The NICU Was an Angel in Disguise


Parenthood, Twins / Thursday, December 28th, 2017

The following is a post I was privileged to share on the Mamas of the NICU blog. You can check out the original post here from December 22nd, 2017.

 

The day those two pink lines appeared was joyous! My husband and I reached a place where we weren’t trying to get pregnant, but we weren’t preventing it either. We were simply trusting in God’s timing and we knew I would get pregnant when I was supposed to.

But then…nothing about my pregnancy or birth experience went how I thought it would. I imagined a healthy boy, a full-term pregnancy, a natural birth, and a quick hospital stay. Instead I had twin girls who were born at 35 weeks via a scheduled C-section, followed by a 12-day stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

When you have certain expectations and nothing goes the way you thought it would, you have two choices: you can panic and worry and let the changes overwhelm you, or you can take it all in stride and trust God to carry you through. Thankfully we chose the latter, and carry us He did!

From the moment we found out there were two babies, we knew everything would be different than we originally thought. My due date was March 18th, but twins are considered full-term at 37 weeks so we knew we’d deliver early.

During the pregnancy I had countless ultrasounds, so it wasn’t a surprise to find out the girls were going to be less than 4 pounds at birth. Talk of delivery first came up around 33 weeks and we were told they would definitely need to stay in the NICU for a while after they were delivered.

To help prepare us for the experience we were given a tour of the hospital NICU and talked with doctors about what we should expect. The doctors told us the girls would probably stay a minimum of 2 weeks, but we should prepare for more like 3-5 weeks. They said the girls would definitely need oxygen; they just weren’t sure how much.

They described “events” which occur when a baby stops breathing on their own and the alarms sound. Events are common among preemie babies and the nurses will intervene when necessary but they wait to see if the baby can recover on its own.

We were told about the requirements babies have to meet before they will be released from the hospital, like how they have to go 48 hours without an event and be able to finish a meal without a feeding tube. By the time our babies were delivered on February 12th, we felt as prepared as possible for what was coming next.

Perhaps we were too prepared for the worst because our girls surprised everyone by coming out screaming LOUDLY. They never went on oxygen, but even though they could breathe on their own they still had to go straight to the NICU.

Their low birth weight and struggle to feed was cause for concern, especially because babies lose weight after they are born. While recovering from surgery I spent more time in their NICU room than in my own room, and I began to experience all the highs and lows that come with preemie babies.

Thankfully our girls did surprisingly well, never having events and maintaining their body temperatures rather quickly without assistance. Still, being in the NICU every day and seeing your babies hooked up to so many wires and monitors does take its toll.

Supportive friends and family surrounded my husband and me, but visitors to the NICU were restricted so only a handful of people could actually meet our daughters. It helped to know we had an extensive support team and endless prayers from friends, family, church groups, and more.

Right after the girls were born we were given the sweetest gift from one of my husband’s coworkers (she and her husband had a son in the same NICU for three months the year prior): a NICU survival kit. It had NICU-approved snacks, hand sanitizer, and Kleenex for when the inevitable breakdowns happened. It meant so much to us, especially coming from other parents who understood what we were going through.

My biggest struggle was breastfeeding. While I’d imagined exclusively breastfeeding and never using formula, actually accomplishing that with twins was something else. I tried to nurse, but the babies struggled to latch. Despite daily visits from lactation consultants, it just wasn’t happening.

Once the babies got closer to going home, I became less and less motivated to try. The problem was until they could nurse or drink an entire meal through a bottle, they couldn’t come home. When I tried to nurse them they would become so exhausted that they would fall asleep and their meal would go through the feeding tube. It was devastating, and I decided I’d rather get them home sooner than force nursing.

Eventually I got into a rhythm of pumping every three hours and we consistently bottle-fed the girls, but it took me a while to be okay with that decision. I also never made enough milk for them despite trying everything I could think of, so when they were 4 months old I decided to stop pumping and they only drank formula. It was a tough decision, but looking back now I can see it was for the best.

Twelve days after they were born, we got to bring our daughters home. We were nervous and excited and worried and calm all at once, but more than anything else we were ready. The NICU nurses were so incredibly helpful during those twelve days, teaching us how to change diapers, the best way to bottle-feed, how to give the girls a swaddle bath, how to interpret their cries, and so much more.

I think we felt more prepared than most of our friends who had one baby, all thanks to the help and generosity of the NICU nurses. Even though a healthy birth and baby is always ideal, I think it was in our family’s best interest to have our girls stay in the NICU for the time they did.

God knew exactly what we needed to recover from surgery, get to know our babies, and feel prepared and properly excited to be parents to twin daughters. Looking back now, we can see it was all part of a Divine plan.

Click here to read more about what it was like when we found out we were going to have twins. 

Hello! I am a work-at-home mom to twin girls and a canine. I’m learning what life looks like when you surrender to God. Passionate about parenthood, marriage, and all things coffee!

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2 Replies to “The NICU Was an Angel in Disguise”

  1. What a powerful story. You had to make some tough choices but as mamas I think we inevitably know what’s going to be the best for our families. Congratulations on your beautiful family. Thank God for the people He puts in our lives to help out along the way.

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