Monday, April 12, 2010

Honoring the NICU alumni

My local twins group is featuring personal stories about preemies for their website and for the March of Dimes annual fundraiser, March for Babies. I was asked to share our story to help honor those who are fighting the fight everyday for premature babies.

This is our story.

I am the proud parent of three NICU graduates. My triplets were born at 27 weeks, 6 days gestation at 5:00 p.m. I begged my doctor to let me say they were 28 weekers because 28 weeks was first of many goals during my pregnancy.

Thanks to the fine team at the Ohio State University Hospital, I have three happy, healthy, rambuncious, and thriving four year olds. I dreamed of being able to call them anything but baby birds and my dream came true. I have not forgotten about those scary first days, weeks and months- I doubt I ever will.

William Eli was born first weighing about 2lbs, 12 ounces. Caleb James was a minute later and was our peanut at just over 2 pounds. Natalie Kate, the rose between two thorns, tipped the scales at 2lbs, 5 ounces. These weights are approximate because micro preemies like mine, are weighed in grams. They were all born squealing and breathing and were whisked away to be with their team of doctors.

I was able to visit them in the NICU the next day. I was not really prepared to see how frail,

fragile and teeny tiny they actually were. It was difficult to see them and not be allowed to hold them. It took a few days for them to get strong enough to be held, and it took CJ eleven days to reach the criteria. Those first few days were a roller coaster of emotion.

We were told that the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit residents take one step forward and two steps back sometimes. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

We had our fair share of struggles with gaining weight, holding their temperatures, and there were blood transfusions, along with the typical NICU related, scary episodes. I have chosen to forget about most of them for the sake of my sanity. The most frightening NICU memory includes CJ contracting a MRSA infection in his eye. This highly contagious and difficult to treat infection landed him in isolation for the duration of his 70 day stay. We were required to visit his isolette last, wear a gown with gloves and take every possible precaution not to transfer any of his germs. It was heartbreaking not to be able to touch him without gloves.

The babies came home one at a time. It was painful and gut wrenching to leave them at the hospital alone. When Eli came home first it was bittersweet because I had pictured bringing the triplets home together. I had to leave Eli at home in order to visit his siblings. I spent the next 4 weeks shuffling back and forth to the NICU, twice a day. I was on auto-pilot to and from the hospital and back again.

CJ was the last to be released. I could not wait to get him home with his womb-mates. They had never been allowed to snuggle together while in the hospital. Due to their issues we could not even get a photo of them together while they were patients. This is the very first photo I have of the triplets together as a group.I stood over the little crib and just cried tears of joy as I snapped the picture. I continued to just stare at them for hours. It was finally real to me.

I have photos of our NICU journey and I am constantly looking back to see how far we have come. I saved a few of the first outfits with hats
and a "wee pee" sized preemie diaper for a reality check on how small the babies really were. The photos put it all in perspective.

When it comes to honoring the NICU alumni, there is no one more pleased than me. The NICU experience made my babies the people they are today. Thankfully, they have no complications from their extreme prematurity unless you consider obnoxiousness and chronic monkeying around a complication.

I have said it before, and I will say it again, in life, THE DAYS ARE LONG, BUT THE WEEKS FLY BY.

So when you are asked to make a donation to the March of Dimes, think of my miracles, remember these photos, and realize that the March of Dimes is the organization responsible for helping premature babies- one little peanut at a time.

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