Welcome back to the NICU Mom Series! After about a three week break, it is returning with something really special!
I thought my NICU experience was stressful, but I only had one baby. Our guest post writer today shares the experience of not one, not two, but THREE babies in the NICU! I’m honored to have Angela share her story here – enjoy!
Angela is the mother of almost 3-year-old BGG triplets Jase, Henley, and Sadie. She and her husband raise their family in a small town that she has grown to love. Angela spends her days loving and sometimes loathing the experience of raising triplets. She will tell you that her life is chaotic and that she often takes it for granted, but at the end of the day she thanks God for all he has given her.
Angela started blogging several years ago before she had children and unfortunately stopped when she became pregnant. She wanted to begin again once the babies were born, but quickly found out that her time was not her own. Angela is just over 7 months back into the blogging world and is loving every minute of it. You can read all about the tears and tantrums and especially all love and laughter that comes with raising multiples on her blog The Triplet Farm.
Life in the NICU with Triplets
We were given the frightening statistics of a triplet pregnancy almost immediately. We knew that the NICU would most likely be part of our lives once the babies were born. Exactly 6 months to the day I found out I was pregnant, three oh so tiny babies were born. They were 10 weeks early and just like that we became NICU parents. Our journey to triplets was over and our journey as parents was just beginning.
My babies were lucky to be cared for in the only level IIIC (highest available) NICU in the state of Indiana. St. Vincent Women’s Hospital’s NICU became Jase, Henley, and Sadie’s home away from home for 76, 108, and 103 days. Most of my remaining 4 days as an in-patient, was spent in the NICU. It became my home too. Having one child in the NICU can be daunting. Try having three?
Jase was the biggest and the healthiest. He was able to breathe on his own, but needed some assistance with a C-Pap to keep his oxygen levels steady. Within a a week it was gone. You would think these would ease a worried mom’s mind, but it doesn’t. He had several apnea spells (they called them “events” in the NICU) requiring a nurse (or sometimes me or daddy) to remind him to breathe. His NICU stay was exactly as they say “a rollercoaster ride.” He had bad days. More than once he had to be put back on the C-Pap for a day or so. He also had his good days. Like the day I held him for the first time. He cried and cried and cried as they pulled him from his warm isolette, but immediately calmed when the place him on my chest for his first kangaroo care. I was so nervous. Such a tiny little boy. He actually looked more like a wrinkly old man. So, that’s what I called him for a long time…my wrinkly old man.
Sadie, of the three of them, is the one that I remember the most in my post C-Section haze. Well, her foot at least. That tiny foot that was pricked and dripping with blood. That was my first memory of my daughter. And that makes me sad. It wasn’t her eyes that I saw or her tiny hands. That was just the beginning of the guilt I felt for giving birth 10 weeks early. She also required a C-Pap for some time, but hers was gone rather quickly too. After 103 days and firmly disagreeing with her doctors on her ability to eat (feeding issues were her reason for the long stay) we brought home an 8 pound 8 ounce chunky monkey. Once she was home she ate like a champ and we never looked back
My sweet Henley was the smallest and the sickest. She was immediately put on a ventilator. She was bruised and had a black eye. She was very quickly diagnosed with Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia, or BPD. Also known as Chronic Lung Disease (CLD) this is one of the most common ailments that affect premature babies. She was anemic (also common in preemies) and after a few days in the NICU needed 2 blood transfusions. At discharge she failed her newborn hearing screening (it was found out that her ear canals were extra small, but she is able to hear) and her doctors determined she had an Atrial Septal Defect; a congenital heart defect. Miss Henley came home on oxygen after a 108 day stay in the NICU. Because of this, and her medical conditions she is a Pulmonary, Ear Nose and Throat, and Cardiology patient at Peyton ManningChildren’s Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.
It’s a Scary Place
The Newborn Intensive Care Unit. I’m not going to lie. It’s a scary place. The sounds are what I remember the most. The beeps of the tiny heart monitors. The alarms warning nurses (and parents) that a little one had stopped breathing. The faint cries of babies in their isolettes. The silence is scary too.
Eventually, the sounds become just white noise leaving you to focus on what it important – getting your baby (or babies) out of there!
Stress just becomes a part of your life when you’re a NICU parent. The anxiety and uncertainty can be overwhelming. You can’t eat, you can’t sleep, and some days you feel like you just can’t do it anymore. This is your new reality.
Be the best you can for not only your baby, but for yourself too. This means not spending all day every day in the NICU. I would have given anything to be there 24/7, but living 2 hours from the NICU we just couldn’t afford for me to be there all the time. I’m telling you now, that being away was an intricate part of my surviving the journey too.
With that being said, please know that:
You Are Not Alone
We started the NICU journey uneducated on what was to come. I read nothing about the NICU before having the babies. I was too scared. I knew next to nothing. We didn’t know anyone who had experienced any amount of time the in the NICU. All I wanted was someone I could talk to about what we were going through. Of course, I had friends and family I could share my worries and frustrations with, but they really couldn’t sympathize because they just didn’t know. My advice is to befriend other NICU parents. They know firsthand what you are experiencing. Talk with the nurses. They are there for you too. And please feel free to contact me. I was in your shoes once.
You Are Their Parent
For me, one of the hardest things about our NICU journey was feeling like I was just a visitor and not their mother. All I wanted was to take my babies home and care for them like any new mother would. It’s tough for me to describe what it’s like seeing your babies, but not being able to touch them (Henley couldn’t be touched for some time) or hold them.
You can take part in their care. Change their diapers. Hold them as often as possible. Participate in Kangaroo Care. Help give them baths and weigh and measure them. Help tube feed them or give them their bottles. Bring things from home. I brought pajamas and special blankets and books to read to them. It may seem silly, but bringing their dirty clothes home to wash made me feel more like their mother.
There is Some Good
Although I would never wish a NICU stay for any child/parent there is some good that came from our journey. We met some amazing nurses that took care of our babies like they were their own. Having to leave your child in the NICU is indescribable. But, when you know that they are in the best of hands it makes the separation easier. We are still in contact with several of them today and love them like they are family. Also, because of our NICU journey I began faithfully raising money for The March of Dimes March for Babies. Last year we had a record year, raising over $1200. If you would like to donate to our 2016 walk, please click HERE.
We survived. And you can too! Today, we are here with almost 3 year old happy, healthy, and seriously crazy toddlers.
I started my blog The Triplet Farm to tell our story. My hope is that someone going through infertility issues reads one of my posts and doesn’t feel alone. I want NICU moms to read a post and know that it does get better. From in-vitro fertilization until today there is never a dull moment here. It’s been a long journey, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. As I always say – we are blessed beyond belief. – Angela
If you need to catch up with the NICU Mom Series, here’s what you may have missed: