Thursday, October 30, 2008


I know, I know, it's been too long since I last posted. But, I'm making up for it by making THREE posts in one day! And, I'm including a lot of pictures, so I hope I'm forgiven.

This past Saturday, on the babies' 4 month birthday, they were christened. I worried and worried about it for a while leading up to the christening -- mostly the logistics of getting three babies christened, and while the babies are supposed to be kept inside and germfree.

The babies were christened at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Hoover ("POP"). POP was great in working with us to make sure the babies were kept as healthy and germ-free as possible (and didn't even balk when we requested that "clean" holy water be used). We had them christened on a Saturday so that they could be kept away from other people, and in attendance had only immediate family and Ann (the NICU nurse who is now the babies' primary babysitter).

My biggest concern, other than germs, was getting all three babies there on time, in their christening gowns, and then home in time for the next feeding, without any of us having a major meltdown. So, I had it all planned out in advance. The morning of the christening, we fed the babies right before we left for the church. Right before they were fed, they were bathed and placed in white onesies with little pants. Before we left, Gary took the strollers out of the back of the Expedition, and we used that as the "dressing room" for the babies. When we got to the church, Gary handed me one baby at a time. I stripped off the baby's pants, put on the christening gown, then passed the baby to my mom. Mom then held the baby while Aunt Cindy buttoned and tied the back of the christening gowns and slips, and then the baby was passed along to one of the waiting men to hold the baby and put on their little hats. Following are pictures of the assembly line in the back of the Expedition, and a picture of Nana and Papa (my mom and dad) helping Henry get his hat on, Uncle Doug holding Piper, Papa holding Henry, and me holding Rosemary while cousin Andrew looks on:

Once we got in the chapel, we had some waiting time while Father McDaid got ready for the christening (and ran some "clean" holy water). Following are pictures taken while we were waiting, which are Aunt Cindy with Piper (which I think could be the best picture of the day), Gary with Henry, and me with Rosemary:

Father McDaid did the ceremony. We were thrilled that he was able to do the babies' christening, because he had been to visit me while I was in the hospital, which really lifted my spirits. Following is a picture from the ceremony. In the picture you can see Father McDaid, Uncle Doug, Aunt Cindy with Piper, Gary with Henry, and me with Rosemary:

After the ceremony, we took some pictures of the babies (and baby holders) that follow. In the group pictures, from left to right you have Piper, Rosemary, then Henry. In the pictures of individual babies, first is Piper, then Henry, then Rosemary.

RSV Season

Anyone with preemies knows that it is RSV season now. For most people without preemies, however, RSV season doesn't mean much. The purpose of this post is to educate everyone as to why we don't let people come visit our babies and why we don't let the babies out -- and won't until April! And then next year, the babies will be under house arrest from October until March -- AGAIN. I know everyone wants to see the babies and visit, and probably thinks we're being too overprotective, but we have good reason.

As a bit of background, and in layman's terms, when a pregnant woman reaches around 36 weeks, the baby gets the mom's immunities. Because we had the babies at 30 weeks, they never had the chance to get my immunities. The babies did and are still getting breastmilk, which is the only way they will get any of my immunities. So, the babies' immune systems are just not as developed as your average term baby's immune system. Additionally, no matter how healthy they look now, premature babies do not have nearly as developed lungs as other babies, so their respiratory systems are particularly subject to problems.

And that brings us to the biggest concern for premature babies: RSV. RSV stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus. RSV season runs from October through March here in Alabama. Most all babies are infected with RSV by the time they are 2 years of age, and for term babies, children, and adults, RSV usually just results in a cold. For premature babies, however, RSV means hospitalization in the pediatric ICU with oxygen treatment, likely means long-term breathing problems such as asthma, and could cause DEATH. Each year 125,000 infants and young children are hospitalized with RSV, and approximately 2% of those hospitalized do not make it back out. For many of the 98% of infants and children who do return home, the experience with RSV will cause a lifetime of respiratory problems. Considering that RSV is relatively harmless to the vast majority of infants, 125,000 and 2% are BIG numbers for a preemie. You can read some thorough FAQs about RSV by clicking here. Also, to read another triplet mom's blog on what RSV means to premature babies, complete with pictures, please click here.

RSV is extremely contagious. The virus can live on our hands for up to 6 hours, and on hard surfaces for up to 12 hours. Gary and I usually have a party in December for some of our work friends, but we will not be having the party this year -- not because we're busy with triplets (which we are), but because we cannot have potential RSV germs brought into our home by unintending guests who may have the sniffles. Also, Gary and I exercise extreme caution at home. As soon as we walk in the door we wash our hands with medical grade soap and water before we touch anything in the house. We try to change clothes when we come home before we touch the babies. And we wash our hands and use hand sanitizer all day long, even at home. And we try to use hand sanitizer after touching one baby before we touch another, just to prevent spreading germs from one baby to another.

This is a real threat to our babies, and is recognized by healthcare professionals. For instance, our pediatrician calls us any morning that we have an appointment and makes sure that we are coming in as early as possible so that we will miss the sick kids and get into an exam room that hasn't been used that morning. As soon as we walk in the door, we are sent directly to an exam room by the receptionists. And we are even allowed to use the "backdoor" to get in and out if there are other kids around. At every visit, our pediatrician makes sure that we are keeping the babies inside and strictly limiting visitors to immediate family.

Almost two weeks ago, the babies received their Synagis shots, which are also known as RSV shots. This is not a vaccine, however. Those are shots that will help protect the babies' lungs in the event they do get RSV, and studies show that premature babies who have had the RSV shot have a shorter hospital stay by half. These shots cost approximately $1200 per baby per month -- and the babies will have to get these shots every month for 6 months. To show you how real a risk RSV is -- our insurance covers these shots 100% and even pays for a nurse to come to the house to give the babies these shots so that they don't have to get out and be exposed to RSV. I won't even get into what all prescription drugs are and are not covered by our insurance because it usually causes my blood pressure to rise, but I will say that if the fine folks at BCBS will pay $21,600 with no copays, then that should say something about RSV risks.

We don't like keeping the babies inside. We really want to get them out and show them off to everyone. And we don't like having to be so strict about visitors, and we don't like people thinking that we are overreacting and being overprotective. But premature babies are not like term babies, even once they get big and are healthy. After all we've gone through to get these babies home and healthy, we are not going to start taking risks now. I think you will all agree that house arrest for six months this year and six months next year is nothing compared to our babies' lives.

Our First Trip to the Children's Hospital ER!

We've already been to the Children's Hospital ER. On Tuesday, the babies had their 4-month pediatrician appointment. At that appointment, they got their normal 4-month vaccines. Afterwards, no one seemed to have any real reactions to them, other than maybe a low-grade fever. Anyway, after a particularly tiring day on Tuesday at about 11:00 p.m., I was ready to go to bed, baby monitor in hand, as I checked on each baby as I do every night. Piper first, then Henry, then Rosemary. Well, when I got to Rosemary, she was breathing very fast and loud, and was rather warm. I called Gary in to check her out, and he agreed that she was not breathing normally. We took her temperature and she was running a fever. So, we called the pediatrician's after hours nurse, and were told to take her to the Children's Hospital ER. . . .

Luckily, my mom was in town and stayed with Piper and Henry so that both Gary and I could go with Rosemary. Despite her symptoms, Rosemary was having a grand time on her big adventure to the ER. She smiled and cooed and waved her arms, and flirted with the nurses and doctors. Eventually, the fever went down with a higher dose of Tylenol than we were giving her, it was determined that the fever was related to the vaccines, and the fast breathing was related to the fever. She had a chest x-ray, and it looked clear to the ER pediatrician, so we were sent home at around 6:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.

We took Rosemary to the pediatrician yesterday morning (no rest for the weary), and she was fine, but with the start of bronchiolitis (or perhaps just a mild case of it). We just need to watch her to make sure she's doing okay. Still, she seems just as happy as ever, so I think we're going to make it through this one. Despite all we do to keep these babies well, they are apparently still bound to get sick! I can't imagine how sick they would be if we didn't take all of the precautions we take. . . .

Anyway, at the pediatrician's office on Tuesday, the babies were weighed:

Piper = 10 pounds 10 ounces
Henry = 11 pounds 15 ounces
Rosemary = 8 pounds 10 ounces

Each baby managed to gain more than an ounce a day since the last visit! And, they are all doing great on their growth curve based on adjusted age and moving up (i.e., not just staying on their curve). For adjusted age, Piper is right above the 50th percentile for weight and length, Henry is almost at the 75th percentile for weight and length, and Rosemary has moved up to the 10th percentile for weight and length (which is amazing considering she just got on the chart at the 5th percentile 2.5 weeks ago)!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Comparison

Back when the babies were just about a week old, one of the nurses at the hospital took some really great pictures of them. We scanned those pictures in and sent them out in an update e-mail some time back. Each of those pictures had a little stuffed animal that Uncle Zac and Aunt Kimberly gave the babies when they were born. To show everyone how much bigger the babies are now, tonight we took some pictures of the babies with their little stuffed animals.

To be honest, I was a little surprised at how small our babies used to be when I started pulling up the pictures to make this post. I thought that I truly remembered how little these babies were, but after seeing the old pictures, I'm not so sure. I know that I remember thinking that Henry was a giant when he came home from the hospital, but now Rosemary weighs 1.5 pounds more than he did when he came home. I suppose that when we do these pictures with the stuffed animals I'll be surprised all over again.

Here's Piper at 6 days, followed by Piper at 3.5 months:

And since Piper wouldn't wake up for her picture, here's a picture of her awake from a few days ago, sitting up like a big girl in her bumbo:

And here's Henry at 6 days, followed by Henry at 3.5 months:

Rosemary at 8 days, followed by Rosemary at 3.5 months:

Many of you have talked about the picture of Rosemary wearing Gary's wedding band when she was 3 weeks. Just for fun, we also took some pictures of Rosemary with Gary's wedding band for commparison. . . .

We took Rosemary back to the pediatrician's office to be weighed on Friday, and she had gained a whopping ten ounces in 7 days! She now weighs 7 pounds 7 ounces. And, we've found a new nanny who we really like. She had taken care of Rosemary the entire week leading up to the weigh in, so we know that she is feeding her well!

Premature babies are usually measured by their "adjusted age" rather than by their actual chronological age. So, when we see where the babies fall on the growth chart or are looking at their developmental milestones, we consider their age to be however much older they are than their due date, rather than how old they actually are. That means that although our babies are now 3.5 months, we consider them to be 5.5 weeks adjusted age. Based on adjusted age, Piper and Henry have been moving up on the growth chart, and most recently both fall right around the 50th percentile for weight. Rosemary, however, has been so small that she has not even made the weight chart. But -- after this last weigh in -- we are pleased to report that Rosemary is finally on the chart and falls in right in the 5th percentile for weight! Hopefully she'll take after her sister and brother and keep moving up. . . .

P.S. Is it just me or has Rosemary's nose not grown since she was born? I remember thinking that she had quite a honker on her when she was born, but now it looks regular size. In the old pictures, her nose takes up almost her entire face! Regardless, I'm just happy that she has so far grown into that nose.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Go Gators!

Gary went to UF, and I have no football allegiances. Thus, our kids are going to get beat up at school here in Alabama:

It's not that easy to get a picture of all three babies looking somewhat happy. Usually at least one child is screaming, so it really takes about 30 pictures to get one good one. The one above is our good one for the day. Just for fun, here are some of the pictures that didn't work out for us:

Some of you may have noticed in our last post that recently Rosemary has not gained much weight. We were very disappointed with Rosemary's weight gain at the last pediatrician appointment. The general rule of thumb is that you want a baby to gain about an ounce a day. At the last appointment, Piper gained 18 ounces in 16 days. Henry gained 23 ounces in 16 days. And little Rosemary only gained 7 ounces in 16 days.

So, right after the last pediatrician appointment we made a personnel change (as in, "Here's your last paycheck, Nanny") and called in the reinforcements (Nana). After 7 days of Gary and I feeding Rosemary every night, and Mom feeding Rosemary every day while Gary and I were at work, we took Rosemary back to the pediatrician to be weighed. And she gained FOURTEEN ounces in just SEVEN days! We were thrilled, and the pediatrician was amazed. He told us that he didn't know what we were doing, but to keep it up. We certainly will.