I typed a beautiful and eloquent post about my kids at 18 months in Word... copied it to my clipboard and saved it... and *poof* it disappeared from everywhere. No traces of it, not even on my clipboard. No doubt, this post will be a sloppy attempt at recreating that post, and will not have nearly the finesse of the original. I hope you'll forgive my clumsiness.
It's hard to believe that so much time has passed since our family expanded. It was just over two years ago that I learned the news that there were three passengers on board. It was nineteen months ago that those three passengers made their entrance into the world with their first tiny cries. I thought the first year would be the hardest. I had envisioned a life of absolute misery and beyond our ability to cope. But, although our first year was full of challenges and a lot of hard work, it was nothing compared to the nightmare I had envisioned. Why, it was downright easy compared to the nightmare I had envisioned! We not only survived our first year, our family thrived.
I look at our family today and I am astounded at how far we have come. From three tiny babies to three toddlers on the go. From one big brother timidly approaching his little brother in an incubator, to a vroombunctious five year old fearlessly tumbling with his toddler siblings, and complaining when they touch his toys. I am thrilled with the way our family dynamic has evolved and in awe that it has stayed together through all of the challenges that we face each day.
The most common question I get these days is, "Well, is it a lot easier now that they're older?" Wait, what? In whose world could this possibly be easier? A year ago these babies weren't even crawling! They weren't eating real food. They slept much of the time. They had simple demands on the world still - eat, sleep, poop, eat, sleep poop... with a little time on the playmat thrown in for good measure. Now? They are into everything (especially Ellie). Now they are running in three different directions at all times. They have wants and needs and they make sure we know it! They eat real food, which means preparing three home-cooked meals for them each and every day (something I don't even do for myself!). They want to be engaged at all times. They are transitioning from two naps per day to one nap per day, which means their sleeping schedule is erratic.
Really. In whose world is this easier? But it is also incredibly rewarding.
Each of their personalities is truly beginning to shine and they are healthy, thriving toddlers now. Abby was our last holdout, but she, too, is toddling away along with the others. At 17 months, she finally gave up on crawling and starting walking. Six weeks later, she's still so proud of her accomplishment. The most amazing thing about her walking is that once she started walking there was a drastic reduction in the number of temper tantrums that she was throwing each day. She used to throw several per hour, but now she's a much happier baby. She giggles all the time, lifts her shirt to have her belly tickled, flashes her great big grin and brings you toys to play with her. She works through things that used to frustrate her into a huge temper tantrum and is so much more pleasant to be around. Walking was her key to happiness! Obviously she still has temper tantrums, but not with nearly the frequency she used to. It's awesome.
All three babies were declared healthy at their eighteen month check up. The pediatrician told me that we can start to shift our frame of thought from thinking of the triplets in terms of their adjusted age as we've been doing up until this point to now thinking of them as mostly typical eighteen month olds with only a few remaining developmental delays. But they have caught up on the growth charts. They have caught up with gross motor skills to their actual age milestones for the most part. They are almost to actual age milestones for fine motor skills.
The only area in which there remain significant delays are expressive and receptive language skills - all three of them are behind even their adjusted age, which the pediatrician noted at their fifteen month appointment and recommended that we have them evaluated by early intervention from the county for speech therapy services, which we did, and they have been receiving speech therapy once a week ever since and they have made such great improvement, especially the girls! Sam still doesn't say a word, but he's at least starting to respond to his name - which is a great relief. He had actually been the greatest concern because he responded to his name when he was about a year old - he would look back and make a cute little grunty noise every time he heard his name, but then he abruptly regressed for months. Last month he started to turn his head consistently to his name again, which makes us all very happy.
They all have such distinct little personalities and they are really starting to learn how to interact with each other. Abby, in particular, seems quite in tune with the others' emotional states, even though for the most part she wants nothing to do with them. If Ellie or Sam is crying, she will go find their loveys (Ellie's are a green bear and a fuzzy blanket and Sam's are the elephant blankets and lately also a lovely knit blanket from a friend of ours) and she will bring the lovey(s) to whomever is crying. Sometimes Ellie will do the same. But as in tune as she is to that - she's the one who most consistently steals Sam's pacifier, thus guaranteeing to devastate poor Sammy and leave him screaming in shock and despair! She is also the most likely to pick a fight with Sam. But, then, Sam is the most likely to pick a fight with her, too. They are always fighting. They are always in each other's space and Abby can't stand when other babies are in her space. She's going to have a really tough time in life.
Ellie is still, by and large, very laid back, but she's starting to assert herself more, and she does NOT like it when another child takes a toy of hers, or if she always has to wait to be the last for something. She is also starting to become my pickiest eater. Until recently, all of the kiddeos would eat absolutely anything, but they are beginning to be more discriminating than that, particularly Ellie. She is the least likely to try new foods and the most likely to reject foods, even if she's eaten them in the past. Still, she does love her food, and when she wants food, she makes it known. Her first word was "cracker" and she makes it very clear when she wants her beloved crackers! Also she asks for cups (either water or milk cups) when she's thirsty. She is quite clear about her desires and gets upset if you're eating something that she wants and you're not sharing. It's nice to see her asserting herself more; I would have hated to see her getting walked all over forever. Still, she is still her loving, giving self. She loves to share - she will bring you her toys and share them, or even her crackers and cups. She expects you to share right back, of course, but she's all about the sharing.
Sam is still a bit of a brute - but it's not malicious, he's just completely unaware of physical space and the fact that there are other babies in that physical space. He is, by far, the cuddliest of the three babies, though, so I know he's got a loving soul. Though Abby is the one that likes to be held the most, I'm certain this is largely because she's trying to get away from having other little people in her space. With Sam, he likes to snuggle right into your space and be held. But he's also very busy, so after he gets his snuggles, he wriggles right back out and goes back to the business of playing. It's serious business, you know.
Sam just started liking cars and trucks and the girls just started noticing baby dolls and purses. It's really cute that they're starting to notice that there's a difference between boys and girls, but it does make things more complicated for mommy!
The J-man is still an exceptionally good big brother, and about as patient as you can expect a 5 1/2 year old to be with three intrustive toddlers. But the strain of being a big brother to three 19 month olds is definitely starting to get to him. He's starting to notice that they like to get into his stuff and they like touching his things. Which, you know, is kind of his fault. I mean, they can't get into his room (there's a baby gate blocking their entrance into his room), so if he'd stop leaving his toys all over the living room, they'd stop touching his toys. But I know it seems unfair to him that they touch his things. So we try to find ways to let him keep things private. He also seems to think that the babies have a lot more stuff than him. Which, um, I have to say, isn't quite true. First of all, a lot of the stuff they have is hand me downs from him. And second of all, um, hello? Have you SEEN how much stuff he has? Plus, there's three of them and one of him. But if he gets 10 toys for, oh, say, Passover, and they each get one, he thinks they get one, he thinks they got more than he did. It's a hard life. Poor kid.
I'm sure this isn't the end of them annoying him, but I'm also sure there will be more stages of happiness and joy. I can't wait to see how their personalities emerge. Seth said he hopes that Sam's and Ellie's personalities stay much the same and that Abby learns to chill out a bit. Just as he said that, she started to shriek because one of the others looked at her funny. Or something. I wouldn't count on her chilling out anytime soon.