"A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity,
it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path."
~ Agatha Christie

Alex, Cole and Braden - At 2 years, 2 months

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Repost of Triplet Discovery

So, the online magazine, Lucy, that "printed" my story of how the kids came to be... is closing up shop. :( I had a link to this story on my writing website, but since they are shutting down, I thought I would add the whole story to this anthology, since here is where it really belongs. If you have already read it, I apologize! But I figured this site is more fitting, so our kids will find it someday and know of their crazy beginnings...

Written by Trinity Cole (aka - me!) for Lucy, December 2008 {©Cheryle Ertel 2008}

Zero to Sixty in 9 Months

Sitting in a gyno's office could never be categorized under "Good Times" in the files of Life Experience; the anticipation of an unpleasant encounter, having to swallow your pride and cringe for those few minutes that feel like an eternity, all the while, holding a mundane conversation. But! An OB's office is something different altogether. Same office, only the dread of baring your most private parts to a total stranger is transformed! The dread is still there, mind you, no one (normal) really enjoys someone clinically poking around down there, ever. The metamorphosis arrives with the addition of some excitement, wonder and a wee bit of trepidation thrown in for good measure. And for good reason: Life changes with this kind of visit. You are... pregnant.

It's even more fun when your wide-eyed, uncomfortable-in-his-own-skin husband decides to accompany you at the last minute, and you feel responsible for his nervous fidgeting of foreign design. The only fixation taking his mind off his discomfort is studying the breast exam posters in the room, every so often uttering a collegiate giggle. I sigh, wondering why he is there, yet strangely enjoying his camaraderie.

Waiting to find out if our baby was alive and kicking made me more than a little anxious. Discovering we were pregnant a month prior, we arrived to ease our fears of a potential miscarriage. A condition, known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) wreaks havoc on my reproductive system, and some studies claim the disorder to harbor a 45% chance of losing a pregnancy. I was a little worried. Hell, I was
freaking out. Even though we needed no help in getting pregnant, PCOS also causes massive rates of infertility. If this baby didn't make it; well, let's just say I worried for the state of our future family.

We waited, surrounded by patients, cracking nervous jokes. We poked fun at the whole idea of pregnancy and kids; nothing was sacred. At one point, he looked at me sharply and said with mock horror on his face,
"What if it's twin girls?" I involuntarily gasped. Thinking about twin teenage girls in our household one day did not sound appealing; coming from a house with just my sister and me; many shared, destroyed belongings and vicious fights ending in dismembered Barbie dolls.

Quickly regaining my composure, I reacted as I knew best - I threw the horror back at him. I put my hand gently on his arm, feigning a dramatic and somber tone. "
No, no, honey. See, my grandmother was a triplet, and with something like that running in our families, combined with our 'luck,' it's going to be three girls! Just wait and see!" He did look genuinely shocked then, for the first time pondering the family history and the actual feasibility of it all. I only giggled in satisfaction because I had just won the shock contest. He looked up at me, a little green in the face and seemed as though he was about to ask me a serious question. Luckily, we didn't have to wait around to contemplate our imagined fate, with the nurse calling us in.

Ultrasound underway, the nurse blithely asked me, "How are your nerves?" I thought she was having a problem with the machine. I wondered if my nervous trembling was interfering with the readings; the trembling only a moment of truth could bring;
was our baby alive? Lying through my teeth, I told her I was fine and she only looked at me, turning the monitor our way. She traced her finger along the black and white abstract on the screen and calmly delivered the word, "twins."

I don't think my brain wrapped around that description, that we were having twins, because I knew in my heart that this was not the real thing. It hadn't clicked yet. Looking at the two circles, each holding a jumping bean, the wonder of it all seemed to be waiting for the other shoe to drop; curiously, I don't know why I was immediately questioning their existence without another look. A momentous weight hovered on the air and both of us instinctively knew that there was more to the story.

We looked at each other, eyes locked, both recalling the recent joking conversation with bated breath, and respectfully asked if she was sure there wasn't another one. I had instantly felt
"three" in my heart and soul after her discovery, I knew it already, there on the exam table, and wasn't leaving without confirmation of our eerie premonition. It was all too coincidental to be unrelated; the family history, the waiting room jokes, the long wait for a family, not knowing if there would ever be more.

Mike delicately pointed to the monitor and underneath the connected circles of two sacs was an elongated and curved black hole. It looked like one of those long, thin balloons made by a traveling clown, arcing into a smile just after inflation. It wrapped under the other two, like a cupped hand, cradling them. He asked if maybe that might be another baby, just waiting to be discovered. She looked perplexed and skeptical; maybe thinking to herself how she could have missed it, but more likely just how rare three really was. She moved the wand around a bit to placate us, unimpressed. Trying for a difficult view, she broke out the heavy equipment, the internal ultrasound;
Da-Da-Da . Via this new (and awfully invasive) toy, she immediately realized that he was right. From a different angle, there bounced Baby #3, directly beneath the other two.

In one swift movement, her hand flew to her mouth and she croaked loudly. I remember that she was in the throes of laryngitis, and her voice sounded painful. The Frog Lady was yelling, I realized, in her diminished and damaged voice, yelling "Oh, my God!" over and over. It sounded downright awful and I wondered why she was getting so excited.

Let me just say that we were in shock. Who wouldn't be? In this slow, perceptive state, we were suffering from the effects of brain fog. Looking at our lives from the outside of the bubble, wide-eyed, faces pressed to the glass in rapture, right before it gave way and imploded from the pressure. We were simply watching an uber-exciting soap opera, or we were dreaming, surely. Nothing like this happens in real life! The mesmeric quality of the moment was surreal, we had to be watching someone elses' lives, or we were being "Punk'd", I was sure of it. I felt slow on the uptake, a blur of light following behind everyones' movements made me feel like I was suspended in a thick liquid. My brain was doing the equivalent of a "huh? say what?!" Understanding, even in its simplest form, had not yet arrived.

Frog Lady was calling out to the nurse in the front room, as loud as she could get and oh so raspy.

We said nothing, just watched the circus show with an air of detached amusement. Mike with his back pressed firmly into the wall for stability and me, trying to contain my own body parts under the thin piece of paper they called a gown. After a while, I felt like I was floating on a cloud, high up in the air, feeling nothing but slight curiosity. Wafting and delicate, floating closer to the precipice of a fathomless abyss, a major development, breaking news, but so far, all I felt...was numb. It seemed as though we were hearing and watching the festivities from the other end of a long tunnel. My vision was now only capable of black and white tones. The light had a texture bleeding on to the edges and sounds seemed ancient and crackly. I wonder now if this is what it feels like to almost pass out. People shouldn't ever have to get news like that lying on your back, half-naked.

They were screaming, grabbing our hands and squishing our faces, dancing around the room, as if someone had hit the lottery! Little did we know that we had hit a lottery of sorts. Spontaneous conception of triplets only happens in 1 of every 8000 pregnancies¹. Is that luck? If it is, I'm not sure of what kind. Strangely, I started to wonder what the other waiting patients were imagining of all this carrying on.

With our lukewarm desire and commitment to becoming parents, mostly unsure and conflicted, these 3 babies, this "all-in" development seemed cruel and unusual. I was hoping that this first look at our little hand in creation, residing inside of me, would instantly bring us both on board, would miraculously cure our worries and insecurities, and would right our life's picture frame which seemed so crooked without the inclusion of children. But three? Three seemed as harsh as a blow to the face, a KO from God himself, sending us some sort of encrypted message. We were so confused. But there we were, our path set and inextricably paced; from zero to sixty in 9 months.

Lying on the table, in a compromising position, all pride dropped, the screaming nurses had an idea. They wanted to call my doctor, who was attending a conference in NYC. He wasn't to be interrupted, unless there was an emergency. They figured this would make the cut. The clue for us that spontaneous triplets were rare, the piece of info that had us get on board the crazy train, was that he had only treated
1 other woman in the same condition in his fifteen years of practice.

Frantically dialing the phone and then connecting, First Screaming Nurse talked rapidly in what sounded like a different language. Then, she handed it to me, the cord stretched all the way down the long hallway, me lying on my back, just chatting on the phone, as if I wasn't half naked with an internal ultrasound still in place. I told you, surreal.

He was so worried, and happy, and shocked, but worried. His first comment after the high energy subsided was that we were definitely having a c-section now, no doubt. He continued that with my history of problems, my body might not handle 3 babies well. I was only 8 weeks along and 36 weeks is considered "full term" for triplets (since they develop at a faster rate than singletons) and that made for a long road ahead. 32 weeks is the average gestation, with many a mom found on hospital bed rest for the duration. Then he delivered the shocker; all of the babies may not make it.

He advised us not to tell anyone until the end of the first trimester, at least, since there was a possibility we may lose one of the babies in these early stages. He said, "go ahead and tell them you're pregnant, if you want, but save the big news for later, when we are out of the woods." He was cautiously optimistic.

We left that day, a flurry of emotions in tow; Serious Mental Baggage. We weren't going to be great conversationalists that day, and we had a family party to attend, pretending all was status quo in our happy life.

I was growing fast, too fast to not tell anyone, they all already suspected by studying my growing belly, even 8 weeks in.

Leaving the building, the most frequent thought we would have in days to come invaded our cozy shock.
"What are we going to do?" I vividly remember sitting down (more like collapsing) on the steps outside the office, feeling too weak to hold up my heavy thoughts, trembling, the news starting to sink in a bit. The tornado taking up residence inside my head swirled voraciously.

We decided to wait one more month to share the news, on Thanksgiving; for by then, I was hoping we would have come to terms with our new life and perhaps even be, well, thankful for it.

After a long visit in the vestibule, we headed out to the convenience store for a drink, feeling parched and cotton-mouthed, all available moisture rushing to lubricate the cognitive gears in overdrive. I stared at the ultrasound copies in disbelief, tears coming for the first time.
These were our babies. These shapes were actually three lives inside of me. So momentous, I wished my grandmother were alive to see this.

We had some real shopping to accomplish, but we only hopped from store to store, never buying anything, just repeating to each other in different ways our newly formed mantra "What are we going to do?" And more, "How are we going to handle this?"

And like a flash of lightning, the obligation of multiplicity hit us, escalating out of control; three Halloween costumes, three learning to drive at the same time, three proms, three weddings - whoa.
Three.college.tuitions. And then we really did wonder; "what if it is three girls?" Holy Crap! It was all too much to process standing up and even more, on an empty stomach. I was already suffering from "evening" sickness those days, with the multiple doses of hormones swimming in my system. Becoming very ill every night, I could not eat after a certain time. It was now past this certain time, but I desperately needed something in my belly. I needed to counteract the urge to regurgitate in response to the surprise God threw at us that day. So we ate. And we walked some more, searching for answers in the organic food aisle, hoping to unearth an epiphany behind a package of dried noodles or chocolate sandwich cookies.

We drifted aimlessly for hours, like mental patients wandering the neighborhood, lost in their own mind, speaking incoherent sing-songy sentences, wafting from place to place, not really accomplishing anything but remaining conscious. It's a marvel we even stayed side by side, each drawn inward, processing thought and emotion, perhaps drawn together by the wispy ties of our shared shock.

Telling our family and friends was only a little more exciting than it was exhausting, and by the end of it all, after a few weeks, the reality was beginning to finally sink in to the very core of us. Deep seated feelings started to root, feelings that if I were to be honest, were unfair to the children growing inside of me. We wanted to
test the waters, not jump into the deep end! When will we ever have freedom again, to do the selfish things we want to do? Travel, go out to eat, play video games deep into the night, see a movie, make love, be us ...just us. How will our marriage handle this immediate taxing of resources and emotions? Will we have enough to go around and support our new soccer team? How will we be devoted to and deeply love all three at once, having the patience to teach and discipline them together and also the fortitude to handle the screaming and sicknesses and hard times? If we're not good enough, we run the risk of screwing up three kids, not just one; what.are.we.going.to.do?

Another month passed, and the healing ritual of Christmas shopping commandeered our lives. We let the season wash over us, trying to forget the difficult future in store, ready or not. Concentrating on our 22 nieces and nephews, we raided the toy store. 4 Tired feet and 2 sore backs later, we were still as elated as when we walked through the door; we were
finally catching the bug! Inundated with toys for all ages, we started to move past the worst and imagine now the best of times; the times when having a family is all worthwhile; and it all began with Christmas. With the exhilaration, dawned a new chapter of our family and the worry abated, if only slightly.

Registering for our baby shower shortly after, we became aware of all that one needs to care for a baby or three and scanned away. Stopping at a seemingly innocuous bath toy, Mike paused and looked profoundly thrilled. Watching him act as a child would, stealing over me was the realization that he was picturing life beyond those tough infant years. In a flash, he had stolen a glimpse of the fun times we would have as they got older. This forgettable toy was an effectual dam, holding back the flood of terrible predictions and anticipated difficulties, the awful advice and the fear of failing. I laughed and cried witnessing this evolution because when he found it, the look on his face beamed pure joy and excitement. Even if triggered by a mere toy, he was now truly ready to be a
"Dad", even better; a dad of triplets.

In that instant, under the fluorescent luster and warehouse air, I just knew everything was going to be... okay. We were ready.

¹The odds of conceiving "spontaneous" triplets (i.e., without the aid of fertility enhancements) is about 1 in 8,100. (Note: These statistics are estimates, gathered from several sources, including a 2001 National Vital Statistics Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Odds - Twins from BabyMed.com, Facts About Multiples: Twin Basics Page 2

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Screaming, Anyone?

Yep, this is our life right now.

And people say, "It's so much easier now that they aren't babies anymore, isn't it?"

This is my video answer:
*Note* - Notice how Braden just keeps going after the others lose interest and find an airplane....

I think that equivocates to an "UM.... No." :)

And by the way, Braden was fine - he just scuffed his hand up a bit - they got up and continued for a few agonizing minutes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Our Fourth

Nooooo, that does not mean we are having another baby! So stop thinking that!

It's a blog post about the kids' first 4th of July with awareness. So cool! They have been to numerous amounts of fireworks shows over the last 2 years, really, this is their 3rd 4th of July (confusing?). The other shows they have been to they were just too little to understand, but we figured it was good practice to get them used to the BOOMS! But, alas, no matter how much we prepared them beforehand, the little kiddos were still scared this go 'round. :(

I started a few days before, trying to make them understand what we were going to see and that it was going to sound a bit like thunder but have the added bonus of colors in the sky! Neat! I did my best to hover over them and make sounds like fake thunder, booming really deep and making gestures with my hands above my head in my best attempt to replicate a show... but apparently I don't hold a candle to the real thing, cuz the real thing scared the pants off them.




We went to a show on the 3rd, they were all dressed up for the day - think I could get one picture of their cuteness? Nope. All I got was this:
No, Cole was not asleep, he was strategically peeking.

and this:
looks a tad scared, huh? He kept jumping and whining on every single boom - poor guy! Nice chocolate face.

And Marlene got this:
can you tell their eyes are open? Peeking through the gaps...Soooo funny.

Yep, that's them enjoying the brightly colored show in the sky with their eyes somewhat closed (covered). Training to be ninjas or jedi, I think, when they can enjoy the show even through closed eyelids. So proud! Actually, since Cole was leaning so heavily on Alex and they both had their eyes closed and covered, I think Alex actually fell asleep!

Then, on the actual 4th, and still no pictures of their cuteness - Alex had on sparkly red Dorothy shoes! Adorable! - we head into Lancaster a little early to take in the carnival they had set up and got a chance to ride the merry-go-round! Call me stingy and cheap, but wow that was a rip-off! Thankfully, Papa paid for these guys to ride, since we probably wouldn't have been able to do so... 3 stinkin' dollars for 2 minutes...times 3! So, 9 bucks for 2 minutes - and we went twice! Reeeeeediculous. Thank you, Papa! Cole loved it so much he wrapped his legs around the horse when it was time to get down and cried afterwards like we took something away. :)



The second night's fireworks were much more quiet and therefore more interesting to the kids - they kept going "ahhhh...BOOM!" or shouting out the colors that came up, though sometimes I caught them with their hands over their eyes again, only this time the spaces between the fingers were much wider. They even got up to walk around the blanket for a bit since they were so comfortable! Much more enjoyable after they got used to it. They snacked on cheez-its and raisins and licks of their cousins' ice cream cones and snuggled in lap after lap. They never stop moving! A cheez-it here, Mima's lap - a raisin here - Daddy's lap! Some ice cream... lay next to Papa!

Then, right after the show, and when we were on the complete opposite side of the carnival than our car...the unthinkable happened - our stroller broke. The steering cable snapped! On our ridiculously freakin' expensive stroller! So expensive it should have come with someone to push it! So, we (me, Papa and Grandma) had to carry the kids all the way back while Mike basically "carried" the humungo stroller. They are SO getting a call from us to complain! Grrrr.

Other than the stroller mishap, it was a great weekend and they loved the lights and rides and people and shows...they kept talking about it all day and night. So cute! Later, when tucking them in for the night (at 12:30am!), I heard Braden sleepily murmur "good night, mommy....good night, fireworks."

I love that boy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

In the Moment

I sit here today, well, for the past few months, actually, almost sobbing at the reality of life - that it moves on, no matter how hard you try to hold on, it keeps going, going, going. Time is relentless and you can either fight it or live IN it, you can't do both. Every day I try to live it, to live in the proverbial moment, but I fail...since at the end of the day, every day, I anguish over the loss of that day, that I will never get it back - and it chokes me up, makes me angry - makes me shake my fist at God that my babies will be gone someday. I try to hold them close to my chest, to keep them at this age, to keep them here with me...selfish, I know, but it's a feeling like no other, the terrifying loss of time, of this time with them - almost like the grasping and containing of falling sand, and the frustration in the unfruitful task is unbearable.

Yes, it's obvious, I am an emotional wreck! Most sane mothers are happy that their kids will have their own lives someday - that they will be successful, happy and free to make their own choices - and that you will be ecstatic to see how they have grown into themselves and matured and all of that. While the thought does make me happy, I don't ever want to see them leave this little nest of ours! What we have made for them and how intense we have felt for them, those feelings of this unique family unit are things we never want to lose. The morning serenades, the random hugs, the adorable giggles - how can you say goodbye to these things?

Every day I trudge through the necessities of our routine life, the life that I have said many times before reminds me of Groundhog Day, over and over, the same things repeated in an endless loop...and I try to "better my score"... meaning, get it all done quicker than I did yesterday. There is nothing worse than putting the kids to bed, realizing you are exhausted yourself and then walking downstairs to remind yourself of the mountain of work left for you in the kitchen, the dining room, on the deck and in the living room. So, lately I have been trying to finish most of it before the kiddos head up to bed, frantically washing dishes and receiving leg hugs here and there from Braden and bouncing back the "Hi Mommy!"s I hear enter the kitchen and them running back out to play without me...all in the name of "getting it done".

But I tell ya....It's a toss up. Yes, I feel good and more relaxed when I come down to a cleaner house, but also....in "getting it done", I am missing the "doing" part of life (see below).... I am trading the sweet, precious, fleeting time I could spend with the kids in the evening just to clean up, a perfect example of something that means nothing really, in the scheme of things. There will always be dishes, even after they go their own separate ways...but there is only "now", right now.

I think the fact that we have three at the same age is what is causing these epidemic sobbing fits. The realization that as intense as the first few years are, their childhood will be the same! Fleeting and ....Intense. We only have one chance to spend their childhood with them ALL. They will leave together, not spaced out as to buffer us from the reality of time marching on. They travel to college or out and about... together! Like 1 child would, only we have to let three spread their wings simultaneously. How hard is that gonna be?

And I know it seems far away from now that we will have to endure that challenge, but I am sure if I blink, that moment will arrive...so I almost religiously have to remind myself that we are here, we are now - it is so hard to do, I know! But, it is all we have and it is all we get, so honestly, who cares if you are tired and face a TON of work into the wee hours of the morning? When it's all said and done...those memories, those times we are fully with them are all we will have left - so, make it of fun and of sweet things and of love, with them...and not of dishes.

If you are wondering, this article is what prompted this blog post - I have been feeling this emotional deluge for months and months now...but this article is just beautiful and says it all....and yes, I sobbed during my reading of it - I dare you not to do the same. :)

From Anna Quindlen, Newsweek Columnist and Author

"All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past. Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education have all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations –what they taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2. When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China . Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the, "Remember-When- Mom-Did Hall of Fame." The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, "What did you get wrong?". (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night.

I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed.
I wish I had treasured the
doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity.

That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were."

All I can say is the obvious..... Enjoy every. single. minute. and relish the trade off of hard work after they go to bed as extra time you got to spend with them. Squeeze it all, for this is our one and only shot to enjoy the good stuff.

Friday, June 19, 2009

10 Years


10 years...where did it go? 10 years ago today, I married an incredible man – though I didn’t really understand how lucky I was at the time. I was caught up in the courtship phase, the tingling happiness, full of butterflies and laughter and fun. Life was good; high on the promise of an incredible life together. Little did I know that the first year would be so hard for us, so hard to live together and mesh our lives seamlessly; what each of us brought to the table: the baggage, the life experiences, the habits, preferences and traits - and BOY did we clash for a while…but eventually we came to realize that this is what life is all about, what marriage is all about – the BIG compromise.

I have loved journeying to find out that we are even more perfect for each other than we ever knew possible… compatible in almost every way, and the ways we aren’t we have learned to compromise or even complement one another [ie, the slob(me) vs the organizer(you) and the relaxed(me) to the uptight(you)]. I love that we make each other better people; you make me want to be more, every day! I have learned oodles about myself through you and I hope the feeling is mutual. You have changed me (in a good way!) in almost every definition of the word -you could say I feel more… evolved; definitely more alive. We fit together like puzzle pieces – and dare I say it? It's total cheese, but you do – “you complete me.” We have found in each other just that which our souls were missing.

I love that we share the same non-political views, that we see more in animals than most people do, and that we can relish a sci-fi (Enterprise, Stargate!) or James Bond marathon. I love that Christmas brings out the extreme kid in both of us. We share the love of our beautiful kids and want to be that “Amazing Ertel Parenting Machine” we always talked about being for them. Our goals for the future have often aligned without much effort and now we share that in raising our sweet babies.

Other things we share a love for: long walks in the quiet woods, Mrs. Angelina Jolie and Mr. Brad Pitt, being considerate people and making others happy, super good ice cream, water anywhere, movie nights, the stars and space and the cool things humans do, being spontaneous when we travel, the giggles and smiles and laughter of our children, the color blue, Mr. Dean Koontz, (your mom’s)almond puff, being honest and downright good, cool technology, the Brantingham screen room, thought-provoking comedy, Phil Collins, slab bacon and our awesome families. Just to name a few. We are both geeks, and that makes me incredibly happy. J

You appreciate the world around you and the impact you have on it, good and bad – and I love that about you. You are caring and considerate, kind and unselfish, a good friend, family member and husband; always giving. You are hardworking and careful, smart and sensitive and philosophical – you have learned to step back and realize that there is more than one perspective in every situation…all this you have taught me and more.

I think back with a laugh to our first date full of mishaps – an awful movie we didn’t want to see, the right side of my face, numb from a visit to the dentist, numb almost all night, and you thought I was mad at you since I didn’t smile much, then your good tools stolen right out of your car….but that first kiss later, in my parents' living room, during the endless playing of the same movie (Only You) was….*sigh* - I get butterflies every time I think about it. I think it took us about 2 hours just to get to it, we were both so nervous! Silly now, but a very, very sweet memory. And here we are...3 beautiful kids later, so much we have gone through; so much love, some loss, but much happiness….so much we have learned about each other and so much more to learn… Again, life is good: but now we are high in the act of living an incredible life together.

I can’t think of anyone I would rather be with, to “grow old with” and watch our babies flourish before our very eyes. This is our life! And it makes me so happy to be here in it with you, forever. Our souls were imprinted onto each other long ago and we were lucky to have made the match, even before knowing how perfect the match was going to turn out to be. Everyone should be this lucky! You are stuck with me forever, baby!

Happy 10th, my sweet... you are my “dream” man.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Boots and a Deck


This is what we have been seeing for a while now, looking out our dining room window. Mike, hard at work, up on a ladder...all evening, practically! What you don't see in the picture is Papa - Mike's dad - who has also been hard at work, building our new deck for us! Yay!

I hope to have pictures up soon - the behemoth is almost finished...and we are so excited to spend more of our summer days and nights outside... More play, more meals, more relaxing, more star-gazing! Our old deck was about 8'x10' - this new one is 14'x16'... and Papa calls it the "biggest playpen he has ever seen"! I am loving the fact that it feels like an extension of our house. He even put a gate on it (for me). :)

What Mike is doing up on that ladder is staining the house...our house is 150 years old and it was in desperate need of a face lift. It is old barn board siding (see background of picture!), and it was more faded than we realized. He first had to tear off the siding, remove bee nests, bat homes and other creepy crawlies that were hiding under there - apparently the wood is yummy and cozy to the non-human population...then run some wire for electrical outlets and three new outdoor lights to create the ambiance this new fancy deck "needs"... and he also re-insulated the front of the house while he was in there... it's a brand new place! Awesome. Pictures soon - it's coming out great!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Too Funny Not To Share

I know I have been MIA for quite some time, but this was too funny not to take the time and share....

When a toddler mistakes diaper cream for chapstick.


You should have heard her oh-so-innocent question, looking up at me as I entered the room...

Alex: "chapstick?"

Mommy: "Ohhhhhh, no, honey.... that's Des-i-tin....it goes on your dupa."

Alex:  "oh."

Too funny.  I had to grab the camera and snap this one, laughing the whole time in front of a very confused toddler.  ;)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Love Letters To My Children

Oh, my dear little Alex…who would have ever thought I would love having a daughter so completely?

You are my light, the shine in my day - someone I never knew I couldn't live without, until you were born. You are like an echo of me, only with a sturdy dose of your father to fill in all the gaps.  Every time I look into your deep blue eyes, so beautiful they make me gasp, I see the different kinds of woman you might turn out to be.  You are so sensitive and passionate, with a fierce temper and a feisty disposition.  You are aggressive and fight for what you want, even if it’s something you shouldn’t have.  

You are the most helpful toddler I have ever met, almost anticipating your brothers’ needs.  You are the first to clean up when asked, happily collecting stray toys with a smile, loving to please people in the act. Every time I watch you bring a cup of water to Cole just because he might be thirsty, or see you wheel Braden’s walker to him so he can follow you in your adventures, I want to cry, seeing how gracious and giving you have already become.  You amaze me. 

You share what you have, knowing you don’t need more than one, and it would make someone else happy.  You do this all by yourself, and you are just barely touching 2 years on this earth. You actively try to make others happy, if they are crying or unhappy (even me or Daddy), you walk up with that simple little trilling “hi-iiii.” and it makes everything better.  You can bring a toy to your brother when he is upset, set it in his lap and step back, looking expectant, and I know what you are trying to do.  Make it better. You love music and songs; you smile frequently, laugh even more and shout/scream for joy at all occasions. You dance, twirling around and around, looking up to meet my eyes as if you were just doing it all for me. 

You love to be mischievous too, that glimmer in your eyes as you look sideways at me, knowing all the time that what you are doing isn’t what you are supposed to be doing, but having all sorts of fun doing it. Sweet and loving, though you are quick to let us all know when you don't like something...I think the residents in the next state can hear it too. ;) You love people, the more the better – along with new experiences and love, they are like the air to you, you seem to crave them, to need them, and you attract them as a magnet, as moths to a flame. You’re magnetic.

You love meal time, which is a blessing to me – I love to see you relish in new foods, loving the taste and texture and the new experiences.  You so love your daddy, arms ever-outward, stretching for his protective embrace when he is in your sight. You love feeling protected and cozy, safe and warm, but you have an independent streak a mile wide. And talk about stubborn! Now that I look back on all I have written, I think with a smile that you did get much more from me than just the color of your eyes. 

You love to look pretty, the twinkle in your eyes so obvious as you look up to our approving appraisals of just how “pretty you look”, splaying your hands out as if to say you love the attention. We love to give it to you. You sign and talk so well – your memory is sharp, your awareness even sharper. You are taking to life as a triplet with happiness and ease, even though you knew nothing else, this is something that makes us happy and proud. You are….easy.  And that is something we will always be thankful for.

I love your bad hair days –which are every day – the way you sleep makes it frizz and fray, and until I “get around” to smoothing it, I love staring at the unkempt reddish-brown crop and laughing sweetly at just how cute you really look.  You are our Bella – which is to say you are gracefully ungraceful.  You trip over everything, or your own feet if nothing else is available.  I think it is your most endearing quality; getting up after each fall with dignity, using the back of your hand to wipe the hair from your face with the determination to never have that happen again…which of course it always does. And we love that about you. 

Everyone says that you are so serious!  You always have been – with that little crease in your forehead, the one that looks like you are concentrating so hard on the puzzle of life.  And then, quick as a wink - that smile flashes again, your forehead smooth once again. And you marvel in the world around you, taking simple joy in knowing what everything is called, pointing at an object with a wondering, “agabah?” – which means, what is that?  ….I think. So, I tell you, and watch your face light up with sheer joy at every single word.  Dresser, bowl, butterfly, tree. You want to know it all.

You are the first to spot me in the morning, coming around the corner of the stairs, and you shout for joy – shrieking in an adoring way, “Mommy!” and that is the best part of my day. Other than snuggling with you on the couch, of course. You love to hug and be hugged, to kiss and be kissed.  Your little walk is hilarious, your little bum wiggling back and forth twice as fast as your pumping arms.  You are always wiggling. Oh, and that giggle of yours…ah, is there anything sweeter? I can’t bear to be away from you even when I have to be, even when I need to be.  I love that you love me to hug you so snugly there isn’t a space between us, like I can imagine you will always be this sweet little baby girl forever.

My baby girl, I love you so...completely.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The First and The Third

That's the third haircut for the boys...but the first....at home.

What were we thinking? ;)

I'll tell you - we were thinking, "let's save some money and be even more closely involved in our kids' lives." Right? It sounds reasonable, even after watching tons of You Tube videos on how to cut your child's hair and getting personal instruction from your own hairstylist.  Looks difficult, like an art form...but we can do it!  Right?  How hard/bad can it be?

Well, Cole was our first guinea pig.  Well, mine really.  Mike did Braden's hair.

Let's just say...we're glad we don't really have to go anywhere for a few weeks.

Here's the progression:
First haircut - with Joe the Barber - remember?

Then, a second haircut with Rachael, the woman who does my hair.  I asked her to "teach" me how to cut it myself.


Are we THAT poor that we have to humiliate our kids in public with the haircut that is obviously from their momma?  And...the answer is...yes. Even for an $8 haircut, times 3, anything and everything is expensive. Thank God they are only 2 and we can only get better.  :)

So, Cole was first up in the chair...we distracted him with the clipping shears.  Dad's idea!  He did love it though.  I couldn't cut a straight line to save my life.  So, his bangs are a little crooked. Does that mean he is any less loved?  (What I tell myself every time I look at him.)  I cut the back WAY too short, his bangs also WAY too short and crooked and over his ears a tad too short. I kept telling myself, this is only the first time!  You'll get better.


After: (if I swept the bangs to the side, the crooked line was less noticeable) ;)

I kind of look like I know what I'm doing, right?  Wrong.  Sooooo wrong.


But then, Mike cut Braden's....and he did awesome.  The first time.  I was crushed.  Jealous, ashamed and beaten.  If this were a competition (which it certainly was...), then Mike won, hands down.  So, he gets to keep the job!  As bummed as I am to not be able to do it as well as him, which means I won't be doing it at all anymore, he really enjoyed it.  I felt a bit like a failure as a mother, but that gives him another way to bond with the babies.  And that makes me happy I "lost." 

Before:  Mommy!  Cut my hair!  Funny how his hair resembles the crazy doll's hair that he is holding...but anyway...

Vaseline on lips + a very runny nose = a sticky, hairy, tickly mess!

Daddy the Barber

Cutting Away!

After:  Perfect!

I do love those curls, which Braden was just starting to get back again, (*sigh*) those ringlets forming in the back...but they do look so handsome all neat and tidy as well, don't you think?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Favorite Picture and Feeling Better

I think this is one of my new favorite pictures!

Little B, smiling, trying to make his sister laugh.  Gotta love his goofy smile!


Took it yesterday morning while we were waiting for Cole to get up (he slept in until almost noon!)

He is still sleeping off his pneumonia. He is so tired and so cranky all day, coughing and crying. It's so hard to see him like that and not be able to soothe his pain.  Braden did have mild pneumonia and also received the "power shot" of antibiotics and is doing much better, though also crabby!  Alex is almost 100 percent, still a little wheezy, but mostly fine.

Thank you all for the well wishes and the offers of help. Mom and Dad C and Mom and Dad E, Christine, MJ and Sara - you guys are awesome!

Their appetite is slowly returning, which makes me think I need to do a post on just how much they eat in a normal day. It truly flabbergasts us on daily basis. For instance, they eat a half pound of mozzarella cheese every day.  Holy Cow.  

We are in so much trouble when they are teenagers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It Never Ends...

Last night, I stayed up until 12:45, until my eyes could stay open no longer and set my quiet little cell phone alarm to wake me an hour and a half later to give the breathing treatments.  It's always easier for me to stay up than it is to get up, but my body was telling me, no go.  

I awoke with the alarm, so freezing cold that I had to stay in a dream-wake-sleep for almost 20 minutes before I dragged myself out of that snuggly warm bed. It was 2:30ish and I headed upstairs.  Entering the room, I became aware of Braden's breathing, almost like a little "pop-pop-pop" instead of a slow, even drawing of breath.  It made me worried because that's how Cole was just a few nights ago.  He started coughing hard and frequently, so I gave him his treatment first. His fits of coughing seemed to slow and I figured it must be his asthma and stuffy nose causing those short, staccato breaths. I gave Cole his treatment, ever-glancing back at my poor B-Man, semi-asleep in his crib; worried, worried, worried. Cole is doing well, it seems. Fever is coming down.  I gave him his Motrin at 3:00 and wondered if Braden could use some as well, if only to help quiet the coughing and soothe his poor throat. I decided against it and would wait, listening for any signs of trouble. Before I left, I realized just how cold the room was getting, since overnight it became pretty cold here. I needed that to change.
I went back downstairs and decided to stoke up the wood stove and turn on the fans to the house and the dedicated fan to their room.  I stoked and waited and basked in the fire for an hour, hoping that would bump up the temp enough in their room for the night. I had put all of their blankets on them before I left, but like all toddlers, they are restless sleepers and blankets are usually the casualty of those little fighting arms and kicking legs.  So, I wanted the room to be snuggly, especially if they weren't feeling well.

At 4:00, I succumbed to my soft and warm bed, finally, and fell asleep right away.  

At 4:30, those "signs of trouble" I was listening for awoke me - Braden was crying and it didn't sound like a passing thing.  I got up, went upstairs and realized that his temperature had soared! Oh, why didn't I think to actually touch his forehead a few hours before?  If only, I would have realized that his symptoms were from a blazing fever and not asthma.  He was crying because his whole body hurt!  I didn't bother to take his temperature, I wanted to quickly get medicine into his system, get him calm and try not to wake the other two.  

I ended up on various rocking chairs through the house, trying to settle him far away from his room and siblings, and at 5:30, we ended up on the couch. He seemed to settle for a few hours there with me, both snoozing away. Mike woke me up at 7:30 and I realized his temp was soaring again (or still), 3 hours after Motrin. We gave him Tylenol and tried to go back to sleep for an hour.  We did.  But his temp was still up there, at about 103. 

Mike just left to take him back to the doctor, hoping that if he does have full-blown pneumonia like his brother, they will give him the super-antibiotic shot too. These guys deserve to be healthy again.

Hopefully, he will come back with good news.  It never ends! 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sickness Update

The good news:  Alex is feeling better!  Helped along with an antibiotic and lots of breathing treatments (and lots of cinnamon raisin toast with butter - wouldn't that make anyone feel better?!), she is almost back to her old self, dancing and giggling and showing us her fierce temper.  

The bad news:  We had to take Cole and Braden back to the doctor today.  Cole's fever just wouldn't quit and it was scaring the heck out of us.  And Braden should have been much better on the steroid he has been on for four days already.  He has only marginally improved.  

We had an appointment at 2:15. We arrived with all three kids to an almost empty waiting room. They immediately gravitated to the play kitchen, of course. All three were playing well for about a half hour when Cole suddenly needed a shoulder to rest on. He quickly became lethargic, eyes closing and mouth open, drooling all over Daddy. He was so warm. We waited for more than an hour there, watching him get steadily worse and even hotter, the room filling to capacity. Once we were in the exam room, the really hot exam room, we had to let the door stay open in order to not exacerbate the fever. During the wait, his temperature had shot up to 104.7 deg. That's almost 105 deg, people! I was in shock, expecting to see the doctor drop the thermometer and run from the room screaming "ICEPACK!  ICEPACK!", or perhaps call for an immediate ambulance with police escort in tow. That's what I would have done.  But, I have no composure in times such as these. My eyes wide, I watched him calmly walk to his computer and type something in.  I wanted to yell at him, at somebody, to "GET SOME MOTRIN, NOW!" Wasn't anyone concerned about this? Or was it just me? 

He left the room after examining him some more, after finding that both of his ears were infected, and came back with a nurse who was finally holding some Motrin.  Thank God!  He lapped it up like a thirsty dog.  Then, he was sent across the hall for a chest x-ray.  Mike went with him, since he lacked the strength to stand.  Otherwise he would have been on his own!  I'm kidding.    

Yep, he has pneumonia.  The probable cause for the insane fever combined with his ear infections. My poor baby. He barely lifted his head from his Daddy's shoulder the whole time we were there, his eyes mostly shut and tears streaming from them.  He received his antibiotic through a shot delivered in both thighs simultaneously. That's gotta tell you how serious it was. And he still gets a 10 day course on top of that powerful shot! 

Braden was diagnosed with a deep infection in the lungs (somebody please tell me how that is different than pneumonia) and also a double ear infection - which was why he wasn't better with the steroid alone.  So, he got his own antibiotic to take home as well.  Something stronger than usual, but only the oral meds for him.  ;)  

Alex spent the two hours we were in there busily devouring crackers, biscuits, water and juice. I swear she would have eaten the books if we stayed any longer.  She also tried to plan her escape into the hallway where lots of interesting people kept walking by and flashing her the smile. Her back to the wall right by the door, sliding along, her feet inching closer to freedom, all the while her eyes were on mommy, hoping to not get busted. She just knew it would be more fun outside the little room we were in, with the door open, us trying to keep them all busy, happy, cool and corralled. Oh, the joys of parenting (sick) triplets.  

They are all resting comfortably and I am blogging to fill the time before my shift is up to go upstairs and deliver the 2am breathing treatments.  I am trying to figure out just when this all got so serious and what we could have done to make this any easier on them, but even my parents, who were over last night, could not tell Cole was as sick as he really was.  Our kids are really good at hiding their colds! I guess that is how you get when you are sick most of the time, if you still want to enjoy some part of life. Sometimes, I really wish I were a doctor.

Keep your fingers crossed and say lots of prayers that Cole improves over the next 48 hours. The doc warned us that this is a crucial time, since if his breathing becomes more labored or if his fever does not break within this period, we will be headed to the hospital. We are hoping for the best!