I think I’ve rewritten this post about 10 times because my Neonatal Intensive Care experience with the twins seems so minor compared to what I imagine other parents go through with their children who have spent time there too. I hadn’t ever really thought in depth about what the NICU stay must be like or what it really entails so when my boys showed up 6 weeks early and ended up there for 2 weeks I was caught off guard.
Firstly just seeing your baby hooked up to monitors and machines is heart wrenching and the nonstop beeping is a constant reminder that without all this equipment they’d have trouble living.
Pasha and Eadn looked extra tiny in the incubators they were in and for the first few days I wasn’t able to pick them up and could only touch them through the openings in the side. They both needed assistance breathing and fed through tubes. At first I was recovering in hospital myself and used the time away from them to sleep which I knew I wouldn’t be doing a lot of when we got home. As soon as my milk came in I insisted on going back and forth from my ward to the NICU every 2-3 hours to try and breastfeed them which I then found out was way harder than it had been with Eliyah because the twins didn’t have a fully fledged suck reflex yet. Even though waking up to make the trip back and forth from ward to NICU was long, tiring and sometimes painful the staff were amazing and made the experience a little easier. It felt safe being in a warm darkened room with help and good conversation on hand whilst doing what I could to look after my babies… even the beeping from the monitors became reassuring.
After 5 days I was ready to be discharged which I was over the moon about because I missed Eliyah like crazy BUT I had to leave the twins behind.
It’s so weird leaving the hospital without bump and without baby.
The next two weeks went by in a bit of blur. My parents and brothers made it possible for me to go to the hospital twice a day while they looked after Eliyah. There was no date given as to when the twins would be out which makes sense but I completely didn’t expect that and I imagine not many others did either because that was always the first thing I’d get asked. I had assumed that they’d both be out in a week max as their progress was steady and they were doing well but then I got a phone call early onemorning saying Pasha had been unwell in the night. He’d been put on antibiotics and breath support again and it was then I realised how much of an emotional rollercoaster this NICU experience had been. Sitting next to my tiny baby in an incubator again, tubes in his nose and a cannula in his hand hit me hard. It turned out to be just a minor infection that he recovered from quickly but in the moment I was aware that it wasn’t guaranteed every baby in intensive care would make it home and that included mine.
Damn I was exhausted. The emotional ups and downs, 2 hospital visits daily, pumping every 3-4 hours, looking after a toddler and trying to sort out life before the babies came home had completely drained me physically, mentally, emotionally… all of it.
My tired mind meant that I spent the majority of nights on the way back from the hospital crying about doing all of this without their dad. Tiredness made me pine for his presence and had me pulling up his number on my phone and hovering my thumb over the call button so many times. Luckily a sensible part of me shut that down and made me question what I actually needed him for at this point. Reassurance and comfort? All I’d get was a headache and an earful of selfishness.
He had come to the hospital unannounced the day after the babies were born even after I had told his mum they had arrived but would appreciate if they waited until I got in touch with them about a possibility of visiting. Possibility being the operative word… in his usual selfish style he just turned up outside the NICU at 11pm. He looked sad and I could smell weed and alcohol on him. Even though part of me was kind of happy he felt a pull to come the majority of me was just hyper aware that in the whole time we’d been apart absolutely nothing had changed with him. Still dealing with things in the same way, still inherently selfish and still irresponsible. The potential I had always hoped he had was just wishful thinking. Who does that? Who comes to see their newborn babies in intensive care high and intoxicated?
I feel like I say this in every post but I’m so so blessed to have such an amazing support network especially my mum. Even though I’m a single mother I’ll never be raising my boys completely alone.
Thankfully after that little setback with Pasha both boys went from strength to strength. They came off tube feeds and moved on to bottle and breast when I was with them and then one day they reached their birth weights and I was told I could take them home the next day! Not gonna lie, I felt a bit afraid. I wasn’t sure I was ready to care for them without the monitoring of the doctors and nurses but IT WAS TIME! Eliyah could finally meet his baby brothers and we could all get settled in to being a family of 4.
A Queen raising Kings.
I have to give a shoutout to anyone who’s ever had a child or grandchild that’s spent time in Neonatal Intensive Care. I feel you. I know what you’re going through. It’s hard but YOU ARE STRONG and so are your children. They’re in the best care. Also a massive thank you to anyone working in NICU’s and SCBU’s. Your vigilance, precision and skill keeps our babies alive. You are angels.