"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

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!      

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Month!

That's how long we have all been sick for.  I can't believe it.  It's just a never ending cycle here at the Ertel Zoo!  Mike started it with a sinus cold, gave it to me and then the kids started shortly after.  We have all gotten better in between, but then someone gives it back to someone else and the musical chairs of sickness continues...will the music ever really stop??!  I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to spring - the windows open, flushing these germs out of our house for good.  Because now I am starting to believe that spring is our only hope out of this.

Cole got really sick about two weeks ago, coughing and runny nose, wheezing.  Then Alex followed with the same symptoms.  We started giving breathing treatments to them all before nap and nighttime, since even though Braden wasn't sick, he was starting to wheeze too.  Cole started to get better, Alex got worse.  Alex tends to get ear infections after a cold, so we worried that was where she was headed.  On Friday, we woke up to the magical sounds of Braden coughing - asthmatic coughing.  For anyone who has had the blessing not to deal with an asthmatic, asthma manifests in many different forms.  Braden's form comes in extreme coughing which makes it ridiculously hard to breathe.  And then he goes downhill fast.  The ER is always a back-of-the-mind worry.

Friday morning, I made a doctor appt for him and Alex, since Cole seemed to be at the tail end of his cold and, I hate to say it, the co-pay for each child is 20 dollars.  So, if one of the kids is mostly well, we can't afford to have them be seen unless absolutely necessary - even though they all come with us anyway. Alex was diagnosed with a double ear infection and something resembling asthma, since she was having a hard time breathing too. All three now?  Ugh. She was most worried about Braden, though, since he was working really hard to breathe again, even with the treatments.  I saw "hospital" written all over her face. She even suggested that Alex may be making the trip as well if her oxygen levels dipped too low through the night.  

We went from 1 pretty sick kid to possibly two in the hospital in 12 hours.  It happens fast!  We took them home and started to administer the bevy of medicine prescribed for Alex and Braden. I started writing it all down on index cards to keep track because with little sleep - heck with a full night of sleep - it's hard to remember who got what when.  


It strongly reminded me of the first 6 months of feeding and medicine with them, having to keep a log of what they ate and when they pooped and what medicine they got so we could both keep track after we passed each other in the night trading shifts taking care of them.  ;)

I know this is a "duh" statement, but life with sick triplets is so much harder than any other day. You get used to the routine, whatever is handed to you in your own life, and when it is disrupted, it's always hard to manage, but when they are sick and you are sick with worry, and that is unfortunately a lot around here, it's not very fun.  I'm still in my pajamas from yesterday. Really. The steroid Braden is on makes him extremely irritable and he just cries and cries and cries all day.  In between coughing.  And Alex's antibiotic is so harsh on her poor stomach since she is not eating much, and that makes for a very unpleasant diaper for both of us.  ;)

Yesterday morning, Cole woke up coughing more again and I though, "yikes... here we go again." He needs treatments around the clock now too. Sigh. And then last night, he started scaring us - at bedtime, when reading their favorite story - he was sitting in my lap and I could just feel the fever through his pajamas.  He was blazing hot.  I took his temp - almost 103.  And the kicker - he had gotten Motrin for a low fever (100) only 3 hours before.  So that fever was on Motrin, even.  

All night, we have been alternating Tylenol and Motrin every three hours just to keep the fever down.  It keeps creeping back up too quickly.  Plus, we are giving all three breathing treatments every 4 hours through the night to make sure they don't end up in the hospital on oxygen.  

Here's the list:
Breathing treatments every 4 hours
Motrin/Tylenol every 3/6 hours
Braden's steroid 2xs day
Alex's antibiotic 2xs a day
Claritin and Nasonex for the boys at night
Pulmicort breathing treatment every day (which is supposed to boost their immune system all winter)

I hate that this list is so long, that all of this medication has to be in our babies' systems to function, to stay healthy, to not end up in the hospital catching a more serious life-threatening cold.  I keep telling myself that the older they get, the stronger they will get, and I hope that is true.


The drying rack is littered with breathing masks and syringes.  The counter holds all the bottles of medications at the ready.  The garbage is full of a large number of plastic tubes that once held the breathing treatments and tens of discarded tissues.  Their bedroom and the living room are alive with the constant hum of two machines, compressors, to deliver the treatments.  It's full focus on controlling sickness in this house! 

As of now, Cole's fever is still high, Braden is still coughing despite 2 days of steroids and 6 breathing treatments a day and Alex is still miserable, though better, I think. I worry for their health, but I am hoping that we will make it out without serious intervention.  I keep having to tell myself that even though this is rough and touch-and-go, we could be battling things much worse, and that thought usually helps me have some faith in where we will be in a few days - hopefully back to the normal, boring, everyday grind. Can I say that I miss it?!  ;) 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sick Day

Last week, when I woke up unable to get out of bed because I was so sick, Mike went into Super-Daddy mode.  


Let me just count the ways.

He physically pushed me back down in bed when I got up to take care of the babies and cheerfully told me he was "looking forward to this". He seemed to really mean it too, which helped a lot.

He made the kids breakfast.  I don't know what he made, but he did it well.  And then he cleaned up after them.  Nice.  

He got them situated and gave the boys their nebulized medicine. I really dislike that part of my morning, so this was another treat!  I came out to spend some quality time with them then, since I missed them so. 

I mentioned that I was so sore I could barely lift my arms.  I mentioned how nice it would be to take a hot bath (me thinking, yeah, right, when do I ever get to take one of those lately?!), but the tub was kinda dirty, so nevermind.  He left the room for a few minutes and came back with a grin.  I heard water running.  He took me into the bathroom where he just smiled, knowing he was taking care of me.  He cleaned the tub for me.  My heart swooned. He even put a candle in the room for ambiance.  And then let me take my bath in peace.  Whatta man, whatta man....

The only time all day he really worried about not being a good dad was this:

I heard "NO! NO! NO!" And then, "Awww....man!"  And then he came into the bedroom and said he officially stinks at being a dad, showing me these pictures. While he was making breakfast, Alex had climbed up onto the dining room chair and dumped out the contents of the cereal box, apparently making her own breakfast!  Like that's the first time THAT ever happened.  ;)



Sick days are great!  I think he's the best dad ever.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Love Day

What is Love day without getting up 2 hours earlier than normal?  That is how kids show their parents the LOVE.  By spending more time with them.

Well, at least that is probably how they saw it!  Smart kids, sleepy parents.  

So, since they wake up pretty late on a normal day, this two hours before was really only 7:00am, so we aren't too upset about it.  We woke them up, saying "Happy Valentine's Day!" over and over in the best sing-songy voice you can have with partial laryngitis, swinging them around the room in our arms.  Thankfully, they were the only recipients of this little gift of love. I know my ears were hurting afterwards! 

We brought them downstairs and we all had a love-ly breakfast - whole wheat waffles with lots of butter, slab bacon and heart shaped strawberries.  Love on a plate!  


Mike introduced them to whipped cream on their waffles and the word of the day became "keem!" (cream).  Braden was so "keem" infatuated that he started putting his mouth down to the waffle instead of bringing the waffle up to his mouth.  


Then, we cleaned up and watched a Blue's Clues episode, titled, "Happy Love Day."  Alex was enthralled, I think she already has a crush on Joe.  Or maybe Blue.  Whatever it is, she loves the show already.  

I think we might just decide to share the Love today and attend our little town's winter festival today - Winterfest!  More on that later...

Until then, have a very, very Happy Love Day, whatever you decide to do.

Monday, February 9, 2009


or...Pancakes.  As only a toddler could adorably call them.  

Mike is adorable too, since he makes them for us every weekend.  And he has gotten really good at it too! Most of you out there that know Mike, know that whatever he decides to do, he gets really darn good at it.  He's awesome like that.

He is also great because he involves the kids, even though they can't help yet...even though their faces are inches away from certain death, even though they just squeak "Peyahn-keeks!" the entire time.  And they all just love it.  Again, he's awesome like that.  

Me, I have a hard time with it because it's not efficient. Why put them up on chairs, on tippy toes, fighting over their spot, just to watch their food being made, hungry and salivating, but they can't touch it just yet?  Why go through all that effort?

Because it's so dang cute.

And because he's a really, really, really good daddy.  

Love you, baby.  Thanks for helping me to keep it in perspective.




Friday, February 6, 2009

Some First-Time Sledding Fun

I confess that our kids have been forced to inherit our hermit gene.  Mike and I are homebodies in the most serious way possible.  If they ever had Olympics for homebodies, that would be our sport. We are good at it...and love to be this way most of the time.  

Cabin Fever does settle over, as it does on most people this time of year, but I think it's just less severe for us.  Though, it is still there! I never got around to buying snowsuits for the kids this year - well, I found one for Alex, but I wasn't too aggressive about finding one for the boys because I just didn't think about it, honestly.  It never really crossed my mind that they might be old enough and want to play in the snow by this time of year...but they are!  So, now I feel bad and am scrounging the secondhand stores for a steal.  

One day, after church, Mike thought it would be spontaneous and fun (translation: less work) to get the kids out of the car and instead of taking them inside, plop them in the sled and have a go around the driveway a few laps. They were still in church clothes, no gloves, no hats, no boots...but I agreed, mostly because of the sheer guilt that I was not prepared for this iconic childhood moment. It wasn't as cold that day as most have been, so I grabbed the camera and watched Mike's glee! Braden was in the middle, and I think he just got tired out quicker, because he kept ending up in Cole's lap! Cole, then holding up himself and Braden kept losing it too and would fall back, sliding now on the back of his jacket, face to the sky. They were all giggling, but we didn't want them to get too cold, so we packed it up after a few passes. 

Next stop, Consignment Shop! Hopefully they will have 2 boy's suits, or else they might be forced to wear a pink or purple one just to enjoy the snow. Bad Mommy!









Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Another Day


I found this post today on Facebook and was appalled at the person writing in... It made me wonder...do many people without kids wonder this?  It made me a little angry, annoyed and then a little sad.  Because it goes deeper than this.  Most people have no idea what others go through in life.  I confess to that many days. Many people are concerned with their own lives, absorbed by their own problems and sorrows and joys, with little time to give attention elsewhere.  And that is inherently a good thing, to be fully present in your own life.  That is a very good thing. Don't get me wrong, the ability to give attention and to notice the need for that attention is needed in this world.  But, to judge someone else who can't give that attention for whatever reason, not truly knowing what they are going through, what responsibilities they have every day, to be angry that they didn't call you?  That, well, that is a very bad thing.  

One of my favorite, thought-provoking and take-a-step-back quotes (Plato) is this one: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." And we all are.  Whether it be the daily grind of a stay-at-home-momma or watching your loved one fight cancer, there is always a day to get through.  A day, a gift, to enjoy despite the sorrows and the challenges, the monotony or the change, the loss or the bad emotion.  Sometimes that is hard to do.  We could all do well to remember that and make every effort to support each other and save the judgment for someone higher. We all need support - I know I do.  I am just in awe (and not in a good way) of how ignorant this particular query is.  

It is late, and I am tired - so I apologize for this little rant.  I guess I didn't realize how much that article bothered me until I started writing this post.  I was planning on putting it up because it made me laugh at first, and then I felt satisfied and almost vindicated in a way, toward all the people out there that wonder what a mom actually does who stays home with their kids all day. I have heard comments in the past, not to me, but to other mothers who just had their first and were privileged enough to stay home and raise their own child.  I had little choice, but it is what I have always wanted to do, this is where I belong, where I want to be.  Others with one made the heroic choice to lose one income, knowing that they might have to tighten their belts and it is a choice I highly respect.  But, before I judge the working mothers who might have been able to stay home, I will step back and remember that "everyone is fighting a hard battle". It is your own choice and one that should be respected no matter what, for it is one of the hardest decisions life presents to us. 

I hope I am not offending anyone out there reading this post. I do not mean offense in any way. I guess I am a bit peeved at the asker of this question and am aiming my annoyance at them.  I am truly trying hard in my own life not to judge others, for it is something I do without even thinking.  I am ashamed to admit that, but I do, no matter how hard I try not to.  I have posted that particular Plato quote everywhere so that I may see it on a constant basis and be reminded that we are all struggling and do not need others tearing us down, even if it is in their own mind.

I am rambling...

We have lost so many friends in the recent past because we were too busy to return phone calls. Too busy, too tired, too overwhelmed...and I know that no one blames us in our situation because it is so obviously life altering.  But the moms with a "normal" situation deserve that same slack too.  So, if you are waiting on a phone call and don't get it, or don't see them as often, please understand that life has thrown them their own curveball and they need to learn how to deal with it first before they are able to juggle it all.  We all have a learing curve with everything we do.  And shaping a little life is hard!  It's something I worry about screwing up every day, constantly watching my every word and action, trying to stay ahead of the curve (curve is the theme here!) all the time.  With food, play time, imaginative time, naps, snacks, learning situations, etc...there is always input going into those little brains and it's our job to monitor that 24/7 to make the best of what they are receiving!  Proactive has never been my strong suit.  ;)

Anyway, I will stop the rambling after this...I really didn't intend for this all to come out like this, I just typed and typed away!  So, again I apologize if I offended anyone with my words.  That was not the intent at all.  The exact opposite, really - to lift everyone up.  

I want to say "good job" and give a great big ((hug)) to all those out there who made it through another day, celebrating or not.  Another day of having to wait for your situation to change, another day of chemo, another day without the one you have lost, another day of changing endless diapers or cutting up food into itty bitty pieces and reading Goodnight Moon for the umpteenth time, another day of fighting for what you believe in, another day of movement when all you want is rest, another day of the same old, same old or constant, stressful change...Another Day.  I hope and pray that you can say, at the end of this day, it was all so worth it because it was a gift, another day.