“Just don’t let them have to go to the NICU.”
“How many weeks when your babies were born and did they need NICU time?”
“We can’t afford the NICU!”
“Just please, let them stay in long enough to avoid the NICU.”
These were a few of the pleadings I remember thinking/praying/asking/questioning/worrying about every day after I found out I was pregnant with twins. I remember leaving the doctor’s office on November 14th, 2013 in shock, excited, but reeling from the news that we weren’t expecting one, but TWO babies. We would never be a family of 3. Trial (parenting?) by fire. Jumping in with two feet. Or four.
I came home that afternoon and sent a Facebook message to a friend of a friend who had 3 year old twin boys. I don’t remember what all I said to her that day, and poor girl- I probably rambled on terrified-, but I know for sure I asked about the NICU. From the moment we found out it was twins we worried about the NICU. We couldn’t afford the NICU. I didn’t want them to have to stay after I left the hospital. NO NICU. She responded peaceably, something to the effect of, “If you need the NICU, that’s what it’s there for. Don’t worry about it.”
But I did worry. Every single day of pregnancy I worried. And as the days grew into months, I started feeling more and more confident. But there was always that worry of “what if”. Some term babies need the NICU… what if? Lots of twins need the NICU… what if?
At 32 weeks, after a pregnancy my doctor referred to as “you’re making this twin thing look easy”, my blood pressure slowly began to climb. I had to start doing weekly 24 hour urine samples (TMI?) to check for protein, because high bp + protein= pre-eclampsia. But 33 weeks passed… 34… 35 (yay no more work because the school year was finally over!)… 36… I went to the doctor for a NST (non stress test) to double check the babies were a-ok, and for what would probably be my last weekly checkup. My bp was high. I had turned in my sample that morning. The doctor walked in. He sat down, looked at me and said, “Look. It’s Wednesday. We planned to deliver you on Tuesday. I think we should do it tomorrow. I won’t be here this weekend, and I really want to be the one to handle your case. I wish I had a crystal ball to tell you the babies will both be great tomorrow. The fact is, I can’t guarantee they’ll both be great on Tuesday. But you’ll be 36+3 and we should do this tomorrow. Your health isn’t worth the risk.”
I left the doctor and called my husband, who left a meeting at work to answer the phone. He returned to his meeting and was white as a ghost. Tomorrow. (Incidentally, we also had his green card interview scheduled for the next day. We had the interview at 1:40 and checked in to the hospital at 4.)
Fast forward to delivery. I had a c-section because my sweet baby A was breech, and B was transverse (the ENTIRE PREGNANCY. Talk about heartburn– she was all up in my biz!). Joseph came out at 6:42. I was terrified because he didn’t cry right away, but after
an eternity a few seconds, he started screaming. Kenzie was next at 6:44, and that girl screamed her head off as soon as she was born. The babies were placed on my chest for a few seconds, and then wheeled to recovery as I was stitched up. I met up with Kenzie in recovery, where she ferociously nursed (little bit has been starving since she was born– had to make up for that 5 lb 1 oz birthweight). After several minutes they came and wheeled her away to… you guessed it… the NICU. Ugh. They told me she was small and they wanted to monitor her. I didn’t have any time to process that because right as they took her, they brought my 6 lb 13 oz boy in, and after telling me they needed to monitor his blood sugar, left him to nurse.
First family photo
So there we were, the dreaded NICU was destined to be a part of our story.
The next few days were a blur, as it always is with a new baby. Joseph remained in the room with me, and I just soaked in all that newborn sweetness. We learned to nurse together, and we fiercely bonded that first night and day together. I was bed bound, as I was still hooked up to stuff post c-section, so I couldn’t see my sweet girl. Honestly, and this is going to sound horrible, but I almost didn’t have time to think about it. Daddy spent most of his time with her. The morning after they were born, a NICU doctor called me to tell me she wasn’t there because of size, but rather because she had an irregular breathing pattern. Breathe, breathe, breathe, stop. And if it didn’t correct itself they would give her caffeine, but that meant she would have to leave the hospital on oxygen. My sweet petite girl has the best of all NICU stories, because her breathing pattern quickly corrected itself, and by 20 hours after birth she was off all machines and breathing room air normally. After 36 hours in the NICU, she was released to the room and we all went home the following day.
Joseph & mama on night 1 Kenzie (in the NICU) and daddy on night 1
I write this not to brag about my twin birthweights or the fact that I carried them for so long (as is so often a competition among mommies of multiples). I write this to tell you, mama of a singleton, twins, or more, that if the NICU is a part of your story, that is OKAY. It’s not the end of the world. That’s what they’re there for, and they do a great job of it. And the money, well, we’re still paying for all of our medical issues from that year, but here’s a secret– hospitals have payment plans. And you’ll be ok. You’ll never regret your child getting the best possible care if they need it. The NICU is not the end of the world. And my beautiful little premies are 17 months old, no worse for the wear, in fact they are thriving. So premie mama, it’s hard. But it’s going to be ok. In the end you will joyfully celebrate your child’s life, and the fact that they were born early will quickly dimish with time. Does anyone ask what your college GPA was? Likewise, the questions about how big they were, how many weeks you were, how much NICU time… those will diminish in importance with time. But just as my friend said, if they need the NICU, that’s what it’s there for.
Newborn photos at 10 days old Happy, healthy babies at 1 year
K with her premie outfit at 6 months
Sending hugs and increased percentiles on the regular weight charts,