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Challenge: NICU Parenting

Boy Oh Boy!

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"There are two in there" was the first thing the doctor said to us. My husband's face went white and I started hysterically laughing with my jaw on the floor. In a million years, in every possible version of what that moment would have looked like, we could never have prepared ourselves for the moment that we'd find out we were having fraternal twins. Some of the first words out of my mouth were "how am I going to carry twins!?" (I'm 5'3" and at the time, 115lbs). I remember the nurses saying to me "you'll be fine" but really, what else could they have said to me? That I'd look full term at 6 months? Or that I'd be able to literally feel my pelvic bones shifting against each other the bigger I got? That I'd become a sideshow on the NYC subways in the morning?

Our boys weren't due until mid-January but realistically we could really only hope for mid-December. Apparently they had other plans. At my 29 week checkup (one year ago yesterday!) I went in for a routine check. As I watched the tech take her measurements I could see that something seemed off. Sure enough, she scurries out of the room and moments later one of the OB's walks in. She tells me I'm showing signs of pre-term labor and that she'd like to send me over to triage to get checked out.

I ended up sitting in the ante-partum wing for the next 3 days being pumped full of steroids, antibiotics and the dreaded mag sulphate. They were able to stop the contractions and sent me home to "take it easy". For the next two weeks we worked double time to get the house ready knowing that the boys could make their appearance at any moment.

Two weeks later, on Thanksgiving morning, I could tell the boys had dropped. I was having light cramping but tried to ignore it since it wasn't entirely out of the norm. My husband had to run out for a few hours and told me to call him if I needed anything. I'm sure he could sense what was about to happen too but neither of us wanted to admit it. I was 31+ 4 weeks along.

By the time he returned home we decided to call the midwives, just to get their thoughts. I absolutely did not want to return to the hospital if I didn't need to. Sure enough, they felt it would be best if I came back in to get checked. I knew this meant that we might miss Thanksgiving dinner but I wanted to be prepared just in case there was a miracle and we were discharged. We both got dressed and headed to the hospital. By the time they checked me I was having mild, irregular contractions. After giving me IV fluids and observing me for several hours, they determined I was not in active labor and allowed us to leave. I recall walking out of the hospital and feeling the contractions getting stronger but I was in total denial. I wanted my turkey and mashed potatoes!

We made it half way through dinner before my husband started timing the contractions. They were 5 minutes apart! Even still, I was adamant that it was nothing to be alarmed about and demanded to be taken home to go to bed. Fast forward to 4:30am, after a long night of contractions, and there we were racing to the hospital. It was still too soon though. I had dilated to 4cm and the OB on staff proclaimed "you're not going anywhere!". For the next four days I was yet again pumped full of steroids, antibiotics and another grueling round of magnesium suplhate. Over the next 24 hours the contractions died out. We thought we were in the clear.

2:30am on November 28th, the drugs had worn off, and apparently the boys were ready to come out. Within a few short hours, they entered the world and were whisked away to the NICU. I barely saw them before they were gone. It was so odd. I was relieved that they were out and otherwise healthy, but they weren't with me. I was immediately separated from them after months of carrying them around inside me. It would be hours before I was able to go down to the NICU to see them and several hours more before I would hold them for the first time. There was no baby on the chest moment, or hearing that first cry. I didn't get to touch them until later that evening.

In some ways we were prepared for it because we knew they were coming early. I was 32 weeks on the day they were born. They were 4lbs. and 3lbs. 15oz. and had thick dark hair on their tiny heads. Ira and Arthur spent the next 4 weeks in the NICU growing and learning to eat. We drove the one hour drive to the hospital every day, sometimes multiple times a day, to spend time with them. It was a long, exhausting, stressful month but on December 26th, they finally came home! They're now happy, healthy, 20lb. 11 month olds that are getting into EVERYTHING! I still can't believe how small they once were and what we went through to get them here. It's been quite the ride.


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