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Challenge: NICU Parenting

It Doesn't End When You Leave the NICU

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I was exactly 29 weeks when my twins decided to make their arrival far too soon. Less than 4 hours of walking into the hospital and my twins were taken by C-section and rushed away by the NICU team simply caused by pre-term labor. I didn't get to see how big I could get if I went full term, no maternity pictures, no fun baby shower games.

I waited hours: through recovery and being transferred to a regular room until I could see my 2 lb 12 oz and 3 lbs 7 oz little boys. My first image of them was on my phone that their father took for me while I was being stitched back up. Two bloody, tiny infants covered in plastic bags to maintain their heat and hooked up to more medical machines I've ever seen. Before I could even see them, I was visited by a NICU nurse letting me know one of my sons had a pneumothorax and would be placed on a ventilator and have a chest tube.

They spent 41 and 47 days in the NICU, which seemed like a life time. So many long days, and even longer nights. Constant alarms, cold hard chairs, baggy eyes. It felt strange to even be outside of the hospital walls. The daily rounds that once made no sense and by the end of the stay, you knew every medical term coming out of their mouths. There were days of hope and days of agony. On and off of oxygen, CPAP and ventilators. Waiting and waiting until they finally understood how to drink from a bottle without having a Brady.

I didn't feel like me anymore. All of the nurses and social workers and lactation councilors visiting you. Not that much of what you feel even knew how to come out into words anyways. It was hard, scary, emotional, depressing.

We finally got to go home, and it wasnt all it was cracked up to be. I didn't sleep. I had 2 babies laying in bassinets next to me hooked up to oxygen. My living room was filled with oxygen tanks. I was terrified of them not being on alarms anymore. I stared and watched these babies who for nearly two months I was looking at through a plastic box.

A month later one of my twins was having Brady's again and cyanotic episodes. Back in the hospital we went. Luckily only for a couple days. They were on oxygen until 5 months old. Visiting people wasn't easy, running errands wasn't easy and appointments we're at least 4 times a week for the first couple months.

Having a preemie doesn't stop when you're discharged from the hospital. It doesn't stop when the baby gets off oxygen. It's constant appointments, physical and occupational therapy, every specialist you can think of. It's seeing babies the same age as yours doing things your baby probably won't do for another 3 months. It's discouraging and upsetting and all you feel like there is to do, is to blame yourself.

It is okay to feel down, but cherish the happy moments because even if its a different experience than how a normal childbirth would be, this is your child's story. Embrace their story.

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