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Challenge: NICU Parenting

2 girls, 2 soon, to strong not to fight

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I never know where to start so I will start from the beginning. Kaitlyn and I found out we were expecting in early September 2015, We went to our initial appointment at 8 weeks where we were told that it looks like we were having only 1 little bundle of joy. Everything was moving along normally. Some morning sickness, tightness, soreness, you know normal pregnancy stuff (or at least that's what we were told).

At our 12 week ultrasound we were in the room and I jokingly asked the tech "there is still only one in there right". Fully knowing there was only 1 from our 8 week ultrasound. She looked up at me and straight in the eye, "No there is two". She thought we knew that we were having twins. We were shocked to say the least and a little panicked.

Twins changes things. We went from assuming we were having 1 child to now having 2 and our first thought go to holy cow this is going to be expensive, twice the amount of clothes, diapers, food and what about day care costs. It was an overwhelming thought. It then sinks in, we are having twins and not only is it expensive it is more dangerous. You really start to focus in on the fact you aren't going to make it to 40 weeks and in all likelihood you will have them somewhere between the 35-37 week mark. We went from Baby coming in May 2016 to Twins arriving Early Spring 2016.

Kaitlyn was amazing and took things as they came. Her pregnancy was moving along, albeit while in some pain due to the little ones pushing down on some nerves causing some severe leg and back issues. She kept pushing through. At our 20 week ultrasound things were great moving along well and we were targeting 37 weeks for a c-section. That was the plan. at 23 weeks she was still all good. Heart beats for the girls were great.

We are now into the end of January and its her Birthday and around the time for the anniversary of when we first met so we went out to dinner in downtown Madison. I parked a little further away than I should have and probably made her walk a little far because she was in a little bit of pain by the time we got to dinner and it was even more uncomfortable on the way home. Either way it was still a good night out. We had to get them in when we could with, what we now knew as, "the girls" on the way in a few months. Kaitlyn woke up early the next morning on January 28th at 24 weeks and 0 days into the pregnancy as she wasn't feeling well. We also has an ultrasound at SSM Health that day and she had to work after so she was preparing her food for lunch and dinner. I came down stairs at around 6:45 am and I could tell something wasn't right.

Kaitlyn came out of the bathroom, she was spotting pretty badly which wasn't normal. We called the emergency nurses hotline and they asked us to come to SSM right away. I quick took the dogs out and we jumped in the car and got to the hospital. They took us into a small little room to do a quick check. Kaitlyn was already 3 cm dilated. It was one of the scariest moments of our lives. This couldn't be happening, could it?. Right away they gave her steroids to do anything they could for our little girls. They also gave Kaitlyn a shot of Magnesium to try and slow or at best case stop the labor. This was around 8:30 am at this point and we needed at least 6 hours so that the steroids could help our little girls lung development our goal was again for the labor to stop but at least 6 hours is what we stuck to. Hour by hour went by and we passed the 6 hour mark so then it was just continuing to make it to the next. The Dr came in around 730 pm to do a check. Kaitlyn was now at 7 cm. Labor wasn't slowing down.

We were now at a decision point as the girls were coming tonight it looked like. We needed to decide if we let Kaitlyn have them naturally or via c-section. Both had their risks and to be honest there wasn't much of an upside to either. We made the decision that for us and the girls a c-section was the most controlled so at 830 on January 28th 2016 our girls came into this world weighing only 1 lb 6 oz. For the first couple of hours after we didn't know much other than that they were here and that they were alive and in the NICU. Kaitlyn was in recovery and I knew I wasn't going to go down to see them without her.

Finally around 11:30 we wheeled Kaitlyn down while still in the hospital bed and we squeezed her into the room and between the isolets. Our girls were here they were alive and they were holding on. Kaitlyn spent 3 days as a patient of SSM health and we were wheeling her down to our girls room where they were intubated so they could breathe. They were being given fluids and nutrients through a picc line. Much like the day they were born our goal was simply just make it to the next hour. So we waited and we hoped.

Around noon of day 3 Kaitlyn was discharged but we weren't ready to go home. We needed to be there because at any moment our girls could have taken a turn for the worst. That's where the Ronald McDonald Family Care suites came to the rescue. We couldn't leave, needed to be there and now we could.

The suites were an amazing benefit for us. We were able to get some much needed sleep at night, while being able to run down milk in the middle of the night to be put in the fridge for the girls when able. It also allowed Kaitlyn to heal easier as we weren't having to get in and out of our car or up and down stairs at home and put her in a better state of mind being able to be near our little ones. In the morning we were able to have breakfast and during the day we were able to go up to the suites and eat lunch to get us out of the girls room. Also the ability to shower, the benefit of taking a shower is something we can take for granted but it was so nice to be able to get clean and refreshed.

We stayed in the suites for 2 weeks. We could have stayed longer but we also had to get home at some point while our little girls continued to grow. Thankfully we live close. Kaitlyn was able to take off of work for a while but I needed to get back to work.

Over the next weeks and then months (3 1/2 months total or 101 and 106 days) our girls continued to thrive and were beating the odds. They were growing and hitting their milestones and during our time there we felt like we became family with the nurses and staff that took care of our girls and of us as they shared many firsts with us along the way during our stay in the NICU. Finally we were able to go home first with Brynn after 101 days and then shortly after with Harper at 106 days. They came home with no assistance of any kind (no oxygen or monitors). True miracles.

Looking back now it really seems like a blur as they are 22 months old now and are walking, babbling, developing their own personalities and as a parent I am biased but they are perfect. We will have some challenges I am sure along the way as they continue to grow but right now they are perfect to me.

Being a parent having children in the NICU was easily the hardest thing I know I have ever gone through. We were lucky and we have made so many new friends and extended family (when your in the hospital for 3 1/2 months the staff becomes part of your family no question) through our experience that we want to continue to help in any way we can. We would love to see a day where no other family has to endure what we went through or worse. We are so grateful for the work the March of Dimes has done and continues to do so that families can continue to get educated and that Dr's and nurses can learn and develop new techniques and treatments to prevent extreme prematurity and help those in need just like us.

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