our NICU experience

When we suddenly found out that our twins would be arriving early at 33 weeks + 5 days, I knew they'd likely spend some time in the NICU.

There were so many doctors and nurses in the operating room during my c-section, a team for me and then a team for each baby. They were whisked away immediately to be evaluated and Craig went with them while I was wheeled to recovery. 

The first time I was really able to hold them was about 36 hours after they were born. (The first time they just laid them on me for a few minutes.) It was quite traumatic trying to stand up and get organized to sit in a wheelchair but after getting situated, Craig wheeled me down to the NICU. 

The twins started off in NICU East (there are three different NICU wards at CPMC). We had a quiet corner in the back and the isoletes were right next to each other. It was SO hard to see them in there with all kinds of wires and masks and IVs. The sweet nurse gave us an update and then got a baby out for me to hold skin-to-skin. I actually don't remember who I held first. I was still pretty out of it because of all the drugs they had me on. 

In the days while I was still in the hospital, Craig would wheel me down to the NICU as many times as possible so that I could hold them. Hormones are insane and it was always really emotional and exhausting for me to be there. 

On day 2 or 3(?!?!), I walked myself down to the NICU which was only a 60 second walk and it took me a solid 7-8 minutes to basically crawl there. So much pain. But each day I got a little faster and a little more comfortable. I would hold them for as long as they would tolerate it and then I would hobble back to my room to rest and pump. Craig would then shuttle the milk (droplets!) back down to the NICU.

I was discharged on day 4 which was Thursday. It was really strange to go home without our babies. But I was in so much pain and so exhausted that I was ready to sleep in my own bed and take a shower. 

For the following two weeks, our routine consisted of going to the NICU around 9am, getting an update from the nurse, holding or feeding each baby (once they started taking bottles), pumping, attempting to shove food in my face, and then starting the whole process over again. We would usually stay for their evening feeding around 6pm and then head home. I felt SO guilty whenever we would leave but I was still taking a lot of pain medication and needed to rest. 


We were fortunate to have some really great NICU nurses who were so comforting especially when I would just stand over their crib and cry. While it's great to have professionals teach you how to care for your baby in those early weeks, it's really emotional and exhausting to basically live in the NICU. It's such a strange experience where you grow these tiny humans for close to 9 months, and then there they are, on the outside, but not with you?! It's still hard for me to wrap my head around. They just didn't really feed like our babies.

Each day, the babies would progress a little more. They got their CPAP masks removed, then they got their IVs out, and soon they just had their feeding tubes left. I remember walking into the NICU one morning and they were no longer in isoletes - just regular hospital cribs! That was pretty crazy. 

On a Friday, we found out that they might be getting their feeding tubes out because they were doing really well with bottle feeding. The doctor told us that we might be going home on that Monday. We spent the weekend closely tracking their progress.

In our final 24 hours we were moved to NICU West which is the smallest. Most of the babies in there are just working on eating and growing. Monday morning, we got the call that if the twins passed the carseat test (no bradycardia in 90 min) then we could take them home! WOW! That was nuts. We rushed to get our things together and headed up to the NICU to be discharged. They disconnected the twins from their monitors and we dressed them in "going home" clothes. They were still SO tiny - Reese only weighed 4.5lbs! 

Just a few minutes after getting home!
I sat in the back between the two carseats for our 5 minute drive home and was terrified the whole time. We successfully made it into the apartment and then just sat there staring at them.

Being at home without all the monitors and nurses was scary and I remember checking on them every 5 minutes to make sure they were ok. They made a lot of noises that we weren't used to. But within a few days, it felt so great to be at home in our space and get to know our kiddos.

I would never wish for any baby to be in the NICU but the silver lining is that I had the chance to recover from major surgery. I was up every day moving around, being with the babes in the NICU, and then getting *some* decent rest at night. We are so thankful for amazing NICU nurses and family members who helped us our and supported us during this crazy time.

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