When I initially found out I was pregnant with twins, I always knew there was a good possibility my children would be born prematurely, but I never was prepared for my boys to make their entrance 15 weeks early.
I had a check up and ultrasound on May 30th. Both boys were growing well, and everything looked great! I would be seen again in a few weeks for another ultrasound, as multiples are considered a high risk pregnancy, and I was to be monitored closely.
A Mother’s Intuition
Just a few days later, on June 3rd, something did not feel right. I left work and went to see my OBGYN. Everything looked fine; I was not dilated, both babies had strong heartbeats, and I was probably just having Braxton Hicks contractions. They did a test for preterm labor and told me that it would take a couple of hours to get the results, so we went home.
Not too long after we got home, my intuition kicked in and I told my husband, Dustin, that something was wrong- that we had to go to the hospital now.
On the way to the hospital, my OBGYN called me and said my test was positive for preterm labor and they would have a room ready for me when I got there. Upon arrival, I was examined, and though my water had not broken – I was now dilated far enough to where one of my twins was in the birth canal on his way out. I was going to have these babies soon.
The risk of transporting me was too risky because of how far my labor had progressed. The hospital where we were did not have a level 4 NICU, and my babies would have to be transferred to a level 4 NICU soon after they were born.
I am so grateful they were transferred to WakeMed.
Transferring to WakeMed’s Level IV NICU
On the night of June 4th, I delivered Chase and Caleb, and they both came out crying, which was so wonderful to hear. They weighed 1lb 10oz and 1lb 14 oz, and I was able to see them just 2 hours later. Their eyes were still fused and their skin was so thin.
Shortly after they were born, the transport team from WakeMed was there, and they could only take one of my tiny babies at a time. I was so impressed that they had two nurses, a respiratory therapist (RT) and a nurse practitioner (NP) with them for transfer. Both times the boys arrived at WakeMed, a NP called to reassure us that they were there and were doing fine, and they gave me the number to call to check on them whenever I wanted to.
Since there were no complications, I was discharged from the hospital the next morning. Dustin and I immediately went to WakeMed to see our boys. Everyone – from the receptionist that gave us directions to the NICU from the parking deck, to the nurse that greeted us and brought us to see our boys – made this scary new world a little more comfortable.
I knew that 24 weeks gestation was the week of viability, but I was naive of all the obstacles my twins would have to go through before they could come home.
I thought they could just grow to be 5 pounds and come home. The nurses explained to me that not only would they have to grow, but they had to learn to breathe, hold their body temperature, learn to eat, and it would probably be close to my due date before they came home.
The Strength & Determination of a Preemie Baby
Our NICU stay was 105 days. We went through so many “spells”, re-intubations, multiple blood transfusions, an emergency hernia surgery, too many x-rays to count and every single emotion possible.
Our boys had to learn how to do everything that most babies are born doing involuntarily.
The strength and determination of a preemie baby is like nothing I’ve ever seen. Chase and Caleb were so small and were fighting so hard to just live. I wanted so badly to take this struggle away from them and just help them, but this was something I had no control over. Our faith, family, the WakeMed NICU staff, and lots of prayers and support got us and our boys through it all.
Eventually the “spells” decreased and went away, and the alarms started to be few and far between. There were less tubes and less wires. We saw growth, we saw improvement, and we saw milestones being met. Our boys learned to breathe on their own, stabilize their temperature and take their bottles.
On September 18th (five days after their due date), we came home.
Gratitude for Our NICU Care Team
The WakeMed NICU team made this unfamiliar and scary experience quite wonderful. We were included in their care times, morning rounds and had the same things explained to us time and time again without any hesitation or frustration.
Our primary nurses made all the difference in our experience.
They guided us through the wires and tubes, helped us hold our tiny babies at just 4 days old, and were an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. They were also concerned about us and our comfort, not just our babies. These doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, lactation consultants and receptionists were like our new family. The saying “It takes a village to raise a child” never resonated with me more.
This NICU team, our “village”, was not just helping raise our children, but helping our children live and survive when I didn’t have the knowledge of the care my extremely premature babies needed.
The NICU team at WakeMed has a genuine passion for neonatal care, and it resonates in everything they do. They are the good that I wish everyone could see in the world. I often look forward to our visits at the Special Infant Care Clinic (SICC) and visit the NICU, so that I can see the doctors that spent nights and days making sure my babies were well. I could never ever thank everyone enough for all they have done.
A Message for Other Parents of Preemies
To other parents of premature babies, I will first tell you to take pictures, lots of them! You will love looking back and seeing the progress your sweet baby has made.
Find time for yourself. The NICU can be an exhausting and stressful place, and you need time away to breathe. Your children are in literally the best care possible. This experience is not easy, but you are not alone.
Talk with other parents that have been through the NICU experience. It truly does help to know someone that went through or is going through the same thing as you at the same time as you. This is just a season of your life, a season that will forever change life as you once knew it to be. Eventually this will pass and it will seem so long ago, but like it was yesterday at the same time.
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