5 Things I’ve Learned from My Toddler Triplets

My latest piece for TLC’s Parentable’s blog is all about our wee threesome. Namely the lessons that they’ve taught me. After all, we’re just 4 weeks from the birth of Grand Finale, and I’m sorta starting to freak out, so I thought now would be the perfect time to write something about what we learned last go round.

So if I’ve already sold you on wanting to read the post, then click here. But, if you wanna find out what the five categories are as well as see the pics I used for the actual post before you decide weather or not to click on over to Parentables, that’s fine, too. I’ve posted them after the jump.

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Father’s Day in Heaven

Image: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via Creative Commons

Early one morning in 2002, my brother picked me up from the airport and drove me to the hospital to see my dad. He had been unresponsive since the afternoon before. His rapid turn for the worse was what had prompted the previous night’s phone calls urging me to catch a cross-country flight if I ever wanted to see him alive again.

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The Million Dollar Question

The million-dollar question.

Yesterday was a big day. It was our first ultrasound. Technically, it’s still a little early. Lovie’s only six weeks along. But the nurse tech was nice enough to make an exception for us given how anxious she knew we were.

The last time Lovie was pregnant, I still owned the countertop business. And we were particularly busy at the time.  That’s why my wife suggested that I stay at work. After all, she knew that if I were to take a couple of hours in the middle of my day to accompany her, I’d be home that much later that night. And in those days, I was already coming home late enough as it was. So I skipped it.

When Lovie asked me if I wanted to come this time, I was quick to answer. “You’re damn right I do,” I began. “The last ultrasound I missed yielded triplets. Missing this one is a chance I’m just not willing to take.”

Since the moment we found out that Lovie was pregnant, the million dollar question on both of our minds has been How many? All our friends told us to relax. The odds were overwhelming that there was just one.

But when it comes to odds, Lovie and I have proven that we’re not afraid to land on the slim ones. In fact, for Lovie to even get pregnant without any help was extremely unlikely. It was that unlikelihood which served as the answer to yet another million-dollar question often asked to us by our close friends — If y’all didn’t want any more children, why didn’t you ever do anything about it?

It’s not like we never discussed it. A few days before her C-section for the triplets, I encouraged Lovie to get her tubes tied. “You know. Since the hood’ll be up, and all. May as well let the mechanic multi-task.”

“You’re a jackass. You know that?” she asked. “I don’t want to get my tubes tied. Why don’t you just get snipped?”

Simple. This jackass is scared of the knife. Plus, I hate frozen peas. The last thing I’d wanna do is sit on ‘em. Various incarnations of this stalemate manifested itself over the past three years. And after each one, Lovie and I were left to take solace in the aforementioned unlikelihood turned million-dollar-question answer. Why didn’t we ever do anything about it?

Because we thought it was all but impossible for Lovie to get pregnant.

Of course, that notion failed to take into account one undeniable fact. Since the day I was born, I’ve been flat-out getting shit done, y’all. PERIOD. It’s how I operate. So in that respect, I suppose it should have come as no surprise.

But it was a surprise, and though we had gotten our hands around it to a certain extent, I was still completely and totally freaked out as I sat in the waiting room alongside Caroline yesterday, nervously tweeting a rhetorical question to my tweeps. Surely there’s just one, right?

I, in fact, was not so sure. My gut told me that there were two in hers. Possibly even three.

“I think I’d actually almost be happy if there were only two,” I said to Lovie while we waited.

“You talk like there’s a litter inside me,” she uttered while casually flipping through a magazine. “I’ve gotten good with it. No matter how many,” she said.

“Even if there’s three?” I asked.

“Well, yeah, even if there’s three. I mean, what are we gonna do, you know?”

“Honey,” I started, “I don’t know what you’re gonna do if there’s three. But I know what I’m gonna do. But before I tell you, I want you to know that this was an incredibly difficult decision. That said, if you’re pregnant with triplets, I’d have no choice but to leave your ass.”

She handled it rather well, responding to my shocking announcement with a simple question. “Oh yeah? What if there’s just one?”

“One? You’re good. One and I’m stayin’.”

“Oooh. Lucky me. What about two?”

I looked out the window and pondered that one. Funny I didn’t have an answer, given that my gut had us pegged for twins.”Two would be a game-time decision,” I finally concluded.

And as fate would have it, a game-time decision that I won’t have to make. Because the ultrasound revealed just one gestational sac. (Praise the Lord.) Of course, there could always be two babies inside one sac via identical multiples, but there was only one yolk and, most importantly, only one heartbeat detected.

And as I saw the pitter-patter of our little baby’s heart via the grayscale image on the GE monitor, mine grew warm with love. For the first time since I went into shock shortly after pulling out of the Dunkin’ Donut’s parking lot, the reality of the situation finally dawned on me. I could tell from the look on Caroline’s face that it had dawned on her, too.

After the ultrasound, we raced like kids into the parking lot, both wearing a grin from ear to ear, one that only got bigger as we squeezed each other tight right next to our car. You know what I think now? I think that on some level, Caroline and I were way more open to having another baby than either of us ever realized.

God willing, in about 34 weeks from now, we’ll be doing just that. And I wish I could somehow convey  just how fired up we are about it.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. This will be one of our most special ones, yet.

Photo: stock.xchng

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The Trail to Fatherhood

It's good to get your bearings.

Pssst — please google connect with me. Surely there are more than 8 of you out here. I’m gonna have to take that damn thing down unless a few more of your help a brother out.

Just because I spent the first weekend of October away from my family doesn’t mean that they weren’t on my mind. For I was on my annual Appalachian Trail trip. And whenever I’m backpacking, my thoughts are frequently with them.

In many ways, my time on “the Trail” serves as an excellent parenting metaphor. After all, it’s difficult. It takes lots of preparation. There are many ups and downs. It can often be thankless. Yet it’s also impossibly rewarding. And, at times, it seems never-ending.

On Sunday, as we inched closer to our awaiting car, I finally acknowledged what I hadn’t dared to in the previous two days — our trip was an utter success. Never before had one gone so smoothly. I think it had to do with our preparation. We were more organized than ever.

Take, for example, my “bag” system. There were five of them. The green one was my “utility” bag — rope, batteries, GPS, Flip video, fire-starters, lighter, duct tape, cell phone, and head lamp. The blue one was my “water bag” — water purification tablets, toothpaste, toothbrush, camping soap, aspirin, wipes, hand sanitizer, vaseline, aspirin, and first aid kit. I stuffed both of those bags inside a larger gray bag which also contained a towel, a backpack cover, and an ankle brace (just in case).

This important gray bag was at the very top of my pack which allowed me to access it in an instant’s notice. Beneath it lay my two other bags. Well, one of them was not a bag at all, but rather all of my clothing which was bundled up neatly by my light-weight Arcteryx wind/water shell. The other bag contained my food as well as my camping stove and fuel. Aside from my 20 degree Mountain Hardware sleeping bag (housed in the lower compartment of my backpack) and tent (strapped to the outside of my backpack), those highly compartmentalized bags were all I needed.

A mile or so from the car, it dawned on me. If only I could organize the tools I need as a parent as well as I had organized my backpacking tools, surely parenting would go smoother than ever before, too. This thought filled me with great hope, if not pride, as I imagined a day in the not-so-distant future when temper tantrums would cease to exist.

Why? Because I’d simply take off my backpack of fatherhood and pull out the gray bag. Inside it, my blue bag would be readily available. And inside it would lay reason, empathy and compassion. I’d pull out equal amounts of all three and intercept the would-be tantrum by communicating with my child like never before. He or she would look at me with a perfect mixture of awe and love before happily skipping off toward a pocket of unparalleled and serene happiness made possible only by my sage-like wisdom. Well, that and my sick-ass parent-tool organization, I suppose.

On the drive back home, I smiled from ear to ear as I envisioned the reception I was sure to receive. Lovie, Pookie, and the triplets would welcome home their virile Viking — the one who had summoned up the preposterous amounts of fortitude needed to brave the elements and conquer the wild — the one who had returned home not only in tact, but also armed with indispensable parenting knowledge he was astute enough to glean along the rugged way.

Honestly? I was half expecting a trophy.

And I got one. For as soon as I broke the threshold Lovie handed me a vertical figurine.

My trophy.

“What the hell is this?” I asked loudly to compete with the meltdown my arrival had interrupted

“A plunger,” answered Lovie equally as loud. “The triplets’ toilet is clogged. I need you to unclog it.”

None too pleased, I made my way up yet another incline — the stairs — my right hand ahold of the trophy. (If only it were my hiking stick.) Hey, not a problem, I thought. I’ll just open the gray bag, and then pull out the green one. For in it, I’m sure to find the patience I’ll need to get through this.

As ripe as I was from having been in the woods for three days, I was no match for the deplorable situation that awaited. The water in the bowl of the toilet was littered with an epic amount of toilet paper and was, for lack of a better description, a light shade of soupy brown. I would later find out that it had been, um, incubating for two days.

After 30 seconds of what can best be described as extreme plunging, I.. dry heaved (literally). But that was all I had accomplished. The clog remained. By this time, Monster had scurried up and was overseeing my plunging efforts. Unbeknownst to me, he must have engaged in one of his favorite pastimes — flushing. Or so I gathered when he ran out of the bathroom giggling just as the soupy brown mess began to rise.

Lucky for me, I pulled out some quick thinking (I keep it in the blue bag — which, after all, is my water bag) and immediately reached down to turn off the toilet’s water source so it wouldn’t overflow.

The handle broke off in my hand.

Undeterred, I lifted up the porcelain lid to the back of the commode and jimmied the ball upright so as to trick the tank into thinking it was full, thus stopping the flow of water. (See? Quick thinking.) But it was too late. For by then, the bathroom was covered in a quarter inch of the foulest of water that not even a year’s supply of my purification tablets could remedy.

It was at this time when Monster decided to come check on me again, heading my way via his signature hobbly, bouncy-hop, running deal, his eyes wide with excitement, his mouth slightly agape. “Monster, No!” I yelled as he drew closer, but it was to no avail. Into the bathroom he came, and as he did, he lost his footing on the slimy sludge and quickly resembled a cartoon character after a banana-peel-encounter — his body slipping out from under him, at one point a full twelve inches above the ground, perfectly parallel, mind you, before descending and ultimately landing with a splat on his back in the murky fecal water.

Sadly, my friends, I have nothing inside any of my parenting bags for such a scenario. And what’s more, no amount of organization could ever change that.

The next day, the plumber found the original cause of the problem. The triplets had flushed a pair of Peanut’s shorts down the toilet. They were pink.

We think.

World’s Greatest Dad

No. I'M the world's greatest dad. You're just some punk about the scream "uncle."

Greetings, all. My “Where’s Mommy?” video has been entered in a contest put on by a the fantastic folks over at Man of the House — the “World’s Greatest Dad” contest. And while I don’t even consider myself the greatest dad i my neighborhood, much less my world, I am hoping to win. Why? Because if I do, I’m donating 100% of the prize money to charity.

And that means that ChildHelp.org — a leading national nonprofit which benefits victims of child abuse and neglect — would get $2,000.00. In this depressed economy, I know each donation is valued even that much more. So please help me raise a nice chunk of change for a great cause without so much as spending a dime!

This will literally take you five seconds. Two keystrokes. First, click this link to get to my video:

http://manofthehouse.com/greatest-dad-contest/entry/3f16f392e303513a

Then click on the “vote” icon. BOOM. Done.

You can vote one time per day between now and October 22, so I hope you’ll vote a few times between now and then. And if you like this idea of donating two grand to a foundation which helps children who really need it in communities all across the country, then I hope you’ll share this post with your network of friends via one of the social network icons that appear on the left side of this page.

Thanks, y’all!

PS – Like my new look? Hope so. PJ Mullen, the good man behind Real Men Drive Minivans, is to thank for it. If your site needs a facelift, he comes with my highest recommendation. Don’t forget to grab my feed if you wanna keep following me. Though I have the same address, the feed did change. Same thing if you were getting posts delivered to you via email! Thanks for reading!

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