Testimony from a NICU Parent
I remember being so excited as my husband and I were waiting for the ultrasound tech to come into the room. We were going to see our 3rd baby for the first time at 8 weeks. I had a strange feeling in those weeks before, that maybe there was more than one baby, my symptoms just seemed so much different than my first 2 pregnancies (singletons, 1 boy and 1 girl). I shrugged it off as me being hormonally crazy. When she came in I jokingly said to let me know how many were in there, because I thought there were more than one. We all smiled and chuckled a little. When she put the wand to my belly, she about fell off her chair.
She looked at me and asked, “how did you know?”. I said, I just felt different.
My pregnancy felt like it was progressing like my others, but we knew that they would be smaller than a singleton baby at the same gestational age, and full term for twins was typically 37 weeks rather than 40. In our case, we set a goal to try to make it to 32 weeks gestation before delivery. We knew that it was an extremely high risk pregnancy, because not only were they at risk for Twin to Twin Transfusion (TTTS), but because they were in the same sac, they were at greater risk because their umbilical cords could tangle at any time. This could mean blood flow/oxygen being cut off to one or both of the twins. We knew this from very early on, so needless to say I felt helpless my entire pregnancy. There was nothing I could do as a mother to prevent this from happening, or knowing if/when it was happening. We discussed being hospitalized at 24 weeks throughout the pregnancy, and finally decided it was the right choice so that the girls could be more closely monitored.
I left my full time job, and 3 days later was admitted to the Antepartum unit at 24 weeks where I would remain “inpatient” until my little girls arrived at 31 weeks. I was away from my other 2 children and my husband. Shortly after admission, I was asked to be in a program (which did not have a name yet), and a nurse from the NICU would come talk with me. I said yes, I’d welcome any information that could help me get through this. Rebecca came to meet with me, and to tell me about her program, and that I was the first patient to be a part of it. She met with me every other day, but made sure I knew that she was available as often as I needed. She gave us an idea of what to expect with preemies; the types of tubes and IV’s, the color and appearance of their skin, growth, feeding, the obstacles and challenges we could face, and how to understand the medical terms used in the NICU. She sat with me, and my husband, and answered questions we didn’t even know or think to ask. It was scary, but refreshing at the same time. She allowed us to have a glimpse into the possibilities, and was open and honest with us. We appreciated this so much, and felt so much more aware and prepared.