Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Name Game

Bob and I have decided that we aren't going to tell anyone the names of the triplets until they are born. We are going to keep those things to ourselves. It seems there isn't much of this process that is just ours, so we are going to keep that between us and then introduce everyone to the children at the same time.

Now, that doesn't mean we won't share the rejected names. Feel free to add as many as you can think of in the comment section. Who knows, we may change our mind on some of them.

Here is what we have so far with compliments to all who have helped us come up with these so far.

Huey, Louie and Dewey
Larry, Moe and Curley
Manny, Moe and Jack
Faith, Hope and Grace
Athos, Porthos and Aramis
Crosby, Stills and Nash
Neil, Alex and Geddy (because we'll always be in a rush)
Earth, Wind and Fire
John, Paul and George (do we really need a Ringo?)
Whatever the names of the 3 Cheetah Girls are
Salt, Pepper and Cayanne

Troy, Michael and Emmitt
1st Pig, 2nd Pig and 3rd Pig
any combo of Ross, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, Chandler and Monica
Jerry, George and Elaine
Jesus, Mary and Joseph (just think of when you are mad)
James, Jean Luc and Janeway (think Star Trek Captains, oh you can use Sisko too)
Luke, Leia and Annakin
Sam, Merry and Pippin
Harry, Ron and Hermione
Ranger, Cowboy and Maverick
Britney, Christina and Paris (hey, they could be brain dead strippers)
Sonny, Michael and Fredo
Any combo of Marcia, Greg, Jan, Peter, Cindy and Bobby
Theo, Rudy and Vanessa
Larry, Darrell and Darrell
Jim, Jimi and Janis
Kurt, Jeff and Dimebag
John, Johnny and Jonathan (this was a suggestion from my 9 year old sister)
Samantha, Miranda and Carrie

Bo, Luke and Daisey
Kevin, Paul and Winnie
Randy, Joy and Crabman
Rita, Elanor and Michelle
Taxman, Walrus and Bungalo Bill
Bruce, Clarence and Little Steven
Jack, Janet and Chrissy
Uncle Frank, Cousin Sal and Guillermo
Prince, Queen Latifah and Sir Elton
Willie, Mickey and the Duke
Jason, Michael and Freddy
Marshall, Will and Holly
Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria
Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego
Uno, Dos, Tres
Tom, Dick and Harry
Eeny, Miny, Mo
Snap, Crackle and Pop
Bippity, Boppity, Boo
Eric, Dennis and Mike
Bart, Lisa and Maggie
Stop, Drop and Roll
John, Dick and Harry
Jean, Luc and Bernard
Reese, Ben and Jerry
Neville, Winston and Margaret
Mark, Luke and John
Pooh, Tigger and Roo
Alvin, Simon and Theodore
Angus, Malcolm and Brian

Malcolm, Reese and Dewey
Robin, Lee and Cain
Tinker, Evers and Chance

Remember, feel free to add any that you can come up with.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Is it Possible For a Heathen To Raise Christian Triplets?

   [hee-thuhn] –noun
1. an unconverted individual of a people that do not acknowledge the God of the Bible; a person who is neither a Jew, Christian, nor Muslim; pagan.

I must admit, I’ve been called a heathen so many times in my life I wasn’t exactly sure I understood what the word meant. I believe that about 99% of the time I’m called a heathen it is in jest. I have a buddy who I think called me that more than he called me by name for many years.

Truth is I am nothing of the kind but it does make me smile when some people think of me that way. I guess that type of thinking brings out the devil in me, to quote AC/DC.

I didn’t really grow up in a church family. Shortly before my grandfather passed away he asked my parents to start taking us to church. I was about 9 or 10 years old. One thing I find funny about that story is that my dad swears my grandfather rarely, if ever, went to church himself. My dad and grandmother would go by themselves.

The church we went to then is the same church I go to now, Shepherd of Life Lutheran church in Arlington, TX. The church recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and the original Pastor, Pastor Ron came back and spoke at that service. It was an amazing morning for me as I recalled the memories I had from way back when.

If you ever quizzed me about church before that Sunday as I was growing up, I could sum it up very easily. The sermons were long and boring and I used to spend a lot of time watching the invisible clock in my head as the services went along.

Yet on anniversary Sunday I started to remember better times like ski trips, the original piano player and even a few of the faces came back to me.

Angela was raised in a much more religious family than I and they believe that God will speak to them and show them the way through tough situations. I’ve never really had that view, I’ve always thought if you are the best person you can be, treat people the way you wanted to be treated that things will work out for you.

I’m fairly certain those are the same things but it’s just easier for me to wrap my head around me being in control than waiting for good things to happen.

Today in church the sermon centered on God showing people the path, calling them to certain ways of living. If I have received that call, I must have not recognized the caller ID because I don’t think that has happened to me.

Then it dawned on me, the call didn’t come to me but it came to my Grandfather. I’m not sure either my sister or I appreciated that call as we both stopped going when we turned 16 and our dad gave us the option to go when we wanted. Almost 30 years later, I appreciate it now.

I guess I should be embarrassed that it has taken this long to recognize it but better late than never, huh?

Not long after my grandfather made that request of my father, Pastor Ron knocked on our front door. I still don’t completely understand how my Dad didn’t politely say thanks but no thanks and shut the door. I guess it was part of that calling.

Angela and I started dating in 2005. The year of 2004 was easily the toughest year of my life. It was that year that I decided I couldn’t control things myself and I needed some help.

I wandered back into Shepherd of Life for the first time since 1988 and sat at the back of the Church. I found myself back there the next week and the week after that and it continued throughout that summer.

I did even that on my own terms though, I snuck in at 7:57 and snuck out as soon as the service was done at 9. I didn’t really want to speak to anyone. Finally one Sunday the new Pastor, Pastor John cornered me and had me fill out a guest card. He called me a few days later and we had our first discussion. I still recall it almost word for word.

Football season came around and I kinda stopped going but I did start up again in early 05. Then I met Angela and hindsight tells me if I had not started going to church again, we might not have gotten very far in the relationship. Church was and is very important to her. Prior to 2004, it wasn’t very important to me.

Getting married at that church was one accomplishment that I hold dear. I am comfortable there, even though the fact is, for the first few years as a member, we knew very few people. We have been teaching Sunday school for 3 years now but other than the hour with the kids, we go fairly unrecognized.

My buddy Eric who calls me a heathen still can’t believe I actually teach Sunday school. He tells me to stay away from the holy water because it might start bubbling.

The thing is, even when I wasn’t attending church, I felt I lived a Christian life. I’ve said many times and have been clear with Angela about the fact that I may change my mind on a dime and go through another church dry spell. Comfort is everything to me.

Angela’s family frowns on what I enjoy and I think if you cornered a few of them they’d tell you I truly am a heathen. It’s true, I listen to Ozzy Osbourne and AC/DC. Not only do I watch the Harry Potter movies, I read the books too. I think it’s ok for adults to watch movies with adult subjects.

I think God understands that Highway to Hell and Mr. Crowley are just good songs and that listening to them does not doom you to a life with Beelzebub. Kinda like just because when you listen to Amazing Grace, it doesn’t mean you are going to heaven. I think you can enjoy a song by Black Sabbath and not want to eat a small child. I believe killing a person while listening to those songs is a sin, but I don’t think it’s more of a sin than just killing someone.

I’m of the belief that God has a sense of humor. I think the triplets prove that. I think God understands that church is the funniest place on earth. Nothing is funnier than something that happens in church whether it be trying to hold in a sneeze at the communion alter or realizing that your Guns n Roses Appetite for Destruction boxers were visible to the congregation during communion.

Before we started going to church my image of God was George Burns and I guess I played the John Denver part. I mean, if George Burns is God he has to understand that getting the pastor to say the name of this blog in church is just plain funny.

OK, I’m finally getting to the point of this very long rambling, I promise.

I wonder how hard it’s going to be with triplets and church. Will we have the energy to pack everyone and everything up and make the 30-minute drive to Arlington every Sunday? How will we take three infants to the alter? Are we going to have to have separate baptisms for each kid? I mean, there are 3 of them and only 2 of us.

When they get a bit older will I be able to tolerate that they are as bored as I was and all they are doing is embarrassing us?

Is it worth it to put up with all that crap and still have people think of us as heathens as me and the 3 kids are laughing at mommy because I am tickling her fingers during the prayer of the day?

I wasn’t sure to be honest but thinking of Church today, I think the answer is yes.

Since announcing that we are having triplets, we have come out of the closet so to speak. We can’t sneak in and out of Church anymore. We get stopped by people wanting to know how Angela is doing, how can they help and wishing us well. I can’t imagine what it will be like when the kids are born and more people make the connection that we are the 2 with the litter.

I have a hunch even this hermit heathen will understand the true meaning of belonging to a church family even if it did take almost 30 yeas to answer the call.

Friday, January 23, 2009

For Those About to Rock!!!

Recently, Bob and I watched an episode of Gary Unmarried in which Gary and his ex fight over which concert would be the first concert their children saw.  We laughed and realized this might become an issue in our world in a few years...I'm sure that BRUCE would probably win, but I'd fight hard for U2.  This debate has now become moot as we have brought the "kids" to their first concert, albeit in utero.  

I think we both agree that AC/DC was a fitting start to their concert going lives.  In fact, I managed to procure myself two souvenirs in a shameless ploy of a family portrait with our AC/DC onesies and the flashing devil horns as a Christmas card...once the purchases were actually made, I readjusted the all good salesmen do.  :)

The show was amazing.  We bought tickets months ago through a friend who works at the Rangers, and the seats were GREAT.  We were near the stage, the performers actually looked life-sized, and the people around us stood up for the entire show.  As I live with a man whose primary interests are music and sports, I knew way ahead of time that the band would be performing 18 songs and play around an hour and forty-five minutes. When we bought the tickets pre-triplets, I was a little disappointed by the length of the show, but as I have become the incredible napping machine with an 8 p.m. bedtime, the short show seemed to be a blessing. For the first few songs, I'd think, "one down, seventeen to go..." but very quickly I just got lost in the music and began to enjoy the ride.  The crowd really got going when they sang "Dirty Deeds" - which has always been a favorite of mine.  

About halfway through the show, the guy in front of us began chain smoking, and Bob and I looked at each other indignantly.  We had chosen to blast out the tiny ears of our three children in the name of rock n roll, but this second hand smoke thing was not in our plans.  Ironically, neither of us seemed concerned about the illegal substances we smelled floating through the air.  

As the concert ended and we headed to the car, we all began to discuss our favorite parts of the show.  Stephen was pretty happy that the cannons fired during "For Those About to Rock," and Bob couldn't have enjoyed "A Whole Lot of Rosie" any more than he did (and I swear that Rosie had the face of Hillary Clinton).  On the ride home, we made a pass by Whataburger to feed the triplets a milkshake and cheeseburger - you've got to start the post-concert traditions early.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

This is the Peaceful Time of Our Journey

Today we begin week 12 of our 34 week pregnancy. So far we can't ask for anything better. Angela feels good and everything checked out at our last doctor visit. We keep hearing that we should enjoy the peace and quiet because before we know it, both those things will be gone.

Angela has been able to use the peace and quiet to sleep. Whether it be an 8 o'clock bed time she's adopted or the 2 hour nap in the afternoon, she gets her sleep time in. I can't sleep like that. I haven't been able to for 20 years. I have about 6 to 7 hours in me, max. If I choose to go to bed at 8 or take a nap, just deduct that time from the end of my sleep. I do those things, I'm up at 3 AM.

That gives me, a professional worrier, plenty of time to freak out about the future. Or as I call it, research.

Both of us have been trying to find everything we can get our hands on about having triplets. Wide ranging topics from pregnancy to raising the trio. We have web sites and books to use as reference. Friends of friends with triplets are giving us advice and Angela went to her first multiples meeting last night where she got to talk to mothers who have done this before.

I've been focused on two different sources lately the first is a web site, the triplet connection. I've spent quite a bit of time perusing the forums looking for answers and just reading about others experiences. I want to know things like, how do you handle three infant seats? What car works best not only for the seats but for all the gear, strollers, diaper bags, etc? How do you feed three infants at one time?

The information on this site has been great but at the same time it can get frightening at the blink of an eye. There are complete threads on marriages falling part, depression and then the unthinkable, some if not all of the triplets dying. I think it's great that people that go through these things have a place to discuss what is happening and find that they are not alone. It is good that they can see that there are people who can help you through these bad times.

I guess what bothers me is that this does happen. I knew it did, the doctor has been clear with us about the risks but seeing actual stories from actual people can weigh on me quick like. I try not to spend much time in those threads but they draw me in.

My mother-in-law got me this book, I Sleep at Red Lights a few weeks ago. What is amazing is that I'm actually reading. I'm about 1/2 way through it now. I haven't read 1/2 a book in almost 2 years. I'm not much of a reader, in case you couldn't tell.

This book was written by a former writer for Jay Leno and he talks about his experience of having triplets. The kids are about 6 months old at the part of the book I'm at now. Our situation is different from theirs in a lot of aspects but the common denominator between us and them is the triplets. A lot of his stories are funny and I'm sure I could find the humor in similar things like the doctor telling him that he needs to deal with his high strung wife. The doctor was scared of his wife. I can see that happening with us. Or at least I could be scared of her.

Everyone we talk to and everything we read says the key to getting through the first 6 months with the babies will be to get on a schedule, feed and change them every 3 hours. The guy in the book tried that but it didn't work out very well for him. Each feeding and changing session took 2 1/2 hours - that gave them 30 minutes of break.

Holy crap!

I've been telling people about the roller coaster of emotions I've been on the past 12 weeks. I'll go from excited to petrified in mere moments.

I realize that I can only deal with things that happen to us, when they happen. So for now, I'll keep reading everything I can and just deal with what I can control right now. Keeping Angela healthy and preparing us mentally and financially for the changes that are coming our way, quickly.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Our First Big Hurdle

After our appointment on December 15th, we decided it was time to let people know. The doctor gave us the clearance but he suggested we don't say too much about there being 3. The disappearing embryo was a possibility and we learned later, it was one the doctor was hoping for.

Triplet pregnancies are high risk and he would prefer if he didn't have to deal with it was the feeling I got. He's excited for us and thinks we will be fine but you can see it on his face that he would have preferred two instead of 3.

So, we told people we work with and made sure everyone was aware that by our next appointment on January 8th, we may not be having triplets.

My parents came in for Christmas and we had a great time being with them. I had put some shackles on my mom telling her no baby stuff for Christmas. I worry by nature, it's what I do and I just didn't want people buying her 3 of something and then 2 weeks later we get told there wouldn't be 3.

Plus, I had bought her a few cool baby outfits and I didn't want anyone stealing my thunder on Christmas day. I mean, what baby can live without an AC/DC crawler thing? Oh and this one:

The thing is, when I bought that stuff, I didn't know we were having triplets yet. Anyway, we got past Christmas and I couldn't hold my mom or her parents back anymore. My mom got some baby outfits for her birthday on the 30th and her parents got us some triplet books.

We finally made it to the appointment on the 8th. I had tried to maintain an attitude of if there are only 2, then that's ok. That would be God's plan and I can live with that. I kept trying to not think about the fact that 2 might be easier mentally and financially but I'd be lying if I said that wasn't literally keeping me up nights.

Angela on the other hand had wrapped her head around 3 and I knew she'd be devastated if we had lost one. I kept thinking if we were going to lose one, I'd prefer it happen now rather than later.

Once the doc came in he took out his sperlunking hat, turned on the light and said all 3 were still there. Like I mentioned, he was a little disappointed but told us everything looked good.

Before he said anything, I could see the screen but Angela couldn't. I only saw two blobs that looked like babies to me. My heart sunk. I thought oh no, Angela's going to be a mess. Then he announced we were good and I realized I have no clue what is going on in those sonogram shots.

Our next appointment is on Feb 4th which will be week #14. He wants us to get to 34 weeks. If we can get that far, then things will be as good as they can get. He'll perform a c-section and Angela will be in the hospital for a few days. If the babies need a NICU, then they will be moved to another hospital.

He said that may be tough on Angela but it's the only option if we want to continue with him as our doctor. His hospital does not have a NICU. Angela really likes Dr. Snead and his staff so we decide to stay with him knowing full well he may not be with us at the end. If we don't make 34 weeks, he won't be able to help us.

At our next appointment he will assign us a multiple specialist and we will begin seeing both doctors as we get to the scary stage. If we can keep Angela rested and in good health we should be ok but as he keeps reminding us, there is a good possibility she will be put on bed rest.

So far we are doing pretty well. Angela is real tired but she feels fine. Everything we read says a lot of moms of triplets don't feel this well at this point. So, we are thankful for that and hope it stays that way for as long as possible.

We are walking as often as we can in this crazy DFW winter weather. Both Angela and I could use losing a lot of pounds and the doctor doesn't want her gaining much weight during the pregnancy. 5 to 10 pounds actually. Which with triplets, I think that will be a trick. So, we are trying to eat better and like I said, we are trying to walk enough to keep the weight down as reasonably as possible.

So far she's lost 10 pounds since our first appointment in December. I can't really say the same. I forgot to ask the doctor how much weight I can gain.

The Shot & the Doc

At my November appointment, Dr. Snead said that my body had responded strangely to the clomid and that if we didn't get pregnant this month that I was getting too complicated to handle.  Bob, of course, wondered why it had taken the doc that long to figure out I'm a little more complex than the average nutcase.  In order to prevent my body from dropping all six eggs that were maturing, Bob had to give me a shot on Friday morning.  He could not have been more giddy.  He kept running around the house and pantomiming shoving a giant needle through my breastplate in an homage to Pulp Fiction.  I was not so impressed with his antics, and when Friday morning rolled around, I was much more nervous than I expected.  Despite his numerous attempts to find the breast bone in my tush, Bob was a surprisingly decent nurse, and the shot could not have gone better.  

Since beginning fertility treatments, I'd learned what it felt like to ovulate, and I was pretty sure that I felt three eggs drop just as I had the previous month when nothing had happened.  So, when we took the pregnancy test, I fully expected a negative result and to get shipped off to a fertility "expert."  The positive result made my head spin and took my breath away.  It was four days early and the box said that the results that early were only 50% accurate.  All of this combined with my internet browsing and baby book research made me think that maybe I had a few more hormones coursing through my veins because we had more than one baby.  Bob wasn't so sure about a multiple pregnancy.

After our first round of positive pregnancy tests, we just assumed that I was pregnant and all was well.  As our appointment approached, I started to worry that we read the test wrong and that I'd told our family about a false positive and that I wasn't really pregnant.  As we drove to the doctor together (for the first time Bob was actually coming with me, so it felt pretty real), I could feel my heart race.  We waited patiently for the nurse, Haydee to call us to the back and my nerves just jangled.  I did the usually business in the cup, and when I came out, Haydee made a comment that she didn't need to test for pregnancy because my previous blood work had come back with a positive.  I felt a little relief at this but my anxiety rose again as I had to step on the scale.  Ugh.

I met Bob in the back where he was patiently waiting in the sonogram room.  As I de-pantsed and covered with the little towel thing, I shared what Haydee had said about us being pregnant for sure.  When Dr. Snead came in, it was time to assume the position (why do TV shows always show the sonogram moment as cold gel on your tummy and smiles all around) for our vaginal ultrasound.  At first, the doc had the monitor turned away from me and as I felt him search around I tried to get a clue of what was going on by examining Bob's face in the dark.  Neither of us could figure out what was going on, but the doctor's head shakes and negative noises put both of us on edge.  "Well, do you want to guess?" Doctor Snead asked.  I started tentatively with one, then two, then with a hint of panic three?

"Surprise, it's triplets!" Dr. Snead announced, and I reached over and grabbed Bob's hand as I tried to process the number three and the fact that it represented the number of babies growing inside me.  Bob was stunned too.  Neither of us knew what to say, and it hit us like a ton of bricks...good bricks, but still a ton of them.  Dr. Snead took pictures of our babies, their first group shot and an individual photo for each, then left us to get dressed before he came back in for a consult.  

As I pulled on my pants, Bob and I quietly whispered panicked reassurances to one another and waited for the doctor to return.  As soon as he came back, he began by stating that there was an option for selective reduction which I adamantly rejected - there was no way I'd voluntarily give up one of the precious babies that were growing inside me after such a struggle to conceive them.  Then he informed us of a slight chance of a "disappearing embryo" in which one of the babies might just spontaneously miscarry in the early weeks of pregnancy.  We asked as many questions as could make their way through our hazy brains, and then shared our good news with the office staff as we left.  

In the car, Bob and I didn't know what to say to each other except for wow, so we began by calling our mothers.  My mom was first and since my grandparents were in town, we headed over to my parents' house to show off our first pictures of our children and called Bob's family.  All of our parents were impressed with the number and offered reassurances but didn't reiterate any offers to babysit.

The News We Had Been Waiting For

November 29th, the week we got our good news.

But before that, lets start from the beginning:

Angela and I first met in April of 2005. We were engaged that December and married the following July. July 22, 2006 to be exact. We lived in my bachelor pad in South Grand Prairie, TX. It was the perfect house for the two of us and we were very happy there. The following March we decided to just see what we could get for the house and if we could find our dream house. I don't think either one of us expected to move any time soon. Well, on July 24, 2007 we had moved into a house way too big for the two of us in Haslet, TX.

It had been a whirlwind for both of us and amazingly, everything we wanted in life since we met came to us easily. We were living the life. We decided it was now time to try to add some members to our family to fill the big ol' house we now owned.

Time passed with no luck. Each month went by and both of us got increasingly frustrated. By the summer of 2008 we decided to visit an OBGYN who specializes in fertility treatments. He tested us both and thought with just a little help, we could accomplish our goal in 3 to 6 months.

Things had come so easily up to this point, I kind of figured it was time we had some adversity in our lives.

November was our 3rd month of treatments and the frustration was hitting an all time high. Angela was on clomid which was supposed to help us ensure that I had targets to aim at. The doc told us this time that there were 6 targets getting ready for the launch pad. He thought that if I gave Angela a shot he prescribed on Friday, only one would drop and I had 2 shots at the target.

If I missed, then we'd have to go on to another doctor because he wasn't sure how to deal with us anymore.

So, I gave Angela the shot, took my shot at the goalie a day later with a follow up attempt 2 days later and then the waiting began.

We hit the Monday of Thanksgiving week. We were heading to LA on Tuesday to spend the holiday at my parents house. Angela was due to hit her period on Friday of that week but didn't want to wait that long to take the pregnancy test. She didn't want to be disappointed at my parents house.

So, she took the test a few days early and after several double takes, a re-reading of the instruction book (yes, I read an instruction manual for the first time in my life) we came to the conclusion that we were pregnant. The excitement was incredible. But for me personally I felt more relief than anything else. We did it. Finally. Now we could relax and start our family.

We made the decision to only tell our parents and wait until our doctor visit on December 15th to tell our siblings. Well, I made that decision, Angela had other ideas. It took 24 hours until all the siblings and even a friend of Angela's at work to find out about our happy news.