Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mothers of Multiples Club

So this week's question at Multiples and More is:
Are you involved in your local Mothers (Parents) of Multiples Club?
When I first discovered that I was carrying quadruplets, my husband's aunt gave my number to a wonderful woman named Amy who had quadruplets (11 at the time.) Amy gave me a call and it was wonderful to talk to someone who has quads. Here I was- my head absolutely spinning paralyzed by doubt that I would be able to handle this. She was so comforting. She told me that she had two pieces of advice for anyone carrying quads.
1. Do everything your doctor tells you.
Check. Did that.
2. Join a support group.
Check Check. Did that too.
I went to a meeting when I was 14 weeks pregnant. I was so happy to be in a room filled with ladies who were pregnant with or raising triplets or quadruplets. They were all doing it! This really could be done! Just knowing that there are others who are managing all of this makes me confident that I can too.
Let's face it. There are not that many people who will ever have quadruplets. At times, I feel very alone and even isolated. One of my closest friends since childhood loves to call and suggest big outings for just the two of us. She has a 3 yr old and a 1 yr old. She has several babysitters nearby ready and willing to come over any time and babysit. I love my friend dearly and we are still very close, but she doesn't get that it is not easy to find someone who can handle one 4 yr old and four 1 yr olds. The ladies in my group all know the difficulties of finding childcare for many children. Their lives are no longer "normal" and therefore they understand some of the complications we face.
There are also very practical purposes. My multiples group holds a used clothing and baby gear sale twice a year. It is an excellent opportunity to pick up quality gear at low prices and a great way to move items you no longer use. My quadruplets are three girls and a boy. The boy wears a lot of hand-me-downs from my older son, but I need to get all new for the girls. I have found a Mom with triplet girls about 1 yr older than my crew and I always look at the clothes her girls have outgrown. I also found a Mom with triplet girls about 1 yr younger than mine. I let her have first grabs at our old clothes.
I am tremendously grateful to have found this wonderful group of ladies. We span decades in age and come from all walks of life. Some of us have nothing in common other than having higher order multiples. Through this one similarity, we are often able to understand each others daily lives better than some family members. Knowing that someone out there understands can make all the difference in the world some days. We just want to know that we are not alone.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Sand Table

For Christmas, the quads got a sand table. We were waiting for nice weather to put it together and this week was the perfect opportunity! We put it on the back deck and the babies love it!

Everybody checking out the table

I think we have about as much sand under the deck as we do in the table!

Drew was a wild man with the sand shovels!

After one big sand throw from Drew, Will went and got his safety goggles!

Izzie just wanted to carry around the bucket.
She didn't care of it had sand or not, she just loved that little green bucket!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Zoo!

This week Will and his cousin Alex were both on spring break from preschool. Alex and Will are 4 mos apart and Alex's sister Kate is 4 mos older than the quads. Joanna and I love that our children are so close in age. Since we live near each other, it is fun to get them together as often as possible. Unfortunately, this school year, Will and Alex's preschool schedules were opposite, so we have had a hard time getting everyone together. We were happy to have an entire week to get the kids out together. We also had gorgeous spring weather! We decided to take advantage of this and go to the Cincinnati Zoo.
All of the kids.
My little monkey is on the monkey(gorilla).

Will's favorite animal of the day was this peacock with his feathers displayed. Let me tell you, this guy was working it. He had his feathers up and he was shaking his tail and letting out squawks. Will kept asking what he was doing. I told him the peacock was trying to attract a female, but this didn't mean much to Will. In about 10 years he'll understand the lengths to which males will go to attract females ;0).

Will and Alex in front of the peacock-yeah, not the best photo
In addition to the animals, the zoo had 'Zoo Blooms.' The flowers were amazing! They were all blooming beautifully and there were tons of them! I loved them and took pictures of the kids in front of some of them. Here are a few-


The crew in front of some amazing tulips

All of us in front of some more pretty flowers.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How to Survive Multiples

I will never forget the day we discovered we were having quadruplets. I can not even begin to list the thoughts that spun through my mind on rotation, but the main one was, "How on Earth are we going to raise FOUR babies?!?"

I'm not going to say that the first year was easy, but I have discovered, like so many before me, that it can be done! You can even enjoy (most of) it. Now, I'm only drawing on personal experience, so take this for what it's worth, but here is my advice for surviving your first year with higher-order multiples.

1. Journal, blog, whatever. Just write things down! I am starting with something I regret not doing. I didn't start my blog until the babies were about 9 mos. and I've never really kept a journal. When you are going through your pregnancy, every little detail seems so huge and important that you know you will not forget it. Yes, you will. It is crazy how much of my pregnancy is a blur just 2 years later. I wish I had written things down as they were happening so I could look back and remember not only the facts, but also my thoughts and emotions about all that was going on inside of me.

This blog or journal will not only be special to you, but what a great gift to pass down to your child.

2. Accept help. People genuinely want to help and you are going to need it. I really struggled with this one. I have always been very self reliant and had no interest in changing. Thank God my wonderful friend Dawn talked me into letting her create a schedule of volunteers to help me. This starts once you go on bed rest and continues for as long as you want after the babies are home.

"Good" help includes: bringing over food. Caring for older siblings. Helping feed babies. Any housework (folding laundry, dusting...). You may find that some people are really just curious about quadruplets and not necessarily interested in being "good" help. These people can be thanked and don't need to come back. If they are not really helping, they are just more people in your home possibly causing you stress. Keep as much "good" help as you need for as long as you need, but don't feel bad about letting these people know at some point that you are ready to go it on your own.

Also, always remember, these are your babies. If someone is doing something you don't like or in a way you don't like, speak up. Your babies will most likely be preemies and may have some special needs. Make sure they are being handled as you wish. Your helpers will understand and appreciate you showing them what the baby needs. If not, they are not much help.

3. Start a schedule early. If it is all your children have ever known, it will be completely natural to them. My children spent 2-3 weeks in the NICU where they were put on a schedule. When they got home, we just continued that same schedule and have since adapted it to fit our family. My quads have always eaten at the same time, slept at the same time... It is all they know and it works. If they know what is coming, they handle it much better. If you know what is coming, you can plan. You will know when you need help. You will know if/when you can sneak out for an hour or two. Without our schedule firmly in place, I am certain I would have lost my mind (well, you know, even more...).

4. Learn to smile, nod and ignore. One child brings a lot unsolicited advice and comments. Four babies bring four times more! Everyone will have an opinion and a lot of people will want to share them with you. I have found your best bet is to say nothing, smile, nod and keep on moving. Who knows, maybe one day the lady in the checkout lane at the grocery store will pass on a great tidbit of parenting advice and help you with a problem. Probably not, but we can just ignore any unhelpful pieces of advice. As for the comments, most of ours have been positive, but I have learned it is usually best to just ignore the rude or hurtful ones. I know my babies are blessings and what a random man at the park thinks makes them no less precious. I am worried about when they are old enough to understand what is being said. I will figure that out when we get there.

5. Find some sort of support group. Most people will never parent multiples. When I found out about the quads I didn't know a single person who had triplets, much less quads! There is nothing like being able to talk to someone who has actually been through what you are going through. Also, early on, when you are sure there is no way you can do this, it will be so inspirational to see these ladies who are doing it and doing a great job of it! What group you join is up to you, but most areas have a local multiples group or you can find several online.

6. Okay, here it comes- the gear. Yes, you are having four babies, but you do not need four of everything.

-Cribs. You will need four cribs, but not immediately.
****disclaimer- again this is my experience and my advice. I was warned by some nurses against babies sharing cribs. Other nurses (and my pediatrician) said it was fine and even beneficial to the babies.****
When we first brought the babies home, they all slept in a pack and play in our bedroom. We then moved them into one crib in their room. Once they got too long to sleep that way, we switched to 2 and 2. Everyone got their own crib once they became more mobile and started waking up with scratches and things. I was blessed that my kids have always been pretty good sleepers. I credit this in part to them sharing cribs for so long. I think the comfort of their sibling near them helped them self soothe back to sleep when they woke up at night.

-Bouncy seats. We had a few bouncy seats combined with a couple swings. We always had a seat for a baby and tried to rotate them around a bit so they had different views. Some people I know swear by one bouncy seat per baby, but I think as long as you have a place to put a baby down, you are fine.

-Boppies. We actually had eight of them! We had four downstairs and four in their room upstairs. We used these for one person feedings. We would use burp cloths to prop the bottle on the side of the Boppy and the baby would recline and eat. They also often napped in them during the day. They were wonderful. They are not super expensive and the covers remove and wash easily.

Can you believe how tiny my little sweeties were?

-Clothes. In the beginning you will need very few 'outfits'. Have at least a dozen sleepers (you will want more if your babies have bad reflux) and they will be set. Once they get older you can dress them up in adorable outfits and have a grand time!

-Bottles. You will need at least a day's worth- 32 bottles. This is a lot of bottles and you will need to create some sort of system for cleaning the bottles, making/pouring the formula/breast milk, and storing them. Believe me, these bottles and the whole process will be the center of your life for a while. I remember how weird (but wonderful) it was when we finally got rid of the bottles.

-Strollers. Yes, I said strollerS. Again this is only my opinion (and my husband thinks I am crazy here), but different situations call for different strollers. If you are only going to have one stroller. Make sure it seats all of your babies. I know early on you can't imagine taking all of the babies anywhere by yourself, but you will need to and even want to before you know it.

A look at our stroller collection:

We have two twin strollers. These were great in the beginning, because the babies' car seats fit in them. I don't know of a quad stroller that takes the car seats. We still use them occasionally and call them our 'stealth' strollers. We can separate if we want and get far fewer questions and comments when people think we only have twins. The obvious downside is that you need two adults for these strollers to work. Also they do not handle very well. Finally, the baby in back can't always see that well and typically begins kicking the baby in front. The fabric seats don't protect the baby in front, so then the crying starts. They usually frustrate me so we don't use them that often.

Our quad Runabout. I love this stroller! I know it looks crazy and industrial, but it is actually quite light weight. I can lift it in and out of the van on my own with no trouble. The kids can all see. It will hold them up to 45 lbs! Also, it handles very well. I can drive that stroller through the crowded aisles of Target with one hand! The only real downside (other than not being too attractive) is the seats do not recline much. I wish they were able to recline further than they do.
Our Step 2 choo-choo wagon. This is our newest addition to our stroller collection. The kids love it. They each have their own space. No own is kicking anyone or pulling any one's hair. Everyone can see very well. The downside is control. It doesn't exactly corner well. This makes it best for outdoor events. Fairs, parades (we kind of are one), the zoo (again...) anything like that.

7. Keep your sense of humor! This world wasn't really designed for our families and craziness will ensue. Your choices are to sit down and cry about it or get a good laugh and keep moving! This is a wild ride and some days you will consider giving up. Even if you could, you would be missing out on the best ride you'll ever find. Enjoy it!!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Know Nightmares Aren't Funny, But...

I know that nightmares are very real at the time and very scary. Especially when you are four years old and reality and fiction sometimes get blurred. I try to be a loving and sympathetic Mother, but sometimes something strikes me as funny and I have never been good at controlling my laughter.

A couple of nights ago everyone is asleep in their room. A little after 1:00 a.m. I hear Will crying down the hall. I go to his room to see what is wrong and he tells me he had a nightmare and he is still scared. I climb in his bed and cuddle him and comfort him and assure him that there is nothing to be afraid of. He is safe and protected and, "God is bigger than the Boogie man." (yes, we are big Veggietale fans) He tells me that he didn't have a nightmare about the Boogie man. I asked what his nightmare was about. He said, "the little men in my nose."


He said, "You know- the little men climbing in my nose!"

After a few more moments of this, I remember. We had been watching tv the evening before and there was a commercial for a product called Omnaris. In the commercial, a little army of men climb into a person's nose (I think to clear it or something, I don't really remember much). At the time Will commented that he didn't want men to climb into his nose, but I assured him that no one would. I didn't realize how much it bothered him.

Anyway, I was a bad Mom and laughed when I realized what he was afraid of. Of course, Will got upset all over again and said, "it's not funny!"

As my penance, I spent the rest of the night in bed with him. Protecting him from the Omnaris men trying to climb into his nose.

I couldn't find a picture of the men climbing into the nose,

but you have to admit it is a bizarre ad.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easter Dinner

After brunch at my sister's, we headed over to my in-laws' for dinner. It was a lovely evening. Lots of good food and another Easter egg hunt. Unfortunately, I left my camera at my sister's, but my sister-in-law got some good pictures of my crew she sent me. Here they are...

Will and his cousin Ana

Drew. Isn't he so handsome?

This is Izzie's sweetie-pie face. Do not fall for it! ;0)
I think she looks like a Precious Moment figurine with her big eyes and blond curls

Daddy and Julia eating.

After dinner the babies were playing in the backyard. They found an outdoor faucet they were playing with. My father-in-law assured me that it had never been turned on since they built the house 4 years ago, so it was quite tight and there was no way that they could start the water. Well, maybe they couldn't, but my husband (you know, my 6th child) could! I was on the front porch with my mother-in-law and aunt chatting when Rod went crazy and let our children play in the water in their Easter outfits. Luckily my sister-in-law caught him on camera!

Rod turning on the water for everyone.

Drew would stick his face in the water, then run away.

He loved it!

Julia wasn't too sure about the whole thing.
(that's Mommy's little girl)

Paige jumped right in there.

She thought it was hilarious!!

This picture may be more accurate to Izzie's true personality...

Will realized that mischief was taking place without him and quickly corrected the situation.

Oh well. The kids had a great time. We had brought their pajamas anyway, so we dropped them in my in-laws' big tub to warm them up and clean them up, put them in their jammies, then got them home to bed. The clothes all cleaned up just fine, so no harm. I love my kids. All six of them...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Easter Brunch

After Easter mass we went over to my sister's house for brunch and an Easter egg hunt. The kids had a great time! They love getting together with their grandparents and all the aunts and uncles and cousins. The weather was absolutely perfect! Sunny and warm.

We tried to get a family picture and this was the best we got.
Oh well. The kids were adorable and it was a lovely day.

The family had a big Easter egg hunt in the back yard. It was the quads' first egg hunt.
Paige can't wait to get out there!
Izzie quickly found two eggs, but wouldn't put them in her bag,
so her hands were too full to pick up anymore.

Drew did a great job!

Cousin Alex found one!

Julia loves the rocking chair in her cousin Kate's room.
(Yes, the walls are an awesome mural of the Lorax)

Drew loved his pinwheel from Grandma!

I love this picture of Izzie and her cousin Max.
I would love to know what was being said.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easter Baskets

I'm breaking Easter down into a few posts. Today I'm sharing pictures of the kiddos getting their Easter baskets Easter morning. We didn't get a ton of time to linger, because we had to get breakfast and all 7 of us dressed in time for Easter mass. We kept the baskets very simple this year anyway. The quads really haven't had much candy. I'm completely fine with keeping it that way for a while. We had decided a few weeks ago that their big gift from the Easter bunny would be swings. When my multiples club had our sale a couple of weeks ago, I found some used swings that were in great shape and super cheap. I got three (we still have Will's baby swing) for less than I would have paid for one new swing! I have no problem with buying and using used items, but I felt weird putting them with the babies' baskets. Especially since they would not be at all excited to see a hunk of red plastic sitting there. We just went super simple. Each of the quads got an Elmo book or dvd (they have just discovered and fallen in love with the little red monster. They call him "Melmo"), a couple of peeps and a couple of empty plastic eggs to play with. Will still got a pretty standard basket.

The babies' baskets are ready to go. I had big plans for hand-made baskets liners in each of their colors, but things fell through. I found Easter grass in each of their five colors, so we just went with that. It got the job done.

That silly Easter Bunny hides Will's basket each year, so he has to hunt for his treats. The quads' baskets don't get hidden. They are still too small. Here is Will looking for his basket in the ottoman in the playroom-- Nope! Not in there!

There it is! He hid it on the floor of the pantry!

Will and Stella check out his loot

Will's favorite part of his basket were the kid's size garden gloves and tools.

He is very excited about helping Daddy with the vegetable garden this summer!

Drew and Paige look at the baskets. Never mind the girls in onesies. We haven't turned the AC on yet, but some nights it stays a bit warm and we don't have summer pajamas yet for them, so for now they are just sleeping in onesies.

Julia gets a peek

Izzie checks out that weird Easter grass.

Daddy reads Julia's new book to her.

Izzie finds a Peep.

And a love affair begins.

I broke off a piece of Peep and gave it to her. She loved it! She ate an entire bunny, then went and began stealing the Peeps out of everyone else's baskets. Luckily, after I took them away she seems to have forgotten about them. Out of sight- out of mind.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Will's Fun Build-Up to Easter

While the rest of us struggled to get through the last few weeks, Will was great! We couldn't go far with sickies everywhere, but Will has always been one of those kids who can find or make fun wherever he is! He doesn't need to find the party-- He is the party!

He went out back and rode the glider on out swing set.

He wanted to ride it "as high as space." I think he got pretty darn close!

He gathered pretty bouquets of flowers for his Mommy.
(who loved them-- allergy attack or no)

He colored Easter Eggs! This was fun, but hard boiled eggs are one of Will's favorite snacks and now he won't eat any of the colored eggs! He worked hard on those and doesn't want Mommy just peeling off the color!

Once the crew was well enough, we went to the mall and got a terrible picture taken with the Easter Bunny. When we got there and saw the bunny, Izzie immediately ran over to climb is his (her?) lap. Julia, on the other hand, was terrified. Will was very sweet and remembered that he had been afraid of the bunny. He said that he would hold her. What a good big brother!!
Oddly enough, they are the only two who look okay. I swear the others are not drugged, but to look at them, that would be my first guess.
Oh well! We got the picture, so it goes in the scrap book. We had a lovely Easter and I will get those pictures up soon!