Thursday, February 23, 2012

The small look at living at the NICU.

A popular question, with which I still have a hard time dealing with, was, “how are you doing?” I don’t think I’ve ever honestly answered that question to any one other than "Hubs" 

When we got the call that Chrystal was in labor it was all in slow motion. When I saw my two beautiful babies at their start of their 28th week, alive and at the moment I thought that my dreams had all become true. Little did I know that this would be the first few minutes of a nightmare I wouldn't be able to be awaken from for a very long time. What I saw at that time were my two beautiful baby boys! What we were looking at was translucent skin, tubes and wires all over their tiny bodies, seeing them so small not even able to let out a cry. At the time of one of my son's delivery he wasn't breathing and this lasted for minutes. I texted pictures of the babies to my best friends, and close family. With big smiles! I didn't realize how bad this was. I look at the pic's now and truly see I was in Shock and wearing rose colored glasses. 

Taking off those glasses for the first time, realizing that there is no way to describe what it feels like to have an early baby. No new mommy to be or woman ever contemplates the “what if” of preterm labor and birth, or complications. No one tells you of the details of what it would really be like to be in this situation. 

There is a time that you end up with this feeling of fear. Fearful that they won’t be okay…or that something is wrong with one of them, or God forbid something was wrong with Chrystal. Fearful that even a c-section birth would be too stressful on either boy.  Fearful that though the neonatologist said that babies born at that gestational age, that they had a 90 percent survival rate…that maybe one or both wouldn’t survive. They were worried about them because they were both so very small…would they be too small to survive? Would they be underdeveloped? Fearful that Chrystal would think she did something wrong to make this happen. Fearful that she thinks it’s her fault. Fearful she’d think I (we) hated her. Not that we loved her at that moment more then anything ( well besides those two beautiful babies that she just brought into this world.) 

When the time came later that night that we were told that we could now finally go see them. This feeling of being over the moon that you can FINALLY see your tiny babies. On the other side a little like you don’t want to see them because it’s going to be so scary to see them so helpless, There is nothing anyone can say to you when you have to look through the plexi-glass of an incubator to see your baby, or ask permission of a NURSE to touch YOUR baby…or the feeling when you first hold them…the feeling of relief that their okay and they have made it this far, but the feeling that it’s your fault. The only thing I was able to mutter out of my mouth was, “Hi, baby boy, I’m your mommy…I’m so so sorry.” All I could say for a few weeks in the NICU were I am so sorry.....sorry your here and not home, that you don't get to be in the same bed as your twin. it meant not holding them. Holding them would have stimulated them, It made it so they would both burn precious calories that they so needed to have to grow…to regulate their own temperature, to make blood, fat and everything else that they needed. It meant out of all the minutes in a day…at the beginning we held each of them 20.  Each of our babies learned to love us by us doing care…taking temperatures, changing diapers,.taking care of their umbilical cord's. That I can hold each of them by hand hugging them, the only way to touch them is to put your hand on the soles of their feet, and to cup their head. Stroking a preemie like you would a  term baby baby is too much stimulation, and isn’t ok for them, Nurse Amiee told me that this would be what we feel like with a big fever and someone touching us.

The only thing we could do was to pull up a chair and sit. Sit there and stare at them. Being there for us to feel better, all the while thinking that us being there made them feel better. To talk to each other, talk to the amazing  nurses…talk to them through their incubator/ isolette. so that they learned who we were from or voices. This was especially important to "Hub's" and I because they didn't grown in my tummy. So they didn't know our voices as much as they did their Auntie & Uncle and their two cousins. My thought through the first few weeks is that they didn't know who this stranger was talking to them, maybe they wanted or needed their oven's voice to comfort them and not mine. F & B learned affection, love, and security through these things I know that now, and it makes me realize that it was enough to help them strive. 

The sleepless nights thinking of how they were doing…the eagerness to be next to them even though we couldn’t hold them much, truly there are no words for it. We turned our world upside down and moved down to this amazing place that is called the Tree house where you can live until your babies are sent home. We stayed here for almost 65 nights, it wasn't home but it was better then driving the almost two hour drive one way to go home. 

The first time you see your baby turn blue because they are so small and early that they haven’t learned to self regulate is the worst heart wrenching feeling. The good news is,  that the bigger they get, the less often it tends to happen, and the more used to them you become. It gets to the point that spells don’t phase you, and how to stimulate them to breathe again is second nature. The beeps and alarms of the NICU become normal, and you can tell what each one means by it differing tone. The higher pitched and faster it is, the worse the reason. Being in the NICU was the worlds largest rollercoaster ride I have ever been on in my life, in trapping my family and close friends on this ride with us, times when things go great and then it starts to go backwards before you know it your four steps back. They would go off the Cpap then back on, transfusions, PICC lines out and back in, feeding tubes out and back in, Oxygen on and back off, with one baby when he came home he came on that and a monitor for his heart after a while it went off for now. 

I sat one morning looking in at one of my babies while the other one was in the room next to us and the only thing I could do was break down and cry.... The nurses held me as I cried these nurse's & the girls at the front desk became my best friends and family, my rocks. I would have never made it though all of this without them. 

So many times during the stretch of being in the NICU was spent crying, it was the only thing to do. Curl up and cry. I spent a great amount of time alone, Hubs had to work and I didn't feel like being social at the Treehouse, sometimes all I could do was to Just cry. Just let it all out. I had to stay calm to try to keep the people around me protected, not wanting to let anyone else carry this feeling. There were many,  many tears built up. They still a few months later come though from time to time. 

On their one month birthday they were doing well enough to be taken upstairs to the ICN, the next step to going home.... I was pushing it because in my mind going upstairs we can go HOME! Well then I realized the most of my nurse friends would no longer be with me by my side. 

Check back next week for the rest of the story.

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