By TMoM team member Melissa Brooks

After our daughter’s second birthday, my husband, Scott, and I decided we were ready to grow our family.  With any pregnancy, you look forward to snuggles, coos and laughter at home surrounded by family and friends. But that can easily be replaced by days, weeks and months in the hospital.

After confirming I was pregnant, we heard the heartbeat at 9 weeks, and because I was considered “advanced maternal age,” I had blood work done at 10 weeks and my first ultrasound at 12 weeks.  The ultrasounds brought surprises and challenges, the first one being we were having twins!  At that point, Baby A and I were measuring 12 weeks and Baby B 10 weeks, which set the precedence for what we were about to endure the next several months.  Baby B struggled throughout my pregnancy suffering from severe IUGR and intermittent blood flow.  I spent a week on the antenatal floor at Women’s Hospital and the next 7 weeks on bed rest at home. After a total of 41 ultrasounds, sleepless nights, tears, prayers and a roller coaster of emotions, our girls were born at 34 weeks, 1 day.  Baby A was 5 lbs 6 oz, and Baby B just 2 lbs.

During my hospital stay, I took a tour of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  No parent is ever prepared for their newborn to be admitted to the NICU, but I thought I should get a feel for what was to come.  The unit was filled with isolates, monitors, IV’s and so many uncertainties. This was not the plan we had for our babies, but soon it was going to be our reality.

After delivery, the first visit was the hardest.  Both of our girls were in isolates, Baby A on a CPAP and Baby B on a ventilator.  I can still picture the IV’s, wires everywhere and hear the beeps from the monitors.  Baby A maintained her body temperature pretty quickly and took to feeding. She was home in 17 days and oh what a feeling!  Baby B had a long road ahead of her she spent a total of 96 days in the NICU. She continued to struggle with weight gain, took some time to breathe on her own and maintain body temperature, had jaundice and was also diagnosed with a cleft soft palate.  The cleft palate led to a setback in feeding, which caused frustration and more decision making. We determined Baby B would need a g-tube.

Our oldest daughter was in preschool so this made visiting the twins a little easier.  I would visit while she was at school, but usually have one of her grandmothers pick her up so I would have more time at the NICU.  This wore on me because then I wasn’t spending as much time with her, but how could I leave my babies without their mother in the hospital??  The next hurdle was when Baby A came home.  As exciting as it was, now we had a 3-year-old and a newborn at home, but Baby B was still at the hospital.  At this point, my daily hours in the NICU were cut down so I could be there for all three of our children.  There was a time where I felt angry because we weren’t all home as a family, and there would be the guilt of splitting my time between three.  Fortunately, our parents live close by so someone was always there to “share the love” with our girls and fill the void if I couldn’t be present at home or the NICU.  My husband visited around his work schedule and we would always visit together on the weekends.

Preemies tend to be in the “driver’s seat,” and as hard as it is, they are in control and you have to just follow their lead throughout the NICU journey. I had a nurse once tell me that our baby wasn’t going to discharge or step on the bus to Kindergarten.  Some days are longer than others, but your baby will come home and it is an amazing feeling!! We are so grateful for the doctors, nurses, FSN, our family and friends that got us through one of the toughest times of our lives. Their love and support helped us stay positive and gave us the reassurance to never give up.  Baby B finally came home on December 19th, and to this day, we still talk about the “Best Christmas Ever!”

The twins are now 5 and doing great.  They are different in many ways, but have an amazing bond and I love to watch them grow and learn new things.  They love to dance, sing, play with their dolls and enjoy being outside.  Baby B went through two surgeries, physical, occupational and speech therapies as well as an intense feeding program.  She is such a fighter and we are so proud of her.  She is still small, but so mighty!!

For those of you that may be on your own NICU journey, take it day by day and know there is light at the end of the tunnel and to those fellow NICU graduates, we made it!!

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