All of the Glamor

You know what’s hard? Parenting. Raising nice, obedient, intellectual children in a high pace, technological and diverse everyday environment. Making sure they are healthy, safe, and comforted each and every day, that they get enough attention and one-on-one time, and grow and thrive.

The past week has been more challenging than our normal triplet life and not something that is depicted on my usual cute and happy social media posts. Which brings me to a point of irritation for my week: social media. It is great to sharing your life and updating multiple people simultaneously and be able to look back on prior years’ activities, but it glamorizes so many things that realistically aren’t. For example, Facebook and Instagram posts that show smiling babies, cuddled up with one another, with clean houses in the backdrop and parents nicely dressed, with perfect hair, clothes and makeup…everyone is smiling.

This is more realistic!

Can I call BS on this for a moment?! Not that those moments don’t exist, but they are not the everyday norm, whether you have one kid or three or seventeen! In fact, I really do understand the effort it takes to get a cute photo of three toddlers together, with no one blurry or screaming or looking away, and it usually involves me as a sweating mess by the time they are all camera ready and cooperative.

Don’t get me wrong, I post more happy and uplifting things on my accounts than any of our hardships, since the happy memories are easier to carry in the long run and especially in hindsight. But sometimes I want to see the messy photos from people- because we are all going through things, especially now. I want to see the struggles and how they are overcome! That’s far more valuable to me than a bunch of perfect, unrealistic (but very cute!) photos. We should want to remember the treacherous and highly active life we are experiencing; someday we will look back on it proudly…because we made it through! Is that so wrong?

Raising children, let alone multiples, is not glamorous or for the weak of heart. It requires a ton of energy, patience, dedication and sacrificing hobbies, sleep, socializing and often your sanity to get through each day. It’s survival mode, with one task following the next all day long and sometimes no time to enjoy the good moments. It can be very lonely, with not enough time in the day to say hello how are you, even by text, to other people who don’t generally reach out to you to say it.

Grumpy Harper

Now I wouldn’t trade my life as it stands today, but I wouldn’t mind it being a tad easier from time to time and like any parent, sometimes need some support. It can be frustrating to see other’s “perfect” lives, or at least the ones they want to show, on display. Now I definitely have my moments and tend to provide others with my “highlight reel”, but who really wants to see what the chaos is really like? Anyone? Besides me?

My day to day optimism is running a bit low these days, and while I don’t agree that talking about difficulties is the same as complaining about it, I venture to say this is what raising three toddlers really looks like.

Someone is always upset…it’s rare to have three happy at once although it does happen occasionally (and I try to be camera ready for it!). Typically they rotate on the fits. Recently Harper, who was inconsolable the entire weekend and cried for about three days straight, is slowly starting to improve in mood. Crying, whining, more crying and a lot of wanting the opposite parent who is holding her, about 100% of the time.

We checked her ears, any potential new teeth, looked her over head to toe and asked her about any owies, and are now just guessing she is simply anxious or in a major developmental growth spurt and trying to figure out how to manage it. We initially thought it was 1) a fear of airplanes flying overhead, 2) loud noises like airplanes flying overhead, 3) the wind hitting her face/hair, and the current guess is 4) anxiety of parents out of sight or a fear of the dark.

A not-perfect photo that depicts my day perfectly.

Mid last week she started with running in the house, crying for some unknown reason and not wanting to be outside, to insisting on attention 1000% of the time or continuing the total meltdown, to refusing to stay in her crib and immediately climbing out unless you were within eyesight. Prior to last Friday, she had never climbed out of her crib or attempted to, even after seeing Emerie and Reagan do it, and enjoyed playing outside without any issues. The normal nap time routine meant setting Emerie and Harper in their cribs, turning out the light with the sound machine on, putting Reagan down in the guest room bed, and crossing your fingers they all blessed you with a full, two hour nap. Fast forward to this week- we are surviving nap time with Nanny Chris laying down and settling Reagan in the guest room and me taking my “lunch break” and sitting in their room until they both fall asleep. Harper will emotionally instruct me to “sit” on the sofa in the nursery, and then immediately falls asleep, knowing I am sitting there. She then continues to wake up hysterical and occasionally we can coax her back down, but not most of the time. Emerie, my sleeper, will chats herself to sleep and mostly nap through Harper’s outcries. The double adult method is not preferred, to say the least, but we haven’t been able to resolve her stresses.

The mood disruption also means once of us must sit in their room at night, until all are completely asleep, because you can’t get up and sneak out after an exhausted Harper falls asleep, since the other two sense your movement and want to go with you. The past two nights I’ve spent two-plus hours past 2 AM, sitting and reminding them I am nearby so they’ll go back to sleep in their own beds. Sufficive to say, sleep patterns are not going great in the Douglas household right now, in addition to upset babies during the day and our usual busy routine.

As we navigate through another unknown of toddler hood, and pray the other two don’t step into it with Harper, toddler beds are now on order (unfortunately) and we are slightly scrambling to determine what other baby proofing needs to occur. Closet doors need to be purchased, painted and installed, more baby gates to block off other not babyproofed rooms, decisions on how to rearrange nursery cameras out of reach, those types of details that must be solved while still handling one upset and needy toddler AND her two sisters; all during a global pandemic that almost completely limits any support from outside our household.

So yes, even writing this made me tired, and it isn’t exactly joyous and uplifting; but hey, this is real life. Saying it’s hard is okay, because life isn’t easy or perfect and parenting three can be chaotic. I would not agree if you told me that my life was chaos- in fact people have told me that before and I semi-take offense to it. Why? Because my life is routine, routine, routine. It is very regimented. The minor (and major) interruptions are what we have to get through, because it is just a phase and we will get through it. We just might be a bit more tired during it…

So please…take a nice nap for me on this long holiday weekend, and send some extra patience our way. I think we are going to need it.

Have to end on a cute photo at least- Emerie, Reagan, Harper

DST=Adventure

Excluding the fact that Daylight Savings Time brought on the worst night of sleep our family has had in a while, the overall weekend was filled with fun activities and mostly happy babies who actually took good naps.

Sleeeeeeep

When I say a bad night of sleep, it usually involves a rotation of all three babies angry at some point during the night, but not usually all at the same time. While I don’t think DST is the reason for the grumpy night, keeping them up an extra half an hour probably didn’t do us any favors- we definitely had triple baby rage for almost two hours, sometime in the middle of the night (I don’t actually remember when). So the night went like this: my mom brain immediately awakes to the sound of a shrieking baby, can’t tell who until looking at the nursery cam, but by that point all three were unhappily awake. On a typical night when someone shrieks, they usually can’t find a binkie or bumped their head into the crib rails- most of the time they will settle themselves after a few seconds and their sisters will sleep right through it. On a night like this weekend, that one cry just grew louder and instantaneously awoke the other two, who were NOT impressed with being woken up. We let them cry for a while, hoping they’d settle and go back to sleep. On a bad night like this one, after over an hour of crying, Craig ended up with two unsettled babies in bed with him and I had one in the guest room and we slept a couple hours like that until I got up at five. Sounds superrr fun right?

On nights when they don’t settle, I fly into the nursery as quickly and quietly as possible and whisk that baby out. This usually works (and is usually Emerie although we do trade around) and that baby gets some one-on-one parent time with us for the next few hours until the early morning feed. Some nights they immediately go back to sleep between us, other nights they want to cuddle or drink a bottle before dozing off, and some nights it becomes a several hour battle to get them to go back to sleep, even with us.

Here’s the catch- you have one baby in your room, finally settled, and the next one cries out a little while later. I dive out of bed again, quickly checking the nursery cam to see who it is. If they both wake up at this point, we give them a few minutes and see if they settle without intervention. If only one is awake, I know I have seconds to grab that baby (usually Reagan at this point) before she wakes the third one. I then lay down in the guest bedroom with baby #2 while Craig stays in our room with baby #1. The biggest issue from this point on is if baby #3 wakes up and starts wailing…thankfully those nights don’t happen too often, and since it’s usually Harper (gotta give her credit as my best sleeper!), we can give her a bottle and briefly snuggle in the nursery. She’ll usually go back to sleep in her crib while the other two are asleep in the other bedrooms for a few more hours. Having one or two babies out of their beds for a couple hours each night seems to be our norm since our trip to Juneau. Having no one in their crib at all is pretty abnormal, so by the time my alarm clock goes off in the morning, I am very ready for tho types of nights to be over with. Thankfully the early morning feed (that we will have to give up someday but not yet!) gets everyone back in their own beds for a couple more hours of sleep while we get up for work or take a catnap ourselves.

Did reading that tire you out? It did for me!


Weekend Activities

Excluding the minimal night of sleep, the weekend wasn’t sooo bad. We left the house a few times for different types of activities: ate out at one of our favorite local restaurants (french fries and milkshakes!), swam with friends at the pool, played at dad’s group, “helped” Grandma Sue make cookies and played with Papa Cliff, and wreaked havoc on the library. This is one of the first weekends in a while that we didn’t hit up the park, but the weather was wet and windy and the girls weren’t thrilled to play out in the backyard, let alone go somewhere outside.

I like to take the girls to the library on my off day- they are usually pretty good about running around the play area and not immediately trying to escape. But after about 10 minutes there this week, they were already off and trying to escape to explore the whole kid area. We ended up letting them check out the book aisles (that burns energy!) and try out the games on the kid computer and the chalk table. Unfortunately they still want to just eat the chalk, not so much color with it. They definitely enjoyed the computer keyboard and mouse, not so much what was playing on the screen.

The girls did great out to lunch at one of our favorite local, family-owned restaurants- Arctic Roadrunner. I discovered their great love for delicious pickles and brought a pile home with us for snacking on later. They will suck all the juice off the pickle before attempting to eat it, so I think it passes the toddler flavor test. At the end of the meal, Emerie and Reagan were playing peekaboo under the table with each other, initiated completely by them! And as I handed the last baby to Grandpa to take to car, the table next to us sweetly commented that they have twins and thought the girls behaved great throughout our lunch.

After an unusually successful nap time at home, we bundled up and played on the back porch for a bit while Grandma continued cooking. No one was too thrilled at the wet and windy surroundings, but they all played a bit on the castle (with all the new pieces installed!). It only took moments for everyone to figure out how to climb into the tower and open the fancy trap door. Emerie really liked hanging out in the tower and going up and down, and Harper and Reagan checked it out and then went back to their play cars and the slide.

After a few minutes, we came back inside, took off coats, hats, boots and fleece pants and all three had a turn helping helping Grandma Sue roll the cookie dough in powdered sugar and onto cookie sheets…although it might have looked like an explosion of sugar in the kitchen afterwards. I imagine we will have a number of years with such “explosions” when cooking, especially with how much Craig and I like to bake (when we have time).

Harper was not a happy camper to wait her turn and Emerie and Reagan didn’t want to stop “helping”. Emerie was the self-proclaimed and certified taste tester and Reagan was such a helper and happy to plop the dough onto the cookie sheet. Don’t worry, the cookies turned out fine!


Toddler Swimming

The girls haven’t gone swimming, other than the occasional back yard baby pool adventure during the summer, since we visited Juneau back in early July. The rec center there was much warmer and set up for small children than the high school pool we went to on Sunday. The girls started out pretty chilled, with teeth chattering a bit, but eventually accepted their fate of water time and cooperated. We brought two floaties with us and rotated who sat in them and who held what kiddo. Janelle and Megan, with kids in tow, joined us for extra hands! For an event that had more kids than adults and involved water, I think we did pretty great.

Also, I mean really, how cute are they in those tiny swimsuits? And they are 2T and fit (a little big on Em still)! My babies are getting so grown up.

One key piece of advice that was shared to me sometime last winter. Do NOT dress the girls in matching swimsuits. At first I really questioned that, but if you think about it. Having all three looking the same can confuse the lifeguards, they may see a kiddo struggling for a moment, look away for a second and look back to see the kiddo playing fine in the water, while the first one could actually still be struggling and in danger. The lifeguard wouldn’t know that they are two or three different kids when dressed alike and a short distance away. It is very smart to remember this when you have similar sized (and looking) babies in an environment that needs lots of parental supervision and a great piece of advice that I’m taking going forward.

Emerie tickling Harper’s toes

We may be getting to the point that swim lessons will be fun. Craig was definitely a water baby and I think the girls take after him on it. Anyone who wants to join us to be the third set of adult hands; you just let us know! Of all the kiddos that participated, the girls were the only ones that didn’t somehow meltdown in the locker room afterwards. I call that a win…even though it just means they were happily running around the locker room while I chased and tried to dress them…a fun, diaper issue also occurred, but I won’t go into more explanation or detail than that (use your imagination and you’re probably right…).

One other cute memory from this past weekend- the girls are really interacting together so much more; not so much full on talking or words, but noises and basic interactions. It improves every day as they discover new things to try. This photo, from right after dinner the other night, shows Emerie going and tickling Harper’s toes, completely unprompted. She started with Reagan, who was giggling at her from the table as I cleaned off her hands from dinner, and then moved over to Harper to see if she would react in the same manner. It was so cute! Occasionally they will try to belly tickle each other as well- probably from seeing us do it to them, but it is less effective than going for those feet! Harper is definitely the most ticklish of the three, but it’s also not too difficult to tickle torture Reagan and Emerie to get a laugh.

All in all, it was a fun weekend. Now back to the work week grind!

Let there be climbing

Settling back into our previous routine after traveling is both easy and difficult! The girls took a great nap after we arrived home from the airport on Sunday, about two hours earlier than they normally go down. Unfortunately those zzzz’s only made up for the missed sleep from going to the airport at six AM, so we had a couple of hot tempered grumps for the afternoon. While my Mom and Craig ran errands, we had a mini dance party with the girls down in the family room (coolest room in the house right now) and thankfully Aunt Kerstin came over later and played with everyone!

Sleepy babies headed to the airport

In the past week the girls are picking up new traits (again!). Everyone is morphing farther into the biting stage; biting Mom, and Dad, Grandma, even the nanny! Thankfully there isn’t much biting of each other, unless fingers go into someone’s mouth intentionally. Emerie believes she can pull herself up on anything better if her front teeth are involved. It doesn’t matter if it is the couch, a chair, or your leg! I have a tiny tooth marked bruise to prove it!

Everyone’s first molar is through their gums. The weird thing is that all three are getting the back, top left molar at the same time. So far on the teeth adventure they are holding to their identical triplet status quite nicely, with everyone having the front top and bottom four teeth and now the same molar on the way. It will be interesting to see how this saga continues to play out!

Harper showing off those teeth

This video is a great example of the newfound trait of climbing on everything. Learning to walk wasn’t as stressful as I expected it to be with three. Learning to climb? Definitely stressful and back to having to keep an eye out every second to ensure they aren’t getting hurt. They improve this skill daily and we now let them try to see how many things they can actually pull up to. I brilliantly discovered we can keep them off the couch for another week or two (optimistically) by moving the couch pillows to the edge of the cushions- so far that is deterring climbing in the family room.

Because our heating system is baseboard, the girls figured out standing on top of the baseboards and pulling themselves into the window frames or on the end tables, with the only way to stop them to move the furniture or block it off entirely. They are so very proud when they get up there, until they can’t figure out how to get back down.

In an effort to not completely embarrass my children when they someday read these blogs, I believe Reagan may be figuring out how to unclasp her diaper. This is still a hunch, but so far we’ve had two incidences in two days, with her specifically, and diapers halfway on her or falling off. Trust me, you don’t want to know the full details of this, just that bath time definitely occurred with the first one. This could also simply be because they are wearing dresses more frequently and not pants or onesies that mostly cover the diaper. We shall see what today brings on that front!

Miss Reagan testing her limits

Emerie’s eye is improving by the day. The dilation drop, that we did twice a day for a week post surgery, was definitely the least favorite and she is very glad it is over. We have a couple more weeks of the other two drops a number of times per day. Craig is definitely tired of giving them to her, probably about as tired as she is receiving them. Eyelid swelling continues to go down and with each passing day her eye is a bit less droopy. She isn’t rubbing it anymore either, meaning it’s less irritated!

With everything that occurred last week, we really slacked on the goal of two hours of good eye patching per day. This was partially since we were out of our element in a different city and in a bit of chaos from that, but also, even when attempted she immediately pried it off the moment you take your eyes off of her…literally in seconds. She is fast!

Nanny Chris reached expert level this week on a way to solve this. Emerie knows she can get the patch off herself as soon the opportunity hits; so, she creatively put band-aids around it. Since band-aids adhere better than the patches do, she is unable to pry it off, much to her dismay. This genius plan is going to improve her eyesight greatly! Hopefully it won’t peel off her eyebrows though (hehe).

Having survived our first air travel experience with the girls, I’ve been mentally reminding myself of the things I’d do differently as I have time to plan for the next trip (a long time from now). Since I won’t remember these things for very long, I’d better write them all down:

  1. Follow up with the airline prior to travel day: we didn’t anticipate that Alaska Air would mess up our reservations so royally. They are generally really great to travel with. We now know reservations must be verified ahead of time to ensure our tickets are accurate in the system. I am not a toddler! 🙂
  2. Bring a portable playpen: this one is a biggie and would have made our week a lot easier. We would have used it where we stayed as well as for outings around town and the park! It is much easier to corral babies at the park when you have a safe spot to set one down and pick up the next one, especially when babies outnumber adults.
  3. Bring three portable highchairs: I really wish I had brought two more of them. We have one small, fold up version that fits in a suitcase and can secure to a normal dining chair. Having two more of them would have been helpful for meals as well as eating out with friends. The other option would be the portable chairs with trays (like the ones for camping), since they are portable and easy to use. In fact, we just purchased a set this week from another local triplet mom! Having a place that contains the girls and helps them focus on food, even for a few minutes, is really helpful.
  4. Scope out parks ahead of time: toddler friendly parks are few and far between, since most park design is aimed at children better established in their mobility than a 15-month old. We managed to find a few fenced ones, but knowing locations ahead of time would have been helpful. Bringing an amazing sister in law is also recommended for such adventures!
  1. Check out the weather report: Alaska is unusually warm this month, and I can’t remember the last time we had any rain. Because it is WAY hotter than typical (record breaking!) and no one up here has air conditioning, looking at the projected temperatures in Juneau when packing would have told me to bring more shorts and tanks for the girls than I did. The girls didn’t wear a single long sleeve outfit the entire trip other than during the airplane ride. We compensated for this by doing lots of laundry!
Summer 4th of July rompers and see that hair??

A few essentials that we would not have survived the trip without (that I must remember for next time!) are:

  1. Baby monitor camera
  2. White noise machine
  3. Three pack and plays (luckily we didn’t have to bring our own)/pea pods will work in the future once everyone is a bit bigger. They are far more portable!
  4. A few familiar toys for the girls to play with
  5. The triple stroller
  6. SNACKS

I am still wrapping my head around the past couple of weeks, but happy getting back to the normal routine and (almost) sleep schedule.

Summer playtime with Grandma Anne and Aunt Janelle and Paris