Wednesday, January 23, 2008

One Year Ago Today....

It was exactly one year ago today, on January 23, 2007 that we learned we were having quintuplets. I can still vividly remember being in the doctors office and watching the ultrasound monitor as the doctor found five beating hearts. What a year it has been! It is hard to believe all that has happened to us. We feel amazingly blessed by all the love and support that has been given to us throughout this year.

The Wilkinson Quintuplets nearly a year ago
(I don't have pictures from the very first ultrasound---I was in too much shock to think of asking for some!) Although I don't know for sure, I think that A = Kassidy, B = Kyndall, C = Ryder, D = Rustin, E = Kaydence

The Wilkinson Quintuplets today
Kaydence, Rustin, Kassidy, Ryder and Kyndall

Perhaps in honor of the anniversary of our knowledge of their existence, the babies slept amazingly well last night! Kassidy, Rustin and Kaydence slept ALL THE WAY through the night! Hurray! Kaydence woke only once and Ryder woke twice, but both babies went back to sleep after being re-wrapped in their blanket and patted a few times. I think it is a miracle. After last night, I actually have hope that my Christmas wish (of one silent night) might actually come to pass sometime before they all move out. Over the last month, we have been working on “sleep training” the babies. This basically involves teaching them to self-sooth and fall asleep on their own. After the initial training, they have been pretty good at going to bed at bedtime and naptimes with minimal fussing (most of the time). We used several books as well as advice from other parents of multiples to come up with our sleep training plan.

Some of the books we used were:

“Sleeping Through the Night” by Jodi Mindell

“Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems” by Richard Ferber

“Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissbluth

We most closely followed Jodi Mindell’s plan---she is considered by some to be a “kinder, gentler” Ferber. We did a similar training with our older children (who are still both great sleepers) so my books are older editions. I noticed that both of these authors have new revised editions out.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions, Set 2

Ryder, Kassidy, Kaydence, Kyndall and Rustin

Below are answers to all the questions that were asked in the comments of my last blog.

Q: Does having all girls K and all boys R make your mommy brain go crazy?’

A: Not yet. Ask me again when they are all two, getting into everything, and I am constantly using their names----I might change my mind then!

Q: How does your stomach recover from a pregnancy like that? Those of us with singletons complain of the pizzadough do you shrink your skin back?

A: You don’t!!! My doctor says the only way it will fully recover is with a tummy tuck. I definitely have the “pizza dough” tummy. My scar from the c-section is down on the bottom and everything kind of lops over the top of that. (Sorry if that was more detail than you wanted!)

Q: Did you attempt nursing or pumping or anything like that? What was that like?

A: Yes, I attempted to pump after the babies were born but my milk never really came in. At best I was getting about 2 oz out at a time. For the first month, the babies were getting about one bottle a day of my breast milk. By about 2 months, my supply had dwindled so that I was only get out 20 mls (that’s about 2/3 ounce) out at a time. At that point, I finally had to “throw in the towel” and give up. I felt bad about it at first because I really wanted to give my babies the advantages of breast milk, but I eventually came to terms with the fact that my body couldn’t produce milk and adequately take care of five babies!

Q: Do you plan on having anymore children?

A: No! We are happy with what we have!

Q: What's a typical day like in your house?

A: The answer to this question would be a post all by itself! I will answer in an upcoming post.

Q: Do you ever get a chance to have time to yourself? What do you enjoy doing? Shopping, reading?

A: Thanks to some really great friends and volunteers, I do get to get out every once in a while and do things! I love to shop, read, go to movies, go out to eat, etc. In my previous life I was a recipe junkie, and I liked to try new recipes. My favorite person to shop with is my mom, my favorite books lately are the Twilight series (that is about all I have had time to read since I had the babies), my favorite movie that I have seen recently is “Enchanted”, my favorite movies of all time are “Pride and Prejudice” (the long A&E version) and “While You Were Sleeping”, and my favorite place to eat is The Cheesecake Factory.

Q: I'm wondering if there are companies who donate stuff to you?

A: There are a few companies who have programs for multiples. If you send in the babies’ birth certificates, they will send you a few coupons. Babies R Us will give a 10 percent discount for buying two or more of the same item at the same time (only for big things like cribs, strollers, high chairs, etc.). Most of our donations have come from people, not from companies. Enfamil is the exception—they have a “helping hands for special kids” program and they are sending us formula for the first year. This is a HUGE help to us---it saves us about $800 per month since the babies are on a preemie formula that is more expensive and doesn’t have generics.

Q: What comes to mind when you think about them all going to college?

A: Since I am planning on them all being child geniuses and getting full-ride scholarships, I am not too worried about it. Just kidding. The financial aspect of having seven kids, five at the same time, is a little daunting, but we will just do the best that we can. And we will hopefully instill a good work ethic in our kids so that they will be able to work and help pay for their education!

Q: How do you have enough time for each and every one of them individually?

A: I try to make sure that I feed each of the babies at least once a day, so I can have some one-on-one cuddle time with each of them. I also get to bath each of individually (we do baths every three days). Right now my whole day is pretty much devoted to the babies, so I don’t think it is so hard to give each one some individual attention. As they get older, I think it will become more difficult. I have a harder time making sure that I give my older kids the attention they need.

Q: I have twins, and find it hard to bond with them as individuals. Have you felt a bond yet? Or are you still in "survival" mode?

A: I feel like I have bonded with each of the babies. Their personalities are all so distinct and different, that there is something different to love about each of them.

Q: I am currently 31 weeks pregnant with triplets and wondering what your doctors did to make you feel comfortable other than the hydrotherapy, mine has proscribed a massage therapist?

A: Wow—a massage therapist would have been nice! Other than they hydrotherapy in the hospital (and the swimming pool at home) there wasn’t a lot more they could do. I used lots of pillows to sleep with and they put these funny balloon things on my legs to help with the swelling. My aunt gave me a foot massage almost every day, which was wonderful.

Q: I know with three my cravings have gone out of control, was wondering what some of your favs. were & if you were able to get them in the hospital.

A: It was really ironic that while I was pregnant and on a 5000 calorie/day diet where I could eat anything, that I really didn’t crave or want a lot of my usual favorite indulgences (most of them involving chocolate). In the beginning of the pregnancy, I craved Jack-in-the-Box milkshakes, but those got old pretty quick. By the end of the pregnancy, the only thing I really craved is potatoes---baked potatoes mostly, but also mashed. I ordered a baked potato nearly every day with my meals in the hospital.

My cousin, Heather, came for six days to help with the babies. We tried to take advantage of the great weather by going on a walk.

Solid foods here we come....
These high chairs were generously given to us by my mom's Naperville, IL friends at a "Quint Mimi" shower. Don't they look great? They fit perfectly along the back wall of the kitchen---that is until the food fights begin. So far we haven't utilized the chairs too much for feeding, but that will soon change.

Kaiya's preschool gave a little concert this week. She was expecially excited about this number, where they got to wear sunglasses.

During the middle of the performance, Riley lost his first tooth! What timing!


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions, Set 1

I get asked a lot of questions, so I thought I would dedicate this post to answering some of the most common ones. Feel free to make a comment and ask any other questions, and I will answer them in another post.

Q: How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant with quintuplets?

A: Totally shocked and very scared. After the initial shock wore off, I kind of went into denial. The doctor had said that it was very common for one or more of the fetuses to spontaneously abort during the early weeks of the pregnancy, and I kept thinking that I would go back for another ultrasound and there would no longer be five.

Q: What did it feel like to have five babies moving around during the pregnancy?

A: It was very cool to feel the different babies moving. I expected it to feel like a major cat-fight was going on in there all the time, but it really didn’t. I think that space was so limited and I was stretched so tight, that there wasn’t a lot of room for movement. I could feel the babies move individually, though. The most interesting feeling was when a couple of them would get hiccups at the same time.

Q: How much weight did you gain during the pregnancy?

A: I gained a total of 69 lbs. The doctors wanted me to aim for 75-100 lbs, so I got pretty close. My total girth was 54 inches. I am only 5 feet 2 inches tall (62 inches), so I was almost as big around as I am tall.

Q: Do the babies have middle names?

A: The boys have middle names and the girls do not. The boys are Ryder Nelson (Nelson is Jayson’s mom’s maiden name) and Rustin Curtis (Curtis is my maiden name). Wilkinson is such a long last name that we figured the girls didn’t need middle names. I don’t have a middle name (although I use my maiden name as a middle name now) and my older daughter, Kaiya, doesn’t have a middle name either.

Q: Are they all identical?

A: The fact that there are both boys and girls makes it impossible for all the babies to be identical. There are no sets of identicals in my bunch---all of them look pretty different from each other.

Q: How many babies were you trying for?

A: ONE!!! All we wanted was one healthy baby! Even using fertility drugs, the odds were high (80%) that I would have a singleton. No one in their right mind would “try” to have five! It is such a huge risk to both the mother and the babies. We were extremely blessed to have such a favorable outcome. I definitely consider it a miracle!

Q: How are your older kids, Riley and Kaiya, handling things?

A: Riley and Kaiya have been champs through the whole thing. They have been great helpers and rarely get jealous of the attention that the babies receive. They have loved seeing themselves on TV every once in a while. Occasionally they will act out, but no more than if we had had one baby instead of five.

Q: How are YOU doing?

A: Great! After the initial recovery period where I had some complications (kidneys quit working, LOTS of swelling, etc.) I have been doing really well. Thanks to the wonderful “night nanny” volunteers, most nights I get some decent sleep, which really makes all the difference.

Q: How long do you think you will need help for?

A: Good question---maybe till the babies turn 18 and go off to college??? Just kidding. I really don’t know----things have gotten a little easier now that the babies are older, can hold their heads up and can be somewhat entertained by toys. But solid foods and crawling are just around the corner and that could definitely make things harder!

Q: How do you tell the babies apart?

A: They are all different. They all look different from each other and they have their own personalities. Ryder is the most animated. He has a huge smile. He demands the most attention and would love to be held 24 hours a day. Rustin is the most mellow of the bunch. He is very easy going and can seem quite serious, but he has a great giggle. Kyndall is the smallest of the bunch and is just a very sweet little thing. She and Rustin are my “easiest” babies. She is pretty easy to please and hardly ever gets really mad. Kaydence is full of fun. She loves to smile and play. She can also be very demanding at times. Kassidy is the most interactive with the other babies so far. She occasionally wakes up from naps laughing and almost always gives a huge smile when you go in to pick her up.
My "little" sister, Tiare, who was here visiting this week.

My brother, Shane, who was also visiting. If you can't tell, one of my favorite things to do with visitors is make them take a picture holding all the babies!!

Tummy Time! Kyndall, Ryder and Kassidy

Rustin, Ryder, Kassidy, Kaydence, and Kyndall with Big sister Kaiya