First off, I want to thank you for viewing my blog. I’m new at this…not being a Dad (I’ve been doing that for 20 months now) but blogging. Enough people have told me to start one that I’ve decided it was time. Time to offer my advice, share my struggles, and hopefully entertain you. Please feel free to laugh at or with me 🙂 Whether you are raising kids, raised kids, want kids, or just wonder what life is like with a toddler and newborn triplets, I know you will find something of value in the posts yet to come…
So last night, Marcus and I had dinner with two friends from Monaco who have two gorgeous boys of their own, also through surrogacy. The topic came up of the questions they are asked about the boys’ genetics and I learned that not only are they asked the same questions I loathe, but they have been asked IN FRONT OF the boys on multiple occasions. I shared my feelings with them and told them I had written a FB post before Kai was born about that very subject which received a tremendous amount of positive feedback. I promised them that I would try to find that post (not knowing how I was going to do that). Well, I woke up this morning and apparently it was exactly 3 years ago today that I wrote it and FB was kind enough to pop it back up on my feed as a memory. So that being said, I want to share that original post here:
To all my friends and family that continue to ask Marcus or me “whose sperm did you use” or “whose (kid) is it?” I have smiled and continued to give polite, witty banter back for months now hoping that you would digest the situation and realize the insinuations you are making. That somehow…due to genetics, our child is tied more closely to one of us than the other. That our child is not just simply “ours.” Growing up gay has not always been easy, but it’s made me stronger and allowed me to weather your curiosity and questions that seem outside of the love and compassion I expect from all of you. Growing up with an adopted brother; I can already share with all of you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that blood does not constitute family. I am strong enough to shoulder the burden of your ignorance in asking these questions over and over again. However, our child should never have to endure such comments and curiosity. Like any child, he has this entire, crazy world to face…and that’s scary enough for a new parent. I’m asking all of you from the bottom of my heart to think before you speak around him or anyone that does not necessary fit into a social norm. Being different is never easy, but it’s part of what makes life interesting and beautiful. Our son is coming and he is going to be a LOT of things…and I cannot wait to discover what those things may be…but one thing that I already know in my heart that he is…is OURS.
So Doing it Daddy Style is about parenting, but in order to be a great (co)parent, you have to constantly be on the same page. This is no easy task so I’m going to give you five things that I think are most important:
- Make time for you. Give your partner time for them. This one is super important. You both need time to workout and do a few personal things each week. This keeps you healthy both mentally and physically.
- Make time for you (plural). I will not lie, this was super tough the first year we had the triplets because having a babysitter put four kids down for bed or dealing with more than one waking up is almost impossible. We are just now starting to get out again, but we will put the kids down first and then venture out. And we are always home by midnight because it’s back in Dad mode between 6am and 7am the next day. A school administrator once reaffirmed this by telling me they have seen so many couples go through divorce in the first 2-5 years of having children. It makes sense because you are two individuals sharing a life and all of a sudden, one (or four) come along and they because your sole priority and focus. Making time for you as a couple will help to maintain your relationship and, in turn, make you better parents.
- Argue behind closed doors. What I mean is do not contradict each other in front of the children. Even if you think what your partner is saying or doing is wrong, you want to present a united front to your children. Speak to them after and agree on how you want to handle that particular situation moving forward. This will help to prevent the kids from asking Parent 1 and then going to ask Parent 2 if they do not get the response they wanted. It also keeps your kid(s) childhood magical. They do need to see you arguing or fighting with each other.
- Be present with your children when you are playing with them, explaining things to them, or even joking around. The are little blank slates. They do not have your experiences. They do not process information they way you do. Think about what you are doing or saying and how it will affect the young adults they will become. For a lot of adults, this is difficult to be that hyper-aware so this is where your partner comes into play. It is much easier process these things when you are observing it then when you are participating. Always be aware of the interactions your children are having and be ready to step in or make a mental note to discuss later if appropriate if you notice something going on that may have a negative impact on the child’s thought process or behavior.
- Set goals and have discussions on the adults that you want to raise. It is not enough to provide and play and hope for the best. You need to take them time to set goal with and for your kids. They will change over time, but if you do not have goals for milestones or the people you want them to turn out to be, you are flying blind. And talk about them. We usually discuss these at night when all the kids are down and we can finally take a deep breath and allow our brains to wind down a bit. We talk about their days, funny things they did, things they did that were not funny, what new things we have noticed, and what one might need to work on. Sharing these observations again helps us to be more connected, closer to our kids, and gives us the ability to parents in sync and to the best of our ability.
This is nowhere near a complete list, but I hope it helps. I think having four kids in two years amplified all the issues that may arise which might sound like a bad thing, but I think it also maybe made them easier to identify and therefor figure out a way to handle them faster than we would have otherwise. And I am always open to suggestions if you have them 🙂
So traveling with kids. Let’s talk about it for minute.
I used to travel for work ALL the time. I could pack in 10-15 minutes. I could get from my house through the airport and to my gate in 90 minutes max. I never checked luggage. Oh, and I got to relax and read on the plane.
NOT ANYMORE! 🙂 Now I have to start packing weeks in advance to make sure I have everything I need for the upcoming trip and that it fits. We have to schedule a car service if flying and if we do not have enough adults to hold all the babies, then we have to arrange for car seats. When we went to Hawaii over Christmas, we needed an extra car for our 14 (yes 14) bags. Four of those bags are just for the two strollers and extra seats. Two were for my parents. That leaves eight full of diapers, food, bottle, formula, toys, and extra everything. We leave for the airport 2.5 hours before our flight and found a wonderful company that assists us through the airport to the lounge and then our gate. It is a process. Plus, we are their constant source of entertainment for the entire flight. Forget enjoying a meal, reading, or taking a much needed nap.
Now I always said that my choice to have multiple kids would never take away from us being able to give them all the experiences I had growing up, especially traveling. So we brave it. And the kids are actually all really good travelers. Except when it comes to sleeping. At home, they sleep a solid 12 hours a night. On vacation…not so much. They were maybe 7 months old when we went to Hawaii and everyone ended up having to sleep with a baby the entire trip. They refused to sleep in their portable cribs. Fast forward to Easter in Santa Barbara. Nope. Almost 1 year old and Marcus and I have all 4 kids in the bed and did not get much sleep at all. So, I decided that before heading to Cabo in August, we would take a little mini trip down to San Diego and see how they do now that they were almost 14 months.
We drove down to San Diego which is about a 3 hour drive and they all did fantastic in the car. It was about 1pm when we arrived at the San Diego Zoo and they loved all the animals. We got to our hotel, the U.S. Grant, around 6pm to give us time to rinse off, change and go downstairs for dinner. Now they were wonderfully accommodating and set us all up in a private dining room and they kids all sat through an almost 2 hours dinner and ate very well. So I thought, hey, super smooth so far and they have to be exhausted so we’re good! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Now I don’t know whether it’s a new environment or that they are all constantly teething now, but Quinn refuses to sleep in a portable crib but he also will wake up if you have him in the bed (I think he gets too warm) and then he lets loose a blood curdling scream. When we just had Kai, there were two of us and one of him. He always slept between us and if he got up, one of us would rock him back to sleep and that was it. Now when Quinn lets loose, there are 3 other kids in the room. It is instant panic mode. You do not want the other babies to wake and cause a chain reaction. In San Diego, he woke up Rowan (who does NOT like to be woken up…not sure where she gets that…lol) who in turn, lets out a scream of her own. Vivi and Kai were angels and slept through all of it, but Daddy and Papa once again did not get much sleep.
We did SeaWorld on the way home the next day and again, the kids were fantastic and loved all of the sea animals. We did not see the Orcas out of principle, but we pretty much saw everything else. And I will say, not having to deal with formulas or bottles anymore is a game changer. It’s one less suitcase to pack and they can eat packs on the go in between meals.
So…wish us luck for Cabo next month. They are now able to walk so they will want to be up and down the aisles of the plane and don’t understand why they have to stay in their seats for takeoff and landing. Bless my mother for getting them all Fire tablets on Prime Day. It should be enough to distract them temporarily.
One last little tip or piece of advice to all the parents out there who think traveling is just too much. When you (and your children) look back on their life, you are not going to remember your child throwing a fit on the plane. You won’t remember the stress of losing one in the airport for a split second. Lost or delayed bags will be a distant memory. Even the lack of sleep for the entire week of vacation will not matter. The memories you make on those trips though will be remembered forever and they will shape the adults your little humans end up becoming. I know schedules are easier, monotony prevents chaos, but what kind of a life is that? Push yourselves. Teach your kids that sometimes, the most difficult things are the most rewarding. And get out there and travel. Expose them to other cultures, different ways of life, people who grew up drastically different from them. They will be better for it.
I walked into Kai’s school today and he was outside on the playground with two of his friends. Neither one looks like him. One was a boy. One was a girl. Not only does that not matter, it’s not even a thought to any of them.
The pure joy of them just holding hands and playing in a circle stopped me in my tracks. I would normally just stand there and take it in but it was too precious not to capture and share.
As a father, I never want that to end. (I just started to type the word unadulterated. I know the typical usage and definition but is it not interesting that I was about to talk about unadulterated joy and I literally mean joy that has not been tainted by adults). My goal is to keep that unadulterated joy from becoming, well, adulterated. We, as parents, and just adults in general need to be hyperaware of what we do, what we say, and how we act around children. We need to present the best parts of ourselves and let the negativity dissipate with our generation.
Now I cannot control other adults and I definitely cannot control all of the different media that my children will be exposed to during their youth (though I will do my damnedest…and I am pretty savvy when it comes to technology). I can however do my best to keep their original coding intact and try to undo any outside damage with positive reinforcement at home.
I believe everyone, even if they themself had a tough childhood, had those moments of our joy that they still remember to this day. If you’re reading this, try to find those memories. And I challenge you, if you have not made a new one in a long time, go make one. Let it remind you how small most of the things are that we let weigh us down. And, for me, let it make you consciously, fully present when you are around young impressionable minds.
Let the kids believe in magic. Let them think this world is and can be better than it is…and just maybe, they will manifest that reality.
These two 😍
So every morning now, if Quinn sees Kai and I leaving for school, he looks like the saddest kid in the world. So I end up just taking him to drop off and pick up Kai most days.
This morning, I had to put Quinn down for a moment and he walked right up to his big brother and put his arms around him. It lasted for a good 3-4 minutes before I picked him up and we said goodbye to Kai.
Growing up without a sibling close in age, this just warms my heart to see. All my kids are close and spend time playing together, but this relationship between big bro and little bro is pretty special.
So we made it! One year.
Anyone else who has multiples will most likely tell you that the first year is the hardest. We were blessed with pretty easy, healthy babies and it was still just a LOT of work.
They are all sleeping through the night now. 7pm-7am. Quinn and Kai share a room and they always seem to get up earlier than the girls. The girls, who also share a room, usually like to sleep in about half an hour later than the boys.
NO MORE BOTTLES!!! This is huge…I feel like I have been washing bottles for the last 3 years of my life (in actuality, it’s only been about 2.5 years of my life). It’s kind of strange to realize that you are completely done with something. With Kai, I saved everything, knowing that I would hopefully have to get it all out again for our second child. Now, I’m packing everything up to send to friends who are expecting and it feels great 🙂
A lot of moms ask me if I am going to miss the baby phase, mostly because they do. I can honestly say that I loved every single minute of it. But no, I am not going to miss it to the point where I want to go through it again. God gave us 3 this time…and doing everything 3 times…well, you definitely get your fix. I am looking forward to the next stages of life with them (as long as they do not come and go too fast).
So what is next on the docket? Well, Quinn is fully walking and though the girls can walk if they want to, they choose to knee walk. I have never seen another baby do it and I’m not sure whether it was Rowan or Vivi who started the hot, new trend but it does not seem to be going anywhere. Teething. When you are a new, expecting parent, soooo many other parents warn you about what lies ahead. The only thing that has ever come close to being as bad as I was warned is teething. It is absolutely miserable seeing your kids in terrible pain and not being able to do anything about it. We go through boxes of Camilia and if it gets unbearable for them, I will resort to Tylenol. We have every freezable and non-freezable teether on the market and free damp washcloths as well. It took the triplets so long to start getting their teeth that they are now getting 2-4 all at once. Poor Vivi hardly smiled last week which is tough to witness when she normally smiles about 100 times every 10 minutes.
Kai finished his first year of school. It was almost surreal. He started summer school last week and they swim every single day. He starts his new school right after Labor Day and I’m applying for that school for the triplets next week. In my head, they would always have a year in between them in school since they are almost 2 years apart. Because of their birthdays and the school cutoff date though, they will actually be in back to back grades. Fun for them but Dad is going to be an absolute wreck when they all leave for college almost at the same time. Marcus tries to console me saying that at least one or two will decide to go into the arts and live at home while the other two are at college. LOL.
That’s a wrap for their yearly update.
So…our night nurse left shortly after my last post and I haven’t slept since let alone had time to blog. (Kidding…kind of). Anyway, we have some catching up to do.
So we made it to two months. It was my turn to take over night duty and I was feeding the babies every 2-3 hours. It would take about 90 minutes to feed each one and then, if I was lucky, I would get about 90 minutes of consecutive sleep. I moved our sleeping sofa into the nursery and just stayed in there overnight.
We decided to brave our first family outing for 4th of July. We took all the kids up to Malibu and let’s just say it was WAY easier to take Kai places when he was that little. For any of you reading this expecting triplets…just make the decision that you’re going to stay home/local for the first 6 months. You will all be much happier for that decision.
Month 2 did not pass so quickly since I was not sleeping much but we made it and each day was getting a little easier.
The question I keep getting asked is, “How do you do it?” I usually give one of two answers depending on my mood. “What’s my alternative?” or the real answer…that it’s just like raising one baby, except you have to do everything 3 times. To say it’s time consuming is an understatement. 3 bottles, 3 diaper changes, putting 3 down for a nap or bedtime, 3 baths. I cannot possibly give each one the time and attention that I gave Kai when he was young, but I’m definitely trying my best. And my solace is that they can entertain each other as well. And that they have the BEST big brother in the entire world.
What a lot of people who do not have kids do not realize is that each child is born with a unique personality almost from day one. As parents, we are lucky enough to have the privilege of instilling values and shaping that personality. We do not, however, create it. My son Kai was curious from the day he was born. With the triplets, their personality are even more evidenced because I have something to compare them to…Quinn is kind and gentle. He smiles all the time and when he cries (which is rare) it is as if you hurt his feelings. Vivi is just a sweetheart…when she smiles at you, her entire face lights up. She looks at the world with an intelligence that I have never seen a baby possess. And then there is Rowan. She is basically me. She can be the sweetest baby in the world and then if she is upset or bothered…she lets out this unearthly wail. None of my other kids even come close to the excruiciating sound that comes out of her mouth. She does not sound like her feelings are hurt or even that she is in some time of pain. She sounds (excuse my language) pissed. LOL. I have a feeling that she and I are going to have some fights in the years to come 🙂
That catches us up to month five. I am sleeping in my room again. Most nights, I put them down by 7pm, sleep feed at 10pm (which only takes me 45 min to an hour now), and then they sleep until 7am. It’s heaven. Every once in awhile Rowan will decide that she wants to wake up at 3am just to be rocked back to sleep 😉 But that’s okay. This is the last time I’m going to go through the infant stage and I am trying to cherish each and every minute of it. As much as I look forward to taking them all swimming in the ocean or watching them run around and chase each other or having them all be able to get in the car and buckle themselves in…I do not wish for ANY of that to arrive too quickly. I never felt this way with Kai because every day was a milestone and and I knew I was going to have more kids to experience it with again. Now that we are done having children…I secretly mourn the passing of each milestone knowing that it is my last (until I have grandchildren).
To anyone reading this who is deciding if you want children. You do. Just trust me on that. To everyone out there who already has children, let me give you a little advice I am learning daily from having 4 kids within 20 months of each other. One of the most frustrating things, at least for me, is that I try to enforce my will on my children and control them all the time because I think I know what’s best. Eat your breakfast, it’s nap time, we are ALL going to play over here. Well…each one of my kids usually has their own ideas about every single one of my opinions. My advice is to breathe…remember they are little people. They have their own ideas, dreams, wants, desires…even as young as 5 months old. Guide them as best possible, but let them be in charge of their own little worlds. Let the control go a bit. And enjoy every moment…even the ones where you are at your wits end because one day they will be adults, living in their own houses, leading their own lives, and all you will want is for them to be little again, screaming, needing nothing more than the comfort of your arms so that their world is right again.