Thursday, August 14, 2014

Normal

Truth be told, this post has been in my queue for quite a while.  I've written and rewritten about a dozen times, trying to find the right words to really express what it's like to care for the triplets I call my own.  I finally was able to organize my thoughts after a speech therapy appointment for Noah last week.

Noah's speech therapist rang the doorbell and entered our house cheerfully, like she normally does.  She's a sweet woman with an upbeat disposition and our kids flock to her.  Even though she only comes to see Noah, she usually interacts with the girls as well, because they can't stay away from her.

At the end of his session, we asked her thoughts.  Noah isn't really talking at all.  Not that he isn't understanding, he just isn't talking.  His sisters talk for him and make sure he gets what he wants, so he doesn't need to talk.

"Well," she said, "I think he's progressing normally.  He is a triplet with two sisters who are outgoing, and he didn't really hear or see (because of ear infections and no glasses) for his first year.  I'm not concerned by his slow progress.  He'll do things when he's ready.  Totally normal."

Normal.

My son is normal.  Beyond the glasses for his bad eyesight -a direct result of his extreme prematurity- and his slow verbal progression, he is "normal."

And my daughters?  They don't get speech therapy because they've been deemed "caught up" by all of the professionals that follow them.  In two years, my daughters are completely "normal" when compared to their peers.  Yes, we've been told that they will both be getting glasses within the next year or so, as their eyesight isn't quite where it should be (again, a direct result of their extreme prematurity) but beyond that, they are normal.

A few weeks ago we traveled back to Rochester for the annual NICU reunion.  We are able to catch up with nurses and doctors that cared for these three during those first months.  From nurse after nurse we heard "They look so GOOD!" or "WOW!  You'd never know that these guys had the start they did!".

And as we were talking with nurses a mom walked in, pushing her son who was probably a year old, in a stroller with a trach and a ventilator.  She was followed by another family who had a child, probably two years old, that seemed to have cerebral palsy.

That night I logged on to facebook and saw an update from a mom that is in a triplet group that I am.  Her daughter, born at 28 weeks about month ago, had passed away.  Her tiny body couldn't fight anymore.

And here I am, with a speech therapist telling me that my son is normal.

My children, weighing in at 6 pounds total at their birth, are now deemed completely normal by medical professionals and educational experts alike*.

There is actually a lot of guilt attached to this for me.  I don't have the answers why.  I don't know why those other families have children with complex medical complications when they were born at later gestations than my children.  I don't know why my kids walked away from a 15 week early birth virtually unscathed.  I almost felt bad talking to the nurses at the reunion, when I would admit we have one speech therapist that Noah sees and that's it.  Because really?  Glasses and speech therapy are no big deal.  We can do glasses and speech therapy.

So when people ask what life is like now, I guess it's normal?  I'm not toting oxygen tanks or ventilators anywhere.  I don't have to purchase wheelchairs or walkers.  We have been so extremely lucky.

We are just living one incredibly normal, crazy triplet life.  Lucky.

*There are still some precautions we need to take because of their lungs, but the precautions (like nebulizers and the like) are also done with some full term, healthy kids.  We just get to keep it up a little longer than usual.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Children's first words and phrases are usually things they hear often, right? 

So it shouldn't surprise me that tonight, when I was folding laundry and going back and forth between the weebles' room and my room quite often, Grace met me at the door to her room and said "In or out, mom."  Thinking I misheard her, I asked her.  "Graciebabe.....what did you say?"

"In or out, mom"

I guess she told me.  Apparently going back and forth between the bedrooms was a no-no, and now I had to choose whether I wanted to be in or out.

I also shouldn't be surprised that while I was folding said laundry and supervising the weebles, I saw Addison grab her doll and start to play with it.  "Awww....how sweet," I'm thinking.  "She is playing so well on her own.".....and then I see her take her doll, whip it onto the recliner** and say "Time out, baby!  No No!"

From the mouths of babes.

**For the record, there is never any whipping of weebles onto the recliner.  Time outs?  Yes.  Throwing?  Not so much.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Yay 4th of July!

Just some festiveness I wanted to share from this past weekend.  After staying up late on the 3rd and killing mutant mosquitos watching fireworks, we stayed low key on the 4th and just had a grill out in our backyard.  

Grace playing T-ball, to the horror of her mother.  Can't she go do something.........artistic?  (I kid, I kid!!)


Plotting how to get all of his vehicles onto his parking slab

Nothing says "Happy Birthday 'Merica" quite like coordinating glasses


Smile Grace!  Or.....grimace.  That's cool too.

No joke, she whipped this to the group right in front of me.  Narrowly missing the camera. 


Right, don't throw the balloons at each other.  Throw them........into the pool?  Yes, yes.  Into the pool.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Three times an only child

Some happenings as of late.  The before:





And, the after:



Yes, that's right my friends, the Koobers have officially moved out of their cribs!  Well, sortof.  Their beds have transitioned from a crib to a toddler daybed of sorts.  And with this transition comes lots of new freedom at naps and bedtime.

The first full day we had them in the beds like this, I put them in bed for a nap, fully anticipating that they would play for a while before actually laying down.  After they had played for about 30 minutes I hear Grace, our mother hen, yell "Addson!!  Noah!!  'Possed to be sweepin'!"  Yeah, that girl has my back.  Still, they proceeded to play for another hour or so before I gave in and let them out of their rooms.

This transition out of 4 sided cribs has really got me feeling sentimental.  Never again will I have a teeny, tiny baby to put in a 4 sided crib.  Never again will I struggle to lay down a sleeping infant into a low crib without waking them up.  I won't ever rock a baby to sleep in that room again (since, you know, we had to move EVERYTHING out of their room now that they are free to run destroy during nap time)

Even though I have three children, at times it almost feels like they are an only child.  These children are it.  There will be NO MORE Koobers.  So every time we cross another milestone, it reminds me that I won't ever get to do the previous step again.  Even though I did each step multiplied by three, I only got to do it once.  Even though I have three children, I didn't get to experience the cuddly newborn phase three times.  I did it once.....times three.  It's hard to explain, especially since I'm sure that having triplets is nothing like having an only child.  But somedays, when we make a big transition forward, or even when we don't, it feels like they are only children, and I have to remember to look past the tantrums and the frustrations and soak it all in, since I only get to do it once.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The dress that lived twice

This post may not seem like it's about the kiddos, and it's not.......sortof.  But it does relate to them and it's a story that I want them to know.  So there.

Most brides spend hours upon hours pouring over magazines and in bridal stores trying to find the perfect dress.  They want the dress that compliments their wedding, reflects their own personal style and makes them feel beautiful.  While I didn't fit the first part of the description, I did find a dress that I liked a lot and made me feel great on my wedding day.

The brand new Mr. and Mrs.

My brother and I, hitting up Tropical Sno after the ceremony

It was a great day and that dress has great memories attached to it.  But...... no one ever talks about what you do with the dress after the wedding.  Well, you send it to the best professional cleaner around and have it cleaned at the cost of an arm and a leg...................and then what?

I decided long before the weebles were even a real thing that I wanted to use my wedding dress to make my children's baptismal outfits.  Yep, I wanted to cut it up.  Because, really, what else was I going to do with it?  When I found out we would be having triplets, I knew that it would be tricky to get three outfits at once out of the dress, but I was going to do it!

Now, I'm not the world's best seamstress, but I do know how to sew.  Both my mom and my mom's mom sew, and both had taught me the basics of sewing clothing.  I could do this.

When the kids were born early, I actually brought my sewing machine up to my room at the Ronald McDonald House.  There was the night I whipped up a Super Nurse Cape for Laura because she had managed to get Noah's oxygen under 50%, and who can forget these little jobbers I created in my Ronald McDonald House room.  But, many days, when I was at my limit in the NICU and needed some time to clear my head, I would leave, go back to my room, and work on making the weebs' baptismal outfits.  There was a lot of planning to make sure I fully utilized the beadwork and applique of the dress, along with leaving enough plain material for Noah's outfit and making sure that I had enough material overall to complete them.

But here's where I think things get cool.  After about 6 weeks working on them, I had reached the end of my knowledge.  I didn't have the skills necessary to complete the final steps on the dresses, nor did I have a machine sophisticated enough to do it.  I talked to my mom, and she agreed to do the finishing touches.  After about a weeks time, she called me up and said that while she had taken all of the outfits to near-completion, she didn't have the skills or the machine to finish them either.  So....her mom, my grandma, took the outfits and finished them.  The kids' baptismal outfits were not only made from my wedding dress, but myself, my mom AND my grandma sewed them.  I think that's one cool story! :)

And no, they didn't wear them at their actual baptism.  They were baptized the day after they were born because we weren't exactly sure what lay ahead for them.  But, about a month after they came home, we had a baptism affirmation in front of our church family.

Anyway, enough jabber from me.  Check out the final products that the noodles wore 2 years ago.

Mr. Noah's Baptismal Outfit

One of the girl's dresses

Dress #2 front

Dress #2 back

So there ya have it.  The wedding dress that lived twice.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The post where I return!

So would you accept my sincerest apologies for the extreme lack of dialogue on this blog?  Life is busy in the Koob household, and I will sheepishly admit that when it comes to my list of things to do, this blog often usually falls at the bottom of that list.  But, I'm back.  Hopefully with more regularity.  Heck, if nothing else, this blogs serves as the kids' babybook, so I better keep it up-to-date, right?

We now have three two-and-a-half year olds.  They are walking running everywhere and getting into EVERYTHING!  Ya know how one toddler will sometimes get into mischief?  Well picture that one toddler getting into mischief and then finding two other toddlers to rope into their shenanigans.  And then repeat that whole process the next day, except the instigating toddler is now a different child.  It's so tiring.  And worrisome.  And fun! :)  We've already had so many times that they are doing something or saying something that warrants some sort of discipline, but is incredibly hard to keep a straight face while doing.  For instance, a few days ago Noah was doing something that he shouldn't have been.  I was in the process of putting down what I was doing so that I could go stop him, but before I could do that, Grace walked over to Noah, got in his face and said "NOAH!  NO, NO!"  I couldn't stop smirking long enough to actually discipline him myself, so I just let it be.  Plus, I figured, Grace had been more stern than I was going to be, so I was probably okay!

I could go on and on about how Grace doesn't stop talking (ever), how Addison is such a little hot mess that I absolutely adore, or how Noah has this grin that just lights up his whole face, but well, I only have a few more minutes before it's laundry time.  So, I will leave you with a few....uh.....a bunch..... of pictures.  All from Easter weekend.  And for the record, the yellow outfit that Addison is wearing?  Yeah, not her Easter dress.  She ripped that dress apart and covered it in food before we even got out of our 6:30am service.  She is a wild woman, that one!

Grace, at an Easter egg hunt

Noah, at said Easter egg hunt

Aaannnddd Miss A, running amuck at the Easter egg hunt

Probably the best picture we took of my weebles and my grandparents.  Yes, I said the best one.  

On Easter Sunday, in the BackUp Outfit

Noah, who is a hater of all things sweet, soon discovered that the eggs were filled with candy.  He proceeded to find the eggs, crack them open and dig out the candy, and throw it (the candy) as far as he could.  No joke.

Grace

Group shot, Take 1

Group Shot, Take 2

Group Shot, Take 3

Group Shot, Take 4

Bag it.  We will never get a good picture of all of them.  I've accepted that.

Monday, March 31, 2014

An Open Letter to NICU Nurses

Dear NICU Nurse,

I have to be honest.  Before I had children, when I thought about the birth of my child and the days immediately after, it didn't include you.  You weren't even on my radar.  Nothing personal, but I didn't want to be involved with you.  You meant that my baby was sick.  That I wouldn't be able to take them home right away.  I mean, you work in an intensive care unit.  Those words alone are scary.

And then, I found out that I would need you.  I learned that you would be taking my place in caring for my child.  I realized that even though you hadn't previously been in my thoughts surrounding the birth of my child, you now would play an integral role.  And I'm so, so glad that you were there.

I want need to thank you.

Thank you for leaving your home, your children, your family to come take care of mine.  Thank you for kissing your children goodnight, tucking them in, and walking out the door to your night shift.  Thank you for giving up holidays, parties, celebrations, concerts and get togethers so that you could be there for me.

Thank you for seeing beyond the monitors, the wires, the medications, to see my child. You took the time to learn who my child actually was, so when something started to go wrong you could immediately notify the physician.  You knew when the bradies and spells they were presenting with weren't their normal types of spells.  You knew which positions they preferred to lie in, how they liked to be held when they ate and their love/hatred of the bathtub.

Thank you for holding my child when I couldn't.  Thank you for loving them.  Thank you for rocking them, just because you could, when you had a down moment.  You have no idea how comforting it was to know that my child wouldn't be ignored while I wasn't in the unit.

Thank you for treating me like an educated adult who was just trying to be the best mom I could.  No, I didn't know all the medical jargon going into it, but thanks for taking the time to explain it all to me.  Thank you for including me in the care of my children and for asking me for my opinion.  I know that I haven't seen all of the things you have, so I appreciate that you considered my opinion when we were discussing the care of my child.

Thank you for noticing when I was at the brink.  There were a few times I felt I was on the verge of losing my mind and you noticed and took the time to come up with solutions.  Thanks for not only knowing my baby, but for knowing me.  For knowing how much I could handle and when it was time to redirect my energy.

Thanks for the artwork that you created with their footprints/handprints/name.  It was always such a nice surprise to arrive at their bedside and see a new sign, or cute project made with their footprints.  It made me feel like I wasn't missing out on all the "normal" baby stuff.

I know that for much of this, you think you were "just doing your job."  I can tell you that for me, it didn't seem like it.  "Just doing your job" would have been you responding to my daughters's spells when she became septic, when instead you knew that she normally didn't spell like that and alerted a doctor so she could be put on antibiotics immediately.  You weren't "just doing your job" when you thought that my son looked a little off, requested that testing be done and caught his infection before it became fatal.  "Just doing your job" would not have gotten me the tiny pink hair ribbons I still have from the day of their baptism.

Now that the NICU and NICU nurses have become part of our story, I can imagine it no other way.  I consider myself lucky to have met you and lucky to have had you care for my children.  I know that many times parents find themselves overwhelmed with the lights and sounds of the NICU and the disappearing dream they had about the birth of their child, so they forget to thank you.

But, as a NICU mom, I want you to know that we appreciate it.  The bows, the snuggles, the detail, the knowledge.  All of it.

Thank you.

With love,
A mom who is grateful for everything you do