Mar 31, 2008

Take it to the Mattresses

"It's time to take it to the mattresses"
--Famous line from The Godfather

"Hey little boy, what you got there?"
--Excerpted from the song The Mollusk, by Ween

Pretty deep quotes, huh?

Well, He, the little boy[s] that is, got . . . New floor mattresses for those sleepless nights, lazy days, and recent streams of grandmas (plus "Poppy"--go ahead and laugh readers, that's what my dad wants to be called by his grand children, don't ask me why!); just like the old days when we all slept together in the living room on our old floor mattresses. Weird to think about now. BTW, I believed we burned the old ones; flat as pancakes they became with one too many spit-up stains. (Jerry always hated sour milk baby breath, whereas I inhaled it deeply and lovingly, like I would with fresh hops.)

While I think my babies are smart and successful (Big Ivy League, here we come!), they strike me as still so babyish and immature compared to other kids their age, and, well, different somehow--unique. Like when they were playing among unfamiliar kids the other day at a playground; after awhile I noticed the other kids stopped playing, and kind of stood there silently watching my children play. Suddenly my children were the entertainment (and since triplets are used to getting stared at, it didn't phase them). Or maybe they just have a soothing effect on other kids? But why, I don't know. Like I said, my children just seem different compared to the typical, skinny, somewhat undernourished, blond Kansan toddler. And although they may not fit the typical profile, it's not because they are dark or their mama's white. Although we are not a mecca for diversity (this is rural Kansas, remember), black children and biracial families are very common here. I can't hardly go to town without bumping into black children and their white moms.

And the funny thing is, Tsega wants to touch all the strange children he sees. But kids don't usually like strange little hands grabbing at them and usually shrink from or skirt his touch. Or cry. Tsega-mega fixed on a baby at that playground, maybe one year old and very mobile, and wrapped his arms around him for a very sweet loving hug and wouldn't let go. The baby started crying so I had to tear T away, which caused loud angry protests from Tsega and as soon as I let him go again, he bee-lined straight for the baby again for the same big hug and I had to tear him apart again and suffer through more Tsega cries. Of course us mothers thought it was hilarious and we told Tsega how sweet he is.

Anyway, back to the little baby and new mattresses thing again. I took this video below of the boys wrestling and nestling on our new cushions and both my mom and I laughed at how Sira looks so little-baby pulling on his feet. He's the one on the left in the blue stripes. Matching brother Bereket also looks very baby, while fraternal brother Tsega sometimes startles me with his big-kid looks (yet his maturity level is on a par with his bros). Out in public people like to guess at their ages, and they are never close. A typical comment might be, how old are they, 12 months? (Me: No, almost two!). One lady recently couldn't believe Bereket and Sira were skipping around because, she said, they look too little to be walking!

I'll take sweet baby any day and I'm in no hurry to grow these guys up; yet I won't stand in their way either.

Mar 28, 2008


Alternatively titled: Stomp; New Shoes; The Bereket Shuffle; Singing in the Rain.

Boys love new shoes too (thanks Grandma!), especially ones that clatter loudly on wood floors. I got to get these boys some tap shoes (anybody know where I can get little tiny pairs?). Incidentally, mama's a fine tapper too. Oh, if you're wondering, that's Sira in the diaper and of course Tsega's the one with all the hair (which leaves Bereket in red).

And apparently Tsega has been watching too much American Idol (well, maybe too many of the wacky audition episodes).

Mar 17, 2008

The Triplets are it (and they really do have "It"!)

Tagged. Good idea Mama Papaya. It's time for the babes to give a top ten (my own are coming soon, but it's causing me too much pain & embarrassment at the moment). But rather than do ten neat random facts for each child, I lumped a lot of chaotic & run-on sentences together, jumping from individuals to The Unit in a mish-mosh fasion. Enjoy the wordiness. If I get any comments on this way-too-long post, I'll be surprised. :)

1. Bereket presses buttons and points to pictures in books with his middle, “flippy”, finger. Sira is a master mimicker. Tsega figures out how to get into things (or on top of things or underneath) the best but says the least. Although they understand much and follow simple orders well, none of the boys say more than 10 words. Language therapy, here we probably come.

2. When I make Tsega mad because I won’t give in to something he wants or I tell him to stop doing something, instead of walking away from me mad, he comes to me crying with his arms wide open for a big hug (he does walk away from Jerry though!). Bereket and Sira might walk away crying and bury their faces into the wall corner which breaks my heart (or the kitchen French door hoping dada’s in there to save them).

3. When Jerry was flipping through a recent New Yorker magazine with the boys, which he always seems to be doing, he came across a picture of Amy Whinehouse (hairy legs, tattoos, messy hair, dirty, and all) and the boys were absolutely mesmerized by her picture and tried to give her a binky.

4. Seven times out of ten Sira would rather be in dada’s arms than mine. For awhile he seemed to not even like me, but now he’s pretty crazy about me again and even preferred me for awhile, but now he’s back to dada. Ho-hum, you can’t win them all. Bereket doesn’t seem to favor one parent over another on the whole, but may do it for an evening. Tsega prefers mama and he didn’t warm up to Jerry until he was over a year old; not that he disliked him, he just didn’t seem to seek him out ever. For the record, Jerry and I have no favorites and don’t love one son more than another. My favorite is whoever happens to be sitting in my lap at the moment. Although we try for consistency, different personalities do require different parenting techniques.

5. Bereket is sensitive as an eyeball and that’s why I give him the crib with the view; it makes him so happy to look out the windows before he goes to sleep and after he wakes up. Something about him, he has a deep sensitivity that touches me to the core and I fear I will have trouble disciplining him as he grows, relative to his bros.

6. All the boys love binkies, but Tsega craves them the most. We have taken to putting them away except for sleeping and we have to make sure they are picked up from under cribs and couches because T will look for them.

7. Tsega is almost always in a good mood; wakes up happy and patiently waits to be fed. Bereket and Sira often wake up grouchy and cling their legs around me or Jerry (won’t put their landing gear down as we say) for about the first ½ hour upon waking and might howl and kick if they are hungry enough and see that food is coming; sometimes they get so worked up, I have to help shove food in their mouth as they cannot get large amounts in there quick enough (or they need a couple of minutes to calm down so they don’t throw their bowls in frustration). Except lately Tsega wants to go outside 24/7 (my nature boy) and starts thrusting his jacket and shoes at us while pointing outside and grunting (sounds like, “huh?!”) and gets upset, no matter how cold, how late, or how hungry, when it’s time to go in. All three squeal in delight when I start putting shoes, hats, and jackets on and start running around picking up shoes and handing them to me.

8. If you ever meet my boys, Bereket and Sira will freeze like deer in headlights, get absolutely silent, furrow their brows, and give you what looks like a scrutinizing dirty look. Everybody always comments, Gosh, look at those two checking me out with those big ol’ eyes! Tsega will most likely give you a huge dimply grin and flirt. You might be tempted to feel a special pull from Tsega, as many people—from strangers to familiars--seem to feel; but be careful because I’m starting to feel like Bereket and Sira are getting shadowed by Mr. People Lover.

9. My boys copy each other all day long. If one suddenly drops to the floor and lays on his back just for kicks (“drop and roll!”, I sometimes tell them), most likely his brothers will come up and lay down next to him, all with big grins on their faces. If one starts pushing a box around, another will find something to push along with him. If one starts hugging the big lion, all come up and hug it. If one climbs up the couch, they all do. If one goes up to the French doors to look at something outside (and maybe starts “woo-woo”ing—that’s their version of dog barking because our coonhound Clementine bays all day long as she runs through the country with her pal Louie), the rest go up and look out the window to see what’s up. If one opens the gate outside (a new talent, lucky us), all come up and try to escape together. You get the picture. Except outside Tsega is typically Mr. Explorer as he goes from one end of the yard to the next looking for new adventures, while Bereket and Sira tend to stick closer together pushing wagons and riding cars.

10. Bereket and Sira are so much alike it’s uncanny and sometimes we get them mixed up; but not usually, as I feel different aura wavelengths radiating from them, as I often tell people, and their laughs, cries, and facial expressions are different. Jerry used to be terrible at distinguishing them and constantly had to look at their ears (Sira came to us with a pierced upper ear) but he’s pretty darn good at it now. Somedays they look very much alike, other days they look very different. Sira is fatter with a rounder head and has a way of looking head-on, while skinny Bereket tends to cock his head to the side more. When we first met them, they barely looked alike and I wasn’t convinced they were identical (I am now). Despite their identicalness, I don’t sense any greater bond between them than any of them have with their fraternal brother Tsega. They all fight, bite, hit, and make each other cry, but they also play, love, and have adventures together. Actually, lately, the fighting is lessening by loads around here; guess they are working it out.

Mar 7, 2008

Two Funny Noggins

And as one of my ultra-favorite Ethio-adoptive moms pointed out (Hi MP!), some hair is finally appearing on those two funny noggins! I knew it had to happen sometime. . . from bald for sooo long to woolly fuzz, and now finally turning to softer and curlier and oh-so-ultra cute.

Now come closer readers, this is where it turns more serious and personal. I've been living with some major fear and worry the past several months. Around last fall I began noticing a midline keel on the foreheads of my identical pair, Bereket & Sira. Look at the pictures above, taken last September. Trace the line that runs down the foreheads of the "twins". Look at those serious profiles. It was these pictures that really got into my head. They are among my favorites; all three boys look so darn cute, but the foreheads of Bereket and Sira . . . where is that line coming from? And should foreheads stick out more than noses? I didn't know what to think at first, but began intense forehead watching on TV and out in public, especially eyeing the babies. Nobody else I examined had bony ridges in their foreheads. Finally I thought of birds and how they have keels (fused bones) in their breasts that enable flight. So I googled "keel" and "forehead" . . . holy $%*@# as my blood ran freezing cold when the scary word CRANIOSYNOTOSIS popped up. That's it! Without a doubt I was convinced. My two boys have a metopic ridge caused by craniosynotosis--premature fusing of cranial sutures. Now google long enough and you will find images of extreme disfigurations and scary possible prognoses ranging from intracranial pressure, severe headaches and seizures, to brain stunting and even autism.

A tad hysterical, I called the pedi and raced the boys in within the hour (advantages to living in small town, USA). The pedi had never brought up the CS word before, although she had remarked on frontal bossing (protruding foreheads) and tested the boys many months before for rickets (negative). Anyway, long story short, 2 X-rays and eye pressure tests later, many months of worrisome waiting, and worst case scenarios swimming in and out of my head, we found ourselves at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City earlier this week, on my birthday (the big 3-8), speaking with a cranio-facial plastic surgeon--the expert. I must say that by the time our appointment finally rolled in, I felt optimistic. The X-rays had not indicated any abnormalities, the eye pressure tests revealed no signs of brain pressure, Bereket and Sira are developmentally healthy (well, there's my language and height concerns, but they're certainly doing at least as well as their taller, normal-foreheaded fraternal brother Tsega), and ridge or no ridge, they are obviously cuter than buttons. But that ridge . . . what else could it be other than metopic?

Not all cases of cranio are serious or affect brain development and health, or disfigure the head and face. Not all cases require surgery. But surgery, although terrifying (this is the head and brain we're talking about), can usually fix the problems if it is indeed recommend. The words we wanted to hear: no surgery.

And indeed my diagnosis was spot-on: Metopic ridge caused by craniosynotosis YES, but surgery no no no! Apparently their type and severity of cranio is pretty common--stage I, meaning mild without surgery recommendations. Their ridge will eventually flatten within the next 7 years of their lives and their is no compromise to brain development. I've already noticed some flattening of their foreheads and our expert doctor said the history of their head growth is normal. This is one worry we now leave behind.

Remember my dear readers, no matter how stressed you get, no matter how crazy your kids make you, no matter what, never-ever take health for granted. Think of all those sick children who've come and gone from that hospital and all those worried and scared parents, and always be thankful if you find you and your family among the living and healthy. Funny noggins we can live with. :)

P.S. Thanks and special thoughts go out to Keely and Salem; you know why!