Friday, February 29, 2008

Our Rocker

We've reached another milestone in the triplets' journey towards mobility. Arthur now is quite able to rock back and forth on his hands and knees. He's the only one to realize the importance of having your knees beneath you, but he still hasn't figured out the role his arms play in the crawling process. Eager to move, he either remains rocking back and forth, pondering his next choice, or he actively pushes with his arms, sending himself in the wrong direction. When this frustrates him too much, he puts his head to the ground, and starts power-kicking with his feet. We are afraid that he one day will somersault over himself. But for now, he occasionally manages to frog-hop forward a half-foot at a time, landing each time on his forehead. Soon though, we think he'll figure out the next step.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We Love Our Poppets

We have finally made some strides in modifying the triplets' sleeping patterns. After struggling for a few weeks with the pick-up/put-down method, we now feel confident enough to have the three sleeping in the same room again. While there is still crying at night, and at nap time, it is significantly less, and they are able to put themselves to sleep after a few minutes of this (usually...)

We also took this time, while the girls were congested from their colds, to wean them off their reliance on their pacifiers. We've instead substituted their poppets, which Aunt Heather made for them. As you can see, the girls love to cuddle with them when they sleep. Arthur, while he doesn't quite cuddle with his doll, has managed to get some use out of it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Best Medicine

Regardless of how long the girls scream at night, the number of poopy diapers we have to change, the never-ending battle with food stains on their clothing, or how many times Arthur gets up in the middle of the night because of his months and months of "teething," the benefits of raising these triplets always outweigh the negatives. Because without these three kids, we would never be able to experience this:

Monday, February 25, 2008

It All Comes Out In The End

We are finding that life with babies eating solids is quite different from life with babies eating just formula. For one thing, it is quite messy. The bright oranges of squash and peaches, the grass-stain green of the peas, and the dark purple of the prunes all seem to be finding their way onto the triplets' outfits, regardless of how well we roll up their sleeves, or place cloth bibs under their plastic bibs. Soaking outfits to remove stains is yet another chore added to the list, in addition to washing a sinkful of dirty spoons, dishes, and sippy cups. Furthermore, we have had to deal recently with the issue of constipation, and have been encouraged to try them on juices, or to switch from rice cereal to oatmeal (which we have). However, we are quite pleased with how well everyone is handling their solid foods, as we steadily check off every three days the new foods that they have mastered. So regardless of whether it is stains on their clothing, or other obstacles, we are confident now that it will all come out in the end.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Grandma and Grandpa Babysit

Nana and Pop Pop left today for a four-day vacation in Florida to spend some time with Great Grandma. As that left us short-handed at the triplet commune, Grandma Toni and Grandpa Carter decided to come and help out. We keep telling ourselves that surely we would be able to handle the trio on our own, but without having the proper structures in place, the experience would be difficult. Plus, we are still working on getting the kids on a new sleep schedule (which has taken longer than planned, partly because of the girls' colds). So needless to say, we are quite grateful to have family so close and so willing to help us raise these triplets.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Splish Splash

Sorry to post yet another video, but we felt that the personality of each of the triplets really is obvious at bath time. Arthur is the energetic one, who has taken to splashing in the bath water. Betty, showing off her belly, has taken a Roman approach to baths. She just lies back, and waits for her mom to clean her. Coraline, always ready for the camera, engages in the bathing, and still has time to play with the rubber ducky. Oh, and this is in sharp contrast to their first bathing video, in which the triplets screamed non-stop. Evidently they have gotten over their water allergies.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Just Sitting, Waiting

Arthur, Betty, and Coraline have all been working on sitting up unassisted. They can't wait to perfect it. We thought we'd share their progress:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Apples and Bananas

Arthur likes to eat.
Eat. Eat. Eat.
Apples and Bananas.

Well, and also rice cereal, pears, peas, and sweet potatoes. The latter is his current favorite. Of the three triplets, he is our best eater. We have even started him on lunch, after he showed so much interest in breakfast and dinner. (Betty starts lunch next week). Arthur hasn't quite gotten up to 2 ounces of solids each meal, but he is definitely eating more than an ounce. Oftentimes, he is able to polish off the three bowls we bring over to the feeding table.
Arthur likes to eat.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Facts and Figures

After finally tracking down my baby book, I thought I'd post a few facts from almost 30 years ago about the triplets' parents.

At six months I was sitting in a high chair, pulling myself into a sitting position, pulling myself into a standing position, and creeping all over (cruising at 6 1/2 months). I had my two lower teeth come in at 4 months, and my upper left tooth at 6 months. I weighed 18 lbs, 2.5 oz, and was 26" tall.

Erin, on the other hand, was drinking from a cup at this age, and she started crawling at 6 1/2 months. She had her first tooth come in at 6 months, and like Arthur, she enjoyed sticking her tongue out. Erin weighed 17 lbs, 8 oz, and was 25.5" tall.

It is interesting to compare us to our children, but while it is hard to compare the timing of developmental milestones (as all kids are different), it does make it a little more tricky since the triplets were born a month early. While in many areas we were ahead of the triplets at 6 months (and probably will be in a month at their adjusted age), some things the triplets have surpassed their parents. For example, I started kissing w/ mouth open at 13 months, which Arthur mastered long ago. Betty seems to have bulked up to be more than Erin at this age, and all three of the triplets are far taller than we were.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thinking this picture was exceptionally cute, we sent it in to our local news:

Of course though, I only managed to tape this teaser intro to a larger segment where the newscaster named our entire family, and then showed footage of another set of ABC triplets born in our area four years ago.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

6 Month Check Up

Today we finally took the triplets to their six-month doctor's appointment (sure, it's almost 2 weeks late...). Two cases of RSV had been seen in the office that day, so we were strongly encouraged to bathe the kids as soon as we got home, and to sterilize and wash anything we brought with us. And on top of that, the office had run out of infant flu vaccines (which the kids are now old enough to get), and only had vaccines with mercury in them - we politely declined.

After another painful round of 9 shots and 3 oral vaccinations, at least we could be happy in knowing how well the triplets are doing on their growth charts. Arthur weighed 16 lbs, 11 oz (37th percentile), and was 27 inches tall (75th percentile). Betty actually weighed the most, at 17 lbs, 12 oz (83rd percentile), and was also 27 inches tall (94th percentile). Little Coraline weighed in at 16 lbs, 8 oz (62nd percentile), and was 26.75 inches tall (91st percentile).

This means that the girls have tripled their birth weights. But while Coraline is still the smallest overall, it is actually Arthur who is smaller according to expected weights and heights. However, we are enormously impressed with how far all of them have increased their precentiles at each visit. Oh, and each of the triplets' head circumferences was above the 95th percentile. They must be thinking a lot. About food.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Virginia Primary

Always ready to buck the system, the triplets were excited about voting Democratic in the Virginia primaries today. While I thought they would vote along gender lines, Betty and Coraline insisted that they were Obama girls. Regardless of who they voted for though, there was no fighting between the triplets, for they all agreed that the country was ready for a change. As were their diapers.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Triplets and Twins!

We are pleased to report to you the results of the twin zygosity test that you requested. Analysis of the DNA indicates that Elizabeth Rose and Coraline Ann are monozygotic, or more commonly referred to as identical twins.

We first isolated DNA from cheek cells from the swab kits that were returned to our lab. We amplified the DNA using a technique called PCR. Next, we analyzed 7-8 standard DNA markers (D5S818, D13S317, D7S820, D16S539, vWA, TH01, TPOX, and CSF1PO) and determined that the highly variable DNA markers were the same for both twins. Thus, there is greater than a 99% probability that the twins are monozygotic.

Thus part of the mystery surrounding the triplets is revealed. It turns out that when we conceived our triplets, originally Erin had just two eggs (probably because the fertility medicine she was on worked too well). These were fertilized as a boy and a girl, and within the first two days, the girl zygote divided into two embryos (any later, and the girls would have shared a placenta). This splitting does not seem to be a hereditary trait, but an anomaly that occurs in 3 out of every 1000 births. Of these, only 20-30% are diamniotic twins, like Betty and Coraline. So with these test results, it is finally confirmed that we have triplets and twins!

And a link, to an article that came out a month before they were born, possibly explaining how identical twins are formed:
"Study: Twins form after embryo collapses"

Arthur Appleseed

Today we started the triplets on apples. It took them a bit of time to get used to the new flavor and texture. Coraline, however, promptly gagged on the applesauce, and we tried thinning hers down with more water. The afternoon feeding went better, though Arthur and Betty were still a bit reserved about it. Cora still remembered the gagging, and refused to have anything to do with solids for the rest of the day. Perhaps apples will grow on them. We'll see how tomorrow goes.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sleepless Nights

One of our long term plans is to get the triplets to help out around the house: cleaning, doing dishes, setting the table. We figure that it is time to start on this, and we decided that they should begin with putting themselves to bed. At the moment, it takes Nana and Erin a few hours each night to put the girls to bed, a long process involving a lot of rocking and crying. For Arthur, it involves up to an hour of rocking in his bouncy chair. I had envisioned we would continue this for years, and when Arthur outgrew his bouncy chair we'd move him into a barcalounger. However, Erin managed to convince us that it was in the triplet commune's best interest if the triplets learned how to put themselves to bed. It seems as if we are in for a few sleepless nights.

We have attempted to teach the triplets to put themselves to sleep using the "pick-up-put-down" method. It is like the cry-it-out method, but without the sense of abandonment. Though I am not sure if they know this, as Arthur, for example, quickly works up to a high-pitched scream that pierces the ear and the heart. But when the babies start to cry in their crib, we pick them up until they stop. Then we put them back down down, upon which they usually start crying again. Pick up. Put down. Rise. Repeat. On the first night, it took between 30 minutes and an hour of this before they all fell asleep. We snuck in a 10:00pm "dream feeding" to help them get through the night. But that didn't stop them from waking around midnight (pick up, put down), then again at 2:30am (pick up, put down), and finally they were up for the day at 6:30am.

During the day we are on an "E.A.S.Y." routine (a misnomer if I ever heard one) - when they wake up they Eat their bottle, have an Activity for a couple hours, Sleep for a couple hours, all of which should provide time for You. We'll see how well this goes.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Peas Porridge Cold

Today we started the triplets on their first vegetables. After having enormous success with rice cereal and bananas, we moved on to sweet peas. But from the faces Arthur made, they weren't exceptionally sweet. Ever the willing eater, though, that did not stop him from gobbling it down.

We've found that Betty likes to suck her peas off her spoon. Rather than opening her mouth, she waits until the spoon is against her lips, upon which she inhales it. Big Betty the human vacuum cleaner.

Coraline had the most fun during her morning feeding. We're not sure why, but she was the only one willing to still dance in her chair as the blob of green headed her way. I still prefer feeding the triplets individually, but when Erin comes home, she feeds them all at once (evidently not minding the larger mess it makes). In the end though, we were quite pleased with how well they took to this gastronomic novelty, and wish that the rest of the world would just give peas a chance.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Our Little Monkey

Arthur has developed quite a few hilarious personality quirks in the past few weeks. He has learned to click his tongue to the roof of his mouth, and we are convinced he is saying something in the !Kung bushman dialect. He has a ravenous appetite for solid foods, and literally dances in his chair at the feeding table. Today we started on bananas, which he gobbled down like a good little monkey. But his most unique trait is his tongue. For some reason, he has started sticking his tongue out *all* the time. He sticks it out, and it curls up to his right - never his left. Some days he moves it in and out, as if smelling the air in a snake-like manner. Because of this, we've started calling him "parseltongue" (after Harry Potter). We think, though, that it is because of all of these tongue-aerobics that he is able to eat his solids so well.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl Sunday

Since today warmed up to the mid-50's, we decided to take advantage of the weather and take the triplets out for a walk. Sadly though, we decided to drive to Pandapas Pond, where the higher altitude and shaded valley meant that the temperature was only in the low-40's. The pond was half frozen over, and half of the walk was covered in a slick sheet of snow. Needless to say, the outing was shorter than planned.

After Grandma Toni went home, we then prepared for the Super Bowl, taking out the 7 layer taco salad and mixing up a batch of Uncle Eric's spicy chicken dip. Arthur was rooting for the Patriots.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Happy Half-Birthday!

Today the triplets turned six months old. On this momentous day, we decided to celebrate by offering them their first taste of solid food. In the past week, Arthur and Betty have shown a remarkable interest in food and drink, and we had started giving them water in their own sippy cups. Today when Grandma Toni brought back hamburgers for lunch, Betty anxiously started reaching for Erin's. We knew it was time to start on rice cereal.

We sat the three in their feeding table, strapped on their Virginia Tech bibs, and brought over to them a soupy bowl of rice cereal. We had expected crying and spitups, and were pleasantly surprised to be only confronted with the latter. Evidently they were all ready for solids. Coraline, though, seemed the least ready. As we had not offered her a sippy cup of water, she clearly seemed shocked at this new experience, sharing with us some interesting faces. Betty had a blast, as usual, and Arthur seemed like he had fasted all day. When not begging for each spoonful and wanting to skip his sisters' turns, Arthur spent the time licking off any fallen morsels that clung to his bib.

After this exciting adventure, we rounded out the day by going on a walk with Grandma Toni, making fingerpaint Valentine's Day cards, and taking much needed baths in the big bathtub.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Iced In

The approach of yet another ice storm gave Erin the day off today. Had thick coating on our cars and the icy driveway not kept us housebound today, the two trees that fell across the road most certainly did. We spent the day working on tummy time with the triplets. They are all eager to become mobile - either working on scooting backwards on their back (though slow, this method is efficient), rolling repeatedly in one direction, or attempting a pre-crawl "swim." We still think Betty will be first to master crawling, as she has excellent head and arm positions while on her belly. Grandma Toni is coming tonight, and we will hopefully have some fun activities for them tomorrow.