Inside the NICU

Expecting Preemies

This World Prematurity Week post comes from Alyssa Keel, mom to mono mono twins. Alyssa writes about her family’s journey at Adventures with Multiples. Thank you so much, Alyssa, for sharing these wonderful words with us!

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Unlike many of the parents who unexpectedly find themselves in the NICU, I knew my twin girls would come early. Carrying mono mono twins means delivering by 32 weeks at the latest by C-section, but many, including mine, come earlier.

After discovering that I was having twins and they would be preemie, I thought I could handle it. I figured by 32 weeks, they would be little but pretty healthy; they would spend some time in the NICU growing chubby and then they would be home and the whole ordeal would be behind us. I have never been so wrong before in my life.

At 29 weeks, my two girls in distress, I was wheeled in for an emergency C-section. They were born, but did not cry, and were rushed into the next room, to the waiting staff who got them breathing and brought them to their new home in Sunnybrook’s NICU.

Before I became a preemie mum, I had no idea what being a preemie really meant. I knew there were health complications, but didn’t know that being born premature can affect feeding and even can have an effect when your baby goes to school years down the road.

I didn’t know then, what I do now, what so many preemie parents know; that having a baby in the NICU is one of the hardest things that you will ever go through. When my girls were still safely inside my tummy, we took a tour of Sunnybrook’s NICU. We knew we would spend time here, we just didn’t know how much. We peeked in the pods, met nurses and doctors; saw the tiny isolettes, the medical equipment. It was reassuring and terrifying at the same time. We knew we were lucky to be at Sunnybrook, where our son was also born not even two years before, we knew we were in the best hands, but that did not change the fact that we never wanted to find ourselves there. We didn’t want to walk by the parents sitting outside, waiting for ultrasounds, turning right into the unit, feeling scared of what we might find, but we did, every day for 80 days, I made that journey, and I am the better for it.

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I am a better mother because of my preemie babies. Yes, I had, and still have, tremendous guilt about their difficult beginning in life. My heart aches for what they have been through, when they were so small that even preemie diapers were too big. Yet, every day when I held my girls, the greatest sense of peace and stillness would come over me. The sounds of the NICU would drift away, and it would just be the three of us. Now, ten months later, I remember that feeling. The feeling of being a mum to two beautiful fighters and their big brother, who loved to practice saying their names.

It is never easy being a preemie parent, it is a badge that many of us wear with honour for the rest of our lives, but we still confront our own fears, our reminders of the beginning. When it’s the hardest of days, when the doctors give us news that we can’t comprehend right away, when we question our abilities to parent, it is important to remember the calmness, the feeling of your baby, tucked safely on your chest, your hearts beating together as one. It is important to remember that peace can come from chaos.

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Kate Robson