Monday, November 5, 2012

I am a NICU mom, a twin mom, and an AMA mom.  (that last one is Advanced Maternal age).   I was 39 when I was blessed with my twin pregnancy.  I am also an adoptive mom to my 14 year old son.  I did have complications.  Gestational diabetes, a SCH (Sub chorionic hematoma), bleeding, cramping, and throwing up for the first 27 weeks. :/

My sweet girls were born preemie at 32 weeks on the dot.  I am a former NICU nurse, and I never, ever thought I would be a NICU mama. 

I felt cramps, and ignored them.  I would later find out, it was PTL, Preterm Labor.
I am angry at myself for my girls’ early delivery.  I should clarify and say, I hated my body on that day.  It failed my girls and it failed me.  I didn’t want to have babies in the NICU…I was trained to take care of preemies …not at all prepared to be a mom on the other side of the fence.

Lauren was born vaginally and Kate was born via c-section on July 20, 2010.  I recovered on a GYN floor.  Found out later, I was on that floor instead of regular Mother/Baby unit so I would not hear babies crying.  It was too quiet and I didn’t like it at all.  I even asked why I was not on the regular mother/baby unit, and a nurse said, “we do that so you won’t get sad hearing the babies cry.”  I wanted to hear babies cry.  I was a Mom just like those “term” moms.  My babies were in the NICU, but I still was a mom.  Being on that floor away from all the other moms and babies was awful. It was hard enough being in a completely separate building from them.  And to be on a floor with a ton of old geezers in for GYN stuff was depressing.

My girls were in the hospital for 2 months.  And it was NICU hell.

I think knowing all that I did about preemies was good and not so good.  I knew too much.  And it was hard for me to be Mom, because I was used to being the nurse in the room.

I’m going to be honest:  I was not a fan of pumping breast milk.   I did it for my girls.  I knew their bowels were premature, and BM would be the best nutrition for them.  I only pumped for a total of 3 months.  I had to stop, as it was making me a stress case.  I never got much milk and I tried just about every piece of advice I was given to produce more milk.  My body was failing me again, and failing my girls. 

Lauren, my baby A was a chunk.  She was close to 5 pounds.  Kate, my baby B, had IUGR (intrauterine growth retardation) and she was 3 pounds.  Everyone always thinks the chunky babies are healthy, but Lauren was very, very sick.  She was in PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension) caused from her PDA and ASD.  I was forbidden to touch her or talk to her for 10 days.  It was the hardest 10 days of my life.  She never opened her eyes until the evening of day 10.  She was moments away from being placed on ECMO and they kept telling me they were doing all they could.  She was a 2:1.  (Two to one).  That means, 2 nurses to 1 baby.  She had so many things hooked to her sweet little body, she needed the care of 2 nurses and 1 respiratory therapist. 

She was on the Oscillator (high frequency ventilator)  for a long time.  Lauren also came home on oxygen, a pulse ox (pulse oximeter), and a cardiac monitor.  She needed oxygen for 3 months.  Thank God above I pushed to get her home, because I would not have survived an additional 3 months in the hospital.  I just wanted my girls at home.
In the 2 months the girls were in the NICU, I only spent 7 hours at home away from them.  My husband insisted I sleep at home, in our bed, so I would “feel better”.
 It was awful being away from them, and I just worried and could not sleep.  From that moment on, I stayed in the hospital with the girls.  I rarely saw the sun.  And I did try and take walks around the hospital and thru the courtyards to get fresh air…but honestly, I just didn’t want to be outside when my girls were sick in the hospital.  I didn’t care at that time if it was sunny and flowers blooming…

I wished I had made a journal entry about the girls shortly after they were born.  I think I was on too much overload to think about a journal.  I know I would have included more details of our NICU time.  I did learn a few things about NICU, that as a nurse, I had never experienced before.  I experienced emotions as a NICU mom, and everyone in our family seemed to not fully understand what I was going thru.  That is how I found this Preemie group on the Bump, and later, I joined them on Facebook.

I would read peoples “siggys” on the Bump to have HOPE.  When I would see other Preemie moms had survived the NICU, and they had a preemie pic next to a current pic of their baby at age 1, I had HOPE.  It got me thru some of the hardest days in the NICU.  Having a support group of other NICU/Preemie Moms is a very healing place to go and share about all things Preemie.  I can say and share things that most full term moms will never understand.  I am so grateful for the women in the FB group. 

Here is my gripe list ;)

1.     My babies are preemie.  They are in the NICU.  They need peace and quiet.  They should still be on the inside.  Please don’t ask a NICU mom if you can come and visit.  Support her thru meals, gift cards to places that offer a carry out menu, and send her text messages.  Even a card.  But give her space and time.

2.    I hate hospitals.  (and I am a nurse) 

3.    My 1 year olds are not doing the same thing your 1 year old is doing.  Don’t point it out.  I know my little ones are delayed. 

4.    If you are carrying a baby, be grateful for every ache and pain you have.  My friends and I would give anything to have those aches and pains.  We would go thru anything to keep our babies cooking and not be in the NICU.

5.    Wash your hands.  Our preemies are more vulnerable to colds, flu’s, and any type of illness.  If you even think your throat is scratchy, STAY HOME.  And a week after you thought your throat was scratchy…I’m still going to ask you to put on a mask. 

If you are on bed rest, I wish you as much cooking time as is possible.  Remember, being on bed rest is truly a full time job.  You are growing a little human, and that is an amazing job.  Every day your LO (little one) can stay on the inside~ is less NICU time.  So do not get discouraged.  Online shop, shop, shop.  J   

If you are a preemie/Nicu mom, I wish you an uneventful stay in the NICU.  And I hope you and your sweet baby are home very, very soon.  ::Hugs for you::


Erica Huddleston said...

Beautiful. Thank you for telling your story. I am 31 weeks pregnant with twin boys and have been on bedrest since 24 weeks. It has been rough but I pray they keep cooking.

Gorgeous Jo said...

Thanks for your encouragement and story I'm carrying twin boy and girl. Your story gives me strength because I'm in so much pain.

Tiffany Pope said...

This brings tears to my eyes as I sit here so tired caring for my 32 week preemie twins in the NICU. This is day 11 and we have at least 3 more weeks. I feel like I live here. I feel your feelings with you and I pray your twin girls all the best in life. I never thought I would find the word "discharge" so lovely, but I can't wait to hear it ��

Alexis Blow said...

Your story is encouraging for mothers of preemies as I too was one ten years ago. I had my boy/girl twins at 32 weeks and my son was 4.10 and my daughter was 3.10. They stayed in the NICU for three weeks learning to feed and hold their temps. It was hard running back and forth and taking care a 5 year old but I did it with the grace of God. They now are happy and healthy my son has asthma but other than that he good. I am now pregnant at 32 weeks with boy/girl twin again and been on bedrest trying to cook them as long as I can so they can come home..

Precious and priceless so lovable too, the world’s sweetest littlest miracle is, a baby like you.

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