Thursday, November 15, 2012

Happy Homecoming, Reese!

After 17 days in the NICU Reese had passed her hearing test and car seat test and was ready to come home on Tuesday, October 23.

That morning I received a call from the NICU. I was worried that something had gone wrong and that she wouldn’t be discharged. 

Addison, the receptionist at the NICU, called and had one question for us…She asked, “Can you bring in Zane’s car seat today when you pick up Reese?” Of course!!!! This was the best call!!! We would only have a day with Reese home and Zane still in the NICU. 

I spent the day before Reese’s discharge shopping, making lasagna, running last minute errands and dying of excitement! I could barely sleep the night before her discharge.

On Tuesday, I drove to the NICU. This time was so different than all of the others. I had a large grin on my face just thinking about my drive home with Reese in her car seat…in my car! 

I arrived at the NICU to see the red wagon in Reese’s space. I took her temperature, changed her and fed her before doing the same with Zane. I called Grant and he came in from work to be there for Reese’s big moment! We took a few photos with our favorite nurses and, for the first time since they were in utero, we put Reese and Zane together. I had tears in my eyes seeing them together, finally after 17 days apart. Zane was passed out, but Reese was wide awake.

We put them both in Zane’s bed and then I was able to hold them both together for the first time.
Hello, Brother!

Me holding back the tears holding my twins together for the first time :)
Reese and Zane with two of their favorite nurses: Nurse Manager, Jennifer and Nurse Andrea

This was something I thought I’d be able to do at birth…but since both babies were taken to the NICU I had to be patient and wait until they were ready. It was an AMAZING feeling, holding them both.

 Reese's last feed in the NICU :)

With Nurse Katie :)

It was quickly time to load Reese into her car seat and wheel her downstairs. We said our goodbyes to Zane, feeling at peace knowing he’d be making the trip home the very next day (as long as he passed his car seat test). Then, we took Reese on her journey out of the NICU, down the elevator and out to the car. This was her first time in fresh air, feeling the sun shine. We loaded her stuff in the car and then put her car seat in the back seat. I drove her home while Grant followed. We were now a family of three for one quick night.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I remember the milestones the babies had to reach before they could be discharged. I was at the hospital daily. I timed my visits around the doctor’s rounds and their feeding times. The first week I arrived in time for the 8:30am feeding and stayed until after the 11:30am feeding. The neonatologists commented to me about how present I was, but I thought where else would I be?! Grant went to the NICU every day after work for the 5:30pm feeding. They babies were kept on a strict 3 hour schedule.

I was quickly able to pump enough milk to support the babies 100%. That meant I had to be pumping  milk for the babies every 2 hours at home and sleeping about 5 hours a night. I was running on adrenaline. The first time I spoke to Dr. Alveido I asked him when the babies would be discharged. The nurse advised the doctor not to give any estimate to me. I was devastated. I just wanted to know, but I knew that if they gave me a date and the babies were not home by then I’d be even more upset. Instead, they discussed with me the milestones the babies would have to meet before they could come home.

1. Breathing on their own. Both Reese and Zane had issues with this initially. Zane's were more severe than Reese's. His heart rate dropped dramatically on its own the first night he was in the NICU. They call that a "Brady." It's like a mini heart attack. We learned about that and many other things through our time in the NICU. Both babies were on oxygen tubes pumping room air into their little lungs, helping them breathe. This was the first milestone the both reached.

Changing Zane's diaper :)

Zane (front) Reese (back)

Father and son

2. Maintaining their body temperature. Zane was able to do this quicker than his sister. I was SO excited when both of them could maintain their body temperature (a solid 37 degrees Celsius). At that point both of the lids on their beds were raised and we could touch them. That was a big step for me and for them. Reese took a step back and her lid had to go back down after a day of trying to maintain her temperature on her own. Every time they took even the slightest step backwards I cried and wondered when they'd ever come home.

Changing Reese's diaper in her incubator.
Father and Daughter
We took their temperatures every 3 hours with the goal of them maintaining 37 degrees Celsius

Taking Reese's temperature.

Dad taking Reese's temperature.

3. Feeding. This was the hardest milestone to meet. They both started out with IVs and feeding tubes. The IVs were in all different places...their feet, arms, hands and even in their heads. It was so hard to see them with these IVs and having to be re-stuck all the time because it would come out. Luckily, they lost the IVs pretty quickly and then just had to work on feeding out of a bottle. The nurses said it would take until 36-37 weeks for them to learn how to really eat out of a bottle. Reese seemed to catch on really quick, within a few days of birth. They removed her feeding tube. I was THRILLED! Until I came to visit and they replaced her tube and she was yet again a few steps back. The nurses were right. At week 36 a light seemed to switch on first with Reese then with Zane. They started eating their bottles consistently, rarely needing their feeding tubes.

This goal took a while to reach!

Reese sleeping with her feeding tube.

Zane and his tube.
Feeding time for Zane.
Feeding Reese for the first time.

Dad and Reese.

More fun times feeding :)

At the NICU all babies have to pass a carseat test before they are discharged. This is the last step before discharge. Whenever I saw parents bringing in carseats I was envious. I was waiting for the day I could bring in my carseats. I always had them in the car.

After the babies passed a carseat test they were usually discharged the next day. When they’re discharged they nurses bring a red wagon and put the babies in a carseat and put the seat into the wagon and wheel them downstairs. I couldn’t wait to see the red wagon in my babies rooms.
I remember going to the NICU on day 15. Reese was eating so well and Zane was starting to eat consistently as well. The nurse manager told me how well Reese was doing. Here is our conversation:

"Reese took all of her bottles yesterday, last night and this morning," said Nurse Jennifer.
"Wow, I am so proud of her. How long does she need to consistently take her bottles?" I said.
"Until discharge."
"And...when might that be?!"
"You can bring in your carseat tomorrow."

I died! I got emotional and had goosebumps. I knew Reese was now just a couple of days away from discharge. I knew for a while that she would probably be discharged before Zane as she was doing better with her feedings than he was. I knew it would be hard to leave him and take her home. But the thought of me being able to bring in a car seat was so exciting. We were one step closer to having our whole family at home.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The longest 17 and 18 days of my life

When I went in to deliver Reese and Zane I expected a normal birth. I expected one to come right after the other (that didn't happen!), to be able to hold my babies right away, to be able to have them in my room with me and Grant post-delivery, to introduce them to all of our family and friends who came to visit them/us in the hospital and to be able to bring them home with us when I got discharged. Needless to say, none of that happened.

Right when Reese came out I got to see her (see the photos from the post above). Grant was able to cut her umbilical cord. Then, she was taken right away to the NICU where she stayed for 17 long days. When Zane was born I was able to see him briefly. Grant wasn't able to cut his umbilical cord. Then, he was taken right to the NICU for the next 18 days.

I was still on the operating table. Grant checked with me and I told him to go with the babies to the NICU while I was still in the OR. After a while I was wheeled back to my room and was told I could go see the twins in the NICU once I could walk.

I immediately got out of bed. I was a little numb, but not much at all. Grant got me a wheelchair and wheeled me to see my children.

I remember that moment. The moment I arrived to Reese's bedside in the NICU.

I couldn't hold back the tears. My babies were in separate isolated beds closed from the world with a bunch of wires and IVs coming out of them. It was so hard to see them like that when all I wanted to do was hold them and love on them. They were so little, so helpless and looked so alone.I looked through my tear-filled eyes and saw my baby girl and fell in love. I wanted to reach in and take her back to my room with me, but knew I couldn't. She was so little and had ten perfect fingers and the cutest little face. She looked like an angel sleeping there.

I then went to the next bed in the NICU to see Zane, my son.

He was hooked up to even more monitors. I cried more. He has a CPAP machine and and an oxygen tube that reminded me of what my Granny was on when she was older from years of smoking, only my baby boy had only been born a few short hours ago. It was SO hard to see him like that.

The NICU nurses, many of whom we'd grow to love, let us hold Reese. Here is a photo of me with her for the first time.

It wasn't until the next day that I was able to hold Zane. Here is Grant with him the next day.

There are many things that parents of full term babies take for granted. Being able to have their babies in their rooms at the hospital. Being able to introduce their babies to family and friends in the hospital. Spending quality time with the babies including skin-to-skin contact, feeding and holding them. Having a traditional discharge where they wheel the mom in a wheelchair out to her car while she holds her baby/babies and has balloons tied to her chair with her husband carrying the rest of their stuff.

We never had those moments. At the time it felt like those moments were stolen from me. Each time I'd see a mom being wheeled out with her baby and balloons I'd cry as I walked by on my way to the NICU. I found myself on the verge of tears on most of my drives from home to the NICU. It was the hardest thing I'd ever had to do.

Now that I look back on it all it seems to have gone by so quickly, but when we were in it it seemed to take forever to get them discharged. Our time in the NICU was difficult, but we learned SO much and made great friends with the amazing staff. We learned to be parents. We were taught how to properly care for preemies, feed them, change them, burp them, wash them. They were put on a great schedule. I know it happened for a reason and I am grateful that we had that time.