Sunday, April 14, 2013

Twins: Some Firsts

Eli in the NICU

Elli in the NICU
Eli always so happy!
Guess who is going home?!
First moments home :)
First doctors visit
First real bath!
Eli's first bath

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Week We Lived in the Hospital: The NICU Days

Ah, the NICU. What a strange place indeed.         It was strange enough to suddenly not be pregnant (without hours of labor) but to have the twins in the NICU made is seem all the more surreal. Having to visit your brand new babies is an odd and unpleasant thing. The first time I got to hold my babies was in a strange, sterile room, surrounded by strange people, crying babies and beeping machines. Also, I wasn’t allowed out of my wheelchair, so that was a bit unnatural as well. All in all, it was just really hard to get personal and have that cinema inspired bonding time.
Oh, but seeing and touching those precious little lives that grew inside me was breathtaking. They were both so tiny and fragile! Each baby had a different rotating nurse every 7 hours. Some of them were heaven sent, others not so much. They were all good about letting us visit as long as we wanted though, and never kicked out our visitors when it was past visiting hours. The second day they moved our twins into the “isolation room” so that they could be “together.” It was just this small room with a sink and a chair, but it turned out to be a private little sanctuary for my family and me.
One majorly frustrating thing was that the nurses immediately brought me a pump to be sure my milk came in, and I wasn’t invited to attempt breastfeeding. The whole pumping thing was very strange and alienating. I had this lofty expectation that I could breastfeed until the kids were 2 if I wanted, I didn’t imagine myself pumping. The hospital automatically starts feeding premature babies 22 calorie formula due to their size. I, being a first time mom and a mom of newborn preemies, didn’t know how to even begin breastfeeding babies that were so tiny, kept in the very public NICU, and being fed by bottle. No one even suggested helping me try for days.
Once we did try, we found that the babies both had mouths that were so tiny they couldn’t form a latch at all, even with the help of every lactation consultant on hand. So I would practice when them when I could and bring them whatever colostrum I could produce (which wasn’t much) and they were fed solely formula. Baby girl was a champion eater but Baby boy was a little slower to finish his bottle (40ml). The crazy thing was that when he wouldn’t drink 40ml within 30 minutes they stuck a feeding tube down his nose!! My heart dropped when I walked in and saw my baby (who was born without any complications at all) with an orange tube taped to his face. My husband and I fed them both often and we discovered that baby girl was a “chugger” and he was a “sipper.” You just had to have patience with him.
Both babies passed all of their tests and screenings and were both gaining weight within a few days; we figured they were coming home soon! The doctor told us on Wednesday that if they continued to eat well and gain weight they could come home the next day. So I was discharged with the idea being that I could come back and get them when they were discharged the next day. Well I called the next morning to see how they did and the new morning nurse told me that the night nurses reported that both babies had “been bad eaters” so they stuck feeding tubes down both their noses!
I was flabbergasted! We had fed them so many times that we knew their habits and we knew that the way baby girl ate, there was no way she needed a tube. Ever. It turns out that the night nurses were two women who had never dealt with our babies before. I also recognized one of them as a nurse we had overheard goofing off and having a foul mouth in the NICU. I just knew right away that what had happened was these nurses just didn’t want to take the time with our babies and gave them tubes as the easy way out. We just couldn’t believe it because this meant that they were not coming home!!
My stay at the hospital was 5 days, and then I went home. Well, when we got this news, we decided to use our “1 free night” at the hospital just so that I could be a part of every feeding, to be sure that no one was cutting corners to be lazy, and in affect keeping the twins there unnecessarily. When I got there, I found that their new nurse was AMAZING! She was the best part about the hospital. She spoke with the doctor and they agreed to allow us to have the babies stay in our hospital room that night! So amazing and unexpected! She also told me that if I wanted to get my babies home then I needed to stop trying to breastfeed them because it makes them too tired to eat and it burns calories which makes them lose weight, thus keeping them in the NICU longer.
We spoke to the doctor on call that day and told him that regardless of circumstances we never wanted a tube put into our children again without being notified, and without giving them time to eat. He was very understanding and wrote that order into their charts. The night with them went well. My husband slept like a rock, as he usually does, and the nurses came in to check on the babies every 3 hours. So since they had the tubes put in Thursday, they had to go 48 hours without a tube and gain weight 2 days in a row to go home. That meant the soonest they could go home would be Saturday.
So we also spent all day Friday at the hospital (who let us stay another night for free!) We had the same amazing nurse that day too. I told her our adoption story and it gave her chill bumps. I told her how we had waited 7 years to be pregnant and now the hospital was making me wait even longer to take them home, and how that was so hard. She became determined to help us get them home! We spent all day not knowing whether or not they would be coming home because their weigh in wasn’t until 2am.
God is soooo good! Saturday morning the report was that both babies ate well and both gained weight, thus they could go home! Wow, they only stayed 1 week in the NICU and they came home at the same time, which apparently is great for premature twins! We basically lived in a hospital for 7 days. The only pleasant thing about the stay was not having to cook! Our really special nurse sent us home with all sorts of goodies, including clothing that had been donated for preemies to wear. Apparently the preemie community is strong there. They have a reunion every October and every baby gets sent home with a handmade blanket made by past preemie parents.
I am sure that we were there that long for a reason. I am just an impatient person (which will have to change soon with twins) and I wanted to have them home. Although there were unpleasant things about living at a hospital for a week and not having my babies in my arms, I know that I need to look at the positives. Such as, all the advice and tips we received, the amazing nurses who cared for my babies and me, the rest I was able to get in between visits, the quick and painless birth process, oh and THE MIRACLE OF EVEN HAVING THESE BABIES!