Wednesday, November 11, 2015


As one chapter closes, another begins.  Kristen's labor was even more premature than planned; but considering the sheer growth of her belly, it was obviously in Kristen and the boy's best interest to get this party started early.  Fully informed of the most likely course of action, we understood that the boys would spend some time in the NICU and Kristen would most likely be discharged after only a handful of days.  This was fine.  It was planned for.  And it worked out in the best way possible considering the circumstances.  

The postpartum portion of the GBMC tour went by in a flash, but it allowed Kristen time to recuperate and heal from surgery and get some rest before the real fun was to begin.  It was difficult for us to leave the boys in the hospital, but we had relief knowing they were in the hands of the amazing GBMC NICU staff.  So for now, we'd need Kristen to rest and recover before our hat trick came home.    

We were all so happy to have Kristen back home and it was cause for a celebration due to her rock star handling of the pregnancy and postpartum.  While everyone was telling her to take it slow, I loved her stubbornness, from wanting to see the boys hours after major surgery to walking out of the hospital on her own.  It is a testament to the stubborn love and dedication Kristen will most certainly provide to the boys as their mother.  

Kristen's discharge was a major cause for celebration.  I mean, she was in the hospital for 23 days without warning.  Things still needed to be done in the house, but Kristen and the hospital were priority number one.  Nobody could be more happy for her to be home than I was.  Well, except for maybe Jersey, but she doesn't count.  

Kristen and I both love Southern Tier's Pumking.  Knowing this, I told her that we'd save our first bottle of the season for after she was discharged from the hospital. It also happen to be a football Saturday with Ohio State ironically playing Maryland.   

In addition to the Stantz and Hewitt grandparents, the triplets' Uncle Matt, Aunt Kiki (Kim), and Cousin Rooney came to Baltimore to celebrate Kristen's discharge from the hospital and of course, to see the boys in the NICU.  While we were home, Kristen and I were able to play with our nephew Rooney while imagining one plus two more little guys in about seven month's time.  As you can see, Rooney would much rather wear Giants blue than Steelers black and yellow (only because Uncle Tommy is pushing it).  Actually, Rooney is instinctively trying to remove the foreign colored hat from his head.  That is one thing great about the family and our geographic history.  The triplets and their cousin Rooney will have a natural Ravens-Steelers rivalry going on due to their birth locations, but at least the boys can all agree and root for the Giants.  I mean, there is an AFC-NFC separation, so it's justifiable.  

The following week, Kristen and I went to the NICU and noticed that the boys were in bassinets and not their normal isolettes.  Whoa, this just got real.  This was a huge step as it showed that the boys could retain their own heat; one of the criteria for getting them home.  The nurses indicated that we would be able to take Trip home first, then the other two boys, but they weren't sure in what order.  It would just depend on how the boys do on additional tests/steps.  

Well, on Tuesday, October 20th, Trip was cleared to be discharged from the NICU.  Even though we knew he'd be alright since he passed his car seat test, it was so unfamiliar to buckle such a small human into such a device. We had newborn inserts for the seats, but they weren't allowed to be used (legal reasons), so we had to pad the boys up with blankets.      

It was so important for Jersey to be accepting of this crazy new lifestyle.  She had already been introduced to the boys' smells, but first contact between any baby and dog is always a hesitant moment.  We can't forget that animals are just that.  But as we expected, Jersey was her happy sniffing self, cautiously content with these strange mini people that smell familiar.  

The first night with Trip was so special (shhh, don't tell him, I don't want any of them getting a complex...).  But seriously, it was amazing to have a baby at home.  The adrenaline and caffeine were flowing and we enjoyed a bunch of firsts (changing, feeding) as well as nonstop gazing.  The morning came and Grandma and Grandpop Stantz came over to assume their grandparently duties while Kristen and I headed to the NICU. We get there, and, yup Finn and Ollie were cleared for departure.  Having already been through the process with Trip, we started getting the boys ready to join their brother at home.      

While Dad carried Trip out of the hospital the day prior, Mom was given double duty with Finn and Ollie.

The boys are all secure with Kristen looking on from the middle row.

Now it was Finn and Ollie's turn to see their new set up.  

The boys spent 33 weeks in Kristen's womb, then nearly two weeks separated in the NICU, so naturally Kristen and I could not wait to reunite them!  After an exhausting past few days of car seat tests, circs, and outgoing exams, the boys could finally rest together in their new home.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hewitt Hat Trick: Origins

"Hockey's a funny game.  You have to prove yourself every shift, every game.  It's not up to anyone else.  You have to take pride in yourself." -Paul Coffey

Kristen and I have been asked multiple times exactly what is a hat trick?  Basically, a hat trick is when a player scores three goals in one game.  It is a tradition in hockey that goes back to the 1950s and possibly earlier, whereby fans throw their hats on the ice after a player scores their third goal in a single game. Well, that is the basic response, but to really know the meaning of the Hewitt Hat Trick, we need to provide a little more information about Kristen and I. 

Hockey is a big part of my life.  It has been since I randomly decided one day back in 6th grade.  I'd like to thank Wayne Gretzky and the cartoon Pro Stars (anyone remember it?).  Although hockey was around way before Gretzky was traded to the LA Kings and my hometown area had the Rangers, Devils, and Islanders (as well as the Hartford Whalers), Gretzky's move from small market Edmonton to Los Angeles opened the flood gates to US mainstream media.  A small part of that effect was this cartoon, along with Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson, fought crime or something as superstar athletes or something.  Anyway, seeing this character skating around piqued my interest in this foreign sport.  Baseball was too slow-paced for me, and I was too physical for basketball and soccer.  These were all the sports I grew up playing; typical for a suburban middle-class Jersey kid.  Neither my family nor I really knew anything about the sport of hockey, but we were about to learn very quickly.  I have to give a ton of credit and thanks to my parents, especially my father, who like me, did not know much about the sport but was eager to learn.  It was foreign.  It was expensive.  But I'd like to think it was worth it.
Yes, that's my brother Sean in the goalie pads.  
And those God-aweful white Nike skates...

If you're reading this and do not know much about hockey, particularly youth hockey, it is different from most other youth sports/activities.  Talking with Kristen, perhaps gymnastics is comparable in the sense of commitment (money and travel), practice times, and simply being a sport/activity not really mainstreamed (although tremendous strides have been made in youth hockey since I started playing in 1993-94).  Practices and games at 5:00 AM are normal, and travel team fees are comparable to home mortgages. The best tournaments are typically in the big hockey states (otherwise known as the 3 M's: Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Michigan) so not only travelling to these places, but also paying for gas, meals, and lodging, can be quite expensive.  

Even local and high school hockey was no easy path for me.  My home town started up a hockey association in 1997 and for three years I played for the town's club.  Although I played travel hockey while in high school, my only year playing varsity hockey was my senior year, since that was the inaugural season for Ramsey High.  Along with my father and I, there were numerous other folks that helped Ramsey get a varsity team in 2000, just in time for my senior year.  I was proud to be the first captain of the Ramsey Varsity Ice Hockey team, and the program has made amazing strides since our inaugural season, most impressively with winning the 2009 NJ State Public Championship (which my brother was a part of).   

And the answer to anyone's question is yes, I do want the boys to start playing hockey whenever they want to.  I won't be pushy, but I'm sure they will wonder what daddy is doing in the street or basement and want to have a stick of their own.  Then they'll be hooked.  I've read that you can introduce skating to a child as soon as they are confident walkers, so there is my time frame...      

To really appreciate how much hockey has played a role in our family, you have to know some additional details.  First and foremost, playing hockey started the chain of events that culminated in that fateful first meeting with Kristen, like first time we ever met.  Back in 2001, I was playing Club Hockey at Ohio State and we had 10:30 PM practices on Thursdays in the Fall.  That one night, my fraternity was having a social event with Kristen's sorority, but I couldn't attend due to practice.  I got back to my fraternity house after midnight and was walking through the front room when I saw this hot blonde who looked pissed.  Now I can be a talker and loud, but for those who don't really know me, I'm pretty quite until I get to know someone.  Well for whatever reason, I said to myself, "Fuck it, let me at least say hello to this girl.  What do I have to lose?"  Stinking to high heaven and thinking I didn't have a snowball's chance in hell with this girl, I said hello and asked if she and her friends needed help with anything.  That hot blonde was Kristen and along with some of her sorority sisters, they missed the shuttle to the social event, so they came back to the house to see if any stragglers were still going to the event, or if people would be partying afterwards.  I didn't know many details and that was the end of that.  I knew who this girl was and what sorority she was in, but didn't think anything of it because my first impression probably wasn't the best one when meeting a girl.  I thought she was out of my league and though, "Oh well, maybe I'll see her again in the future", since our respective Greek houses frequently socialized together.  Well we all know how that turned out (with bumps in the road along the way).  

So you see, hockey is the reason Kristen and I met for the first time.  As a player and fan for over twenty years, I've come to respect the sport and how I see it transcending into everyday life, especially with triplets.  Hockey is a true team sport where players have different roles, just like a family.  If you have all dangling goal scorers, who's going to play defense?  And in certain situations, a face-off specialist can be just as important as a defensive-minded winger, it's just a matter of how the players fit together as a team.  A successful team is one in which everyone buys in to the same overall goal, based on good coaching.  There are going to be a lot of bumps and bruises along the way, but Kristen and I are up for this amazing opportunity that God gave us.

Lastly, where else can you play a sport with a view like this?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's Go Time (Part Three)

Part Three:

So there we were, THE day that would change the life of Kristen and I forever.  There were four or five medical staff in Kristen's room once I arrived.  Earlier that night in the wee hours of October 6th, Kristen's water broke, although she wasn't sure about it.  Her fluid was tested to see if it was indeed amniotic and we waited for a few hours while the GBMC staff were monitoring Kristen and the babies.  Once the amniotic fluid was confirmed, the course of action changed to an emergency Cesarean and everyone needed to start preparing for the major operation. 

Their top concern was any possible trauma to the babies, and the staff were meticulously checking for their vitals; specifically their heart rates (HR).  The funny thing was, the boys did not like this in utero.  As a result, the boys would actually try and move (by kicking or punching) the HR sensors.  Well this battle continued until the nurses had to use multiple bands to secure the HR sensors The picture below shows how many they were using on Kristen.  A few of the nurses had never dealt with a triplets birth before and commented that the number of belts used was quite an accomplishment, so I had to snap this picture.  It also shows that Kristen was as cool as a cucumber through this whole ordeal, and relief for her was in sight, but not before some major shit was about to go down.  

Around 4:30 AM, one of the doctors came in and gave us the plan.  I received my scrubs and Kristen was beginning her preliminary preparations for the surgery.  The medical entourage, Kristen, and I walked (rolled) to the OR and we were given the low down.  Once we reached the OR, Kristen had to go through further pre-surgery preparations and I was instructed to wait in the common area just outside the OR.  It was like a dad bullpen, but I was the only one there.  Various other doctors, nurses, etc. passed by, everyone congratulating me and asking how I felt.  Look below, my face says it all...I have no idea what I'm going to walk into but I know I am going to see some miracles.

The operating rooms were nothing I was ready for but everything I expected.  It may take a village to raise a child, but it literally takes a 12+ person team to deliver triplets.  And when I say operating ROOMS, I mean there were so many doctors and nurses that a receiving station had to be located in the adjacent OR.  Even though we were told the c-section would only last 30-45 minutes, I knew I had to be in the moment and take everything in because it was over before I knew it.  I also had a few of my first heart-dropping moments...

I was right next to Kristen's head/upper body when they started taking the babies out.  I never looked directly over the screen, but first saw Tommy come out crying.  One down.  The sacks of the next two boys were still in tact, so I got the honor (sarcasm) of seeing their literal yellow-clear balloons burst.  It is a slow motion memory that I will never forget!  When Finnegan came out, he didn't cry and looked a bit blue/purple.  My heart dropped.  They took him to the station behind us and I did not know if he was okay, but there was still one more to go.  Then came Oliver and I honestly do not remember hearing him cry, but I remember them taking him to the adjacent OR.  Overwhelmed and incomplete awe (and a bit of of shock). 

I looked at Kristen and said, "You did it. You're a rock star!"  I looked around at the boys and then back to Kristen and she was out.  Shock #2.  After the anesthesiologist said Kristen was unconscious but stable, I got up and made my way around the ORs.
I got my first real looks at each of the boys, starting with Trip.

Then on to Finnegan, I think...

The only first pictures I have of Oliver are X-rated, so he has no solo shot on here.  Once the triplets' respective teams were done doing their thing, the boys were bundled up and placed on one bassinet.  People have commented why the staff couldn't put them in their own bassinets, but I agree with what the doctors did.  It was a nice upgrade from mommy's womb.  

At this point, I was escorted out of the OR and the nurses suggested that I get Kristen's mom (only one other visit was allowed in the post-op recovery room).  Kristen would be in the room in a bit after the doctors put her back together.  Kristen was resting and in and out of consciousness, and I wanted to see more of my boys.  A short time later, I ventured up to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where the boys would call home for an undetermined amount of time.    

Trip resting in the NICU.  He came out at 4lbs-3oz.

Finnegan indicating that he wanted to be #1. 
It's okay Finn, I'm a middle child too and didn't turn out too bad...
Finn came out at 3lbs-6oz.

Oliver opening an eye for the camera. Ollie weighted in at 3lbs-12oz.

Thankfully Kristen's parents were close by and got to the hospital shortly after I did, but my parents had to travel from New Jersey.  Fortunately, 4am traffic is not too bad, even on I-95 and they got there within four hours of the call.  

Here are the grandparents in Kristen's L&D room waiting for the word to see the boys.

Kristen was transferred to the postpartum department and got situated in her new room.  I felt for the girl...all she wanted to do was see her babies but she was still out of it from the surgery.  The nurses had to clear her before she was able to venture up to the NICU, which took a few hours.  All the grandparents saw the boys before Kristen did, but once Kristen was cleared to use the wheelchair, I pushed her up to the NICU for the amazing first face-to-face meeting.

Kristen and I holding our boys in the NICU hours after their birth.

The best hat trick I have ever and will ever score!!!

And I will end this post with one of my favorite pictures, Kristen's first skin-to-skin session, this one with Finnegan.  The look on his face is priceless, and the look on her face says it all, proud new mother.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

It's Go Time (Part Two)


If this is your first viewing of our blog, welcome. You've joined in just in time.  This is when the story starts to get really good and action packed.  Conversely, if you've been following Kristen and I during our journey, you know that the triplets came a week earlier than planned (scheduled October 13th C-section).  We were graced with the presence of Thomas III, Finnegan, and Oliver on Tuesday, October 6th, 2015 starting at 5:15 AM.  But to remind everyone, Kristen was HUGE.  I love you babe but you know it's true!  Honestly though, it was just in her belly and fluid in her legs.  I always told her she needed a large swimming pool and proper support for these little guys.  

Here's a picture of Kristen before she was admitted into hospital bed rest on September 17th.  This rock star's body lasted for 19 more days before saying enough was enough.  

Now back to the recap, I just got the call from Kristen the early morning of the triplets' arrival...

Part Two:
Never have I been so alert and in the moment as I was the few seconds after I got off the phone.  Our dog Jersey was sleeping at the foot of the bed at the time I got the call and just looked at me as I hopped out of bed and threw on clothes.  She has known something was up with Kristen, but had no idea the surprise that would be gracing her in the near future.  I did get a split second to do my hair. I mean, I was planning on meeting my children later that day. You don't get second chances on first impressions. Yes, I know babies only differentiate light and dark at that point, but I need to set a good example for the kids regardless.

Out of bed, in the car, and at Kristen's bedside in 16 minutes. It takes 12 minutes alone to drive there. I was expeditious to say the least, and was traveling at speeds meant for interstate thoroughfares, but shush, I'm a good driver. I even had the best excuse if an officer of the law happen to pull me over, but I knowingly made it safely.

After a literal sprint from the parking garage to the hospital (I mean, who walks to their wife in L&D), I checked past the front desk, grabbed my pink VIP pass, and made it to Kristen's room.  It was really go time... 


Saturday, October 10, 2015

It's Go Time (Part One)

Well, this was a day we will never forget... Almost up the entire 24 hours that day, but again, that's the norm. 

By this time, Kristen was in the "extended stay" of L&D. It was half hotel, half prison stay. I seriously had verses of "Hotel California" in my head so many times that I lost track. But we adapted to Kristen's modified living arrangements and made due. Another moment I will never forget, "tailgating" for Buckeyes games with pizza right next to the hazmat needle drop. I laughed at that too, but making the best out of certain unfavorable situations is what we do best.

What's your pain level? And ketchup or mustard?

It was one of the nights when I stayed at home and worked on the house and miscellaneous baby paraphernalia. For those who don't know me, I am a bit of a night owl. I always have been, but I blame Gretzky. That's a story for another posting.

Anyway, midnight tolls and Tuesday, October 6th begins. I know I have to use this time to get sleep before the triplets arrive, but I just can't. I lay there and learn. As much shit as old folks give millenials about cell phone usage, you can't argue that it can be addictive in a positive way. Say, when you're going to be responsible for three identical miniature humans for the rest of all your waking lives? Yeah, let's just say we've done our due diligence (and have heard it all).  So I was in bed, sent Kristen a random newborn info web link just before 2am, and fell asleep shortly thereafter. 

My phone vibrates just after 2am. In a stupor, I don't answer my phone, not realizing that Kristen has already called me three times. I think it's my alarm but after picking up the phone, quickly realize that it's Kristen who is calling. I've taken a few "stimulants" in my day, but I've never flipped the switch like I did when I saw her name on my called ID. I knew what I was going to hear. A call from anyone else and I may have been concerned, but not from Kristen.  In that split second, I just knew. I answered and...Kristen's water broke. It was go time...

Monday, October 5, 2015

I Can't Wait!!!

Bed rest... Uhg! I am so incredibly uncomfortable 99.9% of the time!! The time has surprisingly gone pretty quickly considering we are already a week out from my 34 week scheduled csection. My husband and parents have been working like crazy at putting the final touches on our house to prepare for the boys... In addition to running back and forth to the hospital to keep me company, bring me non hospital food, include and update me on home projects and keep me entertained. They have been fantastic!!!

The hospital staff has been helpful to make me comfortable. They have monitored me very closely, so closely that I basically have no privacy and even if I could sleep through the night it would be impossible with the need to check vitals and take my blood throughout the night. I am extremely happy though for these inconveniences because I am in great hands and if anything were to change with my health or the babies they would be on top of it!

I can't wait to...
Meet our boys!
Be able to finally do something for myself like shower on my own, shave my own legs, stand long enough to shower and do my hair/makeup!
Take a nice warm shower without the water temp changing from scolding to freezing nonstop.
Move in bed without the aid of help/side rails, hold my belly and waiting until the the cramping subsides to relax again.
Walk without a waddle and for longer than 10 feet.
Be able to touch my toes and to pick things up off the ground without having to do a full straddle and potentially tipping over.
Cuddle with my hubby and pup!
Have some privacy and not have nurses waking me up and coming into my room for vitals, blood work, etc.

Handling the Handful

Well here we are, the single digit countdown until our long awaited arrival.

One comment we hear most often is, "You're going to have your hands full." Well, no shit! Actually, so much shit that we need to devise a shit removal plan more frequent that your local government service. But what some see as a handful, we will see as normal. 

Kristen and I are good at adapting and taking things in stride, so our plan to "handle" the trio is a mix of strategic planning and flying by the seat of our pants. You ask any professional organizer and I bet they'd stress the importance of coding and organizational systems. Well, with the possibility of three different scenarios to any given situation (i.e. Feeding schedules/amounts, medicines, possible allergies), we need to code our kids. Whether you think that sounds terrible, hilarious, or somewhere in between, Kristen and I feel it'll be the only way we keep the babies from growing up with parents who don't really know who's really who. That'll go over well in their teenage years when Uncle Sean is messing with them and divulged that their mom and dad had an unfortunate three card monty tubby time incident a month after their birth.

Names are our little secret until October 13th, but the babies already have assigned colors and numbers. The associated number is pretty obvious, but our color coding is a key part to our system. 

Baby A: 
Secondary=White, Red

Baby B:

Baby C:

We'll share our rationale at a later date, and believe me, we have though of everything we conceivably could associated with those colors (and combinations), but these colors will help us tremendously. You try identifying three separate identical boys at 3am after no sleep.

We've thrown around the idea of tattoos, but don't want the triplets taken from us by child protective services shortly after their first tat. Ideas like nail polish have been tossed around, but their nails are tiny and socks and such (again, completing feedings/changings at 3am). I also floated the idea to custom order those silicon Livestrong-type bracelets, but didn't want to support the Chinese economy and quite honestly, I would have had to make annual orders with their wrist sizes unknown (and constantly growing). That being the case, I found some natural dyed hemp twine at Michael's that we will use for single strand bracelets and/or anklets. And having these on the triplets all the time will not only help us, but any helpers assisting us. 

And yes, I was at THAT Michael's...on a football Saturday...weighing the benefits of different string to identify our identical baby boys. While standing there, I overheard a six year old girl and her mother discussing the rubber band color for their own bracelet project. It was a different Saturday errand, but as I've stated, this is the new norm, and I can't be more excited...;-)