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?