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Going Public

28 Mar

We’re looking at 13 weeks in a couple of days, which is more or less the close of the first trimester.  And a couple of days ago, I saw Carey and it took me by surprise: “You kind of look like a pregnant lady.”

We decided early on to do the prudent thing and get a whole trimester under our belts before openly telling people our news.  What was a tiny handful of immediate family and a few local friends has started to expand.  We’ve made a few calls, sent a couple of emails, particularly over the last several days.  It couldn’t be helped, we’re starting to spill it.  Up to now, most of the people who know about our biggest life event are strangers we’ve never met who happened across our still-secret blogs.

It’s a little like walking off a cliff.  We know intellectually that whatever happens with these three… all our fears and anxieties and excitement and confusion… has nothing to do with who we do or don’t tell.  The three gnomes don’t care how ready we are, they’re moving forward with their own little plans.  But, even still, with each new person that knows our news, it feels like we’re committing to something a little bit more.

But it’s fun, dropping the bomb on people.  Assuming all goes to plan, it’s our once-in-a-lifetime chance to make an announcement like this, because ain’t no way we’re having any more. We’ve settled into a sort of rhythm with it: Carey and I are beginning to perfect the “hand off.”  If we’re in-person with someone who we feel good about telling, one of us will announce the pregnancy and we enjoy a minute or two of hugs and handshakes.  Then the other will drop the Triplet knowledge and all chaos ensues.

No surprise, nobody believes us immediately.  We’re getting used to slack jaws.  It’s weird, we know.  Those we’re close to have a hard time picturing us going the IVF route and, of course, they’re right.  When we tell people there was no IVF, no fertility help, it makes it all the more incredible.

Carey’s even taken to packing the ultrasound printouts with her as “proof”.  Of course, once or twice, we’ve even heard, “yeah, but hang on.  Jer knows photoshop, right?”

As much as we’re enjoying having friends and families celebrate (and sympathize) with us, we’re also trying our best to treasure these final moments of Our Big Secret being, well, a secret.  We’ve read too many triplet blogs recently to have any illusions: triplets draw attention.  Stares and questions quickly become an everyday part of life.  Not that I’m complaining.  I’m kind of looking forward to fielding questions about our little veggie nuggets. And I’ve done my best to prepare an anticipatory FAQ to help things.

But for now, it’s still, kind of, just the two of us.  And we’re waiting on our beach chairs, watching that wave on the horizon grow taller and greener by the second.

Won’t be long.  $#&%’s about to get nuts.

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Ultrasound Avalanche!

21 Mar

To prove we ain’t lyin’, here’s a cavalcade of ultrasounds, starting with the first, up to the present.

Feb 2, 2011:

The eensy black smudge in the middle was our three zygotes lying to us, pretending they were only one.  This was, of course, back when we were nervously excited, and our lives made some semblance of sense.

We don’t cotton to subterfuge, you three. Watch it.


Feb 18, 2011:

Here’s the pic that turned us into weeping basket cases on the floor of our OB’s exam room.  She asked, “any twins in the family?”  Then, “oh, now I see three.” Then we collapsed and went insane.

This image changed everything.


Feb 22, 2011

After a long weekend, waiting for confirmation that it was triplets (as opposed to twins), we headed back to the OB, where she snapped off a few more ultrasound images.  If there was any doubt, it disappeared here.

The sacs appear to convey shock…

…and horror.  At that particular moment, nothing could’ve been more apropos.


Mar 11, 2011

We saw their heartbeats with these images.  The bottom two triplets (pictured above) jumped and punched and kicked and looked like mutated versions of karate legends.

The kid up top was either sleeping or lazy, only swatting at us when prodded.  Sheesh, kid, get up and put on something nice.  It’s picture day.


Mar 15, 20011

A couple of weeks makes a big difference, as the wife and I began transitioning from shock-and-awe to schlock-and-“awww”.  Okay, that’s exaggerating a bit, but when we sat in Magella Medical Group’s examination room and saw these images, we were excited and relieved that the little ones seemed to be healthy and on track, growth-wise.  With three placentas.

Apparently, no identicals!  The ultrasound tech labeled them “A”, “B” and “C”.  I’m still not sure if they’ll keep their labels throughout the pregnancy or if they arbitrarily decide who’s who with each prenatal exam.  In any case, “C” was still lazy and/or sleeping.

A closer look at Baby A.

Baby B.

Baby C.

hrrkkkh

18 Mar

Men!

Listen: your wife is suffering. Do you think she chooses to feel this way? Do you think the glow of one, two or even three babies ripening in her tummy is enough to cancel the pain and anguish of sleepless nights, perpetual sickness and an ever-expanding physique?

It’s possible to dull your own senses!
If the sound of your wife’s explosive vomit in the bathroom near the dinner table is offensive and stomach turning, no worries! After 2-3 straight weeks of repeat performances, you’ll barely notice. Encourage her to spew away to her heart’s content, the pasta Alfredo on the plate in front of you will be no less delicious!

Remember: you did this to her! That’s your seed she’s carrying! Man up and take responsibility! The burden of self-sacrificing, fearless fatherhood does not begin once those little ones glimpse daylight… IT BEGINS NOW.

Too vague? Okay, gents, let’s get practical!

Probably the biggest hurdle of the first trimester is the dreaded demon called Morning Sickness. (Hint: it isn’t just in the morning. In fact, your wife would prefer it if you didn’t refer to it as “Morning Sickness”. In fact, don’t refer to it at all. It’s best to just apologize a lot.)

Here’s how it works: she’s always nauseous. Always. It’s not a question of whether or not she’ll throw up today, it’s a question of how many times. Don’t wonder whether or not she’s sick. She is. If she’s not, she’ll let you know. But don’t hold your breath. She’s sick.

Also, keep in mind that it’s your fault. Oh, the fun you’ll have later, remembering your pitiable little arguments, trying to convince her she’s “being unreasonable” and you “have it tough also”! Ha ha ha! Little man, don’t you understand? This is pregnancy. It’s bigger than you! It’s bigger than all of us! Look at her: she’s swollen with life, bursting with matriarchal potential! Now look at you! G’wan. Look.

Exactly. You’re kind of an asshole.

But good news! You don’t have to be! Your put-upon spouse may be drowning in her own body chemistry, but you can help. Remember four simple words and you’ll effortlessly navigate these choppy waters. That’s all! Just four!

Ready?

Here they are:

  1. Don’t
  2. Be
  3. A
  4. Dick

Sounds easy, right? And, mostly, it is! Let’s dig deeper:

DON’T BE A DICK. The kitchen’s a mess and it’s been that way most of the week. Your wife would like to prepare a nice cup of bread-n-butter pickles for herself, but when she sees dishes in the sink, she gags… Well, don’t be a dick, man! Empty the dishwasher and replace them with the dirty ones. Maybe wipe the counter down a little. After all, she’s hungry. Seriously, dude, come on.

DON’T BE A DICK. If you cut your toenails on the couch, don’t leave them on the coffee table, unless you want her to blow chunks on the spot. She’ll hate you and you’ll hate yourself. And both of you will be right for doing so.

DON’T BE A DICK. She’s going to spend a significant portion of her week with her head in the toilet. Is it too much to ask you to scrub it down and pube-sweep the area? God, man, don’t be a dick.

DON’T BE A DICK. It’s 6:30 and you’re driving home from work, Irvine to Long Beach, which is some kind of haul. She phones you on the way: baby carrots. She has a jones for baby carrots. She knows you’re tired, but will you pick some up? Of course you will! She’s pregnant, numbskull! She’s hungry! This isn’t rocket science. Just do it! WTF

DON’T BE A DICK. No, it’s not traditionally your job to feed the cats, particularly their wet food. But keep in mind, your wife needs about 3,000 calories a day and, if she’s required to feed them herself, she stands a really good chance of losing about 1,200 of those calories right then and there. See what I mean, douchebag? Hello? Is this sinking in??? DON’T BE A DICK.

Good luck, fellas!

And remember: T.O.T. taught ya how!

Jumping Beans

17 Mar

Tuesday, for the first time, I heard their heartbeats. But let me get back to that.

Last week, Dr. Chao, our OB, had told me, in no uncertain terms, “you need to be at the first high-risk-pregnancy-specialist appointment with your wife. If your work won’t let you go, you need to call in sick.  It’s important.” Fortunately, work was amenable, so, Tuesday morning, we headed to the Magella Medical Group in Long Beach.

It’s where you go when you’re pregnant with a disease or a disorder that puts you at risk.  Or pregnant with a child with a disease or disorder that puts him/herself at risk.  Or if there’s anything non-standard about anything having to do with your pregnancy.  Like, say, you’re 53 and find out you’re carrying a litter of pumas.

Or, say, 34, with Lupus, carrying triplets.

It’s tricky how they set these appointments up.  They spend the first 40 minutes or so filling you in on the 1,000 Reasons You Need To Worry.  Doctor Tith was extremely warm and helpful, but she didn’t shy away from the truth.  Fact is, any or all of our children could have CP.  Or Down Syndrome. Or some sort of mental handicap.  Or they could be sharing placentas and starving each other.  Or choking each other.  And, of course, for many of these issues, there are tests.  The tests can tell you within a 60% certainty whether your child has an 8% chance of having some disorder that’s 28% fatal.  Of course, you can take a more invasive test, which will give you 85% certainty, but you’ll increase your chances of miscarrying or delivering early by 13%, but only so early that your chances of it being fatally early are 38%.  Or some ridiculous combo thereof.

So, great.  Thanks everyone.  Consider us informed.  We feel way better.

Needless to say, halfway through this consult, I was convinced that at least one kid has some sort of fatal disease, the second one is going to be born with roughly half the organs it needs to sustain itself , and the third?  Oh, the third one’s fine, but s/he’s probably going to wind up a vampire when s/he’s 21.

I know my wife did way better than I did, but my swimming brain did at least take away a handful of important pieces of information.  Among them:

  • Strong heartbeats= good
  • 3 sacs = good
  • 3 placentas = good
  • The fact that these triplets are spontaneous, as opposed to IVF babies = moderately safer

So they took us in for the big ultrasound.  Triplets meant we’d already hit the fertility jackpot.  It was time to yank the lever again and find out what was heretofore unknown: are any of these goofballs sharing a placenta?  If so, that doesn”t necessarily spell disaster, but Tith was straight with us: we  should be hoping for 3 placentas.

Ultrasound began and we asked the tech, whose name is Michelle.  Michelle confirmed it: “Yes, I see three placentas.”

Finally, some friggin’ good news for a change.

And it was strange.  Here, only 11 weeks in, and they already seem to have different personalities.  Onscreen, Baby A swatted something in front of its little alien head.  Baby B kicked and flipped and did what it could to kung fu my wife’s innards. Baby C (who Chao calls The Lazy One) lounged up top in its amniotic hammock, irritated to have been bothered.

Jumping beans.

Michelle hit the vox and, out of nowhere, a very fast, very strong heartbeat filled the room, overpowering Love and Rockets’ So Alive, which had been playing on muzak. Baby A: 173 bpm.  Looking good.

Baby B: 173 bpm.  Very strong and looking good.

Baby C: 173 bpm. Everybody’s looking good.  Our kids have heartbeats.

In the space of a few moments, the majority of Tith’s concerns turned out to be just fine, or at least as fine as they can be.  And who knows, all of our children may end up with all of their organs. Maybe we wouldn’t miscarry.  Maybe they’ll all be (sh-shudder) healthy.

We talked about my wife’s job and her diet and her at-the-moment woefully inadequate calorie intake.  We found out later that, apparently, our case had been the talk of the office that morning.  A 34-year-old vegan with Lupus who’s carrying spontaneous triplets?  It’s odd.  Throughout the appointment, different doctors and other staffers kept poking their heads in and smiling at us: “Hiiii!  Sorry to interrupt, but I’m ___.  We heard everything’s looking good.  Congratulations!”  Then they’d disappear.  My wife is, it seems, medical journal case study fodder.

And it occurred to me that, as upset as we were when we found out we were having triplets, I now really want them all to be healthy and strong.  In fact, I think I want it very badly.  Maybe I’d even move heaven and earth if I have to to make sure they’re all right.

Good god.  When did I turn into a father all of a sudden?

Triplets ≠ Cancer

14 Mar

We haven’t really blown our big news out to the world yet, believe it or not. We’ve only told our immediate family and one or two close friends. Er, and the internet. But other than that, no one.

But, man, it was hard enough to keep the news to ourselves when the wife discovered she was pregnant. And it became nearly impossible when it was confirmed we’re having triplets. Of course, that was weeks ago. And I’ll admit it, my final decision to create this blog to begin with was largely motivated by the fact that, damn it, I have to tell someone or I’ll pop.

Our plan is to go public with the news at the end of the first trimester, which is coming up in a couple of weeks. With the wife’s Lupus, the risk isn’t necessarily reduced at that point, as it is with normal pregnancies, but it’s still an important milestone and, I don’t know. We’re waiting. That’s all.

Keeping the news from my work is becoming problematic. I’m an advertising art director, which is a very busy job. Lots of long hours, evenings, weekends, little flexibility. Thus far, I’ve made it to every OB appointment the wife’s had and I keep blaming my time off from work on “doctor visits” due to a heretofore unnamed “medical situation”. It’s inevitably going to have to come out sometime soon, but, for now, I’m keeping the hounds at bay through vaguery.

Of course, now everyone I work directly with thinks there’s something direly wrong with me.

ME: I wound up canceling that Austin trip this weekend I told you about, but I still need to take Friday afternoon. Just letting you know in case you need to reach me this weekend for approval on those comps.

BOSS: Ok. You’re not going to Austin?

ME: No, but I can’t be in Friday afternoon. It’s, y’know, that medical thing I mentioned.

BOSS: I see. That’s still, uh, going on then.

ME: Yeah.

BOSS: …

ME: Sorry to be so vague about it. It’s just kind of a large, well, issue… and I only just told my family about it a couple of days ago and we’re… trying… ah, to get our heads around… it.

BOSS: Jesus. Are you okay?

ME: It’ll be fine. I’m sure it’ll be fine.

BOSS: Uh huh.

ME: I’ll be glad to have a conversation with you in the coming weeks to fill you in on what’s going on, but right now…

BOSS: No need! No need! None of my business! Whatever you’re comfortable, uh…

ME: Oh, no, it’s fine. I just can’t–

BOSS: Sure sure! No problem!

ME: Well… okay, then. Sorry.

BOSS: No no. You’re fine.

ME: …

BOSS: But, listen. Ah… I have a close friend who, ah… I mean, this may not apply to you at all. In fact, I hope it doesn’t. I mean… well. I don’t know. I’ll just say it: I have a close friend who’s battling cancer right now. And, man, it’s just a huge struggle. And I’m familiar because I watch what she’s going through. So, I understand if that’s… well, I mean… not saying that’s you… but if there’s anything even similar. That’s. Hm.

ME: Thank you. I appreciate that.

BOSS: Of course, yeah.

ME: It’s not cancer.

BOSS: Good! Phew!

ME: …

BOSS: …

ME: Well, I gotta take off.

BOSS: Have a good one.

How We Found Out

3 Mar

We weren’t trying for children, first of all.

Sincerely. We really weren’t even being careless. The story you hear from a lot of parents: “well, we weren’t trying, you know, per se, but we decided to ditch birth control and let God/nature/The Triple Hecate decide.”  Not to be overly cynical or snotty, but come on.  That’s more or less code for “we were trying.”  If you’re regularly getting busy without a raincoat or The Pill, you’re not exactly leaving nature a lot of options.

But I’m telling you: my wife and I really weren’t trying.  5 years of dating, 10-1/2 years of marriage and, no lie, we indulged in exactly one unprotected moment in all that time.  “What are the odds?” we reassured each other. “Seriously, what are the chances that our one careless Saturday afternoon fling would turn us into a 7th grade health class cautionary tale?  It’s fine!  It’s fine!”

Kablam.  Triplets.

My wife, as I’ve hinted at previously, has Lupus.  It’s an auto-immune disorder and it sucks.  She stays ahead of it with diet and overall healthy living, but there are certain activities that she really needs to think twice about before indulging.

Top of the list: getting pregnant.

A couple of weeks ago, we went in for her 7 week ultrasound, still thinking we only had one embryo.  We hadn’t told anyone yet because, well, Lupus pregnancies are always considered High Risk and we’d committed ourselves to waiting through the first trimester.  If 13 weeks passed and we still had a healthy fetus, we’d go ahead with telling friends and family.  Anyhow, her 7th week checkup was “heartbeat” day.  My work keeps me from attending as many OB appointments as I’d like, but there was no way I was going to miss seeing our child’s first heartbeat.

Listen, I don’t know from ultrasounds. It all looks like fuzzy Matrix code to me, so when Dr. Chao’s eyes started bulging, I assumed the worst: miscarriage.  The wife and I were trying to get a better look at the screen, but I knew something was off.  The room had a vibe.  I said to Chao, “what is it?  Something’s wrong.”

And she said, “any twins in your family?”

It’s strange in moments like those.  In 5 seconds, you watch your life begin to twirl out of orbit and you can’t quite decide whether or not you’re happy about it.  I mean, twins?  That’s a mistake.  It’s probably a mistake.  She said “twins” but she really meant, I dont’ know, “shins”.  Ha ha, of course, Chao!  We have plenty of shins in our family!  Ha ha ha!  Phew!

And she continued to navigate the ultrasound around my wife’s ladyhood and she said, “oh, now I’m seeing three.”

First view of the 3

Erm.

On the plus side, we suddenly weren’t conflicted about how to feel about it anymore.  It was clear: THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER.

By the way, I do want to pause here for a moment, because I realize these are sensitive issues. If you’re reading this, there’s a very real chance you have multiples of your own and if you have multiples of your own, there’s a very real chance you’ve dealt with infertility.  And, sincerely, I don’t want to diminish the pain of couples who want nothing more than to conceive and the last thing they want to hear is a story from some jackass like me who somehow hit the fertility jackpot and doesn’t know what to do about it.

On the other hand, if you have multiples of your own, you probably also know what I’m talking about. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of trying to wrap your brain around a single child and getting the news that we just got.

So we bawled.  Right there in Chao’s ultrasound room, we cried like soap opera stars.  This wasn’t happening to a friend of ours.  It wasn’t something on TV.  It was really us and really real and we felt really screwed.

It’s been a couple of weeks and I wish I could tell you our arms are around it and we’re excited and optimistic and whatnot, but that wouldn’t be entirely true.  We’re excited to be parents.  Honest.  And ready or not, this $#!% is happening.

If it’s not already obvious, “Tips On Triplets” is my little joke.  Nobody knows less about this than me and my wife, but here we go.

By the way, we could use all the help and advice we can get, particularly if you’re a parent.

And if you’re a parent of multiples?  Er, would you mind dropping us a note and letting us know everything you’ve learned about everything ever?  It would be a huge help.

POTI (or The “It” Factor)

1 Mar

My wife and I decided the day she discovered her pregnancy: we don’t dig “it”.

It’s a whatdyacallit. A conundrum. This is your very own special stork delivery. Your precious little bundle from Jesus. The fruits of your love and the keeper of your legacy. Someday, this blessed little embryo will have both a name and a gender, but for the moment you don’t know what to call “it”. So you say “it”, even though you feel guilty about calling it “it”, because what else are you supposed to say?

You could do what a lot of people do and assign the kid a gender before you know for sure, just for convenience’s sake. (And 9 times out of 10, people seem to use “he”.) But, be honest, you feel guilty about that too. After all, if “he”s a girl or “she”s a boy, it almost feels like a subtle piece of pre-natal psychological warfare. What, are you calling your little lady butch? Are you trying to say your little guy is a weepy little princess?  Consider your parenting permits revoked, losers.  You’re in violation.

So you go back to “it”, but you can’t help but feel like you’re describing a gerbil or a napalm casualty.

So we decided on a different approach.  Stolen wholesale from an episode of This American Life, we started referring to our first-trimester cluster as POTUS.  If you, like us, have The West Wing: The Complete Series DVD boxed set at home (and why wouldn’t you?), you’ll already know that POTUS is an acronym for President Of The United States.  We may not have a name or a gender just yet, but we’re already dreaming big.

It quickly caught on in our everyday lingo and it became an easy way around “it”.  Plus, it has the added bonus of sounding legitimate when, say, you’re on the phone with your spouse around work associates and you’re trying to talk in code, since you haven’t quite blown your pregnancy news out into the ether just yet (“How’s POTUS?” “Did you tell Jennifer about POTUS?” “Can you come to POTUS’s appointment on Friday or do you still have that meeting?”).

Okay, so we’re slightly less tricky than we think we are.

One good thing about finding out you’re having multiples, though, is the “it” issue disappears. It’s “they”.  Always “they”.  And listen: when it comes to triplets, you don’t get a lot of One-Less-Thing-To-Worry-About moments, so take ’em and treasure ’em.

For some reason, though, it seemed a shame to give up on “POTUS”, so now our little ones are collectively referred to as The POTI.  It’s unlikely they’ll all three be United States Presidents, but we’re living in hope that at least two of them get there.  The other will have to content himself with a governorship or maybe status as Poet Laureate.

Or herself.  Content “herself”.

Or “itself”.

Or aargh.