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September 12, 2010

Revisiting the NICU

If I do say so myself, I was very even-keeled throughout my pregnancy. I wasn’t overly emotional, unless you count walking around with what was probably a big goofy grin on my face, giddy with excitement.

I only had a couple of breakdowns…one when I was trying to figure out the car seats (thinking, if I can’t do this, how will I ever be a fit mother?!)…and the other when we toured the NICU as part of the prenatal twin class at the hospital.

I came home and just lost it, thinking about those tiny babies I’d seen there in what seemed like such a cold, sterile environment. The experience strengthened my “resolve” (as I foolishly thought I had some real control in the matter!) over carrying the girls to term.

Given my “resolve”, I was in a great state of shock when I went into labor. Our girls were born at 34 ½ weeks. They were basically healthy, and they only spent 10 days in the NICU as “feeders and growers” as they called them. We had a couple of small scares, but overall we were very lucky.

I don’t know if this is a common feeling, but in a lot of ways I felt like I was floating through those first couple of weeks, just putting one foot in front of the other. I almost equate it to being in a state of denial, kind of like I expected to wake up any minute and still be pregnant.

We attended the annual NICU reunion today. It was so great to see a couple of the nurses that worked particularly closely with us.

Those nurses are amazing people, and they will always hold such a special place in our hearts. They maintained such a delicate balance…of showing respect to us as the girls’ parents, while taking the utmost care of them, and at the same time teaching us to care for our babies.

I had a conversation with one of my twin mom friends a few months ago. She talked about how uncertain she was as a first-time mom, about how she cried and cried when she brought her babies home, feeling like she didn’t know what to do.

While I certainly did my share of crying, it wasn’t because I felt like I didn’t know what to do. It dawned on me several days later that I have the NICU nurses to thank for that.

Those nurses were there for us, not just punching the clock and doing their job, but wrapping their arms around us figuratively, and at times, literally, during those first critical days as the size of our family abruptly doubled.

They cheered as I changed my first two diapers…they showed me all sorts of tricks for coaxing a premature baby to take a bottle…they affirmed my every “was that a burp?” question…they stood by my side as I gave the girls a bath for the first time.

The environment may have been cold and sterile, but that’s not how I remember our time in the NICU. The nurses were always so reassuring, letting us know the babies would be fine, and so would we. For that, and for so many more things, I will be eternally grateful.


MultipleMum said...

What a lovely idea! Those nurses deserve a medal.

Jeremi said...

we are still in touch with our 4 primary nicu nurses, hopefully always will be and are forever grateful!! like you wrote, they not only made sure our girls made it, loved them and took care of them when we were not there -- but they also taught us how to parent, for sure!! tom and i have talked about that a few times ..... those nicu reunions always bring up many emotions for me. nice post!

Chelle said...

I feel the same way. The nurses in the NICU, as well as the nurses in L&D (because I got so sick after delivery), will be forever in my heart.

Unknown said...

Ours were born at 34.5 and spent 10 days in the NICU growing and feeding, too. There were some great nurses on our team! They gave the best encouragement! You would think that working with so many babies and parents everything would be old hat. But when we would change their diaper it was as if they had never seen anyone do that before they were so excited for us!

Marcia (123 blog) said...

We also love the NICU nurses, well most of them.

The kids' paed is in the same hospital so after our appointments there, we always pop by to see who's on duty and they always marvel, "I can't believe he's so big" etc etc

huge fun

reanbean said...

Those nurses sound wonderful. I wish I'd had a nurse watching over me as I gave Tiny and Buba their first baths. I'm sure I did fine, but I do remember being very nervous.

Christina said...

We didn't have any NICU time....but was I the friend you talked to? ;) Sure sounds like it, lol!

MoDBev said...

NICU nurses are the most caring, amazing people. Without their support, the experience can be even more frightening. Thank you for sharing your story and helping raise awareness of the Fight for Preemies.

Susan Bearman said...

Aren't NICU nurses the best? We always felt like they were caring for us right along with our 24-week twins. Today my twins celebrate Prematurity Awareness Day AND their 19th birthday. It was a long, long road, but they are happy and healthy young adults now. And I'm still in touch with several of the nurses who cared for them during their 5-month NICU stay. I am sharing the journal I kept during those five months at Mike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds. Thank you for sharing your story.

♥.Trish.♥ Drumboys said...

Thanks for sharing your story. My boys were feeders & growers too.