brush their teeth and check their shunt setting? It seems no different than a diabetic checking their insulin level. The man from Medtronic told me that there is litigation surrounding this. Not only that, but people are fighting to make the adjustment device available to patients as well. It seems as if adults with this shunt have claimed to feel good at a 1.0 setting one day, but on other days 1.5 might feel good. Think about it. Your level of hydration, barometric pressure, and sinus conditions could be different from day to day. Diabetics are able to control their insulin, why shouldn't a hyrdocephalic be able to control his cerebral pressure? Needless to say, Greta and I may try to purchase the equipment we need through our resources in Europe. In the end, every thing was fine and we both learned a lot. The first picture below is of the adjustment and measurement tools used to gauge the shunt. The second is a picture of the actual shunt.

May 10, 2007

Help Is Ending Soon


It's been a week since my last post on here. It's as if time is picking up speed with each day that goes by. I remember when we first found out that Greta was pregnant with triplets. Our plan was to have my mom come for the first month after they were born and then for Greta's parents to come for 2 months after that. That seemed so far away, especially when the babies were on ventilators and we were just trying to make it though the night without a call from the NICU. Now these milestones have all passed and the truth is, I really never thought things out this far.

We have pretty much had constant grandparent coverage since Gabbie came home on the 23rd of February, but that is going to end in about 1 week when Greta's mother leaves (Dailius left almost 2 weeks ago after being here a month). It has been so nice having all of this help that it has almost become a way of life. Every step of this whole experience has presented it's own set of challenges. First the pregnancy, then the NICU stay, then 1, 2 and 3 babies at home all on oxygen. Having all three at home without help seems like it will be the biggest challenge yet.

The good news is that everyone have been sleeping very well lately. They usually go down about 9:30 or 10:00 and don't get up until 5:30 or 6:30 . There are times where someone needs some binky action in the middle of the night, but that is more the exception than the rule. In fact, they slept until 7:00 this morning. The only problem I wish we could solve is some of the painful feedings that Lukas goes through. During some feedings, he will start screaming like he is being tortured, and it is obvious that his stomach is really hurting him. Other times, he will gulp down his whole bottle like nothing is wrong.

Last night we had a visit from Irena's cousin Birute from Boston. She in was just for the night, so Greta, Irena and Birute went out for a nice dinner while I watched the trips. It wasn't too long after mommy walked out the door that the the little babies grew horns, fangs and turned into pure evil. They screamed to the point that I thought I was going to lose my mind. Their mommy radar was alarming and causing them great panic. I was ready to pull my hair out by the time Greta got home, but as soon as the car pulled in the driveway they quit crying. Low and behold, when mommy walked through the door they were all smiles. The perils of being dad.

May 4, 2007

A Post By Greta

I must start by saying that I have never been allowed to write on this blog, so this is my chance to shine. I will admit that Jason is exceptionaly good at writing, and I could never do half as good job as he has does, but here I go.

This journey has been the most painful (mostly the early birth and the NICU expierience), yet rewarding experience of my life. Where and when else would I have ever met these amazing 3 souls?
  • Niklas - the bravest and strongest little human being we will ever know
  • Gabbie-"Boomba" as we call her, whose love for food and sleeping amazes me everyday
  • Lukas- the "little guy", whose curiousity for the surrounding world and smile are so big and wide that it takes over his whole face
I have always said that everything happens for a reason and this is no ecxeption. I feel in a way that we were chosen for this and that it is very special. The folllowing list was compiled by me sometime in January during the hardest and darkest days when all 3 were still in the NICU.
Here was my realization of what HAPPINESS is...
  • Having our babies home minus all the cords and the machines
  • Having our dog Floyd lick our faces after over 2 months of separation
  • Realizing once again that I have married my best friend and a soul mate
  • Knowing that we are nothing without our families
  • Having our friends to help us along the way
  • Seeing our parents hold their grandchildren for the first time
  • Having faith to guide and comfort us along the way
  • Knowing that our lives have been changed for the better
  • Finally sorting out what is most important in life
Since Lukas got the spotlight on the last post, I have included pictures of Niklas and Gabbie taken by me which I believe reflect their true personalities...:)