For most parents, having a baby admitted into the NICU is usually a shocking start to a difficult time. We were able to have a bit of an advantage in knowing what our babies will need, take a tour of the NICU, and talk to the doctors about our questions. We don't know the exact plan of care for them while they stay in the NICU, because all the doctors can do is wait to see how they do out in the world and then react to their needs, BUT we can prepare ourselves for the journey ahead.
This weekend we were blessed by our friends and family with a "NICU care package" with so many things we didn't even know we would need! These are some favorite things that make us really excited for their arrival!
Beautiful blankets to to cover the isoletts in-
We know that we won't be able to hold them right away, and maybe not even for weeks. They'll be taken straight to the NICU and the doctors will make sure they do all they can to keep them alive before they learn how to on their own. This means trying to simulate their time in the womb by putting them in each in an incubator that will keep them warm and help keep their oxygen levels up. Preemie babies are easily overstimulated and stressed, so to have these blankets covering their isolettes to keep their space warm and cozy is very comforting!
The girls will have tubes and wires all over their tiny bodies while they are in the NICU. Some will be life sustaining, like an IV or feeding tube, and some will just be for monitoring, like a pulse oxomiter. These are NICU friendly clothes that can work around the machines. It feels good to know they can have some normalcy in something as simple as clothes, even when they are as little as 3 pounds.
Pumping care package-
We want to breastfeed, but it will take some time before they are strong enough to eat without burning more calories then they are receiving. So our alternative is to be pumping lots of milk (for twins!) in a stressful environment, and give it to them through feeding tubes. It feels like a much less overwhelming task now!
Small comforts for us-
The NICU Stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (yes, I had to ask several times before I could remember.) Emphasis on the intensive care, it is not very much like a nursery. They have strict rules for how many can be there, when, and what you can do inside. You have to "scrub in", taking off all your jewelry and sanitizing your hands several times before going through a second set of doors, and keep your voice low so as not to stress the babies. It is very secluded from the main hall, but there is no privacy inside, as they try to accomadate as many as possible.
Since we will be spending most of our time here over the next couple months, it was so thoughtful to include things that will make the time a little more bearable. We can be excited, and not just scared for this precious time we get to spend with our strong babies the first few days of their lives before we get to take them home.
We know it's exciting that the twins are coming early, but it might be very difficult to see them until they are safe at home. Once the girls are more stable and we know how to maneuver around their care better, we will try to update everyone on the best ways to visit if they want to! You can still be involved with their NICU life in between visits though:
Kids (and everyone else too) can decorate cards, print pictures, or write notes and verses. We can decorate their isolets with them and then take everything for their keepsake boxes when they come home (they also help to gently stimulate their senses!)
You can also write letters or send books that we can read to them. They don't even have to be baby books, anything that lets them hear our voices will be comforting!
Thank you again to everyone who helped with the NICU care package, it's such a blessing in a difficult time. And as always thank you for praying for our babies!
-Christian and Tristen
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